Sheldon Cooper’s Holographic Laptop

So I noticed something that amused me while watching Big Bang Theory the other night — apparently Sheldon has a holographic display on his laptop.

Obviously, some evidence in the form of screenshots is in order (all from Season 4, Episode 15, “The Benefactor Factor”, though I noticed this in Episode 14, “The Thespian Catalyst”, as well).

First up, a shot of Sheldon videoconferencing with Amy. This is mostly to set the scene, there’s nothing much to see here.

Big Bang Theory: Sheldon videoconferencing with Amy
Sheldon videoconferencing with Amy.

Next, a POV shot of what Sheldon sees while sitting directly in front of the computer.

Big Bang Theory: Sheldon's POV while videoconferencing with Amy
Sheldon’s POV while videoconferencing with Amy

Finally, here’s the shot that caught my eye — a shot over Sheldon’s shoulder.

Big Bang Theory: Looking over Sheldon's shoulder during the videoconference
Looking over Sheldon’s shoulder during the videoconference

Compare those last two shots. In the first shot, from Sheldon’s POV, we see Amy from directly ahead. She’s looking directly into the camera, as would be expected. However, in the second shot, she’s turned slightly to her right, giving us a slight profile shot (and while it doesn’t really translate in still shots, this isn’t because she was shaking her head or momentarily turned her head for some reason — she holds her head in this position through the entire shot).

The final impression is that as the camera switched from Sheldon’s POV to the over-the-shoulder shot, the perspective changed in our view of Amy, so that we see her from the same angle as if the two characters were speaking face-to-face rather than over video chat…but the only way that could happen would be if Sheldon’s computer had a holographic display!

With our normal, flat, non-holographic computer screens, of course, even when moving to the side of a computer screen, we would still see the other party looking straight into the camera…so we’d see the image something like this:

Big Bang Theory: What real-world laptops would display
What real-world laptops would display

Of course, in the visual language of television, that looks odd. We expect characters to look at each other, and we know that Sheldon and Amy are looking at each other, so the technically correct shot seems a little odd, as Amy is still looking directly out of the screen, apparently at the viewer instead of at Sheldon. The solution, then, is to have her turned slightly to her right when filming those sequences so it still appears that she’s looking directly at Sheldon, even though it gives the somewhat amusing impression that Sheldon has a laptop far more advanced than any currently on the market (as does Amy, as she’d have to have a laptop that can both film and broadcast 3D video chat streams) — but then, would we really expect anything less from Sheldon Cooper? ;)

I have no idea how often this technique is used on other shows, as this is one of the few times I’ve noticed it. In fact, the only other time I can think of that I noticed this technique being used was in Star Trek (TNG comes to mind, though I can be relatively sure that it was also done this way in DS9, VOY, and ENT). However, in the Star Trek universe, it’s known (at least to the more geeky technobabble obsessed fans) that the main display screen on the bridge of the Enterprise is a holographic display, and it’s not that far-fetched to believe that the smaller displays might be as well, so the conceit was never as jarring when I noticed it there.

So…there’s my ridiculously over-analyzed geek moment of the day.

Thoughts on the Fall 2009 TV Lineup

I just peeked at TV Guide’s Fall 2009 TV lineup to see what Prairie and I might be interested in using to rot our brains with in the evenings. Most of the week looks doable, with only a few potential conflicts. (Oh, and we are old and crotchety and go to bed at 10pm, so I’m not paying much attention to the 10-11pm block.)

  • Mondays

    While we like both How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory, as CBS has put one show we’re not likely to be interested in (Accidentally on Purpose) and one show we know we dislike (Two and a Half Men) in between the two, we probably won’t bother watching either one until the season DVDs show up on Netflix. This leaves us without anything we’re terribly interested in watching on Mondays until the mid-season switchup when Chuck comes back. Looks like Mondays will be TV-free for us until spring.

  • Tuesdays

    NCIS is a definite, with NCIS: LA a maybe. We’ll probably give NCIS: LA a couple weeks out of curiosity to see if they can pull off a successful spinoff, but we’re reserving judgement, as the NCIS episodes from last season that introduced the new team weren’t our favorites. Plus, once Dancing With the Stars (ugh) ends (hooray!), the Scrubs/Better Off Ted combo will (for us) be a strong contender — NCIS: LA will have to be really strong to pull us away once that switch happens. I am worried about ABC putting V up against NCIS in November — not only does NCIS already have a strong fanbase, but it’ll have had two months to set up any season-running plotlines to hold onto its fans. I really, really want to see this new take on V…but I also really enjoy NCIS. That’s going to be a difficult choice — one of them will have to get pushed to Bittorrent or some other form of online delayed viewing.

