3D without nausea and headaches

Lovebirds, a mix of animation and live action from by Toronto company Starz Animation, is the showcase production of the Toronto-based 3D Film Innovation Consortium (3D FLIC), a York University initiative that has brought academic researchers and filmmakers together to explore the burgeoning world of 3D filmmaking to achieve better results, wrote Liam Lacey in The Globe and Mail March 25.

The movie, which unites new research into visual perception with the practical aspects of 3D filmmaking, is part of an attempt to boost the local film economy and improve the 3D viewing experience – with less nausea, eye strain and headaches.

The computer-generated animation portions were created by Starz (which did the 3D animation for the Disney feature Gnomeo and Juliet). The live-action set was shot by York University professor Ali Kazimi using a LiDAR device (light detection and ranging, or laser radar) to create a 3D map of the set. The information was integrated into the software with the animated images to ensure accurate placement of the birds against the backdrop and to study depth perception.

Kazimi, whose background is in documentary filmmaking, is cautious about the kind of sweeping generalizations being thrown around about 3D film language, but he believes it heralds fundamental changes in film storytelling, especially in slowing down the pace of films. "There’s a lot more visual information for the viewer to absorb and you need to provide the time," he says.

His York colleague, psychologist Laurie Wilcox, is studying how people see 3D, including issues of ghosting, image disparity and motion that can make the experience unsatisfying. Simple things such as screen size and even where you sit in the theatre make a big difference. By sitting at the middle, or toward the back, the viewer can enjoy the most comfortable experience. Seats on the aisles, she suggests, "should probably be discounted."

Complicating 3D experience is the issue of "vection" or the illusion of self- motion which can occur while watching 3D. For some, it may create motion sickness.

Lovebirds will get its world premiere at the Toronto International Stereoscopic 3D Conference, June 11-14 at the Toronto International Film Festival Bell Lightbox.

Speak truth to power

In a recent article, Should we pay for whistleblowing? (March 22), Edward Waitzer [a professor and director of the Hennick Centre for Business and Law at York University] questions whether securities regulators should offer financial rewards to whistleblowers, wrote lawyer Dimitri Lascaris in the National Post March 25. While any such regime should be crafted carefully to ensure the integrity of the information obtained through such rewards, the principle of whistleblower compensation is sound and should be implemented at the earliest opportunity.

Speaking truth to power is a risky matter. Moreover, those risks are borne entirely by the whistleblower, while the benefits of the fraud disclosure flow entirely to the victims of the fraud. Compensating whistleblowers alleviates this free-rider problem to a considerable degree…. Our society should not demand heroism from those with knowledge of misconduct, not if we are serious about ensuring respect for the law.

It’s time for Canada to recognize the realities of fraudulent activity and to treat those who expose fraud, at great risk to themselves, in an equitable manner. By doing so, we will all be better off. Except for the fraudsters.

  • While Dimitri Lascaris and I often find ourselves on opposite sides of litigation, we agree that any bounty program for whistleblowers should be carefully crafted, wrote Edward Waitzer in response. As I tried to suggest, the issues extend beyond ensuring the integrity of the information obtained through such rewards. My key concern relates to the impact on efforts by companies to implement effective internal compliance and disclosure programs. Acting too quickly, in adopting new regulation as in handling allegations of wrongdoing, often creates bigger problems than those targeted.

My comment wasn’t intended to discourage financial rewards for whistleblowers. The key is to anticipate, rather than react, both in the design of regulatory instruments and, more importantly, in ensuring that companies have in place and publicize to employees the existence of strong and objective procedures and a "speak-up" culture that encourages internal reporting when concerns arise.

Table tennis tourney honours young man’s giving spirit

In life as well as in death, Jonathon Talbot saved lives. Now his family and friends are carrying on his legacy, wrote Inside Toronto March 24.

A table tennis tournament will be held Saturday to honour Talbot’s memory and to raise awareness for organ donation.

Talbot, 22, was a passenger in a car that crashed into a hydro pole on Hill Crescent in Scarborough on March 8, 2009. He died two days later. His donated organs saved four lives.

Talbot, an avid table tennis player, went to Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute and then to York University, where he studied kinesiology [School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health]. He worked as a lifeguard since he was 16.

[Talbot’s mother] Heather admits she was horrified when she was first approached about the idea of donating her son’s organs. "But it was our daughter who said he would want this, so we respected his wishes."

Since then, the family has received letters from some of Talbot’s organ recipients. "It’s very, very emotional, but it is heart warming to get these letters and hear from these people," Heather said. "They have a second chance at life now and every day that they’re breathing, every day that they’re laughing, it’s because of Jonathon."

