3D Creative Summit

Last week I spent two days in London attending the annual 3D creative summit (3DCS) at the British film institute (BFI). It’s a place where all of the big shots from the world of 3D production (such as Sky 3D, Pixar and other companies like the company that worked on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) come together and showcase their newest content and discuss just how they did what they did, and the decisions they made. In amongst this different 3D only companies, who provide rigs and technicians, were present, with their equipment, to show people a more in depth look at how different 3D works.

I was amazed by the different talks. Highlights for me were a pre-recorded interview with James Cameron (of Avatar fame) and also Sir David Attenborough. I was also impressed by the showcases from Sky 3D, as well as Pixar and Onsight productions (a 3D company which helps with many different productions throughout the year).

Panda 3DCS

Here we see Onsight productions explain more of their 3D film about pandas. While filming the crew had to go through the same procedure as the staff and wear panda outfits (complete with urine smell) while in the enclosure. As you can see it led to quite an interesting image!

I spent a good hour talking to some of the staff at Onsight at their rig, learning a lot about the subtle differences in 3D production and camera terminology and the more lab based research world I come from.

However the thing I was most impressed by were the autostereo televisions. These are ‘glasses free’ 3D television. And they’re going to be a game changer, in my opinion. Brilliant 3D without the glasses just grabs you immediately. Immersive and entertaining and deals with many of the problems that current 3D displays have to deal with. At 3DCS 2013 they were talking about how it was coming and it would be the next big thing. Well here it is. And I can’t wait to see what happens next year (and when they get cheap enough I’ll definitely be buying one!)

Avatar 3DCS

While blurry here, if you had two eyes and were watching the television the impression of 3D was truly captivating.

And the one and only Brian May was there. See, 3D can be cool too!

Brian May 3DCS

Why I love my job

Such a fun day today. First off, 9am meeting with Paul to refine our Bayesian cue-combination model. Realised we had made some errors in the last implementation but reckon we have fixed them now. Excited to see what Paul produces in the next iteration.

Then a meeting with a senior academic where I got some useful advice on career development. Following that, a brisk bike ride with a colleague down to the Centre for Life. There we attended a meeting on “how can we encourage women into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers”, organised by the Houses of Parliament Outreach Service, the Institute of Physics and Newcastle Science City. 5 impressive speakers including two local MPs, Chi Onwurah and Pat Bell, who both have a STEM background.

Finally, the lab meeting, with cake courtesy of Vivek, and a chance to catch up on what my talented and productive team have been up to while I’ve been away for two weeks (first at the Computational and Systems Neuroscience conference, and then on holiday). Loads of new data to see. In Claire Rind’s lab, Lisa has been recording spikes from motion-sensitive neurons in the locust. Rob and Nat have been generating interesting new behavioural data on mantis contrast sensitivity, which Ghaith has fit a model to. But most excitingly, Judith, Ghaith and Vivek have been working hard on a new experiment on mantis 3D, which is displaying promising results. We are either close to the breakthrough we have been searching for … or it is a random statistical fluctuation. Another week of data collection should reveal which, and we will either crack open the champagne or be very depressed.

And in a surprise extra, Vivek and Ghaith demonstrated their simulations of different models of science funding. Cool work guys!

Met with a student to discuss project write-up, and finally headed home for dinner with two other academic families: curry and wine for parents while the kids played. End of another week.

How to encourage more women into STEM? I don’t know, but personally I’m loving it here.