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James Cameron To Develop 3-D Camera For Mars Rover

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the don't-you-mean-james-cameraman dept.

Input Devices 143

Hugh Pickens writes "Computerworld reports that movie director James Cameron, of Avatar and Titanic fame, is working with Malin Space Science Systems Inc. to build an updated 3-D camera that will be installed on the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity if completed in time, to be the machine's 'science-imaging workhorse,' says Michael Malin, who is working on the camera team. Malin delivered two cameras to be installed on the rover's main mast; however NASA has provided Malin with funding to work with Cameron to build alternatives to these two cameras. 'The fixed focal length [cameras] we just delivered will do almost all of the science we originally proposed. But they cannot provide a wide field of view with comparable eye stereo,' he says. 'With the zoom [cameras], we'll be able to take cinematic video sequences in 3-D on the surface of Mars.'"

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Yes, but what about the story? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053190)

What's the narrative you're using?

Re:Yes, but what about the story? (2, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053314)

And will I have to update my firmware to get the DRM to work?

Tax dollars hardly at work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053980)

NASA: Awarding jobs to the highest bidder.

Re:Tax dollars hardly at work. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054448)

Talking of Jobs, it seems James Cameron is joining that elite club (the one that Richard Branson used to belong to) where he's tinkering with everything and every time he farts it's considered newsworthy.

Any Takers? (5, Funny)

Willtor (147206) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053200)

I'm taking bets on how long it takes NASA to discover blue aliens on Mars.

Re:Any Takers? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053216)

We'll paint it blue so as to blend in.

Re:Any Takers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32054124)

The first man on Mars will have to be from the Blue Man Group.

I'm ready for this mission (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053224)

But, if you see another Rover. Wake me up before I fall in love with it.

Why? (5, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053248)

I don't see why James Cameron's involvement is necessary. Stereoscopic imaging is pretty simple technology, and it's not like James Cameron invented it. What's so hard about turning a fixed-focal-length stereo camera into one that has zoom lenses? And why would you employ a film director, rather than an optical engineer to do it?

Re:Why? (5, Insightful)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053274)

And why would you employ a film director, rather than an optical engineer to do it?

For the publicity. NASA is in serious need of some.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053312)

Speaking of James Cameron and publicity, it's bizarre that the summary mentions him as the director of Avatar and Titanic, but neglects to mention his seminal works; Aliens and Terminator.

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053348)

I thought that was strange too. They mention his two shittiest films, but neglect his two best films.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32054086)

They are the two most recent films he's done. One of them came out mere months ago - hell, it's probably still in theaters in some locations - and got a lot of attention in the press. Both films outsold Aliens and Terminator by a fair margin. In fact, Avatar and Titanic hold the #1 and #2 spots on the list of highest-grossing movies ever created.

And just to give a value-added anecdote, I wasn't aware he was the director of Aliens (which I've never seen) or the Terminator films. The purpose of naming a couple of Cameron's works in the article is to make people who read it recognize: "Oh yeah, James Cameron, he did those movies. I know of him." The best examples to use to that effect are precisely Avatar and Titanic, which have made the biggest splash worldwide. The relative artistic merits of his films have no bearing upon whether the reader will recognize James Cameron's name in association with said films.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054506)

Not really that bizarre, Avatar had all that 3D stuff and for Titanic he got underwater footage of the actual ship deep underwater which are both more related to the subject than Aliens or Terminator.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32054624)

Not really that bizarre, Avatar had all that 3D stuff and for Titanic he got underwater footage of the actual ship deep underwater which are both more related to the subject than Aliens or Terminator.

We're talking about NASA taking pictures of Mars. How could anything possibly be more related to that subject than Aliens?

Re:Why? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32055174)

How could anything possibly be more related to that subject than Aliens?

Terminator might be more closely related, given that it's about robots, and it's robots that will will be going to Mars.

Re:Why? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054630)

I'm sure that the fact that they're more recent and more commercially successful (and therefore more likely to grab the proles' attention for 5 minutes) had absolutely nothing to do with it. At all. Not even a little bit, round the edges.

Re:Why? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053986)

For the publicity. NASA is in serious need of some.

