21
Jul
09

introducing: 3d Trek

3D-Trek-logo-RB

They say that the secret to success is to simply please yourself.  Since it’s impossible to predict what people are going to love or hate, people are often told “make the movie you want to see, or invent the thing you want to buy.”  Recently, I was approached to come up with an idea for a new Star Trek product; as part of the process, I found myself wondering, “what would I be interested in?”  Sadly, the programmable Orion Slave Girl Clone  didn’t quite pan out, but I came up with something else that I think is even sexier…

Nary a few months ago, my good friend and personal Star Trek reference library Jonathan Lane was doing some work for the good folks at Roddenberry Productions (yes, that Roddenberry). These guys basically started the Star Trek merchandising machine back in the 70s (when they were known as Lincoln Enterprises) and continue to produce limited runs of high quality Trek stuff to this day.

In any case, they mentioned that they were looking to expand their line of goodies so Jon told them about an artist friend who has a long history of creating incredible, breathtaking Star Trek imagery.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t available, so Jon also told them about me :-)

 

The very first SOTL calendar, by Mojo & Rob Bonchune

The very first SOTL calendar, created by Mojo & Rob Bonchune

Regular readers of this blog already know that I spent many-a-year toiling over the visual effects for several Star Trek series, but only the sharpest Darth Mojo loyalists are probably aware that I was the co-creator and driving force behind the original Ships of the Line calendar series (more on that in future posts).

In any case, Roddenberry was interested in producing something that made use of cool Star Trek  imagery and invited me to pitch some ideas. Shortly after our first meeting, I was in a local stationary store and noticed some new 3D lenticular items – mostly bookmarks and notepads adorned with pictures of teddy bears, dolphins, unicorns and other stuff that made me want to puke. But the one thing that really caught my attention was the high quality of the lenticulars!

 

TINY MAGIC LINES

Whether you know it or not, pretty much everyone is familiar with lenticular printing.  Remember those little plastic Cracker Jack toys that featured an animated picture if you rotated the card? That’s a crude version of a lenticular image. They’ve been used as novelty items for decades now and come in two basic flavors – animated lenticulars (think winking jesus) or stereoscopic 3D lenticulars (think 3D jesus).

Basically, they work by interlacing multiple pictures onto tiny plastic lines (the lenticular lenses) which are so close together your left and right eye can simultaneously see different images – the perfect recipe for seeing in 3D (and without needing any pesky glasses).

unicorn_pinkIn the days of yore, lenticular images were very coarse and low-res because you could only cram so many plastic lines into a square inch – but what amazed me about those bears and dolphins was how sharp they were! It turns out that the latest technology can now create imagery at 100 lines per inch, allowing for crisp, hi-res pictures.

Much too good to waste on kid stuff!

I went back to Roddenberry with a fistfull of unicorns and suggested that the same lenticular printing technology used to make cheesy bookmarks could be used for good – imagine the kind of Star Trek imagery you see in Ships of the Line calendars, but in hi-resolution, lenticular 3D (and with no fold down the middle, natch)!

I was wetting myself.  This was the kind of thing I wanted to see!  Pretty soon everyone was wetting themselves and thus was borne the concept of 3D TREK.

 

AHEAD WARP SPEED!

After a quick contract negotiation and mop-up, I went to work on creating the images and Jon set out to find the best lenticular printing company on the planet. It turns out that CGI animation software (such as Lightwave 3D, my favorite tool) is pretty much the only way you can create true 3D images that are perfectly suited for lenticular printing.

Without getting too technical, the vast majority of 3D lenticulars are created in Photoshop by manipulating various flat, 2D imagery (in other words, it’s faked, usually by multiplaning- like a Viewmaster effect).  However, because I would be rendering my images using 3D models in true 3D space, I could tailor my shots to the exact requirements of the printers and thus create what is apparently very rare in the lenticular world – true stereoscopic 3D.

The guys doing the printing were so excited by this they decided to pull out their secret weapon and push the technology as far as it can go – to 24 phases. What does that mean? What, you mean not all of you have taken a crash course in lenticular printing?  *Sigh* ok, I’ll explain…

As I mentioned earlier, lenticulars use multiple images, with each image representing a “phase” in the viewing process. In most cases they use between 8 and 12 phases (with 12 being the norm these days). However, if they really want to they can squeeze up to 24 individual pictures into those lenses (as long as they are really careful in the printing process). The end result is a much sharper and smoother picture.

