PMA Magazine – Connecting the Imaging Communities - January 2010
Envision the future
6Sight Future of Imaging Conference showcased 3D imaging, on-demand printing and more
By Gary Pageau
Nearly 200 imaging leaders from around the world came together at the 6Sight Future of Imaging Conference, Nov. 10-12, in Monterey, Calif., to witness the launch of new technologies, learn about computational photography, understand 3D imaging, learn about the emerging prosumer photographer – and forming alliances that will drive the future of imaging for the foreseeable future.
After an introduction by conference chair Alexis Gerard, president of Future Image, the event keynote speaker, Ramesh Raskar, of the MIT Media Lab, challenged the executives in the audience to think very differently about photography. While the concept of computational photography had been discussed at prior 6Sight conferences, Raskar took it a step further.
Computational photography can create an “augmented visual experience” by going beyond the visual aspect of imaging and adding elements of content, like metadata or geo-tagging. Raskar framed his presentation as a “wish list,” with such concepts as using a high-resolution, touch screen LCD as a 4-by-5-inch imaging sensor; or advanced methods of sharing your visual experiences with the world, while still maintaining privacy. “You should have access over who sees your photos,” said Raskar. “Imagine having a ‘robot.txt’ file (used by websites to control search engine access) in real life, where you could control access of your pictures in the public.
“The future of photography will not be recorded, it will be computed,” he declared.
Another keynote speaker, renowned photographer, and digital imaging pioneer Stephen Johnson offered a passionate presentation about the need for digital photography to become more like human vision. There are still technical limitations to photographers who are trying to capture accurate color, he said. So much work needs to be done beyond simply increasing resolution.
“There is no bad light,” he declared, “because light is miraculous.”
Johnson said photography needs to be more “human-like,” like when the human eye automatically sees subjects, near and far, in sharp focus. There is no need for the eye to “focus” or adjust the “depth of field.”
“Photography is moving closer to the human experience, but we are still in the Stone Age,” he said. “Melted sand as a focusing mechanism is primitive.”
Johnson also observed color spaces and sensor patterns have stayed largely unchanged for years; yet, these are the areas where technological improvements could be the most meaningful for photographers.
A large portion of the 6Sight conference schedule was devoted to the emerging 3D market (capped off with an evening showing of the “U23D” 3D concert movie). Stereoscopic imaging pioneer, Lenny Lipton, described the various technologies and processes of 3D imaging, while artist Bonny Lhotka provided the added dimension of a creative professional’s perspective. Also contributing to the discussion was Rick Dean, chairman of the 3D@home Consortium. He stressed the market for 3D imaging is indeed fractured with competing technologies, but this may help adoption.
“We will not see one form of 3D; all markets must be enabled,” said Dean. “Movies in 3D won’t be enough; user-generated content will be vital.
“The 3D technology adds yet another tool to the storyteller’s ability to tell a story,” he said.
To illustrate power of personal publishing, award-winning photographer, Rick Smolan, gave a personal retelling of the story behind the ambitious “The Obama Time Capsule” book project. Working with partners like HP Co., Smolan developed a website where consumers could merge their own photos and memories from Barack Obama’s historic presidential campaign with images from leading press photographers. The result is a mass-market book, which is only printed when customers order them, complete with their own pictures and notes.
Technology industry veteran Scott Brownstein challenged the group to make photography more relevant to digital consumers.
“Digital technology can be the cause and the solution” to current challenges, he said. For digital photography to reach its potential, Brownstein said, retailers will be key in driving the market.
The 6Sight Conference is often the first look at new imaging technology and trends, and the 2009 edition was no different. At 6Sight 2009, Digimarc Corp. and ImageSpan Inc. announced they have partnered to deliver a complete solution to manage, monitor, and monetize valuable image assets. “The 6Sight conference provided the ideal venue to tell the world,” said Iain Scholnick, CEO of ImageSpan. Digimarc Vice President Jeri Owen agreed: “The favorable response we received from 6Sight attendees, media, and analysts underscores how we’re delivering a much-needed solution for our customers to communicate their copyright ownership, locate their images online, help speed the pace of transactions, and empower content owners to pursue untapped opportunities to maximize the value of their images.”
Fujifilm Holdings Corp. gave the audience a preview of the new Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D system, composed of the W1 camera, a digital frame and printing service. Fujifilm product manager Jim Calverly did the demo, and then explained the company marketing approach, which includes going after stereoscopic enthusiasts, then gamers and graphics enthusiasts, followed by brick-and-mortar sales.