Yeah, remember that one time in the 90s they shot a senator into space [space-tourism.ws] ? It was to "study the effects of space on the elderly". They seriously said that. In public. And reporters played along with it like it was serious research.

That was the day NASA lost my support.

Re:Why? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054102)

He was trying to keep up with the Garns.

--

That year Fritz Hollings 76 was reelected junior Senator from South Carolina, John Glenn 77 orbited the planet, and Thomas Jefferson 200 became a father.

Re:Why? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054960)

And why would you employ a film director, rather than an optical engineer to do it?

For the publicity. NASA is in serious need of some.

So they picked the guy that got famous making a disaster film like Titanic? Not only that but he managed to make a mockery of it. (It was more about Americans fucking in a car on a boat and a loopy old women that throw away fictional priceless jewels than the Titanic). Sure he's currently famous for a sci-fi film that features 3D but they should still pick their bedfellows based on more than the current Hollywood Marketing. Real science has to have real substance, not over the top special effects. I wonder how many real science projects had to be canned to reallocate the money to hire Cameron?

Re:Why? (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053444)

Exactly. It makes absolutely NO sense to have Cameron on this project. Cameron USES these cameras very well, he knows absolutely NOTHING about how to DESIGN them.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053932)

he knows absolutely NOTHING about how to DESIGN them

Are you sure about this? I can't contradict you, but when you've done as many movies under as many conditions as JC has, you probably have had to do some modifications to cameras that might actually make you an expert in the hardware.

If you ever saw the making of The Abyss, they did some pretty crazy stuff, and I'll bet he had a hand in modifying the cameras to do what he wanted.

Halo effect (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054556)

I heard he grinds the lenses himself. By hand. He also wrote an optimized implementation of MLT over dinner one night. In perl.

Re:Halo effect (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32055242)

The camera lenses aren't polished by his hands, but by his ass, as he squeezes the glass between his large hairy buns while shouting "I am the king of the world!"

Re:Why? (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054550)

Exactly, he's just a really rich idiot right? What does he actually know?

Re:Why? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054602)

Difficult to tell where your sarcasm is aimed (at NASA/Cameron or at the person being sarky to him) but rich doesn't necessarily imply smart, and smart certainly doesn't imply smart at everything.

Re:Why? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053490)

I don't see why James Cameron's involvement is necessary.

Perhaps, he will be asked to create content as well?

Hopefully, that's nothing more than Plan B at NASA, though...

Re:Why? (5, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053530)

I don't know the level of detail that he was involved in, but Cameron did have a hand [wikipedia.org] in developing the camera and he's used it in several of his movies (including Avatar).

How much actual technical help was he? No idea, but it is called the Pace-Cameron Fusion Camera System. It must be pretty good as well considering both the amazing job it did for Avatar and the fact that the technology is going to be used in other films [wikipedia.org] as well.

And, as others mentioned, dropping his name is good for publicity and is probably designed to give the public something to look forward to from the next rover.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054396)

Oh god, they're making another Resident Evil movie?

Re:Why? (1)

Killall -9 Bash (622952) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053590)

I don't see why James Cameron's involvement is necessary. Stereoscopic imaging is pretty simple technology, and it's not like James Cameron invented it.

NASA is just name-dropping. NASA has been a PR-disaster-barely-avoided for its entire history. It used to be a military ICBM research project disguised as Flash Gordon, but the 21st century needs something new.... like Total Recall disguised as WALL-E's 3D adventure in space.

Does the preceding sentence make no sense to you? It'll make lots of sense to your grandchildren when they're serfs mining helium3 on the moon.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053666)

I'd like to think that my grandchildren will realize TOTAL RECALL ISN'T ABOUT MINERS ON MARS! It's about fake memories, damn it!

Re:Why? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053788)

It'll make lots of sense to your grandchildren when they're serfs mining helium3 on the moon.

For fuck's sake, I want to be a serf mining helium3 on the moon. Now you're saying my grandchildren will get to do that? Fuck that. Now they're never going to inherit my valuable antique Pentium 4.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053648)

Nothing against the guy but I'd be surprised if Cameron can pass a high school trigonometry exam.

On the other hand, half the drones at NASA wouldn't be able to do the same, so I don't see this as a deal breaker.

