What is behind my interest in VR?

So it’s no secret that I have been following VR since the earliest prototype devices of the 80s (and if you count stereoscopic imagery- then it dates back to my first viewmaster which I had for Christmas way back when I was 8!).  I have tried most of the current crop of VR and AR headsets from the PSVR all the way up to the HoloLens.  In a previous post I outlined my build PC for the Oculus Rift DK2 – I still have that machine – though with graphics card updated to an RX480 and a PIMAX 4k Headset (the subject of a future post?). 

Before the Internet I would travel around photographic auctions and shows looking for old bits of stereoscopic kit – it was always exciting to unearth and research a new piece that I was unfamiliar with and I picked up some of my favourite pieces in this way..  In the early days of the internet I made contact with a few collectors in the US and when I heard reports that the Nintendo Virtual Boy was being ‘sold off’ in Walmart I reached out to a couple of them and bagged a couple for my collection (one to play with and one to keep MIB!)  I also managed to get most of the game cartridges!

Nintendo-Virtual-Boy-Red-Black-ConsoleVirtual Boy 2WOTW

(I always thought the VB looked a bit like a Triffid Death Machine from “War of the Worlds”)

My favourite devices are probably the oldest – I have a half dozen or so of these dotted around my house – just because I think they look great!  (There was a time when you could pick these up quote cheaply) The classic ‘Taxiphote’ is probably my favourite, though there are many variations of the basic model some of which I am still discovering …

taxiphote

Sometimes it’s the unexpected gems that I was able to ‘bag’ that give me the most pleasure.  I used to routinely submit  “blind” low bids to photographic auctions and one time noticed that one lot had ‘a collection of stereoscopic glass slides’ as very much a secondary item included with a lot of two Kodak projectors.  I won the lot with my low bid and was astonished when I went to collect and found the most incredible collection of stereoscopic glass slides taken by a Frenchman on his travels across Europe at the turn of the 20th century.  I still haven’t managed to successfully catalogue the whole collection but it remains one of my most prized items!

A Typical stereoscopic image from my collection (the actual resolution is very impressive given these images age!)

 

Not content with viewers I also have quite a collection of stereoscopic cameras – again, my favourites are probably the oldest ones in my collection (in my opinion  ‘design classics’)

Cameras
NB people ask me about the first camera top left – yes, it is a stereoscopic camera but also came with an interchangeable lens for 2d use!

Most of the cameras on the second row fold up inside themselves – the ultimate gadgets of their day!

The 3D craze in the fifties produced a treasure trove of cameras and no self respecting gadget lover would be without a Realist or Kodak, (A small selection of 50’s cameras are shown on the bottom right of the picture).

 

And just recently I have spent some time setting up a dedicated (albeit limited by my dwindling finances) VR area in my ‘man cave’ – perhaps the subject of another future blog post?

IMAX 3D “Edge of Tomorrow”

One of the benefits of not working (or“resting” as I like to call it),  is the opportunity to spend some time with the kids while they are on their half term holidays.  Of course they are both working hard at the moment, Emily for her GCSE’s  and Daisy for her end of year exams… but ….

So we were very excited to have been invited by Stuff magazine to attend the premiere of ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ at the BFI IMAX  (For my part, anyone who knows me will appreciate that I am excited by all things stereoscopic/ 3d and this will be the first opportunity I have had to see a film at “the largest 3D IMAX in Europe”!)

I am doubly excited to be going with my eldest daughter, Emily, who is a massive fan of Emily Blunt who is planning to attend  the premiere. with her co-star.

So Is there a down side to this trip? Well, we are getting the 1:30am coach from Gloucester to get in to London at 5am …  (Red Carpet at 7am, Premiere at 9am – all over in time for brunch!)

As the opening scenes of the film take place in Trafalgar Square and Waterloo Bridge I thought we should walk from Victoria, past Buckingham palace, down the Mall, across Trafalgar Square and over the Hungerford bridge – offering us a great view of Waterloo bridge, before heading over to the BFI a short walk past the site of my first ever workplace (in Chicheley Street – ironically now a bar!).  Of course I have pointed out this particular site many times before so have an idea what I can expect – but I guess that is all part of the fun!

The Film

I might as well start by telling you to go and see this film on the largest 3D screen you can find.  It’s just simply an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours!  Better than Godzilla (which I enjoyed) and probably my favourite film of the year so far (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it stayed that way).  Don’t expect surprises (there are some), don’t expect romance (there is some), don’t expect a comedy (but expect to laugh a bit). Do expect action (lots of it), do expect suspense (buckets) and perhaps most of all, expect to be thrilled!

The Experience

I have never attended a film premiere but when I mentioned to the girls that I had tickets to the new Emily Blunt film they nearly wet themselves, and so the date was on!.    We arrived early and were escorted to our spots on the red carpet and shortly after a limousine pulled up in front of us and out stepped Tom Cruise.  I have to say I came away loving Tom (not in the biblical sense you understand).  He spent hours outside with the crowd and while all other stars were gracious with the fans, signing autographs and smiling for the cameras, they couldn’t match his commitment.  A quick breakfast inside and we took our seats, a quick introduction from Tom and the crew and the film kicked off!

What a great experience!  Thank you Stuff magazine and Warner for looking after us!

Sony Bloggie 3D vs LG Optimus 3D vs HTC EVO 3D

Anyone that knows me appreciates that I am an all round geek, and have had an interest in 3d cameras, devices and paraphernalia for more time than I care to mention.  So I was especially excited to get my hands on these devices, albeit only for a short period of time.  It will come as no surprise that my interest in these devices was in their potential as a 24/7 ‘back pocket’ device for taking 3D video and photographs.

So I don’t intend doing a particularly scientific test, nor reproducing technical specs (which are available elsewhere) but I thought it might be useful to compare some real world video and images taken at the same location, at the same time, using each devices’ default HD settings (with apologies for the rather overcast weather).

Video Quality

Sony Bloggie 3D

NB The Bloggie is the only camera to support full 1080p 3D video.

For 3d viewing options watch in YouTube.

HTC EVO 3D

For 3d viewing options watch in YouTube.

LG Optimus 3D

For 3d viewing options watch in YouTube.

Conclusion

Having has some chance to play with all 3 devices here is my general conclusion.

If all you want is a tidy and petite 3D Video and stills camera to carry about for everyday use then the Bloggie, with it’s superior 1080p resolution and dedicated/simplistic functionality wins out.

If you need a combined 3d camera and phone my personal preference is the LG Optimus 3D though in all honesty there is little to choose between the two devices (In fact I would be tempted to go for whichever gave me the best price on the day)

(This post is a work in progress)