Editor's Blog: Eugene Looks at HMDs for The Tiny Big Picture

Editor's Blog: Eugene Looks at HMDs for The Tiny Big Picture


A blog is supposed to be semi-personal, sort of meandering and just falling short of loudmouth pontificating, right? I mean RIGHT? Maybe youse all didn’t get the memo. Well I did. In any case, having had the recent occasion to have a few days sitting on, er, my easy chair and watching my life go by I got caught in a life and death wrangle that involved: moving images. You know, video, film, cinema, image projection and all its attendant witchcraftery. On the one hand the advance of modern story telling has been greatly aided and abetted by the technological advances that have made getting our stories told in more and better formats even possible, on the other hand I’m not sure that this is advancing the cause. Especially if that cause is: the general health and welfare of our commonwealth.


Now bear with me: growing up in New York City I had had the opportunity to witness an all but dead (unless you’re into cars) art form. That being: forcing other people to listen to YOUR music. Big box radios, alternately called boom boxes or less politically enlightened, ghetto blasters, were cranked to 10 on the subways, streets, stoops and shoulders of New Yorkers everywhere who cared to SHARE. Sure, it was annoying enough to cause them to pass a law against it, but even that was a vote in favor of community as we all decided that “this sucks having to listen to the BeeGees all the time, everywhere.”


Flash to now: iPods, cell phones, PDAs and a bleary bevy of other tech geegaws insulate us from each other’s bad choices. Well, at least movies are safe. Up there with live concerts still a pretty cool collective deal where we can all bond in our enjoyment of whatever, right? I can hear you, loudly, explain what just happened on screen to your movie companion. I can watch laugh at the wrong jokes at the right times. It's almost perfect. Except now movies are watchable on iPods. Still a pretty cool thing as it still lets me eaves-look. I can still participate.


And then there are Head Mounted Displays (HMDs).


Different makes and different models - iTheater Video Glasses, Eye-Theatre, and Myvu - and different price points with some hitting $350 on the top end. Sure they LOOK goofy, but the reality of it is that HMDs are probably not going away because they’re so…aggh, it pains me to even say it, or maybe that’s my bum leg that’s hurting, but they’re so cool. They won’t send us any to review but I was whining to a friend “in the know” about how they just isolate us even more and he listened patiently before he said, “Yeah, but they’re so cool.”


Yeah, what do YOU know?


“Well, I tried some.” Philippe Thiphaine works at Canal Plus, the huge TV conglomerate in Paris, and is dialed IN. “It’s immersive and even the usual deal killer, that they look so stupid, doesn’t matter when you want to chill.” Thiphaine connected some HMDs to a 5G iPod and was in absolute video heaven, oblivious to a gathered group of people who had bonded in their common and shared sense that he had never looked "more ridiculous."


And he didn't care. Nope. Not at all. Hence the genius of the HMD.




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When I started my video production company in 1999 I got a SONY HMD & used it to run hand-held camera at the Spurs NBA games. I hooked it up to a toggle switch so I could watch what I was shooting or what was being feed over the air.This created a stir among the other camera operators there since if was playoff time and the international press was there. It had the ability to be able to see past the picture so you would know if you were about to be hit by a 230 lb. basketball player. (There is a disconnect between reality & TV so if you were watching the basketball player hurtling toward you on the HMD your brain might not tell you to get out of the way.) I had to give up using it. The battery life was terrible, it weighed a ton after being on your head for an hour and it got very warm. In fact I can't find it right now but that's a housekeeping issue. But they were WAY COOL.

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