Sunday, February 5, 2012

Motion Picture Projection

This book, from 1928, was fascinating to read, and it convinced me of one thing: James Cameron is OLD! No wonder he pulled off Avatar -- he's been working on motion picture engineering for almost a hundred years! The book has a wealth (1200 pages) of details and images that really show how complex projection was, even then. What fascinated me the most, though, were descriptions of how to get interesting "Brenkert effects" from a Brenograph machine. This was a machine that shone light through rotating disks made of mica, to get hypnotic visual effects, meant to accompany music, or to enhance slide shows. There is even talk of how to use these effects to enhance prologues! If you don't know what those are, go watch my favorite movie: Footlight Parade! You can see some cool Brenograph effects here.

Anyway, if you plan to time travel to 1928 and work in a projection booth, this book is surely invaluable. I wonder if I can get James Cameron to sign it?


I really should have blogged about this ages ago. After I gave my DICE 2010 talk, the author, Sam Landstrom, send me a copy. And I totally loved it! In fact, in a real way, it inspired me to give this other talk.

In MetaGame, Landstrom describes a totally gamified world of the future. In order to make this come about, he had to make certain assumptions. First, some screwed up thing happened with marriage law, basically allowing freeform creation of arbitrary families, essentially creating a guild-oriented world. Constant sensing of everything has then also allowed for a system that can award points for all kinds of activities. What is startling about the book is how thoroughly and thoughtfully Landstrom has thought everything through. I particularly liked his detailed descriptions concerning the future of MMORPGs. The government has decided that sedentary gaming is bad for physical health, so all entertainment gaming must involve real motion. So, accordingly, MMORPG players roam the world in augmented reality glasses. I particularly liked the detail that non-players they run into appear as ghosts in the game, so that they can be avoided, but it is obvious you shouldn't talk to them. The book is full of fun details like that. I enjoyed the book immensely -- someday I'll make my list of the ten most provocative virtual reality books, and this will definitely make the list!