Mark Schubin /
04.20.2009 11:25 AM
NAB 2009: Holography Update

NICT NEW YORK: There have been many comments on what was posted previously regarding the electronic holography shown at NAB 2009 by Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technologies. Here is some additional information.

First, this had nothing to do with what CNN did on election night in 2008 and called a “hologram.” That technology was shown at NAB 2009 by Stats and Vizrt. It is a virtual camera-tracking system using multiple cameras to capture information about a space and then using a computer to “move” a camera through that space.

The system shown at NAB used 28 fixed cameras in a semi-circle. It did not capture or reproduce any holograms in the sense of holography being wavefront-reconstruction photography, but it did look significantly better than what was shown on CNN. That was intentional on CNN’s part. The news organization did not want to be accused of doctoring images so that it appeared that someone was where he or she was not, so the images from outside the studio were made to look worse than those from inside.

Second, NICT’s electronic holography was only one of 11 technologies they demonstrated at NAB 2009. The picture quality on some of those (such as 4K demonstrations) was actually superior to that of HDTV.

Now here is more on the NICT electronic holography. On the reproduction end, it appears to be true wavefront reconstruction. Laser beams are used just as they were in original holograms to reproduce the wavefronts captured in the interference patterns of the holograms. Three lasers were used for the three primary colors. The resulting hologram appeared to float in space. It was tiny and had a limited viewing angle. It also suffered not only from laser speckle but also from other noise.

On the capture end, the system is not holographic. It uses something called an “integral camera.” It is an ultra-high-definition camera (sometimes referred to as 8K) shooting a normally-lit scene through a “fly’s-eye” planar array of small lenses. A computer then processes the image into an interference-pattern type hologram, using the wavefront information captured from the fly’s-eye lens array. The interference patterns are then sent electronically, live except for the processing latency, to three small liquid-crystal displays, which are illuminated by the reproduction lasers.

Incidentally, across the aisle, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.) showed a very similar 8K integral camera. But this time the image was projected directly through another lens array onto a screen. Viewers needed no 3D glasses and could move their heads to see around objects.

Both NICT’s and NHK’s integral-camera demonstrations resulted in very crude images. There is no technological reason, however, preventing future improvements. -- Mark Schubin

NAB 2009: Holography Comes True
LAS VEGAS (April 20, 2009): The holographic images demonstrated in the North Hall may not seem spectacular to the untrained eye, but TVB correspondent Mark Schubin’s assessment is unequivocal.

“This is the most exciting thing I’ve seen at NAB in my 37 years of doing NAB,” he said. “It was beyond anything I could have expected…they have actual electronic holography.”

They are the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, a Japanese national entity.

“It’s like the holy grail… what all media is theoretically going toward. This is not stereoscopy. This is real 3D of everything. You don’t need glasses,” he said.

NICT’s holography is very crude and at cursory glance, unimpressive. Schubin said most onlookers were underwhelmed. The display consists of an optical table resembling a slab of granite with a bunch of lenses and mirrors controlled by micrometers moving them fractionally.

“The pictures sucks, it’s tremendously noisy, but it exists, and it hasn’t before,” he said.

NICT, in booth No. N925, is also demonstrating what Schubin described as “minor stuff,” but nonetheless unique to NAB. One is life-like, 3D audio processing. “There’s a room where you can walk around and hear musicians; as you walk around or between the flute and string player,” Schubin said. “It’s as if you’re there in person, but it’s just audio. You’re just walking around speakers. “NICT2

Another display features a tactile 3D experience.

“You put on shutter 3D glasses, look at an ancient Japanese mirror on a screen, hold a pen in your hand. You push it to the mirror, and you feel it pushing back. You can feel the texture of mirror and the frame,” he said.

The mirror is merely a picture on the screen, and the user isn’t actually touching the pen to it.

One other notable display involved a cube with what appeared to be a soccer ball inside of it that looked like the real deal as the viewer moved around it, but was actually a projection on a set of lenticular LCDs.

