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Posts Tagged ‘New Technology’

The Eternal Camera

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

This new, light-powered camera – now in development – could theoretically take pictures for all eternity.

As BBC News reports, “A camera powered by the light it uses to take pictures has been invented by American scientists. The camera generates power by converting some of the light falling on its sensor into electricity that is then used to take a snap. Theoretically the self-powered device could take a picture every second, forever.

The camera’s creators are now refining the device and are looking into ways to commercialize the technology.  ‘We are in the middle of a digital imaging revolution,’ said Professor Shree Nayar, director of the computer vision laboratory at Columbia University in New York who invented the device. ‘A camera that can function as an untethered device forever – without any external power supply – would be incredibly useful.’

Professor Nayar said the route to creating the device opened up when he realized that solar panels and digital cameras use almost the same component, known as a photodiode, to handle light. Working with engineers, Nayar managed to create a photodiode that combined the light-sensing abilities of a camera with the power-converting properties seen in solar panels.

The next step was to use lots of the combined photodiodes to form a grid that both senses the intensity of light falling on it and converts some of that illumination into power that captures an image. The prototype sensor grid is just 30 by 40 pixels in size and currently takes grainy black and white images. To demonstrate its abilities, Nayar and colleagues used their self-powered camera to shoot a short film.

Nayar told the BBC that the next step in development was to make a self-powered, solid-state image sensor with many more pixels that could then be used to produce a standalone camera that could be used anywhere. The self-powering sensor could also be used to lower the power consumption needs of smartphones and other gadgets, he said, or, when not being used to take pictures, could also function as an in-built power generator.”

I’m sure such a device could indeed be “incredibly useful,” but frankly, I’m not sure I like the idea of a camera that takes images forever, as part of a Panopticonic universe. And am I the only one who sees the blurry, early image above as a sort of replica of Edvard Munch’s The Scream?

Perpetual, self-powered surveillance. Read the whole story by clicking here, or on the image above.

Streaming Directly from the Cloud to Your Brain

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

I have a new interview in Moving Image Archive News on my recent book, Streaming.

As I note in the interview, “I’ve watched film change and morph for more than half a century. As I grew up, everything was being shown in theaters in 35mm, and at colleges, universities and libraries in 16mm, and there was, of course, no such thing as home video, VHS or DVD. Films screened on television were really ’streaming’ – they were broadcast at a certain date and time, and you had to be present at that time to see them.

I remember vividly setting my alarm clock for 1 a.m. or later to see films on WCBS TV’s The Late Show, and then The Late, Late Show, and even The Late, Late, Late Show, which is how I saw most of the classics growing up. I would also haunt revival theaters in New York City, such as the Thalia and the New Yorker, to see the classics projected in their proper format.

Video, of course, has been around since the early 1950s, but I don’t think anyone, even professional archivists, ever thought it would completely replace film, but it has. 16mm is completely defunct as a production medium, except in the case of Super 16mm which is used sometimes in features (such as The Hurt Locker) to save costs, but then blown up to 35mm, or now, skipping that step entirely and moving straight to a DCP.

Film is finished. It’s simply a fact. 35mm and 16mm projection are now a completely rarity, and screenings on actual film are becoming ‘events,’ rather than the norm. This is simply a platform shift, and it comes with various problems, mainly archiving the digital image, which is much more unstable than film.

But with the image quality of RED cameras for production, and digital projection taking over, it’s an inescapable fact that shooting on film is now the moving image equivalent of stone lithography. So now, my own viewing habits have moved to DVD and Blu-Ray, and I have a ridiculously large collection of DVDs in my home library, some 10,000 or more.

I have to have them in this format, because I can’t count on the quality of streaming videos from Netflix, Amazon, or other online sources. Blu-Ray, in particular, yields a truly remarkable image. So that’s how I watch films now, and in any event, the revival houses, even in major cities, are all now pretty much a thing of the past.”

You can read the entire interview by clicking here, or on the image above.

Twisted Light Delivers Data at Blinding Speed

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

This just in from the scientific web journal The Bunsen Burner:

“A team of U.S. researchers say they have discovered a process by which to transmit upwards of 2.56 terabits of data per second using twisted beams of light.

Twisting light to send data at dramatically increased speeds may be used to build high-speed satellite communication links or be adapted for use in the fiber optic cables that are used by some Internet service providers. It may one day be commonplace to download data packages the equivalent of 70 DVDs in one second, say scientists, citing research that shows a new high-speed data transfer breaking records.

The technology has potential applications for high-speed satellite communication links, short free-space terrestrial links or could be adapted for use in the fiber optic cables used by some Internet service providers. Researchers noted that the test conducted resulted in data transfer speeds 85,000 times faster than broadband internet speeds, some of the fastest ever recorded.

The test was conducted by harnessing the power of light, which scientists manipulated in order to better facilitate the transfer of data. The present study saw a single beam of light carry 2.5 terabits per second carried over a distance of 1 meter, but the method could be adapted for long distance, say scientists.”

Every day, we move one step further towards a totally streaming world.

The Future of Cinema?

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

As David S. Cohen writes in Variety, “Last week must have been surreal for Douglas Trumbull. On the one hand, he was showered with accolades — the George Melies Award from the Visual Effects Society, honoring his pioneering vfx work; and the Sawyer Award, an Oscar statuette, from the Academy for his work across a wide range of technological and creative fronts — but while he was being feted by the industry’s movers and shakers, he’s still seeking financial backing for those innovations.

Working on a stage on his property in Massachusetts, Trumbull is combining high frame rates and 3D on the production side with advanced projection tech and curved screens that get brightness up to 30 foot Lamberts — more than a full stop above the current standard of 14 foot Lamberts for standard 2D projection, and several stops above the typical brightness at multiplexes for 3D.

“No one in the industry has seen a 3D movie at 30 foot Lamberts at 120 frames per second,” he said. “What happens when you get into this hyper-real realm of a movie, that seems to be a window onto reality, is that the entire cinematic language begins to change.” He wants to make a movie using Hypercinema and move away from the master shots, two-shots, over-the-shoulder shots and close-ups we’ve all seen thousands of times, to create “an experience of tremendous participation in an alternate world, which I think people will crave and are ready to pay for.”

You can read the entire article here; fascinating stuff.

About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. All comments by Dixon on this blog are his own opinions. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at or

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