Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Day167 iCinema and more on the Mac

iCinema
We had our tour of the iCinema (http://www.icinema.unsw.edu.au/) setup today and after getting a good look at things from one of their enthusiastic software engineers had a chat with their directors about the overlap with FBE's directions.

[images from the iCinema site showing their Scientia installation and thier AVIE]
First up we got to see in their AVIE 3D experiential wraparound display system. Using 16 linked projectors using polarised glasses to deliver the 3D effect was beautiful with the full surround effect. I am sure some people would be physically ill with the emersive motion that you feel - it was fun. The iCinema folk have done a great job of getting the distortion and stitching down pat and the motion sensing controller works intutively. The software is based around VirTools (http://www.virtools.com/) with local customisation and has allowed them to build some projects atop the infrastructure like these:
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T_Visionarium
This project (http://www.icinema.unsw.edu.au/projects/prj_tvis_II.html) is what we saw first and it really shows off the environment. The interface showed us a myriad of videos playing suspended in a 3D world which were ordered by meta-data and could be re-arranged by choosing images from the set to be the 'main' image.

[images from the iCinema site showing the T_Visionarium project]
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3D Mining
The next demo in their AVIE was some of the work they are doing for Mining Engineering. Real-time 3D mine environments in built using Virtools. The models were simplistic by game engine standards, but the groundwork there to see and the feeling of motion and emersion was glorious. The second mine had our controller acting as a torch to light the mine dynamically which added to the emersion. and interaction with the world.
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Place-Hampi
This project takes 3D panoramas and integrates 3D video/objects into these spaces. This is a nice application which illustrates ideas and concepts beyond pure reality that matches very well with Architecture with the capital A.
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iDome
The much smaller and simpler iDome (http://www.icinema.unsw.edu.au/projects/infra_dome.html) is still very interesting because it has a simpler tech requirement and lower cost. The version at the Scientia uses a projector and mirror and single computer input. The software is still VirTools with special software written by their techs to handle the image manipulation to throw it onto the dome.
They are working on a 3D (using the polarised glasses again) version of the same dome as well.
In conversations with their staff we worked around using their solutions with game engines and with other software we use. Plus simpler techs of just large format 3D flat screens etc which all sounded very positive.
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The Mac
I looked some more into my needs for the MacBookPro. Now I understand that Vista Home Premium's license agreement doesnt allow it to run under Parallels - so it is Vista Business for me now. This way if license codes or authorisation go funny in this arrangement I can get help from MS. I contemplated the extra cost to get to 7200RPM drives - but it just doesnt seem to be worth the extra. This leaves me with just the memory upgrade from the 2GB - well Apple's pricing is crazy so its 3rd party or nothing. I will see how my quotes come in tomorrow I guess.

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