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The Future Of Cinematic Pleasure: 3D Movies & Beyond

Posted by Harshad

The Future Of Cinematic Pleasure: 3D Movies & Beyond


The Future Of Cinematic Pleasure: 3D Movies & Beyond

Posted: 07 Apr 2014 08:01 AM PDT

3D films have been around for a longer time than most people think. As a matter of fact, they’ve existed for about a century – since 1915! We’ve seen the growing popularity of this film technology in the past decade and have come to realize that the recent resurgence isn’t just a passing fad.

The 3D movie technology has even been combined with physical effects to create "4D" films in specialized theaters. If 3D films are here to stay and are to be further developed into 4D and beyond in the future, let’s take a glimpse at the fundamental ideas behind the technology and how they gel together nicely.

Illusion Of Depth

Put simply, a stereoscopic 3D film works by emphasizing the illusion of depth perception, which is achieved by artificially creating two perspectives for the film. This can be done by using two cameras to capture the filming at different angles at the same time, or with the cheaper (but more tedious) alternative of creating layered images with computer technology.

Each of the two perspectives is meant to be seen by either your left or right eye – each of your eyes will see different perspectives simultaneously. This overlapping explains why the screen looks blurry if you’re not wearing 3D glasses).


(Image source: wikimedia.org)

3D glasses are to be worn, so that the images are correctly filtered to your left or right eye. The 3D illusion is created when our brain receives different images from each of our eyes and automatically merges them into a single image. This is how the perception of depth comes into play in reality whenever we visually process our physical 3D environments.

Synchronicity & Physiological Arousal

It goes without saying that the illusion of depth won’t work unless the two perspectives play at the same time. This is where synchronicity comes into the picture not just for 3D, but also 4D films. For the latter, physical effects occur at the exact points of the movie where such effects are expected.

For instance, the viewing of a cartoon character sneeze at the audience gets the 4D effect when water sprays or air spurts are utilized with precision timing. What we see stimulates our sight, what we feel trigger our physiological reflexes intensely.

The coordination of scenes that rouse our "fight or flight" response, for instance a car chase scene, combined with vibrating or moving seats, makes the brain register the effect and even cause us to feel as if we are in the scene we are watching. We essentially lose ourselves in the movie.


(Image source: wonderworksonline.com)

With an audience that’s so physiologically and mentally engaged with a movie, it becomes even easier to detect any out-of-sync physical sensations that accompany the 3D or 4D film. Synchronicity is especially crucial, as the flow of the movie is very delicate and can easily be disrupted when the special effects don’t match.

Non-Intrusiveness

If you’ve tried those red and cyan anaglyph 3D glasses before, you’d probably agree that the polarized or shutter glasses offer much better visual quality. However, these three types of 3D glasses aren’t interchangeable as each of them is designed for a specific 3D system.

Simplistically speaking, anaglyph films use color filtering, while the polarized 3D system limits the amount of light that enters each eye, whereas the active shutter system utilizes LCD screen technology to darken each of the two lenses of the 3D glasses in quick successions.

All in all, the common goal across these systems is to make 3D imagery as natural and close to reality as possible.

Apart from enjoying high-quality 3D imagery, users also look forward to no uncomfortable physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness and nausea caused by prolonged usage of 3D glasses.

The next logical step for the industry then may be to remove the need for 3D glasses altogether. Although 3D glasses aren’t the main cause of the undesirable physical sensations (they’re also partly due to the brain getting confused over the artificially created perspectives and angles onscreen), not having to wear those tinted glasses is still a big step forward in the pursuit of the ultimate immersive experience.

Realism

With so much demand and emphasis on realism, it’s understandable why 3D and 4D films are gaining a foothold with the masses. The jump from 2D films to 3D and beyond satisfies the desires of the masses because it means we’re moving ahead in the realism department.

It perhaps explains why the interest in 3D films was kindled again and again since the “golden era” in the 50s, when the first color 3D film from a major American studio, The House of Wax was released. The same kind of enthusiasm in 4D films is also present since the 2000s, with the likes of major Hollywood films such as Avatar, Titanic, Iron Man 3 screened in 4D.


(Image source: planetech.uol.com.br)

Non-intrusiveness aside, another reason why the idea of not having to wear special 3D movie glasses is so welcomed is because we want to see images in 3D with our naked eyes (or with our glasses or contacts) where we just don’t feel “artificial”.

Nintendo has already showed us it’s possible with its 3DS gaming system. It uses a special filter (parallax barrier) so that each of our eyes sees different images (polarization) to create a 3D illusion. Such a method wouldn’t work for traditional movie theaters because the projector which produces the light has to be located behind the screen rather than the audience (as is always the case).

