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by Mykle Hansen [msl SITOme] [email Mykle Hansen] 2000-02-14 13:05:15 [170]
( i sent this in mail to jon and ed and then realised that it was everybody's business so maybe i should post it here. )

( i hope it makes sense. )

----- gridcosmos:

... i've been imagining a setup for viewing a gridcosm infinite zoom, as assigned.

for physical real-world viewing on a giant screen, i'm thinking the best way to scale the needed resolutions would be to have a central screen thats an actual computer monitor of some kind, set in a projection screen that's got both a smaller and a larger projection on it. the central screen, if it can do 1350x1350, can show three levels of resolution at once. then the video projectors, if they can both do 450x450 resolution, can each add two more levels of resolution, so that with a central piece displayed at full 150x150 resolution, a total of seven levels can be displayed. that's a lot of levels, since they grow exponentially. i don't know if that's even too many or not.

i hit a wall thinking about how to map gridcosm onto a tunnel when i realized just how far away things have to be in real life to get small enough to shrink by one gridcosm level. not sure what kind of topological trick or special glasses could help amplify the far-away-ness of far-away things.

for hardware, the brainy mr. cassidy curtis suggested to me that if i can learn to program these ultra-cheap quake-driven PC graphics cards that do hardware texture mapping, all i really have to do is float squares around and change their size, which is easy. since i'm a perl fanatic and a linux fan, i did some research and figured that some combo of perl, Mesa (a free clone of OpenGL), Linux, and a video card supporting the Glide driver by 3dFX (i think they're called Voodoo cards) should let me operate the hardware from perl.

but that's just a theory, and there'd be a lot of fiddling to make it work. i'm also looking into whether there's some way to do the same thing with Sony DreamCast stations or some other video game system. but that's actually a lot farther from my strong areas of knowledge.

now i might be able to get three video cards working in one Linux PC, but i've never heard of that being done before. if i can't, then i'd be talking about having three different PCs, each controlling one video card and synchronizing themselves with each other, where one would drive the monitor and one would drive each video projector. that seems still within the realm of doability, since three slow PCs cost as much as one fast one anyway.

one problem i haven't worked out is how to make a really good seamless integration of the three video images on the screen. like, i can hide the monitor behind the screen and project onto the front of the screen, but that restricts people's movement in front of the screen 'cause they'll cast shadows. or i can project from the back, but then the monitor itself would cast shadows. (i thought about flat screens, but even they don't generally go all the way out to the edge. a better solution might be to liberate the monitor's tube from the rest of its innards so it points a cone-shaped profile at the projector.)

a better overlapping might be done if there are two front projectors, one off to each side of the viewing area, each projecting half of a level. because of the extreme angle they'd be projecting from, there would need to be some skewing going on, but again the hardware in the video cards could compensate. if we did the inner projected level this way, the outer projected level could still be rear-projected, and this would bring the total system up to four video-generating-whatever-computers, three video projectors, and one monitor.

for the center monitor, instead of getting a cathode-ray tube that does 1350x1350, we might get a LCD that does 450x450 but with really large pixels. you'd lose one level of resolution but gain some gorgeousness. in general i think a LCD screen would merge better with a projected light display, plus they look so fabulous and pixel-correct. as i said above, a total of seven levels may be excessive, so the loss of central res shouldn't scare anyone.

the center monitor could also be: a monstorously expensive LCD display that does 1350x1350; a monstorously expensive wide-screen TV that does 450x450; a third video projection from a third (mosterously expensive?) video projector. this would of course blend better than anything else with the other two projector images; a picture of me fornicating with a salmon (edgy!); or just a hole ... high-concept and low-budget at once!

anyway, i thought i'd let you know what i've come up with so far and feed it into the thought-stew.


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