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

rm999 (775449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053698)

Maybe they are employing him in a high level role. After all, he probably knows who is the best at this kinds of stuff. Also, I believe he worked closely with the optical engineers on the camera equipment for Avatar.

While the cynic in me initially believed this was a pure PR move, I actually think he may be a good choice for something like this.

Re:Why? (1)

simontek2 (523795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053782)

More interestingly is, IF they he finishes on time, it would be the first time. That boy never finishes anything on time. I remember when they were doing Avatar, they called digital domain to render 1/4 of the scenes in 2 weeks, to get it done on time. It was delayed.

Re:Why? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053856)

Stereoscopic imaging is pretty simple technology...why would you employ a film director, rather than an optical engineer to do it?

Having worked on several stereo films (including Avatar) I can tell you that it isn't simple at all. Building something that takes stereo photos and developing an automated machine that can take effective photos with proper interocular and all that jazz are two very different things. You can hand a camera to an experienced photographer and then to your sister and get two VERY different photos. With your sister, you'd be lucky if she didn't chop off the head. With the photographer, besides setting all the settings correctly, he'd also find the most effective angle/lighting to take the photo at.

It's also worth mentioning that Jim has had a lot of experience not only behind the camera, but also with using machines to capture imagery in very hostile enviornments. (see Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep.)

Really it makes perfect sense why they'd want his input, it just helps to know more about who he is and how simple stereo photograph aint. ;)

Re:Why? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053952)

But the Slashdot crowd would like some technical examples of how an expert photographer improves the results.

Re:Why? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32054284)

I think if the Slashdot crowd really wanted technical examples, they'd ask questions instead of making statements. ;)

Photography is a strong blend of art and science. The expert photographer would understand that he is capturing a two dimensional image of a three dimensional object. He'd make sure the lighting is such that it gives proper cues to the brain about what its three dimensional form is. He'd attempt to capture the subject at the right angle that its silohuette reads, even making choices about what's behind it. He'd also compose the shot to land your eye onto the right part of the image. He'd also do things like make sure there isn't a bright light-source behind the subject preventing the camera from exposing them properly. This is only a small portion of what a professional photographer would do.

Stereo photography is all that and then it's compounded by having a second camera in the mix. On Avatar a number of things had to be taken into consideration. Take an environment like the Ops Center. You've got a lot of shiny hard edged things, many right up near the camera, and a good deal of overlap. Shiny, in particular, is a problem. With the seperation between the cameras the specularity or reflectivity of the metal can cause one eye to see something drastically different from the other. Sometimes that's fixed by a guy on the set, sometimes it's fixed by re-composing the shot. How far apart should the cameras be? That depends on what you want to show the audience. It's not as simple as "Make it the width of a human!" because our eyes don't zoom. When you zoom in the seperation is exaggerated so you have to adjust the width. When you're transitioning from one shot to another you have to be mindful of how much you're asking the audience to change their focus. Etc etc etc.

What it all boils down to is that there is no simple set of rules to shoot streographically. This worries me as I imagine the whole reason they'd do this is to make the stereo functions on the machine as automatic as possible. They only way they're going to make something usable a suitable percent of the time is to have a good idea of the sort of scenarios it would encounter and how it could best deal with them. That's where having somebody who's been behind the lens of a stereo camera for many many hours comes in handy. And that is why somebody like Jim would be ideal to have on hand.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32055204)

What it all boils down to is that there is no simple set of rules to shoot streographically. This worries me as I imagine the whole reason they'd do this is to make the stereo functions on the machine as automatic as possible. They only way they're going to make something usable a suitable percent of the time is to have a good idea of the sort of scenarios it would encounter and how it could best deal with them. That's where having somebody who's been behind the lens of a stereo camera for many many hours comes in handy. And that is why somebody like Jim would be ideal to have on hand.

They're going to mostly be taking pictures of rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. Little bitty rocks, great big rocks. From the size of sand to the size of mountains.

Re:Why? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053968)

With your sister, you'd be lucky if she didn't chop off the head.

As long as YOUR sister gets her body in the bathroom mirror, I'm happy.

Re:Why? (4, Funny)

darthdavid (835069) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054908)

My sister's an excellent photographer, you insensitive clod!

Re:Why? (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053910)

For the same reason you don't hire an optical engineer for advice on scene composition; you hire a critically acclaimed photographer.