Fortunately, a team from Seoul National University has already come up with a counter solution by including a layer on the screen that polarizes the light before sending different images back to the audience.

Out-Of-This-World

This may seem contradictory to my previous point but what I’m actually referring to is the universes of the movies being mind-blowing as opposed to the general graphical or “kinaesthetical” realism of 3D and 4D films. If you were to take a look at the list of 3D feature films since 2005, you will see that the majority of them are either digital animation or graphics-intensive movies.

There is definitely a greater demand for movies like The Matrix or Avatar to be featured in 3D or 4D, as compared to drama films like Juno or The Social Network. This is because we would naturally be more intrigued by otherworldly universes which we don’t encounter in our daily lives, and thus crave to experience them in their fullest glory (i.e. in 3D or 4D).

“Otherworldly” here applies to the many computer-animated, Sci-Fi and any other movies where their settings are not what you see every day (e.g. Titanic and Avatar).

Other than having grandiose and extraordinary settings or universes in the movies, another way to rouse the “out-of-this-world” curiosity is as what I had earlier mentioned about physiological arousal: eliciting moviegoers’ “fight or flight” responses. This is the same adrenaline rush we crave whenever we watch horror films to give ourselves a good scare.


(Image source: screenjunkies.com)

Through the graphical and “kinaesthetical” realism of 3D or 4D action films, our survival instincts are more acutely triggered whenever cars jump out of the screen and charge towards us, wrestling our attention to the movie and making us feel like a part of the action.

Since such “out-of-this-world” experiences rarely happen in our lives (thankfully), we, as curious beings, are naturally drawn to watch them in the movies. As of now, 3D and 4D movies are the best antidote to our cravings because they are far superior in engaging the audience than 2D films – provided that the flow of the movie and special effects are in sync.

4D Movies: The Comeback of Smell-O-Vision and Many More?

While 3D films have had their fair share of fame and history, 4D films are comparatively new and have a longer way to go. Nevertheless, sensory-based 4D films are slowly making a comeback since the infamous Smell-O-Vision failed to take flight in the 1960s. The odor-releasing system was one of the earliest attempts at generating sensory experience in films with the intention of letting moviegoers experience movies in a "scent-sational" new way with up to 30 different odors.

Sure, the idea didn’t sit well with the masses back then and had TIME magazine regarding it as one of the 50 worst inventions, but that spirit of innovation lived on and probably influenced the development of sensory theaters today to some extent.

There’s absolutely more room for experimentation for 4D films, what with the current range of physical effects from water sprays to ticklers. Who’s to say that Smell-O-Vision won’t return to theaters someday? 3D films, which enhances our experience through only one (visual) of our five senses, has already been so well-received today.

Optimistically speaking, 4D films should have much more potential within and opportunities to exploit since they have the other four senses to pick and augment on. The only hurdle to overcome is the inevitably long process of experimentation during the early stages of innovation adoption.








10 Emulators To Turn Your Computer Into A Retro Console

Posted: 07 Apr 2014 06:01 AM PDT

Most of us grew up playing with one video game or another. Super Mario, Tetris, Pacman – whatever floats your boat – are part of our childhood and sometimes we want to revisit that childhood but alas, these games are hard to come by.

An alternative is to play these golden games with an emulator, right on your personal computer. There are a variety of video game emulators that are dedicated to emulating various consoles from the past.

OpenEmu

In this post we will be listing 10 emulators that can help you play your favorite childhood games all over again. Before we begin, it should be noted that while emulation software is legal, downloading the ROM images (a copy of the game in software form) from the internet is not. Emulators are intended to play the games you already own and you will have to dump the ROM images from the cartridges yourself.

1. RetroArch

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, mobile devices

RetroArch is an all-in-one emulator that is able to run games from pretty much every retro console out there. On the home console front, you will be able to run Playstation 1 games and older, while for handheld game consoles, it supports Game Boy Advance games and older.

Retroarch

RetroArch is actually based on cores, with each core emulating a console, i.e. GBA will have its own core as well as the NES. This means that as new emulators get created, it is possible to turn them to cores to run on RetroArch. In fact, it is also possible to run it on various modern consoles.

2. OpenEmu

Available on:Mac OS X

OpenEmu is partially based off Retroarch but with the aim of providing a Mac-like experience. It includes a gallery view of games similar to that of iTunes, helping you organize your collection. The default download of the software won’t emulate the same amount of consoles as Retroarch can but there is an experimental version that will, note that it may not be as stable.

