Monday, January 24, 2011

The News in Depth

My friends know me to be a person of great depth.  I've always been enchanted by stereo-imagery, a.k.a. 3D.  As I kid, I loved the View-Master, with those little round reels of eye-popping cartoon characters, TV shows, and (ugh!) scenic tourist attractions.  I kept my View-Master and reels long after my sane friends had outgrown theirs.  In fact, I have them still, and then some.  I now cherish the once despised scenic reels.

Years later, I discovered that many hobbyists  (more than I could count on my extremities, even taking my shoes off) were actually doing their own stereo-photography, using special cameras or two regular cameras plus some extra gadgets.  I spent years scouring eBay for 50 year old, klunky, manual stereo cameras that cost more than my first car.  There had been a stereo-photography fad in the 1960's, and many of these cameras were still in circulation.  They had no auto-anything, and what's more, the commercial stereo slide making services had disappeared.

If I wanted to make stereo-slides to view, I had to have my film developed uncut and do it myself.  Many an evening I spent hunched over a light box, cutting postage stamp sized film chips, carefully aligning them with fractions-of-millimeter precision, and then pulling my hand away, usually with the oh-so-carefully-placed film chip stuck to my fingers.  Turns out you have to align the images very carefully, or some people whose eyes are not double-jointed get headaches and nausea.

Being a stereo-photographer was like being a Red Sox fan ... you had to be a bit of a masochist.

Then along came digital cameras and even ... gasp! ... digital stereo cameras!  Fujifilm leads the pack with the FinePix REAL 3D W1 and W3 cameras.  Completely automatic (with manual controls if you want 'em), and completely pocket size.  It was more than a stereophile could have dreamed of.  And a couple of other companies seem to be jumping on the bandwagon too.

And as if that weren't enough, there are now 3D capable HD TVs on the market.  What an age!

And yet I am concerned.  Apart from loosing the mystique of being the oddball stereo nut, I'm afraid 3D TV will open us up to yet more intrusive advertising.  Can you imagine having your nose tweaked by that smug Geico gecko?  Or having your living room filled with little floating animated Mucinex boogers?  Or Michelin's adorable road-kill zombie critters?  How about having that box of Depends thrust right in your face?  Or being stuck in the midst of the sex-offending, indecently exposed Cialis couple in their lawn bathtubs? And that's not even considering the programs themselves!

3D TV?  I'll look into it.

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