After seeing the images we sent them, the folks at the printing company decided it would be worth the extra effort to go all the way to 24 phases.  Woo-hoo! Speaking of the final images, I guess it’s about time I finally showed you what we’re talking about here (click to engage enlarge):

3DTrek-TOS

For the very first image, it was only fitting that it be of the very first Enterprise (the NX-01 can bite me). I thought it would be fun to recreate one of the most famous images of the ship – something everyone has seen before, but this time in 3D!

 

3DTrek-Saturn

Next up we have the very latest Enterprise, in all its JJ Abrams glory. The ship rising up in front of Saturn is probably the most iconic moment in the movie, not to mention the planet and rings provides an excellent sense of depth for the 3D effect.

 

3DTrek-Borg

The third and final image is something for the Next Gen fans, a moment from a little film I like to call “First Contact.” Again, the composition is designed to heighten the 3D, with the E’s nacelle coming right off the page, and a strong sense of depth coming from the Cube’s beam.

Of course, seeing the images on a website just doesn’t do them justice, since the actual lenticular prints are in 3D. If only there was a way I could give you a preview of what they look like in stereo… hey, wait a second! Didn’t all of you go out over the weekend and buy some 3D glasses from Blockbuster? Well then go grab ‘em, because I’ve got some old-fashioned anaglyph previews for you! These will give you a pretty good idea of the depth you’ll see when holding the lenticular prints in front of you (click to make in-your-face huge):

 

3DTrek-TOS-ana

3DTrek-Saturn-ana

3DTrek-Borg-ana

 

Now naturally I want to remind you, the actual prints Roddenberry will be selling do not require glasses.  They look like normal, full-color images – that just happen to be floating off the page :-)

Each print is a giant 10×17 (that’s inches, not feet, just in case some of you fanboys started wetting yourselves) and the nature of lenticular printing means that the prints are super-sturdy (i.e. no one will accidentally fold or crease them).   The introductory price is $14.95 each or $40 for all three, and the Roddenberry site has them live right now (they’ll also be premiering at San Diego Comic Con).  I’ve been told shipping is worldwide.

Oh wait, I almost forgot to mention what’s on the back of these things! The aforementioned Trekspert Jon Lane (who had a hand in the tech data from Starship Spotter) has put together plan views, wireframes, historical information and more if you can pry your eyes away from the front of the print long enough to turn them over (the back images are on the Roddenberry site , so remember to check in over there).

In closing, let me say that I realize this post may sound like shameless huckstering – and so it should! I am genuinely proud and excited by these prints; they combine two of my favorite things, Star Trek  and 3D, and as far as I know, no one has ever done something quite like this for Trek. Does that mean we are boldly going where… ok, never mind.

I’ve definitely followed that age-old advice and created something that excites me.  I sincerely hope that everyone reading this gets a chance to see these lenticulars and shares that excitement, because one day soon I’d love to be asking your for your opinion – of what you’d like to see on the next  batch of 3D prints!

 

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Special thanks to Jim Carbonetti of  3D Blast for creating the anaglyph images.  Take it!

Also thanks to Daren Dochterman for tea, sympathy and a sofa.

HEADS UP: If you’ve gone out and made the effort to get the glasses, let me know.  If enough of you have them, I’ll post more 3D images from Star Trek, Babylon Five and maybe even some Battlestar Galactica :-)  So go get those glasses – ye shall be rewarded!

UPDATE: I’ve had a few requests to post the 3D preview images in the classic “red/blue” anaglyph format, so here they are.  Please take note that since the green/purple glasses are more widely available, in the future I will most likely only post in that format, so be sure to get your green/purple glasses ASAP!

 

3DTrek-TOS-ana-RC

3DTrek-Saturn-ana-RC

3DTrek-Borg-ana-RC

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46 Responses to “introducing: 3d Trek”


  1. July 21, 2009 at 1:57 am

    I was right! And yet so very, very wrong. Anyway, I WANT!

  2. 2 CapnRotbart
    July 21, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Now this has kinda surprised me.

    Very cool!

  3. July 21, 2009 at 5:12 am

    Thanks for the full helping of awesome sauce…

    Now if you could just get one of Galactica done… :)

  4. July 21, 2009 at 5:28 am

    That is so cool! I for one has never seen “real” 3D lenticular prints (most are, like you said, manipulated photos). Do you mind sharing the process of making the 3D images with Lightwave3D for lenticular printing?