Anyone can take 3D photos. But you still need a good photographer to bring out the best of a scene.

Re:Why? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053942)

Anyone can take 3D photos. But you still need a good photographer to bring out the best of a scene.

Well, yes, but I would assume NASA are interested in scientific imaging, not aesthetics or composition.

Re:Why? (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054968)

Obviously that is their main priority.

Re:Why? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053936)

because he just so happens to be an optical engineer with an extra degree in physics. and he's been to space 14 times.

er...no.

because it's publicity. and he's a huge obama supporter (no, really).

Re:Why? (4, Informative)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054120)

Actually, Cameron did indeed study physics, and did a lot of engineering. As others have mentioned, he's most likely one of the best-connected people to the community of optical engineers who work on 3D images. He's already proven that he can co-design a pretty effective 3D camera.

And it's not like NASA is putting him in charge of anything. He's being brought in as an adviser, probably on a pretty high level, and as far as I can tell, pro bono. I think that's pretty cool. I have no doubt that he will contribute two or three useful ideas based on his extensive experience. This also serves to promote the narrative of Cameron the technical wizard: Gear he helped design even went to Mars! It makes a great feel-good talking point for him when he's doing the interview circuit for his next movie.

Re:Why? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053944)

Joss Whedon was too busy.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32054242)

You must have never tried to actually do a thing.

Re:Why? (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054454)

But you gotta wonder...why didn't any of the imaging/displays used by the corp. militants in Avatar DIDN'T USE 3-D...?

Good enough for the brain-dead movie-going public today, but not good enough for the future?

Re:Why? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32055198)

You simply weren't paying attention. Quite a lot of the displays seen in the command center, and in the linking lab, were in 3D. You could see parallax shift in the contents of the display as the camera panned past them. I also liked the way the tech was able to "swipe" gesture the contents of his display onto a portable "pad" display, the contents of which were also in 3D. It was pretty neat. Why all the hate for what was a very well executed science fiction film? Was it because it was successful? Can geeks only love sci-fi if it is obscure and inaccessible, or quirky and jargon-laden? Personally, I thought Avatar was amazing.

Re:Why? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32055182)

It's not that simple. There are probably going to be a few hiccups and Cameron is pretty knowledgable on the technical aspects. There may well be an aspect of "Hey, jim, we've got this problem with the 3D cameras in these circumstances. How did you deal with this in avatar?"

Oracle of Bacon Says... (5, Funny)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053256)

James Cameron -> The Terminator -> Arnold Swarchenegger -> Total Recall -> Get Your Ass to Mars!!!

Re:Oracle of Bacon Says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053784)

actually: James Cameron was in 2001 ABC World Stunt Awards (2001) (TV) with Jackie Chan who was in Xiao lao hu (1973) with Mars.
And you grossly misspelled Schwarzenegger.

Depth Perception (1)

BrightSpark (1578977) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053258)

Might help the engineers to figure out where the ground is before they dump a probe into Mars at high velocity :-)

No... he's promoting it. (1)

retech (1228598) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053260)

Cameron does not have the technical chops to design such a camera. He's promoting he's view of space exploration to NASA and wanting them to use gear he's financially backed.

Which now we must ask, why is a shlock film maker being allowed input into critical scientific exploration? Please NASA get off the fanboi wagon.

Re:No... he's promoting it. (1)

retech (1228598) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053276)

Typo: He's promoting he's view of space...
Correction He's promoting HIS view of space...

my apologies.

Re:No... he's promoting it. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053462)

If you're going to proofread your own post, why don't you postpone submission until that's done?

Re:No... he's promoting it. (1)

radioid (1801172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053640)

The term "typo" includes errors due to mechanical failure or slips of the hand or finger, but excludes errors of ignorance. I don't think using "he's" instead of "his" can be classified as a typo.

Re:No... he's promoting it. (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053674)

It is a mechanical error. The mechanics are electrochemical, but still...

Re:No... he's promoting it. (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054474)

Actually he probably does.

He is extremely well read on physics. He did develop a lot of the technology himself.