Federal hopefuls in Thornhill riding ready for election

"We’ve been ready for a very long time," [said] the NDP’s Simon Strelchik, a Thornhill resident for more than 20 years who is completing his master’s degree in [public policy, administration & law] from York University, wrote YorkRegion.com March 24 in an election preview story. Strelchik was the party’s candidate in the last federal election and also ran as school board trustee in previous municipal elections.

He wouldn’t speculate whether it was a good time for an election. "We’ll leave that up to the people in Ottawa. We do think it’s time for a better deal for Thornhill."

Keeping politics in the family

Residents in a certain part of Mississauga won’t have too much trouble remembering the names of their elected representatives – that is, if the stars align perfectly for the Fonsecas, wrote The Mississauga News March 24.

Their Mississauga East-Cooksville MPP is Peter Fonseca.Their Ward 3 councillor, elected in last fall’s municipal election, is his wife, Chris Fonseca.

And now, his sister, Nancy Fonseca [BA Spec. Hons. ’92], is eyeing his Queen’s Park seat while he seeks to replace Albina Guarnieri in the same riding federally. (Guarnieri has indicated she won’t be running again after more than two decades in Ottawa.)

“I’ve been kicking around in the world of politics since I was 19, ever since I graduated with a political science degree from York University. But life happens, and over the past 15 years my big focus was on making a living and raising a family,” she said.

York grad racking up Billable Hours as a TV producer

Adam Till [BA ’95, LLB/MBA ’99, JD ’99] has picked up a kind of life philosophy in his 36 years, wrote the Town Crier March 24. “Whatever you do, have a great story to tell about how you got there,” he says. It’s advice he seems to have followed on his own eclectic career path from lawyer to TV producer and educator.

After acquiring an economics degree at York University and then [enrolling] in an LLB/MBA program at [York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business], he went on to article at a Toronto firm before realizing he was on the wrong track. Feeling his creative talents were going to waste, he decided to call it quits…after being called to the bar.

Having used his last free summer to do some creative writing, he had some good ideas down on paper. Together with actor pal Fabrizio Filippo, he refined a pitch for a show about a quirky law office. Through networking and some chance meetings, including one with Atom Egoyan, the pair landed at Showtime, where the show eventually got the go-ahead.

Working at one another’s house, they managed to craft what became the highest rated original series in Showtime’s history. “It was amazing,” Till says, satisfaction evident.

Study finds kids in military families are under stress, feel isolated, depressed

A first of its kind study in Canada focusing on adolescents in military families reveals that young people carry a high degree of stress and a heightened sense of responsibility, wrote Canadaeast News Service March 25.

The examination, which focused on students at Oromocto High School, found that adolescent girls in particular were burdened with a large share of the family’s emotional issues during long deployments by their parents. The in-depth examination released Thursday in Oromocto started in 2008.

It focused on the well-being, family functioning and social development of adolescents in military families.

Researchers from York University, the University of Alberta and Ryerson University, and, in partnership with School District 17, were also part of the project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Nuclear second thoughts

The unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan has reopened the debate about the role of nuclear power around the world, including here in Ontario, wrote Mark Winfield, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, in the Toronto Star March 24.

The provincial government’s December 2010 “Long-Term Energy Plan” proposes to maintain a commitment to an electricity system that relies on nuclear power for 50 per cent of its output. Nuclear’s contribution would come through a combination of building new plants and refurbishing existing facilities as they reach their normal end-of-life.

The viability of the government’s plans on the nuclear front was already subject to serious doubts even before the disaster in Japan.

Other jurisdictions are reconsidering their nuclear plans in light of the Japanese disaster. Ontario needs to do the same, and initiate a serious public exploration of the options for the future of the province’s electricity system.

Aging voters are upset about government’s lack of transparency, says York prof

Political blunder or strategic genius, the jury’s out on the ruling minority government’s tactics, wrote YorkRegion.com March 24. The endgame will be decided by the electorate, said Robert Drummond, political science & public policy professor at York University [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies].

Though he’s disappointed Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t make a stronger effort to avoid an election, the uncompromising budget could be a ploy to strengthen the Tories’ position with an election victory, Drummond speculated.

The issues for a spring election focus on the economy and fiscal recovery, Drummond said. Candidates should also pay attention to aging voters, based on a recent study suggesting senior citizens are drifting from Conservative camps due to a lack of transparency, he said.

Accordingly, savvy campaign managers will ensure senior home care is a key platform plank. Expenditures for correctional facilities and prisons will also be an issue, Drummond said.

Meanwhile, Drummond will leave election predictions to the pundits. It depends on a seat-by-seat basis, he said. York Region voters have shown support for Liberals and Conservative candidates.