OpenEmu

If you have a Mac and a lot of old video games lying around, OpenEmu is most definitely the one to get. With it, you can manage your collection with a beautiful front-end, as OpenEmu can help you name the games and get the box art online automatically.

3. Dolphin

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Dolphin is a GameCube/Wii emulator and is currently the only emulator that can emulate a console of the 7th generation (PS3/XBox 360/Wii) and emulate it well, due to the internals being similar to the GameCube. The emulator boast a high compatibility rating so it is very likely that your favorite games will be able to run on it.

Dolphin

The emulator will also allow you to run your GameCube games on a HD wide screen, even if the game doesn’t support it. It is under constant development, with their latest being able to tap into Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, so expect continuous improvements and updates.

4. PCSX2

Available on: Windows, Linux

There’s no denying that the Playstation 2 is one of the highest-selling console to date and with PCSX2 you will be able to play its large backlog of games. The one disadvantage is that this emulator requires a fairly powerful computer due to the structure of the PS2 internals but if you’ve got that covered, it can run most of the games available on the platform.

PCSX2

PCSX2 is based on a plug-in system and with the proper configurations, you can upscale your games to HD quality. Note that a Mac version exists but is outdated with no signs of updates.

5. PPSSPP

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, mobile devices

Playstation Portable Simulator Suitable For Playing Portably (PPSSPP) is a fairly new emulator with the purpose of running PSP games. It was created by one of the cofounders of Dolphin and just like Dolphin, is easy to set up and can play a large number of PSP games.

PPSSPP

You can even transfer your PSP saves into it and continue where you left off. PPSSPP is still a work in progress with new features and fixes constantly being added.

6. DeSmuME

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Nintendo’s dual screen console can be played on your computer using DeSmuME, with both screens simulated on your computer monitor. Your mouse is used as a stylus for the touch input. It even supports games that require you to play your device sideways.

DeSmuME

It’s been in constant development with the developers improving and adding new features into it to make it run smoothly. And it has been on the scene long, so most games should be able to run on it without problems. Note that the Linux version has to be self-compiled.

7.DOSBox

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

DOSBox specializes in emulating an environment where MS-DOS programs can run as intended. So if you have some old DOS games lying around that won’t run on your modern PC, give it a try on DOSBox. It should emulate the game accurately and at native speed.

DOSBox

In fact, it runs so well that game companies use it to repackage their old DOS games so that they can be played on modern computers. As a side note, it is entirely possible to run Windows 9x and DOS-based operating systems on DOSBox if you want to.

8. ScummVM

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, various other systems

If you’re a fan of the old style click-and-point adventures, you’re sure to enjoy ScummVM. This program was design to run games that uses the SCUMM scripting language, which was used in many click-and-point games made by LucasArts as well as other companies.

ScummVM

Because of this, it can run games on systems other than the one originally intended. So games that were made for Windows can now run on Mac or Linux. Same as DOSBox, game companies use this emulator to repackage their games to run on moderns systems, so you know it is well worth a look.

9. ePSXe

Available on: Windows, Linux

Considered by many to be the best Playstation 1 emulator for the PC, this program will allow you to run nearly all your PS1 games flawlessly, so long as your machine has the juice and is configured correctly. The emulator uses a plug-in system where nearly everything is handled using plug-ins, so you might want to research on the best way to configure it to your computer.

ePSXe

Same as PCSX2, with the proper plugins and configuration, and assuming a powerful computer, your old PS1 games can run in glorious HD, bringing your nostalgic memory in high resolution.

10. Mupen64plus

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Mupen64plus is an N64 emulator. The program itself doesn’t come with a GUI so downloading a front-end may be required for ease of use, with the developers providing links to some recommended ones. Similar to many programs emulating its generation of consoles, it uses a plug-in system and you would definitely want to try a few to enhance your performance.

Mupen64plus

N64 emulation is a bit hit-or-miss, due to how the console was designed so it might not hurt to have an alternate emulator in case your game doesn’t run on it. But if it does, this is one of the best N64 emulators to get due to the plugin system.

If you know of more emulators that should be on this list, let us know in the comments.








Planning a Successful Migration From Windows XP

Posted: 07 Apr 2014 03:01 AM PDT

Editor’s note: This is a contributed post by Matt Smith, who works for Dell and has a passion for learning and writing about technology. Outside of work he enjoys entrepreneurship, being with his family, and the outdoors.