However, it was the crude holography that delighted the veteran video engineer who’s walked hundreds of miles on the Las Vegas Convention Center floor over the years.

“To me, this is like looking in on John Logie Baird’s first TV image in 1925,” he said.


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Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Tue, 04-28-2009 12:07 PM Report Comment
First make sure that what is being referred to as holography truly IS holography. Do you realize how many 3-D images are called "holograms" that have nothing at all to do with holography? Focusing a 3-D image using RGB lasers and optics does NOT make something "holography", NOR does it make the resulting image a hologram. This error in reporting isn't new. It goes back decades.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 04-24-2009 04:46 PM Report Comment
The editor is overwhelmed.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Mon, 04-20-2009 07:52 PM Report Comment
I never thought I'd live to see the day where the word "sucks" is used as a description, in a technical article, for professionals.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Tue, 04-21-2009 09:36 AM Report Comment
1: There's nothing wrong with using the word "sucks" as a professional description, so get over it. 2: This is something amazing! The first step for real 3D entertainment and other advances. Yes it may "suck" now, but in a few years or so, who knows what will be developed! I will be looking forward to more updates on this event.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Tue, 04-21-2009 01:20 PM Report Comment
Where the just still holograms or were they moving images? Also were they color correct or just the color of the laser?
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Tue, 04-21-2009 04:02 PM Report Comment
I especially liked the technical phrase "a bunch of lenses and mirrors." I thought only grapes came in bunches. Also since when can a paragraph consist of only one sentence? Where is the editor? "doing toward" "pictures sucks" "first images is" ??? There definitely could have been a lot more written about this demonstration as well.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Tue, 04-21-2009 04:42 PM Report Comment
With all due respect to Mark Schubin, I think it best that we wait to review the thoughts that professional holographers have on this. CNN's recent election night "hologram" fiasco comes to mind. At one holography board, they're having quite a chuckle over it . . . and these are people whose occupations are holography.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Wed, 04-22-2009 10:01 PM Report Comment
I'm sure some of the "professional holographers" will look at this the same way the "professional photographers" looked at the first TV... There are always some critics.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Wed, 04-29-2009 07:12 PM Report Comment
Well as a "professional holographer" (who happens to also produce 2 and 3d high def stereoscopic video) this whole nomenclature thing has gotten beyond anyones control and I have advised colleagues and friends to just chill and get over it, as we experience the evolution of the etymology of the word hologram. Basically for the millions of people who don't read trades and columns like this a hologram can be anything that is 3d whether we holographers like it or not . Personally, I have been dealing with this since that damn droid projected Princes Lea as a cinematic effect intended to look like a hologram. Then there's all those Disney Haunted House "wasn't that a hologram" questions . So that stuff continues and lenticulars as well as Pepper's Ghost schemes such as Vizio and others using vapor and diffractive optics screens are being called holograms as well. If you search on YouTube for "hologram" 8 out of the first 10 results have nothing to do with holography ! As for digital holography, work continues here in the US at MIT on that path for over a decade.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Tue, 05-05-2009 11:28 PM Report Comment
". . . I have advised colleagues and friends to just chill and get over it, as we experience the evolution of the etymology of the word HOLOGRAM. " Actually, it is more the term "HOLOGRAPHY" which is at issue in this article. Since a Nobel prize was awarded for holography, it does indeed need to be referenced correctly when used as a description. Unfortunately, wavefront reconstruction is not enough. The said wavefront reconstruction must take place through constructive and destructive interference. Even from the revised description, I do not get the sense that this second set of qualifications are taking place. This is not a matter of splitting hairs. Holography is holography. Period. If someone wants to call it a hologram, fine by me. But you're going to have to do a bit more digging to convince me that this is holography. Speaking as a professional holographer as well.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 05-01-2009 07:46 PM Report Comment
"The system shown at NAB...did look significantly better than what was shown on CNN (on election night). That was intentional on CNN’s part." No, it was not intentional. They were lucky it looked as good as it did. The original greenscreen images being sent to N.Y. from Chicago for processing were not high quality. And I'm being charitable.

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