  • Wednesdays

    Law and Order: SVU and/or Criminal Minds are the only things that look interesting at all, and they’re both shows that we can watch or not watch depending on our mood. Wednesdays look pretty TV-free for us.

  • Thursdays

    While I’m curious enough about FlashForward to look for it on Bittorrent, Hulu, or some form of online watching, I’m not curious enough for it to win out over Survivor: Samoa (I’ll admit it, it’s one of two “reality” shows that Prairie got me hooked on). After that, it’s Fringe…or CSI (if I choose, it’ll be Fringe, if Prairie chooses, it’ll be CSI — either way, we’ll both enjoy what we watch, and the other will get the Bittorrent/Hulu/whatever treatment later in the week). Ugh. This one worries me. I really enjoyed season one of Fringe, and I’m not happy that FOX is putting it up against CSI. CSI has such an entrenched presence and fanbase, I’m not sure if the sci-fi, alternative reality weirdness of Fringe can pick up enough numbers to compete long-term. While I’m glad that Fringe is at least getting a second season, I worry that in putting it against CSI, FOX is just practicing a form of “delayed cancellation” — this way, FOX can just say Fringe didn’t get the market share it needed when they cancel it, even though if they’d moved it to a less competitive night (or left it where it was, though I can understand them not wanting to try to battle the NCIS juggernaut either), it might have done fine.

  • Fridays

    Prairie’s a fan of Ghost Whisperer, so we’ll keep watching that, even though last season kept annoying us (the ‘ghost of the week’ stories were fun and what kept us watching, the stupid ‘romance’ plotline with her husband in the body of the new guy is annoying, dragging on too long, and has enough WTF moments for a post of its own…but then I’d have to publicly admit that I watch Ghost Whisperer). Nothing else looks interesting.

  • Saturdays

    A wasteland of dreck. TV-free, for sure.

  • Sundays

    The Amazing Race is our favorite “reality” show, so that’s a definite. Nothing else that night is a must-see.

So that’s our lineup. Agree/disagree? Attempts to convince me to try a show I’m ignoring? Lemme know!

Links for January 12th through January 14th

Sometime between January 12th and January 14th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Report Finds Online Threats to Children Overblown: The Internet may not be such a dangerous place for children after all. A task force created by 49 state attorneys general to look into the problem of sexual solicitation of children online has concluded that there really is not a significant problem. […] The panel, the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, was charged with examining the extent of the threats children face on social networks like MySpace and Facebook, amid widespread fears that adults were using these popular Web sites to deceive and prey on children. But the report concluded that the problem of bullying among children, both online and offline, poses a far more serious challenge than the sexual solicitation of minors by adults. […] “Social networks are very much like real-world communities that are comprised mostly of good people who are there for the right reasons.”
  • Found Footage: Good grief, NCIS, do you take us for fools?: Apparently the "Mac SE" that McGee pulled out of a box on NCIS last night (which I "squee'd" about here) wasn't an SE, but a Classic, and geekier MacGeeks than me are up in arms about the flub. Meh. Perhaps I should have noticed, as my first Mac was a Classic, but…I just can't get too upset about the goof. It's a TV show. Actors get lines and props…it's not their fault if they don't go together.
  • Runnin’ With The Songsmith: The leaked David Lee Roth vocals for "Runnin' With the Devil" run through Microsoft's new Songsmith software. Hilariously awful.
  • “The Recently Deflowered Girl” (1965) – Illustrated by Edward Gorey: I knew that Shel Silverstein published different works aimed for “kid” and “adult” audiences, but I had no idea that Edward Gorey did the same – at least not until I saw The Recently Deflowered Girl. It’s a 1965 parody of etiquette books that seems quaint now, but must’ve seemed racy back in those days when Playboy was where you got not just the pictures of nude women, but good advice on stereos and cocktails.
  • Hardware that supports iPhoto ’09’s geotagging – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW): If shot with the right hardware, iPhoto recognizes where a given photo was taken, and places it on a Google map. If the photos in an event span several locations, it notices that, also. The built-in maps are very attractive and handy, as you can search your entire library by geographic location. As I watched all of this, one thought was echoing in my mind. I don't have single piece of hardware that can do this.
  • Rock Paper Scissors Spock Lizard: Scissors cuts Paper covers Rock crushes Lizard poisons Spock smashes Scissors decapitates Lizard eats Paper disproves Spock vaporizes Rock crushes Scissors.