With the end of support for Windows XP right around the corner, April 8, users of the 13-year-old operating system may finally be goaded into making the move to a newer OS. It’s estimated that as many as 1/3 of the PCs currently in operation are still running some version of XP, and the deadline will leave those users vulnerable to hackers and loss of data integrity.

If you’re planning an operating system migration soon, whether from the almost-defunct XP or some other Windows system, here are some steps you can take to ensure success.

Before You Migrate

You may be tempted to skip the prep work, especially if you’re migrating now-vulnerable XP machines, but you shouldn’t. Before migration, you need to understand what the scope of the project is and develop an appropriate plan for both problems that may arise and improvements that you’d like to make. Risks include scope, time, and expenditures – make a plan for how you will deal with each.

You should also evaluate hardware and choose which operating system you want to move toWindows 7, which is stable and trusted, Windows 8, which will be supported for longer, or something else. This article will focus on migrating to a newer Windows operating system.

An essential part of this process is communication – if you have an IT team, you need to bring them together to set expectations and goals. You should identify areas of opportunity:

  • Is all of your software compliant?
  • Are all your employees using the same appliance versions?
  • Are there any security vulnerabilities in your network?
  • Do you have an automated data backup system?

You can incorporate fixes related to these issues and others into your migration strategy.

Upgrading a Few Systems

If you have fewer than 10 machines that need upgrading, you may want to go ahead and upgrade your PCs one at a time. Keep in mind that there is no way to move directly from XP to Windows 7 or 8, so you’ll essentially need to do a clean install. That means that you’ll need to back up and move all your data and software by hand.

1. Check Whether You’re Running The 32- Or 64-bit Version Of Windows

Click the Start button, right-click My Computer and select Properties. If you don’t see “x64 Edition” listed, you’re running the 32-bit version of Windows XP. If this is the case, your machine may not be capable of running the 64-bit operating system.

2. Check For Compatibility Issues With Software

Check to make sure your software will work on a newer OS. You may need to contact vendors to see if there are newer software versions that you will need to install. You’ll also want to check with DRM-protected files to see what their process is for restoring your rights to that data.

3. Check For PC Issues

Download and run Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor or Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant to check for issues with your PC and take the recommended steps to correct them.

4. Move Files And Settings To External Storage

You can do this manually or with Windows Easy Transfer (available from Microsoft).

5. Install Windows

With your XP machine on, insert your installation disc or find and open your installation file on your PC. If your PC is connected to the internet, be sure to select the Get important updates for installation option. Choose Custom installation.

Choose the correct partition containing your current XP installation (usually the “C:” drive). Follow the instructions to complete the installation.

If you encounter a message that says “Windows must be installed to a partition formatted as NTFS,” you’ll need to convert your drive to NTFS. To do that:

  • Open the find the Command Prompt under Accessories in your program list.
  • Right-click and choose Run as… and choose a user with administrator permissions.
  • In the command prompt, type convert DRIVE: /fs:ntfs where DRIVE is the letter where XP resides.
  • Press enter. When asked if you would like to force a dismount on this volume, type “Y” and press enter.

Do the same when asked if you want to schedule the drive to be converted next time the system restarts. Restart your computer, and then continue with the installation.

6. Move Your Files And Settings Back To Your Computer

Again, you can do this manually or with Windows Easy Transfer.

7. Reinstall Your Software And Update Your Drivers

Use your original installation disks to reinstall applications and update any drivers for your hardware. In most cases, Windows will take care of driver updates automatically, but you can also find them using Windows Update.

8. Post-Installation Clean Up

After a few weeks, of using your new OS, you can find and delete the Windows.old folder, which stores files that were used in Windows XP.

If You Have More Than A Few PCs To Migrate

If you have more than 10 PCs that you need to migrate, the process becomes a little more complicated. In this case, it’s usually fastest to automate the process by creating base images and deploying them using a tool designed for that process.

1. Take Inventory Of Your Hardware And Applications

Discover devices across the network by running an inventory scan. Assess hardware and software readiness. You should identify machines that need replacement and evaluate software for its necessity.

2. Begin With business-Critical applications

Prioritize applications according to rank (critical, useful, or unimportant) and type (commercial, custom, or legacy). Start with the most important and work down from there.

3. Build A Standard Hard Disk Image

You may have several of these if you have different types of systems on the network. Keep base images as small and generic as possible. Include only the applications that must be installed on all systems. You can install other applications separately from the OS image.

4. Prepare And Test Applications

During this step, install any applications that you did not install as part of the base image. Identify business-critical applications and deploy them first. Identify applications that may have compatibility issues with the newer OS. Some applications may only function correctly when installed on a clean system, so it’s important to test groups of applications together. You may be able to solve some problems through virtualization.