You have bretrayed us, James "traitor" Cameron! (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053262)

I am shoked that jAmess Camarone would stoop so low -- to [prostitue himself and his art to NASAL, a known front group for Italian espionage agencies whose mission it is to undermine our Nation and our God with their moral-relativis, heliocentric plagte tectonic "theory". James Camerone, you are a traitor and a scumbag, and an Italian interloper!

Sigh... (3, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053282)

Malin used to work at Pixar. He's the absolute right person to do this. He doesn't really need Cameron, just give him the assignment.

What bothers me about this, though, is that this science project has to pander to the public with eye-candy. Because we can't sell them on the science. I think this says something about our national lack of education, and something about the public having become a massively parallel knee-jerk driven by the lies fed to them daily on Fox TV and the trash TV that is more important to them than mankind's future.

Bruce

Re:Sigh... (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053420)

What bothers me about this, though, is that this science project has to pander to the public with eye-candy. Because we can't sell them on the science. I think this says something about our national lack of education, and something about the public having become a massively parallel knee-jerk driven by the lies fed to them daily on Fox TV and the trash TV that is more important to them than mankind's future.

No Bruce its the same all around the world. I don't think it is education as such. I am sure there are plenty of highly educated managers who would not care about the science and perhaps be inspired by a good picture in passing.

Immersion is a good way of catching people's attention. Cameron did that with Avatar and found new viewers for a simple action+SF story. Maybe he can do the same with Mars. Maybe someone can sell monitors just for viewing the latest from Mars in 3D. I don't think data on air temperature or organics in the soil will ever do it for the majority.

Re:Sigh... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053466)

I can't wait to see what they'll come up with for "wide field of view with comparable eye stereo", it appears to be really non-trivial thing to do (accidentally, a thing I was wondering about a bit - doing it properly probably requires quite insane optical system)

At the least, with "proper" zooming, we might finally have the ultimate geeky "romantic" photo; with stunning view of Mars moons.

Re:Sigh... (2, Insightful)

kramulous (977841) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054294)

What bothers me is why a 3D camera? That gimmick will be gone soon ... particularly if active stereo hangs around. And what really is the value add?

Why not go with LiDAR? Datasets will be smaller and far more accurate with lots of additional data dimensions. Point clouds are fabulous to work with.

Re:Sigh... (1)

Degro (989442) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054310)

I think maybe the point is to do both. It starts seeming a lot like trickle down economics if the data sourced from these tax funded missions is only analyzable by a small group of scientists. Why should everyone just be content with having all the thinking monopolized by those few individuals. All in hopes that one day the results trickle down in the form of innovations to our everyday lives. There's value in having data (3d film in this case) that can be analyzed by the laymen as well. It leads to something very different, but it's not worthless.

Smokin'! (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053286)

Excellent! NASA can gets new corporate sponsors as Marlboro redefines itself as the 'Red cigarette on the Red Planet' and a generation of School Kids can be charmed by Joe Camel's new adventures on mars. http://scifi.about.com/b/2010/01/04/avatar-is-smoking-in-more-ways-than-one.htm [about.com]

No need for two cameras (4, Funny)

jms (11418) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053324)

This will satisfy the burning need for three dimensional movies of stationary martian rocks.

Re:No need for two cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053480)

that sounds like an awesome screensaver

Re:No need for two cameras (1)

RoboRay (735839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053514)

that sounds like an awesome screensaver

You normally wear 3D goggles while using your computer or just walking around the house?

Re:No need for two cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053730)

They come in handy when visiting Flatland.

Re:No need for two cameras (1)

BionicWorm (913530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053596)

I think they're hoping for a Galaxy Quest Commander Taggart fighting kind of rock.

Re:No need for two cameras (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053704)

Uhuh.

Hold on. Has Mars always been blue or am I missing something?

yes but... (1)

jisou (1483699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053378)

is he really trying to find more blue aliens to star in his next film?

It's obvious why NASA needs him (5, Funny)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053540)

Who else is going to be able to fake the Mars landing?

Someone contact NASA... (3, Funny)

undecim (1237470) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053616)

...and make sure that they steal it rather than pay for it. That way, it will work with their hardware.

Re:Someone contact NASA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053734)

that made absolutely no sense...

Why (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053642)

I strongly suspect that when they say "James Cameron" they mean "a team of optics engineers who worked on Avatar which Cameron nominally leads."

