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Inside the Lab of One of the World's Last Holographers 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the old-school-effects dept.
MMBK writes "In the heyday of holography, back in the 1970s, there were four schools dedicated to the holographic arts around the world, and five studios in New York City alone. Today, there are only a few left in the world. And no one is holding the candle higher than Doctor Laser."
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Inside the Lab of One of the World's Last Holographers

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  • WARNING (Score:5, Funny)

    by jra (5600) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @11:56PM (#33297350)

    Do Not Stare At Laser With Remaining Eye.

    • by wigaloo (897600)
      Dr. Fun, one of the original Web cartoons, has a cartoon for that [ibiblio.org].
      • That bastard still hasn't gotten back to me with the prototype I requested for attaching laserbeam to the head of a shark!

        I think S.P.E.C.T.R.E. or T.H.R.U.S.H. must have got to him!

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      If I hadn't stared at the laser [slashdot.org] I'd have gone blind in that eye. However, it was a medical laser, not a holographic one.

      I can't get to TFA, does it say why nobody is making holograms any more? It's not like it's hard to do, and they're cool as hell; we played with them in a physics class I took in college in the late '70s. Is it because it's getting harder and harder to find photographic film?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Steve Max (1235710)

        Yes, basically that. Holographic film is photographic film with a resolution high enough to capture the interference pattern between the reference laser and the reflected one; this pattern created diffraction gratings which made the 3D image afterwards. Some companies dedicated some time per year on their facilities for holographic, and that was enough to feed the small holo market. Holo film costed a premium, of course, but it was still feasible. Now nobody manufactures regular film anymore; if they were t

  • by Flash Modin (1828190) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @11:58PM (#33297354)
    FermiLab had an awesome holography art show awhile back. There's still some out there. This docu is great though, and Doctor Laser is too. Pretty sweet for a make your own contest.
  • by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @12:02AM (#33297388) Journal
    Please state the nature of your medical emergency.
    • Please state the nature of your medical emergency.

      If you are armed with a laser, this goes real quick.

      Zap the MF* with it. No medical emergency no more.

      And send the corpse to the Soylent Green factory, please

      • Please make sure the cubes are no larger than 3 inches along any side (7.5 cm in Europe and Canada).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Instead of a candle, shouldn't Doctor Laser hold, I dunno, a laser?

    • by ultranova (717540)

      Instead of a candle, shouldn't Doctor Laser hold, I dunno, a laser?

      It's a laser candle, duh! Instead of candlelight, it sends beams of laser light at random directions, burning everything in their path like a Death Blossom.

      The only thing worse than a laser candle is a laser bonfire with sharks dancing around it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by zippthorne (748122)

      Naw, he's oldschool. He obviously uses a spectrometer and a candle to get monochromatic light for his projects. Sure, it requires super-long exposure times, but it's pretty hard-core.

  • wow. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    the video in TFA was like a cross between laser kenny loggins at the local planetarium as narrated by the gripping excitement that is the announcers of npr. you've got holograms and frickin' lasers, and you still failed to keep my attention. kudos, that took work.

  • The part where the kid says ouch and cut off his hand was hilarious. The Dr laser should have replied with "im your father " then it would have been the best. Wheres my hologram tv?
  • Real-life Merlin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by woopate (1550379) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @12:35AM (#33297582)

    This is so cool! He comes off as a Wizard or a mad scientist or something. This is a man who is truly passionate about his art. Wish things were looking more up for him, he seems like a cool, optimistic guy. If I lived anywhere near him, I'd probably try to go make friends with him or support his business.

    • by gustgr (695173)

      True, but the video made me feel kinda sad. Despite being completely ignored by most people he lives in this world in his head where the current president would subject himself to a dark and moldy basement in order to get a half-assed hologram taken. Other than that, when was this documentary made? I thought someone would mention 3D TVs and stuff like that near the end when he says the world is dimensional but we seem to be content with representing it as flat.

      • by nschubach (922175)

        That's okay, I can't even see the video... in Chrome or Firefox... I can see other Flash videos alright, but for some reason this host/player seems to dislike something about my setup.