Philippe Dewost, CEO of camera phone application developer imsense, demonstrated both the PC-based image correction software, and announced the iPhone version. The imsense product provides extensive image correction of both highlights and low lights in an easy-to-use slider interface.
RocketLife Inc. CEO Michael Moore featured the new company photo book creation software, with new additional ability to bring in images from sites like SmugMug, Flickr and Photobucket, as well as a Windows 7 version.
Scalado has new “SpeedTag” technology for improving camera operating speed; Sami Niemi, CTO of Scalado, showed how the technology not only provided reduced shutter lag, but also increased image processing speed.
Tessera showcased its wireless “smart” camera module, including a VGA wafer-level camera integrating its wafer-level optics and image-sensor packaging, face- and smile-detection technologies.
Unibind Inc. vice president Andy Luedecke presented the Unibind on-demand photo book making systems, as well as the consumer-based home systems, “MyPhotoBook.”
MyPhotoCreations, a new digital photo creativity application from DigiLabs, was launched at 6Sight, opening the door for professionals and prosumers to create pro-quality photo books, albums, proof magazines, cards, posters, and gallery wraps (wall prints).
“MyPhotoCreations is all about flexibility, simplicity, and creativity,” said Chanan Steinhart, CEO of DigiLabs. “It gives the professional and the prosumer an all-in-one photo platform for the creation of photo-rich products not available elsewhere, and is designed for photographers who want a high degree of control over what they can create, and who need maximum flexibility with output options.”
Ken Wilson elected AIE president
The Association of Imaging Executives (AIE), a PMA member association, formally elected its board of directors for 2009-2010. Kenneth W. Wilson of Lustrecolor Inc., Canton, Mass., was elected AIE President, 1 of 11 board positions filled during the AIE Official Business Session at 6Sight.
Also elected to board positions were President-Elect Susan Rau, Northwest Color, West Fargo, N.D.; First Vice President Tom Hayes, Visual Image Photography Inc., Cedarburg, Wis.; Second Vice President Robert J.B. Tolmie, Photo Create Pty. Ltd., North Tamborine, Australia; Secretary and Executive Director, Ted Fox, PMA, Jackson, Mich.; Treasurer Glenn Paul, Dotphoto.com, West Trenton, N.J.; Immediate Past President Thomas A. Rieger, Rieger Communications Inc., Clarksburg, Md.; Past President, Director-at-Large Kim Toren-Freeman, Allied Photographic & Imaging, Grand Rapids, Mich; Director-at-Large Steve Pullin, Full Color Inc., Dallas, Texas; Director-at-Large Mark Treadwell, C.R.I.S. Camera Services, Chandler, Ariz.; and Director-at-Large Richard Yagjian, Hunt’s Photo & Video, Melrose, Mass.
AIE is a member association of PMA, and is open to all professional imaging businesses.
“Rise of the Amateur” report released at 6Sight
Attendees at the 6Sight Future of Imaging Conference were the first to hear the findings of the groundbreaking the “Rise of the Amateur” survey and report, conducted by PMA and Future Image Inc. in partnership with DP Review. The report is a comprehensive overview of the enthusiast photographer market, generated from more than 15,000 responses from DP Review members.
“At the 6Sight conference, we’ve focused for several years on the convergence of factors making ‘pictures as personal expression’ one of the best growth opportunities in imaging today,” says Alexis Gerard, research director of the report, and Future Image president. “Our recent research demonstrates explosive growth in the segment, and reveals the experience of the digital photo enthusiast is much richer and multifaceted than is generally believed. It involves not only SLRs, but also multiple cameras, large-screen televisions, photo book production, and intense online community involvement.”
For information on the “Rise of the Amateur” report, visit the PMA website at www.pmai.org.
See 6Sight for yourself
For the first time, 6Sight videos will be available for purchase to the general public. For a $449 fee, conference videos and PowerPoint sessions will be available from www.6sight.com/6sightvideo.
“The 6Sight 2009 Conference featured some of the most dynamic personalities in digital imaging technology, and we’re pleased to be able to provide their videos to a wider audience,” says Alexis Gerard, 6Sight conference chair and founder of Future Image. “The 6Sight Live offer is one of the best ways for anyone interested in imaging to see and hear just a portion of the 6Sight conference experience.”
Attendees of 6Sight can access the videos and PowerPoint as part of the conference fee.
For more information, visit www.6sight.com