5. Transfer User Settings And Files

You should try to disrupt users as little as possible. During this step, you should capture users’ OS and application settings and customizations. Identify common settings to migrate (printer and network drive mappings, security settings, etc.) and determine application and custom settings to transfer. Notify users of anything that won’t be migrated (MP3 files, etc.).

6. Automate The Process

During this step, you should encapsulate the tasks into a sequence that ensure that when one task is complete, the next is automatically triggered. These include 1) capturing settings, 2) deploying the OS image, 3) installing required applications, and 4) restoring settings.

7. Migrate Systems Through Neasured Roll-Out

Now that everything is built and tested, it’s time to deploy. Begin with a small-scale test (a single computer, and then a pilot migration to a group of machines) and then move to widespread adoption. At every stage, verify that data and settings have been transferred as expected and that applications function accordingly. If not, take steps to correct the problems in the process.

8. Measure And Report

Measure and track your results. This can help you keep track of the different parts of migration and can help you communicate to others involved in the process. Identify the total number of migrated systems, any problems, the status of the migration, and the cost of the project.

Does the end of support for XP affect you? What is your migration plan?








New vs. Current Clients – Which Are More Important?

Posted: 07 Apr 2014 12:01 AM PDT

If you’re a freelance designer serving a target market that seems to be shrinking or not providing you with quite enough business, maybe it’s time to change up your client base. This can be done in a number of different ways, but usually involves making a decision about whether to seek out new clients, or upsell and strengthen your relationships with the clients you already have. We go over the pros and cons of each strategy, so that you can determine which is right for you.

In the meantime do check out some of these freelancer-client relationship posts previously published:

Market Health

Design in general has been both a buyer’s and a seller’s market for the past decade or so. More individuals and small businesses are in the market for professional design. At the same time, there are more working designers out there than ever before. This means that opportunities are aplenty for just about every designer who zooms in on a niche.

If you’re looking to narrow down your client base, which you should always be doing, a wise approach is to assess your current clients and determine whether or not they represent exactly the market niche you want to serve.

If not, it’s time to fire those clients and find new ones. No matter what your niche is, there are plenty of potential clients out there.

Focusing Outward

Focusing on acquiring new clients requires more time and effort, in terms of marketing and reaching out. But it can result in a more lucrative freelance career. Not just because you can raise your prices with ease as you accrue experience, but also because you’re constantly exposing yourself to new people to work for, who also bring with them new possible opportunities.

Say you do some work for a brand new client that’s really nothing special. But that client happens to be closely associated with another influential person in your niche that you’ve been dying to be introduced to for a while, but who has eluded you thus far.

Well, impress client A enough and scoring an introduction to potential client B will be a breeze.

Shrinking Budgets

Sometimes, clients cut back on the number of design services they accept due to financial reasons. In this situation, it’s helpful to seek out new clients, rather than simply hoping your current clients pick up steam again.

This way, you’re not left hanging if one of your important sources of income suddenly dries up, which I’ve seen happen to a lot of designers. The moment you catch a whiff of things heading south, dust off your business cards and find some new business.

However, do keep in mind that the best clients are always the ones you form real relationships with. If you’re not doing your best to provide value and create a raving fan in each new client, then there’s no point in seeking out new business.

You’ll get stuck with one-offs and clients who don’t really care about you. They see you as merely a commodity – an Adobe technician for hire – which is the absolute worst place for a designer to be. Commodities can’t negotiate or make a good impression, and they always must take whatever work or compensation is offered.

Getting Referrals

Your existing clients should not be left out in the cold, however. You can make them feel appreciated by providing them with extra value. This will incentivize them to give you more work, or refer you to others.

You already have relationships with your existing clients, so it’s a lot easier to ask for referrals. Yet, many designers have a very hard time doing so – they’re afraid their client will say no, or that it will be an imposition. This could not be further from the truth.

Yes, you may get the occasional odd client who will balk at referring you to others, but this is usually a sign that it’s time to cut ties with that client. Remember, asking for referrals is a completely normal part of the freelance process. Any client who refuses to do this small service for you, after you’ve just provided them and their business with so much value, is the one with the problem – not you.

In Conclusion

So, to conclude, choosing between your new clients and your existing clients is a matter of personal preference and what makes sense for you. It all depends on your individual situation and the relationships you have with your clients. However, it’s wise to always maintain a watchful eye for new opportunities, so you won’t fall victim to any sudden, nasty surprises.








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