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The Future Is Here: 3-D Holograms Straight From Sci-Fi

Posted on Jun 6, 2012

After the rise of 3-D films (most notably James Cameron’s “Avatar”) and increasing use of computer-generated imagery, we’re seeing the movie industry rapidly adapt to new technology. Now, though, there’s another innovation: A group that created the RGB+D Toolkit has combined two relatively common technologies to create beautiful 3-D images that can be manipulated at will.

The team used DSLR video footage (the newest standard digital camera format) and the Kinect motion-capture system for Microsoft’s popular Xbox gaming console, mixing the feeds and mapping the 2-D video onto 3-D depth data. It creates a 3-D hologram derived from live-action footage, but can be manipulated by computer coding. Instead of using separate CGI and live-action systems, as movies do now, this new technology can combine the two so that they’re indistinguishable.

Right now, the depth mapping from the Kinect is imperfect, creating distortions, flickers and blurs. The Kinect is only first-generation technology, though, so the bugs being worked out by Microsoft will also improve the quality and realism of the holograms. In the meantime, though, the defects in the footage and the lack of development create footage that is stunningly surreal and beautiful. Enjoy.—CN

As the Creators Project points out, the technique of pasting human faces and frames on computer forms isn’t new—and was recently taken to new levels by the incredible graphics work in Rockstar’s LA Noire. It’s now hard to watch Mad Men without thinking of the LA Noire guy. But what if you could get similar results with the (relatively) cheap gear you already own? A crew going by RGB+D shows it’s possible—and looks amazing.

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