      • by MacroRodent (1478749) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @01:59AM (#33297978)
        "Half-assed hologram taken"? I wonder if you have seen a real, well-made hologram of a person? They are spooky in their combination of 3D, extremely high resolution (almost infinite, in fact) and absence of motion and color. Nothing else is like them ("death masks", casts of a deceased persons faces, might come closest).
      • by Psychotria (953670) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @02:11AM (#33298066)

        Despite being completely ignored by most people he lives in this world in his head where the current president would subject himself to a dark and moldy basement in order to get a half-assed hologram taken.

        And that, my friend, is what separates the visionaries, the great artists, the great scientists, the great writers, and the great innovators from the rest of us.

      • He certainly has the wrong business plan. You can never just go to the President with your new-fangled thing. Presidents don't have time for that. Geeks will like it first. He should perhaps try to lure a few geeks with some cash -- preferably geeks who go on TV. While he is correct that he is established, he probably hasn't been anybody's focus in twenty years. Like all things business, networking will be key.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ultranova (717540)

        Despite being completely ignored by most people he lives in this world in his head where the current president would subject himself to a dark and moldy basement in order to get a half-assed hologram taken.

        Um, what are you trying to say here? That your president is afraid of the dark?

        Besides, getting my holograph taken would be the first thing in my list of things to do if I ever took over the world^W^W^W^W became the president.

      • by Omestes (471991)

        I keep expecting it to have been directed by Christopher Guest, personally.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tehcyder (746570)

      If I lived anywhere near him, I'd probably try to go make friends with him

      Mod parent -1 stalker

    • This is a man who is truly passionate about his art. Wish things were looking more up for him, he seems like a cool, optimistic guy. If I lived anywhere near him, I'd probably try to go make friends with him or support his business.

      You know those creeps that when they're caught, their neighbours always go "I can't believe it, he was such a cool, normal guy, and he was so good with children..."?

      If you watch the clip past the 8:45 mark you'll see clear evidence that he's producing child holography!

  • Too bad nothing came to market from InPhase Technologies. There was supposed to be major promises from using holographic storage technology. I didn't know this before, but according to Wiki, they had some partnership with Nintendo back in 2008.

  • 50 years of lasers (Score:2, Informative)

    by tumutbound (549414)
    Lasers were first demonstrated 50 years ago (apparently) There's an exhibition of holograms on at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia) but if you're too busy to pop in, there's a video of the display here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrGR-f1VNHI&feature=player_embedded [youtube.com]
  • Holographic movies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by camperdave (969942) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @02:30AM (#33298168) Journal
    The way I see it, there are four main problems with holograms. First, they are static. Sure you have slit holograms, or rainbow holograms, like they used in Logan's run, but those are not true holograms. They are stereograms. Secondly, they are not color. This is due to the nature of laser light. It is monochromatic. Third, you can't have mass viewings. Holograms tend to have only a narrow range of angles from which they can be viewed to good effect. Fourth, you can't generate them on your computer. Let me clarify before you start posting links to open source hologram generation software. There is no holographic output device, like a monitor, on which to show holograms. They are all done with photographic film. That means processing, slow turn around, and expense... the very reasons film was ditched for digital for regular photographs.
    • by blincoln (592401) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @03:13AM (#33298374) Homepage Journal

      First, they are static.

      That's a limitation of the way most holograms have been produced, not a limitation of holography in general.

      Secondly, they are not color. This is due to the nature of laser light. It is monochromatic.

      So use three of them, like the people who have built colour vector display projectors using red, green, and blue lasers.

      There is no holographic output device, like a monitor, on which to show holograms.

      That's only because no one has come up with a mass-market device of that type. It's certainly possible to do. I feel like a broken record posting a link to the MIT Media Lab's historical page on the topic [mit.edu], but there it is again.

      • by SharpFang (651121) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @08:09AM (#33299766) Homepage Journal

        First, they are static. There's no viable storage to contain reasonable amounts of holograph data, other than holograms themselves. So, old tape-style movies with separate frames are possible, but a computer display - not really, it would take many megabytes per second of the movie and no device has throughputs of this scale, storage notwithstanding. A video that uses generated (computed) image may be possible, a live movie - not yet.

        Secondly, they are not color. Or more precisely, they are all colors. The rainbowy nature of a hologram seems inherent, it's very difficult to obtain anything near a clear color in a hologram. Some kind of RGB might be possible, but not nearly as crisp as flat image. Also, for a hologram you need a continuous image, you can't intermix pixels - one hologram per image, so it would need rather to be a Red frame-Green frame-Blue frame sequence, than an image containing mix of all.

