Little planets: space compression you can get behind.

After our last encounter you came away kicking at an imaginary pebble and muttering sheepishly that I had killed your dreams of awesome 3d cinema. My apologies. Let me make amends by introducing you to AWESOMEview, my patented 3d film delivery system. Here’s how it works.

1) Audience members are seated only in alternating rows; every second row of seats in the theater are marked “reserved.”

2) Specially trained “AWESOMEview” technicians (each wearing a black velvet ninja suit) quietly file into the unoccupied rows after the film has started.

3) At precisely the moment when something big gets closer to the camera, my specially trained technicians tickle the left elbow of the theater patron in front of them with a carefully chosen ostrich feather; when something big moves away from the camera, they rub that elbow with a cube of frozen distilled water.

4) After a while, most of the audience members have learned to associate the tickle/cold sensations at their left elbow with the depth of field as it is represented on the screen. Some of them just aren’t ticklish; none of them have ever had this sensation associated with the comprehension of the positions of objects in space prior to “AWESOMEview.” Everybody pays extra to experience it.

Ninja-clad AWESOMEview technician expert at simulating depth perception through artificial means.
A Ninja-clad AWESOMEview technician: expert at simulating depth perception. Kinda.

Are we getting it yet? The 3d effect which you may so enjoy (ten percent of humans don’t get it at all) is an artificial phenomenon that has little to do with the way in which we normally perceive depth in the real world. So what would the world look like if our eyes weren’t jammed together on the front of our heads?

Langstone Harbour Entrance, Portsmouth (Mike Ashton, photographer)
Langstone Harbour Entrance, Portsmouth (Mike Ashton, photographer)

Here’s an exciting technique I’ve discovered (others discovered before me in some abundance) that simulates just that. It’s sometimes called “little planet panorama,” and is so popular that there is, as they say, “an app for that.” Not that you should expect results like these from using the app alone: this takes some skill.

Consider this little planet that may be more familiar to Canadians like myself, Planet Parliament in Ottawa…

Photo credit: Matthew Blackett and Justin Van Leeuwen
Photo credit: Matthew Blackett and Justin Van Leeuwen

The process, while time-consuming, is not secret. Google “little planet panorama” and you’ll get some good starter info. See what you you gain when you give up stereoscopy? The hell with fancy goggles and flickering screens; give me eyes that orbit my head!

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