Exclusive 3D Interview with author and 3D veteran Keith Fredericks
September 9, 2011 by 3DContentBlog
Keith is quite active on LinkedIn and Twitter and has a long history in 3D. Here is a short interview with him where he also talks about his latest book.
Torsten Hoffmann: Tell me a little bit about your background in 3D
I became interested in stereoscopic 3D around 1984 when I started hooking up small “RAM chip” cameras from Micron Technology to the (then) new IBM PC.
In 1983 I worked in a computer store as a technician in West Lafayette, Indiana near Purdue University. One of the engineers I talked with frequently brought me a book by Avi Kak called Depth Perception for Robots. In the book it was described how to measure distance or depth using disparity calculations with 2 cameras setup in a stereo configuration. That developed later into a system for finding points on 3D surfaces for a structured light 3D capture system.
I got interested in virtual reality around 1989 while I was working in Graphics at Cray Research and started the VR lab there. We were able to get the animations of car crash and computational chemistry simulations and did a number of demos with DataGloves and EyePhones running on Silicon Graphics machines. I wanted to use the Cray machines for the graphics instead of the SGIs at about the same time as we were building the T3D massively parallel machine and ended up coming up with a rendering and animation system for this machine.
I also built a 3D optical tracking system using a single camera.
I did research blending single image random dot stereograms and fast scrolling text as a presentation method, working with the concept of increasing the rate of information acquisition by humans. This was based on observations of individuals with eidetic or photographic memory who can read books by “mentally photographing” them while diverging the eyes. This work was featured on “The hypnotic world of Paul McKenna” around 1993 on the Discovery Channel.
I worked at NewSight, a producer of autostereoscopic displays, becoming CTO in 2005. We improved the parallax barrier system to virtually eliminate moiré. We developed a 2-view to MultiView conversion system for video in 2008 called VCAM. We also created an autostereoscopic video conferencing system in 2008 and then greatly improved it after that.
I created General 3D in 2010 to deliver stereoscopic 3D video, photos and apps using the new HTML5/WebGL technology. We did our first live stereoscopic broadcast on 10.10.10 and proceeded to introduce many new innovations for stereoscopic delivery of media.
Torsten Hoffmann: In your opinion what are the most interesting trends in 3D?
Keith Fredericks: It has to be low-cost 3D devices like the Nintendo 3DS, LG Optimus 3D and the HTC EVO 3D. This is the vehicle to bring stereoscopic 3D to consumers for mass-adoption. It allows us to eventually do away with anaglyph and also fits well with our multitasking and social media lifestyles. This is one of the main topics in the book.
Torsten Hoffmann: Before talking about your book – I noticed that you are very active in the live 3D broadcasting space. Tell us what exactly you do.
Keith Fredericks: right now I am just webcasting a live feed out my window most days. In June and July, I did a series of 32 daily episodes of a show called “3DF33D Live!” where I talked about topics of interest in the world of stereoscopic 3D. It was webcast live on3df33d.tv/stream/ny2
and also recorded. I am thinking of starting this again after I get live WebM video streaming working. Right now the live stream uses OGG/Theora, which is fine for Firefox, but does not work well for Chrome. Eventually live events can be broadcast relatively easily and at relatively low cost to a very wide range of 3D devices.
Torsten Hoffmann: What has tempted you to write a book and who should by the book?
Keith Fredericks: The record needs to be set straight. There is so much bad information out there about stereoscopic 3D that it is hurting the industry. Someone really needed to go on record to say that 3D glasses are the wrong approach for consumer electronics companies. I have taken a unique approach that is a more “product oriented” approach and have focused on the problems with 3D glasses as user interface for consumer devices. I show that it is a classic trade-off between fidelity and convenience as we had with RedBook audio versus MP3 and high quality video conferencing versus Skype. Convenience always wins over fidelity. Most CE companies have unfortunately forgotten to do the user interface work. The ones that do the work will win.
Everyone with any interest in 3D should buy the book. I have included an introductory section with some history to get people up to speed with stereoscopic 3D. Business people interested to create successful companies in the area of 3D, early adopters of technology, people interested in 3D industry trends, and those just curious about 3D should buy the book.