        Lastly, there is no holographic output device, like a monitor, on which to show holograms. The MarkII you linked achieves puny 144 scan lines in horizontal parallax only. That is how it translates to current displays. It could be defined as 256000 x 144 px display, the 256k pixels being sufficient to create one channel of holo photography.

        Assuming we give up full parallax, and go with horizontal parallax and 800 scanlines (a low resolution for contemporary monitors) in RGB that would be 15GB per second, and not 3D in vertical direction. If we take the full parallax, we need about 256k x 256k pixels @ 180Hz (for 60Hz on each color compound). 85 femtosecond pixel clock in case of scanning laser like in the example, about 200GB per frame at 24-bit color depth, and 3 micron big pixels on a wide screen. Calculate data throughput needed for that yourself.

        No, we aren't anywhere close to being able to produce a consumer grade holographic display.

        • by operagost (62405)

          The rainbowy nature of a hologram seems inherent

          It's inherent in the visible light that we use to view it.

        • by arakis (315989)

          I am not going to weigh in on all the issues here, but I interned at Jason's studio long ago when his current interns were probably infants. You don't have to be an intern there to go visit the webpage for Holographic Studios and see things like this:

          http://www.holographer.com/heartproject.htm [holographer.com]

          and

          http://www.holostudios.com/holohelper/faq.htm [holostudios.com]

          Look for the part about how many lasers you need. The technique can be as simple as something called a pre-swell of the emulsion and some selective exposures.

          If you are r

      • One really wonders if the only practical purpose of 64bit for these people's vision is only whining to Adobe for 64bit Flash?

        I mean, with the exceptional speed gains for networks, 64bit pure operating systems, GPU manufacturers basically hitting what can be achieved in 2D, TB levels of storage on laptops... All they can come up is freaking extra registers and whether their "adobe flash player" comes in 64bit or not. Just the specs of "Display Port" and its future roadmap should enlighten people but they cho

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by heitikender (655816) *
      On Causality You see, when you ask why something happens, how does a person answer why something happens? For example, Aunt Minnie is in the hospital. Why? Because she went out on the ice and slipped and broke her hip. That satisfies people. But it wouldn't satisfy someone who came from another planet and knew nothing about things... When you explain a why, you have to be in some framework that you've allowed something to be true. Otherwise you're perpetually asking why... You go deeper and deeper
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by l3v1 (787564)
      The way I see it, there are four main problems with holograms.

      You seem focused on finding defficiencies, yet you fail to see a very unique advantage: resolution and density. I can't think of any other tqchnique that would be able to come close in resolution. E.g. holographic microccopy. And the technology didn't go away, just check topics on holographic data storage
    • Let me clarify before you start posting links to open source hologram generation software.

      can someone please post some of those links anyway? I'm very interested and our company prints stuff with extremely high resolution and spatial accuracy - it would be cool to "make up" a hologram rather than have one that is an image of a real object.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      If you changed the second line in your sig to " Molecules scatter blue light", it would be a haiku.
    • by muvol (1226860)
      Those are limitations of conventional holograms. I don't know of any promising techniques to produce real time holograms for display, but techniques do exist to overcome the rest of those limitations. At least one company, Zebra Imaging , makes large, color holograms for display. And the one I saw was quite impressive. ---
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Third, you can't have mass viewings. Holograms tend to have only a narrow range of angles from which they can be viewed to good effect.

      Incorrect. You get the 3D image from anywhere you can see the film. In a class I took in college, they'd taken a hologram of a pair of dice by wrapping the film around a beaker and flashing the lasers. They then developed the film, and wrap the film around a beaker and shine the laser at it and you had a 3D pair of dice viewable from ANY ANGLE.

      There is no holographic output

      • Generating the hologram by computer is conceptually fairly simple, but requires massive amounts of processing. It is similar to ray tracing, except instead of computing intensity and color, you are computing intensity and phase, which is added to another intensity/phase pair from the computed reference ray.