  5. 5 James Rye
    July 21, 2009 at 5:48 am

    Cool, I have some lenticular prints of the enterprise in battle with the Klingons and the trio beaming down for the Ponn Far ceremony. But the lenticular effect isn’t that impressive, I love the enterprise with Saturn picture and your huckstering has surely made you some money from me! I am looking forward to seeing how improved the lenticular prints that you describe are…

    I also love 3D and work for a survey company, I often produce Digital Elevation Models. Check out http://www.lidar.co.uk/greenland_DEM_Flythrough.htm
    All I need to complete the scene are some hoth raiders!

    Anyway, there have also been some cool advances in holographic printing although the process is extraordinarily expensive. Basically, you can now print a hologram, roll it up and view it ouside. The military use them for pre-visualisation (they are the only clients who can afford it!). If made from 3d data like terrestrial lidar, you can actually see all the detail in a scene.

    Jim

  6. 6 RootBear
    July 21, 2009 at 6:26 am

    Very cool, I can’t wait to see the lenticular prints. Please do publish more 3D shots. Are the images above optimized for the green-magenta glasses you referred us to? My red-blue pair is showing some bleed between the two images.

    Future 3D shots, right off the top of my head:

    TOS Enterprise dwarfed by the Fesarius.
    Anything with the Doomsday Machine.
    Enterprise battling Reliant (Khan), perhaps in the Mutara nebula
    Enterprise going to warp, TNG style with stretched ship and stars
    The Krell air shaft (ok, not Trek, but it would look cool in 3D)

    As a graphics nerd, I’d also be interested in how you take the left and right eye full color images and process them into the two anaglyphic images.

  7. July 21, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Amazing. I’ll probably buy the whole set. Do they ship overseas?

  8. 8 Kevin H. Martin
    July 21, 2009 at 8:07 am

    That TOS phaser fire shot is really impressive to my eyes. The brightness on the beam emitting looks very photoreal in 2D, much more than a lot of other CG imagery. Makes me wish I still had that old 70s era Ent firing on Klingon ship nacelle poster collage for comparison.

  9. July 21, 2009 at 8:37 am

    OMG!
    Now I really hate living in S.America, and getting paid in pesos, not in dollars.
    I wonder if I could trade my mother and brother for the set of prints…

    I’ve always been a fan of 3D pics, drooling over the ones that APOD publishes from time to time, even taking some myself (just moving the camera an inch or so and taking a second one)

    If you come out with more…. B5, BSG, ST:TMP… I guess I’ll just paint my eyes

  10. 10 J-Rod
    July 21, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Hey, can you make red/cyan anaglyphs outta these and post ‘em? I want to see, but I don’t have these wacky colors!

  11. July 21, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh!

    Darth Mojo, now that your self-imposed news embargo has been lifted, can you confirm whether or not that’s Daren’s TOS Enterprise model, or is this your own beauty?

  12. 12 Boris
    July 21, 2009 at 10:09 am

    LLT = Lincoln Lenticular Trek?

  13. July 21, 2009 at 10:30 am

    “Each print is a giant 10×17 (that’s inches, not feet, just in case some of you fanboys started wetting yourselves)” Too late – the thoughts of a programmable Orion slave girl got the better of me!

    I’m running out to get those glasses after work – went by BB twice this weekend and just didn’t do it. I’ll be on the look out for the prints on Thursday!

  14. 14 Jim
    July 21, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Got my glasses. They look great! More please!

  15. 15 andywhitto
    July 21, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    looks great!! hope i can order them to ship to UK !!

    Suprisingly cheap too !!

  16. 16 Buckaroohawk
    July 21, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Those images are amazing and I am really looking forward to seeing them as lenticular animations. Mojo, your excitement for this project just leaps off the page. You have a right to be proud; you’ve helped create some incredible Trek memorabilia and pushed a technology that has been languishing for years in a new direction. That’s a “Eureka!” moment if ever I’ve heard one.

    But if you really think this is sexier than cloning Orion Slave Girls then I suggest you might need to see a psychologist. ;-)

  17. 17 darthmojo
    July 21, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Ok, I’ll post some red/blue anaglyphs for those of you with those glasses laying around….

  18. 18 Boris
    July 21, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Is this the actual ILM JJ-prize or a new model you commissioned?

  19. 19 skepticalbeowulf
    July 21, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Cool project, DM!

    I was guessing you were involved in turning an episode of TOS into 3D or something like that, as some kind of 3D video promo. Like James Cameron & George Lucas seem to be so hungry for.

    I hope you & Rod.com do well :)

  20. July 21, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Beautiful stuff, Moj, congrats on getting those done! I’ll definitely grab a set when they’re up online.

  21. July 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Awesome! Great idea!

    The 2D images look fantastic. If the lenticulars are in any way close to how you’ve described them, then holy poop am I excited!