Re:Why (1)

g33korama (1671286) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053922)

Yea, that was the first thing that came to mind. The headline should read, "James Cameron To Fund Team To Develop 3-D Camera For Mars Rover" - But as others have mentioned, it's a publicity stunt to help gain interest whilst having 'star' backing. But it's likely James Cameron will do just that, fund it... then his brilliant Avatar optics team will do the down and dirty. Also, I think people typically find Cameron to be an arrogant pompous bastard, which explains the backlash.

Everyone who thinks a director invents camera's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053656)

Raise your hand.. oh no hands?

WTF? I'm not even bothering to RTFA it sounds like absolute BS tripe.

Does anyone bother to read the nice words? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053706)

Several people got modded up for questioning why Cameron was "hired" or "designing" the rig. He's not been hired and no one said he's designing anything. He's promoting the idea with NASA to help get people more excited about space. The Mars rover shots did more to get people excited about space than anything since the Moon landing. He's also going to be advising the team but that's legitimate given how much experience he has with 3D camera rigs, it goes back to Terminator 3D, I worked on it and he does know the subject. He also knows the best people in the field for helping them design the rig and software so he can make contacts for them. It's a growing field but 10 years ago the experts were on a very short list. I worked on several 3D productions and you always used to see a lot of the same faces. He's offering free help and he's better informed than most people here seem to give him credit for. Avatar has the best 3D ever and his pushing to make it the best was the reason why. Focusing strictly on hard science is a great way to drive people away. Also 3D images have technical value. Ever try to drive a car with one eye closed? In the future when rovers travel faster and further stereo vision systems will become more important. Now is a good time to develop the technology. Good on Jim for diving in. NASA needs all the help it can get if they are to have any hope of hanging onto their budget as money tightens up.

Re:Does anyone bother to read the nice words? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053732)

>> Ever try to drive a car with one eye closed?

I've driven with one contact lens, and with my myopia it's pretty close to having one eye. It wasn't that hard, but I did drive extra conservatively. Also, I knew a girl with only one eye (the other was a glass eye for the eyeball lost due to an illness in childhood). She drove perfectly well in southern California.

Re:Does anyone bother to read the nice words? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32054050)

I drive with no peripheral vision on my right side (homonymous hemanopia). I only hit one or two things a day.

Re:Does anyone bother to read the nice words? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32054070)

What more is there to develop? The current rovers up there already have stereo vision.

Whats likely needed more is massive amounts of radiation hardened storage, and improvements with radio tech to push the data from mars even faster. The rovers only have about a 250kbps connection back here to earth. Going to take quite awhile to get high res pics and video back here.

Re:Does anyone bother to read the nice words? (4, Interesting)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054172)

I have also worked in the film business and worked on 3D projects, and it is still an art, not a science. There are a lot of trade-offs involved, and experience is a big factor in making the right choices.

Besides this, Cameron has already worked with scientists. Between Titanic and Avatar he got involved in other deep sea filming projects. He's been with oceanographers and worked with remotely operated vehicles. Kind of like a rover on Mars.

The way he makes films uses 'pre-visualization', where virtual environments are built before the film is shot, allowing many problems to be solved before being on the set. This is what they do when planning spacecraft operations. This is why there are all those flyby simulations that they show before the actual data comes back. In addition, the current Mars rover planning uses a virtual environment for generating path planning before the commands are sent to the real rover. Just like pre-viz in movies.

I would say that Cameron is a real asset for NASA. It's not like he is inserting himself where he is not wanted. I think he can make a positive contribution.

Re:Does anyone bother to read the nice words? (1)

x14n (935233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054388)

Ever try to drive a car with one eye closed?

Not personally, but I hear it's a surprisingly popular way to get home from the bar. Something about 2 lines being easier to stay between than 4...

Re:Does anyone bother to read the nice words? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32054754)

Ever try to drive a car with one eye closed?

Actually, yes. I'm blind on one eye since I'm 9 but driving a car works perfectly fine since I was 18. Please re-formulate what you wanted to state ("there are things where you NEED a stereosopic view") as what you stated ("Driving a car is such a case") very apparently did not state that.

