Friday, July 10, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Fellow 3D Producer Echoes Cameron's Use of 3D to Tap Brain Activity for AVATAR

Jim here. I have some interesting insight into the science behind how Cameron's use of 3D could affect us for AVATAR and as readers of MarketSaw we get to see it first. PassmoreLab confirms that AVATAR could take our brains 'Where we haven't been before’...

From Passmorelab (emphasis is mine):

James Cameron’s epic new 3D movie Avatar, expected in theaters this winter, has a mountain of press expectations to climb. The movie is widely rumored to be so forward-thinking that it may change the way we experience movies altogether – and Greg Passmore, president of PassmoreLab in San Diego thinks he knows why.

Responding to a recent NY Times article about Avatar, where behavioral neurologists commented that Mr. Cameron’s work could tap brain systems that are undisturbed by conventional 2D movies, Greg Passmore, a 3D film producer himself, smiles.
“It’s never been done before on this scale,” says Passmore. “And the effect could be mind-blowing.”

Passmore and his team designed a powerful volume renderer for use in seismic exploration and then adapted it for neurology. He became interested in volumetric rendering while working at a neurology clinic in the 1970s while struggling with the crude EEG devices of the time. Over the years, his visualization tools have been used for brain mapping, which reveals what portions of our brains are consuming resources while processing occurs. Over thirty years in the industry and the examination of thousands of case studies have given Passmore a unique perspective.

“The tools are here now. By comparison, good 3D filmmaking, by design, should provide more memorable movies. And I believe this is exactly what James Cameron is trying to pioneer with Avatar,” explains Passmore. “Stereoptic film provides a greater sensation of physical presence and thus stimulates autonomic arousal of risk, provoking emotion and thus memory tagging the event.”

PassmoreLab has a medical division that has long been involved in volumetric imaging using Functional Positron Emission Tomography.

“Datasets supplied by our customers have allow us to see, in vivo, the spatial processing of the human brain,” says Passmore. “Although part of our spatial cognition is derived from time-based vestibular sensations, it appears that much of our environmental awareness comes from constructing large scale models of our world. The additional input of stereopsis can provide for more efficient building of these models, especially in spaces close to the viewer, by revealing partial occlusions invisible to monocular vision. These differential occlusions presumably help internal model construction.”

A lack of stereopsis can have real world impact, such as the 1996 Delta Flight 554 crash at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, which was caused by inadequate depth awareness due to reduced stereopsis.

“The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the captain of that flight, due to his use of monovision contact lenses, was unable to overcome his misperception of the airplane's position relative to the runway during the visual portion of the approach,” continues Passmore. “Hence, the aircraft descended below the visual glidepath and collided with terrain on approach.”

Tests conducted at PassmoreLab in driving simulators support this contention.

“With the experience being less passive, the body responds with greater anxiety and the memory becomes more permanent in nature,” says Passmore. “Our emotions are heightened by perceived risk, and our memory becomes tagged by the event. These laws can, in all likelihood, be applied to filmmaking -- drawing the audience into the action -- and creating the environmental awareness. I can’t wait to see what he has done with Avatar.”

About PassmoreLab
Passmorelab, the “World’s Largest 3D Content Provider”, is a San Diego-based multi-media production studio that specializes in 3D production and 2D to 3D content conversion. The studio custom-designs and builds its own RED camera 3D rigs for both conventional and rugged film productions, shooting everything from feature films, television and science documentaries, to underwater diving, extreme sports and cave exploration. State-of-the-art facilities include a full 3D production studio, video/film post-production, optical development lab, and a software development environment. Production includes 2D, 3D, high dynamic range time lapse, stereoscopic microscopy and cutting-edge simulation technologies for real time SFX. Passmorelab’s proprietary technology for 2D to 3D video and film conversion is unmatched in the industry, in both turnaround times and conversion costs. PassmoreLab has additional offices in Russia and the Philippines. For more information, visit

I am intrigued with the science behind how stereoscopic 3D affects the human brain. In fact I would love to see a documentary on it. In 3D of course. AVATAR will be the first 3D movie out there that will truly test these effects. Passmorelab certainly has the background to comment on it and patrons of Comicon will get an early taste! But what I am waiting for - and I am sure most of you are - is the full experience from the moment 20th Century Fox's logo appears in 3D to the last fade out. How will AVATAR affect you? We will all find out in 5 months!

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Jim Dorey
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