    I second RootBear’s suggestion for a lenticular of the Big-E going to warp, and would add the Enterprise refit in drydock to that list.

    (BTW, I’d love to see 3D BSG someday. ;) )

    Thanks for these, Darth!

  22. 22 Michael Llaneza
    July 21, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Make what you love is the Golden Rule of business.

    Sold, frakking SOLD !

  23. 23 Ein Staunender
    July 21, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Great work, this seems to be a real awesome idea! But to be honest, even better would be such lenticular prints of a Viper Mark II and the grandest ship of the fleet, our Battlestar Galactica – naturally both the old and new version. What a dream … i would buy them immediately :-).

    PS: It’s too bad that there isn’t a good 3D model for a orion slave girl, because one could try to render it also as lenticular print ;-).

  24. July 21, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    @Mojo: TrekMovie has now an article with the back prints. What did you have as reference for the JJ-prise? Or how accurate are the orthographic views on the back?

  25. 25 darthmojo
    July 22, 2009 at 1:01 am

    BORIS: You have an excellent memory! It’s a good guess, but LLT is about something other than the Lenticulars. The “LLT” project is still in play and I promise to let everyone in on it as soon as I’ve actually got something to announce.

    MARKUS: I’d love to share more details about the models, but you know what happens to reporters when they reveal their sources? Work with me on this one…

    AERES: A girl has to have her secrets!

    MACHF: Good question… I’ll ask about overseas shipping and let you know.

  26. July 22, 2009 at 2:27 am

    and new version. What a dream … i would buy them immediately :-).

  27. 27 The Hey
    July 22, 2009 at 4:08 am

    Wow.

    Just….wow. Great job.

    I was so wrong about what you were up to. When they announced a “3D” tour of the enterprise for the new movie DVD I thought sure that was it. This is MUCH cooler.

  28. July 22, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Having viewed the images in bote the magenta/green and red/cyan versions I have to say that while the 3D effect is more pronounced in the magenta/green images I, personally, prefer the the way the colours show better with the red/cyan. That, and my eyes took a while to adjust after the magenta/green.
    Having said all that, a true-colour, high-res lenticular image that won#t need (headache-causing) glasses? Throw in an Ambassador-class Starship and I’m sold!

  29. 29 holly
    July 22, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Just saying…..flipping fantastic! Grattis!
    /captian obvious
    //aka holly

  30. July 23, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Directed at MACHF: I think on roddenberry.com in the FAQ it is stated that they do overseas shipping with DHL or UPS.
    Pity you still need a credit card to shop there. I’d love to get my hands on the full set. :-/

  31. July 23, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks! Unfortunately, DHL and UPS tend to charge a lot more than registered mail, it wouldn’t surprise me if shipping amounted to twice as much as the price of the whole set istelf… hmmm… I have a mailbox in Florida which I haven’t used in some time, I’d need to compare rates.

  32. 32 ety3
    July 24, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Went to Blockbuster to get the glasses. I went to the clerk and asked, “Do you have green/magenta 3D glasses?” so as to differentiate them from the red/blue glasses that everyone knows.

    She got a weird look on her face and said, “Green and magenta? No. But we have purple and black.”

    Then I got a weird look on my face. “OK. Can I see one?”

    She handed me a couple pairs. The lenses were indeed green and magenta, but the cardboard frames were purple and black. Nice.

    MOJO, I have a question, since you seem to be into the anaglyph thing. Would it be possible for there to be a polarized 3D Blu-ray movie at home that would send the signals to an HDTV interlaced? Meaning, the “left eye” image would alternate with the “right eye” image and be interlaced to provide the effect. Is that possible? (I’m sure someone has already tried it and it probably looked like shit, otherwise, we’d all have it, right?)

  33. 33 darthmojo
    July 24, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    ETY: For polarized 3D, a silver screen is needed so it will not work on any television. What you’re describing is more like “flicker vision,” where a pair of glasses with fast-moving, LCD shutters are in sync with a TV that displays alternate left and right images; the glasses make sure that each eye only sees what it is supposed to.

    This process got the nickname “flicker vision” because older versions of it did indeed flicker since the technology wasn’t too fast… but now it works great. The glasses are very light, wireless and produce the best looking 3D image at home. I’ve even seen it working with hi-def material!

    The only problem is that most flat screen TVs (LCD and Plasma) didn’t have a fast enough refresh rate to work with the system – until now.

    IN the last year or two, finally flat panel TVs have caught up and more and more models are being introduced that will be compatible with shutter glasses.

