L-309 Digital Wonderland


Digital AV WS

My dad, Jim, founded MEC and helped design it. It was an amazing place. The lab building was closest to River Road. The middle building was the seminar building, and featured four "theaters". Rooms with large turntables, where the projection screen was in the middle. This was so that you could have something setup behind the scenes and then push a button and the turntable would turn and reveal the new setup. There were very well equipped projection booths with film, video and slide projecctors, plus audio equipment. The next building was the office building. And if you went down to the ground floor there was a tunnel leading to the cafeteria. The huge cafeteria had tiered seating and a spectacular view of the Genesee River through the floor to ceiling windows. When I arrived at MEC, and specifically PPD, I was shown to a large space on the third floor of the lab building. The lab building at MEC used modular walls, so it could be reconfigured for different purposes.

This lab space was mine to configure. I created the layout above using MacDraw II. Printed on the XL7700, it had transparency layers, one for wall placemnt, one for electrical, one for furniture and one for equipment. It was quite helpful to the facility people and ensured I got what I was asking for. As you can see, I broke the space into three areas. In the upper left ws my office and storage cabinets for software, materials, cameras, and small equipmennt. Below that was the classroom, with six MacII workstations for students, one for the instructor and one on a cart. Then on the left was the main lab, with a ColorEdge color copier, a Prophecy publishing system, a Premier (image editing) workstation, multiple MacIIfx's, scanners, printers, and a film recorder. With all the equipment, I needed to install, two air conditioners to mitigate all the heat generated.

It was a great place for converting film customers to digital. I'd often get a request from Sales to bring in a customer and have them spend a few hours with me, showing them the possibilies of digital imaging. After I'd spent a few hours with one reluctant scientific photographer, he returned to the classroom showing off the prints he'd made and proclaiming it was amazing what you could do. I think I showed him how to hightlight an area on a photograph and add a caption on the photo.

One of the great benefits for me was, I could do the rendering of my 3D artworks on these workstations at night. It certainly helped at a time when a single image render could take up to 24 hours. I was experimenting with 3D stereo rendered images. I created some stereo slides with the Matrix film recorder. I could view them in 3D with my dad's old Kodak stereo viewer. Now, what I needed was a medium where I could display 3D images without having to use some special viewing device.

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