Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog
Ray Drainville

A little note on why we call our blog the “Mechanical Turk”. Pace Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, we were drawn to the idea of something that appears to be artificial intelligence, but in reality is just a performance of human ingenuity. It speaks to what our web design & development is all about — work that looks very slick & polished but is the result of of craft.

You can read more about the actual Mechanical Turk on Wikipedia.

Update, 19 November 2008

As I noted elsewhere on the site, we finally got around to changing the title of the blog to “Falling Leaves”, given that the site is devoted to far more random things than the performance of human ingenuity.

Ray Drainville

One of ArDes’ specialities is the creation of virtual reality panoramas. But the major problem in producing virtual reality has been the problem of creating, or “stitching” photographs together: while theoretically you could take just two 180° fisheye images & stitch them together, you in fact couldn’t, because a company called Ipix in the US held the patent for stitching together fisheye images — and they didn’t license their patent to any other companies. You could only legally stitch together VR panoramas if you used their own software, which was frankly terrible — the results were awful & they insisted that they owned the rights to your images. Not a good way to do business. Ipix was known as “Ipox” in the vr community for these reasons.

So we all had to limp along with tedious & ridiculous workarounds to produce our panoramas from fisheye lenses — we’d have to take six fisheye images, convert them into wide-angle images (and thereby lose lots of information per image) and stitch them together. This was frustrating (to say the least) because the more photographs you have to take, the more work you’ll have stitching them together — clouds move & change ambient light, and correcting these effects takes up production time. And that costs our clients more.

Well, it looks like Ipix won’t be a problem for any of us any longer — they just filed for bankruptcy. Immediately, Realviz (makers of Stitcher) shipped an update that helps us make VR panoramas directly from — you guessed it — fisheye lenses. This is a boon for us, but even more so it’s a boon for our clients: the barrier-to-entry — the price of production — will now go way down.

Edit: Name changed from “Argument from Design” to “ArDes”