    Shutter glasses tech is almost certainly the future of 3D at home. However, it’s going to take a few years for enough people to have fast-refresh TVs at home for it to be worth the studios’ while to release product in this format.

    My personal predicition is that within five years Sony will release a “Blu-Ray 3D” player that has the shutter technogy and infra-red port built into the unti. All you’ll need are a few sets of glasses (which it will come with, of course) and a properly encoded 3D Blu-Ray and you’ll be set.

    Here is more info:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LCD_shutter_glasses

    http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4704194_how-lcd-shutter-glasses-work.html

  34. July 24, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    I remember reading about such proposals in the 80s… the technology of the day certainly wasn’t suited to produce good results, but nowadays, it should.

    But I hope in the near future optical discs will be replaced by something more compact and less fragile… I believe some studios have already released some movies in a sort of read-only USB flash drives.

  35. 35 ety3
    July 25, 2009 at 3:27 am

    Mojo, that’s awesome.

    Now, here’s the question: what’s the minimum required refresh rate?

    (Just dropped major coin on a large 120Hz …)

  36. 36 AllanX
    July 25, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Don’t jump down my throat for saying this, but the ships would have to be a few inches long (or we’d have to be giants) for these images to reflect reality. After a few dozen meters from a subject, 3D becomes very subtle.

    While human eye separation is about 6.4 cm, the separations used here are certainly in tens of meters. (Mojo, of course, could tell us the real camera separation he used right out of Lightwave 3D if the scene dimensions are accurate.)

    This isn’t criticism at all, just an observation. I exaggerate camera separation for effect in almost every image I make and would have done this exactly the same way.

    Oh, Mojo, to really endear yourself to us life-long 3D enthusiasts you could add cross-eye pairs to the formats in this article so we can see the 3D in full-color! These ship images are awesome and I can’t wait to see the lenticulars!

    Speaking of LCD shutter, have you heard about Nvidia’s new product? It requires a 120Hz monitor.

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/GeForce_3D_Vision_Main.html

    AllanX

  37. 37 darthmojo
    July 26, 2009 at 1:02 am

    ETY: Yes, 120hz will do the trick – just check out the link above to the Nvidia page!

    ALLAN: Yes, it would be wonderful if I provided left and right pairs for cross-eyed viewing, and for drift, and LCD shutters, etc… and I could spend the rest of my life posting 3D images in every conceivable format so that all my readers can view them in whatever style they prefer, but I’m not insane. Like it or lump it, from now on I’m posting green/magenta anaglyphs only. Why? Because it’s easy to get those glasses and, in the coming months, it’s what most people will have laying around. Don’t get me wrong, I hate green/magenta, but it works and it’s convenient. If people REALLY want me to post in multiple formats, I’ll offer a choice – either green/magenta or hold your breath until your eyes pop out. Of course, if you want to see the images in full color stereo, you could always buy the prints, crazy idea, huh? One day someone will actually thank me for taking the time to post a stereo preview at all. Maybe.

    You raise a good point about exaggerated depth – obviously with the scale we’re talking about in the world of starships, 2 inches of seperation between left and right would equal no stereo effect at all, so I “wing it” for each image, depending on what I think looks good.

    In the coming weeks I imagine some people will actually review these things and offer their opinions, so we’ll see if my sensibilities have done the trick!

  38. July 26, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Finally picked up a pair of glasses today when I remembered driving by a Blockbuster. I explained what they were for to the guy behind the counter who was pretty geeked about it. : )

  39. 39 Matt Wright
    July 26, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Wow this is very very coo Mojo!
    More please :D

  40. 40 Riley
    July 29, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Hey, looks great! Also, actual use of the 3D glasses that came with the Blu-ray of Coraline. And here I thought they’d get no use. ;)

  41. 41 enantiomorphicgod
    July 29, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    hmmm…. star trek.

    nice!

  42. 42 Paul Harper
    July 30, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Shame it costs nearly $100 by the time international shipping is included. Ah well. When I want something I really *want* it!! Nice one.

  43. 43 doubleofive
    August 3, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Glasses available from Verizon for free!

    http://fios3d.verizon.com/

  44. August 3, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Well, that’s the other half’s Christmas presents sorted out. Top-notch as ever, sir, and I look forward to gracing your current account for these babies!

  45. 45 Paul Harper
    August 4, 2009 at 3:20 am

    Well, they turned up today here in the UK via UPS, and I have to say the results are *stunning*. Very impressive – well done to all concerned!

  46. August 11, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    I saw them at the convention and they were AWESOME!

    Go buy the Classic Enterprise. Go right now.


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