I hope he can help and ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32055196)

I hope he can help and that any stupid mistakes are caught. Almost EVERYTHING is different in space than on Earth. Weight is always the enemy, but so is durability. Simple things that we take for granted in most of our designs simply don't apply with space-rated equipment. There is only 1 chance for it to work, ofter 5 yrs after it last moved. And please tell them to double check the english to metric unit conversions.

There have always been things about Cameron movies that didn't sit well with me as an engineer. Important things are always forgotten or ignored that simply cannot be like they are shown in his movies .... except in Titanic. I still can't believe people bothered to watch that movie. We all knew how it ended before we sad down! I've never been able to sit through the entire movie. Simply too boring.

I'd hire James Cameron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32053762)

If I was NASA, I would hire James Cameron. The technology behind making 3D movies is simple, but the technology behind making 3D movies that actually look decent is not. Most optical engineers don't have experience working around the multi-million dollar equipment that makes a movie like Avatar so clear and easy to watch. On the other hand, James Cameron (or James Cameron's team) produced a two and a half hour movie using that same technology. Avatar was practically filmed using technology that Cameron either invented or perfected, depending on which edit of Wikipedia you choose to believe. If you're looking for the team that has the most hands on experience doing 3D movie work, then his team is it.

Negative (4, Informative)

Silvrmane (773720) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053800)

The negative comments on Slashdot are really getting depressing to read. From Cameron's biography at IMDB:
James Cameron was born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada, on August 16, 1954. He moved to the USA in 1971. The son of an engineer, he majored in physics at California State University.
So yeah, I think he can do trigonometry. He might actually be smarter than you. Give the guy a break.

Re:Negative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32054278)

I'd rather not, thanks.

Re:Negative (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32054662)

WRONG.

His involvment in avatar proves that he is not smarter than..... alot of people.

Nasa slipping (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 4 years ago | (#32053962)

Was a time when it was NASA providing the tech to the film director, like when they traded a high tech lens capable of shooting in very low light to Stanley Kubrick in exchange for him helping fake the moon landing.

Dark Side of the Moon [www.cbc.ca]

Obama (1)

Smirker (695167) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054028)

So this is Obama's new plan for space..

waste of time (1)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054040)

The HR wide angle pic's we get now from mars are amazing, making them smaller but in 3d isn't going to make them more interesting. Cameron has dunk the 3d koolaid. 3d is just 2 off set cameras, it isn't going to provide better science. While we are promoting the arts 54.6 million km away, why not add some blue night lens filters, and maybe on set lens flares

ASC has 3d cameras (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054338)

Advanced scientific concepts has 3d cameras.

http://www.advancedscientificconcepts.com/ [advancedsc...ncepts.com]
Read the press release...NASA is mentioned.

Seeing as NASA's been under a tight budget... (1)

PGGreens (1699764) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054428)

James Cameron is the natural choice.

In a perfect world.... (1)

chucklebutte (921447) | more than 4 years ago | (#32054564)

Nasa and the DoD's budgets would be flipped....

He's not a dilettante in Space exploration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32055016)

I once had the privilege of briefly working with him while he was evaluating servers for 3D projection for theatrical presentations. It was for his film "Ghosts of the Abyss" which ends with a hypothetical mission to the under-ice global ocean of Europa. There the crew meets some intelligent aliens (that look a little like the ones in the movie "Abyss").

While his interest in that subject is well known, less well known is the fact he commissioned a set of renderings for a Manned Mission to Mars. Not only did he pay for this but he spent a considerable amount of time (he says "years") tracking down the specialists at NASA he needed to accurately design this mission. (From what I remember it was a little like Zubrin's proposal with in-situ propellant manufacture with a prior unmanned lander).

http://www.astrobio.net/interview/813/james-camerons-mars-reference-design [astrobio.net]

I just wanted to mention that not only does he have the technical skills (or access to them) to pull this off, he clearly has the motivation to do so as well. (On another note, I'm particularly intrigued that the sequel or pre-quel to "AVATAR" that he's rumored to be making will be set in Pandora's ocean. He obviously has an abiding interest in that as well). Anyway, more power to him!

3D cameras are new? What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32055072)

What's so special about Cameron's 3D setups? Didn't we have essentially the same thing decades ago by taping 2 cameras together for 3D?

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