        The problem with the LCD display is that you need to address pixels that are on the order of a half of wavelength of light across. Nobody manufactures LCDs with that resolution, as far as I know.
    • by blueup (225926)

      Actually, I saw a full-color hologram in high school (mumble-decades) ago. It was worse about angles, there was pretty much exactly one precise angle you had to look from, or the colors were all bad, but still, it worked. As for the "narrow range of angles from which they can be viewed", I thought one of the great parts about holograms was that it WASN'T "just ONE spot". Narrow, maybe, but honestly some of the new parallax barrier screens are MUCH worse.

    • by TheSync (5291)

      The way I see it, there are four main problems with holograms. First, they are static

      There are several efforts underway to create video holograms using acousto-optical crystals or spatial light modulators, such as the Holovideo project [mit.edu] at MIT.

  • I saw a holographic arts exhibit in San Francisco in the late 80s that took up a huge warehouse. Saw some amazing stuff there, sad to see the art form is dying.
  • Bart: Yo, Dr. S: have you seen Milhouse today?
    Dr. S: No.
    Bart: OK, thanks.
    Dr. S: Wait: did you know that there's a direct correlation between the decline of Spirograph and the rise in gang activity? Think about it.
    Bart: I will.
    Dr. S: No you won't.

  • Inside the lab of one of the world's last bloggers

  • by Combatso (1793216)
    It's very difficult to play the holophoner
  • Wait, what? (Score:3, Funny)

    by chazzf (188092) <cfulton AT deepthought DOT org> on Thursday August 19, 2010 @09:01AM (#33300168) Homepage Journal
    In the 1970s there were four schools around the world, and now only a few are left? When you start with four you don't have all that far to drop!
  • by Luyseyal (3154) <`ofni.yul' `ta' `sretaws'> on Thursday August 19, 2010 @09:31AM (#33300510) Homepage

    I happen to know Michael Klug, one of the partners in Zebra Imaging [zebraimaging.com]. They're still doing holography like they've done for years now. Why do people think it's dead?

    On a semi-related note, our family visited the Salador Dali Museum [salvadordalimuseum.org] in St. Petersburg, Florida, recently and they have a cool hologram of Alice Cooper that Dali did back in the '70s. Definitely worth checking out -- though I recommend waiting until their new building opens in Jan 2011.

    -l

  • My thought was that it would be cool to get a portrait done next time I'm in NYC. Then I went to his website & saw that it's $1800... too rich for my blood. It's still neat stuff he's doing there, though.

  • by FiloEleven (602040) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @10:58AM (#33301870)

    As mentioned in the movie, the resolution of a hologram is the wavelength of the light used. With a specially built microscope, you could actually look at the bacteria captured in film, even though your subject might be a macroscopic object.

    The image you see when you look into a hologram is a virtual image, like that of a mirror. What's interesting and has to my knowledge never been examined for implications is that there is an invisible but real image behind the film.

    Each half of a holographic plate sliced in half still contains the entire image, only at half the size. The halving can be repeated indefinitely, within physical limits. (Incidentally, this is one of several references to holograms made in The Book of the New Sun.)

    The most interesting aspect is holography is that each part in some sense contains the whole. There is a theory of physics that postulates that the universe is structured as a hologram. It never gained much traction yet it was never disproven, and its creator David Bohm was a well-respected physicist. Additionally, Karl Pribam is a psychologist who believes that our brains operate holographically, our brainwaves acting as the laser with our neurons as film.

    This may indeed be a technology that is simply ahead of its time, virtually useless to us without a much more mature understanding of physics or without the insight of some genius on how to do more with holograms than make eerie monochromatic volumes.

    • Each half of a holographic plate sliced in half still contains the entire image, only at half the size. The halving can be repeated indefinitely, within physical limits.

      No, not half the size; half the viewing angle. It's like covering up the right half of a window. You can still see all of the objects through the left half, but none from the right.
  • i am surprised they didn't ask him about holography in relation to data storage or other non-artsy usage.
  • I used to make holograms years ago and got some good results even though my laser was weak and my table not really heavy enough. It is a somewhat expensive endeavor and AGFA stopped making plates so I got out of it. However recently I bought a "Big Ass HeNe laser" from ebay and I am now intrested in getting back into it. Im glad to see some still do holography.
    • It would be interesting to do a hologram affixed to a transparent mug. Imagine drinking a coffee with a miniature skull floating eerily in the middle.

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