This article was published in
LEONARDO, Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 273-280,1995


Dutch Holographic Laboratory


    My company, Dutch Holographic Laboratory B.V. (DHL), first received international recognition with Microscope in 1984. This image of a microscope protrudes more than 9 inches in front of the holographic plate. When viewers look into the microscope's illusory eyepiece, they see the actual magnification of a computer chip, just as if the microscope really existed. This 8x10 in reflection hologram has opened viewers' eyes to a new perception of holographic imaging and spawned a number of offshoots (Fig. 1).

    DHL's laboratories, which include high tech laser systems, are dedicated to ongoing research and development in holography. Apart from the lasers and optics, all the equipment is custom fabricated in house and includes four vibration isolation tables, two longrun copy production systems and a fullcolor stereogram printer. DHL is located in an industrial building along the banks of a Dutch canal near the center of Eindhoven.



    Fig. I (a) Microscope, reflection hologram, 8x10 in, 1984. (b) Detail of view in lens. When viewers look into the microscope's illusory eyepiece, they see a magnification of a computer chip.

    In the summer of 1980, while the new lab at the university was under construction, I built a holographic lab-with a borrowed laser and a $25 investment-in a small shed in the garden behind my student house. An old stone kitchen table and a broken concrete fence pole became the shooting surface and the overhead mirror rig (Fig. 2).

    I did not have money for holographic film or plates, so a friend lent me a box of 10 8xl0-in plates. Once a plate was out of the box, I could enter or leave the shed only at night to avoid fogging the plate. The plateholder was a piece of compressed wood with three clothespins glued into place.

    Fig. 2. This shooting surface and overhead mirror rig, created from an old stone kitchen table and a broken concrete fence pole, was used in the author's homemade holography lab in a shed behind his house in 1980.

    Fig. 3. Skull, limited edition hologram (50 copies), 8x10 in, 1982. This is a hologram of a 70 year old skull of a 10-month-old child.

    Fig. 4. Samurai, limited edition hologram (50 copies), 8x10 inch, 1982. The android-like samurai in the hologram appears to kick into the viewer's space.

    Fig. 5. Pierrot, limited edition hologram (50 copies), 8 x10 inch, 1983.

    In 1981, following a commission for PNEM, the Dutch electricity board, I won an artist-in-residence grant at the Museum of Holography in New York. In the meantime, word was spreading about the work I was doing. When I returned to Holland from New York, orders were coming in from collectors and commercial clients all over Europe. I reinvested the money in equipment immediately. I bought my first 50-mW Spectra Physics lasers with extension in those days. I gradually complemented the university's lab with my own equipment. Though the shed behind the student house was still there, my work required increasingly sophisticated equipment.

    I started my first limited edition holograms in 1982 with Skull (Fig. 3) and Samurai (Fig. 4) and continued, in 1983, with The Kiss and a technical improvement of the Pierrot hologram that van Renesse saw (Fig. 5). In 1983, I also started my work with broadband development processes, which operated in the Russian regime of colloidal development. Several series of images were processed this way: The Kiss, Triangle, and The Link. The process itself was unique. It could produce achromatic images with only one exposure and one processing step or, like The Link, would produce three distinct colors in one exposure step (red, yellow and green). The work resulted in the publication of my results in 1985 at the Lake Forest conference [3].

    With the help of a friend, Toine van Dorst, I constructed an optical table in 3 weeks. Following my design, we built a 1.5x3 m, 45 cm thick concrete slab filled with steel reinforcements and styrofoam blocks to reduce vibration and increase the stiffness (Fig. 6).

    Fig. 6. Optical table made of concrete and steel with styrofoam legs at Technical University, 1982.

    By 1986, the DHL crew had grown to six people, and eventually more of the building was converted into labs. By then, we had our first copy-scanning systems on line. Currently, there are four tables (the biggest measures 16x7 ½ ft) and two copy scanner systems, each capable of producing 400 8x10-inch film pieces per day. There are four 50-mW HeNe lasers, a 25-mW HeNe and a small frame argon (5 watts), a small-frame krypton (1 watt) and a large-frame argon (25 watts). There are numerous large diameter lenses and mirrors (up to 82 cm in diameter). All the labs are equipped for full-color work with high quality full-spectrum optics. For computer-generated design, there are two Silicon Graphics computers. Our stereogram printer uses an IBM computer, several stepping motors and a DHL-designed film projector with an optical registration system and a resolution of 10 micrometers on the projected image.

    Fig 7. Ricky Henderson, full color reflection hologram, 1991.

    Fig. 8. Shooting holograms with a Holoprinter(R), 1992. This two-step Holoprinter was built for Kunsthochschule für Medien in Cologne, Germany. The Holoprinter is controlled by mousedriven software and converts 35-mm slides into laser-transmission master holograms.
    We do custom work and have an inventory of stock images. As a full-service holographic laboratory, we work with more than reflection and transmission holograms on glass and film.

    We also shoot photoresist masters for embossed holograms on stickers or hot foil, as well as holograms measuring up to a square meter. Continual research and development are part of our day-to-day lab work.

    Fig. 9. Molecule, limited-edition hologram (250 copies), 30x40 cm, 1992. An array of spheres connected by tubes representing molecular structure. One of the atoms appear to wiggle when the viewer changes position.
    After more than 2 years of experimentation (which began with Harry van Leur in 1986), our first computergenerated holograms were recorded as part of Peter Kouwenberg's thesis as part of our joint development program with the Eindhoven University of Technology. These first tests were still quite raw. In those days, we used only 36 frames projected through a converted photographic camera, as compared to the current range of 150 to 250 frames.

    I purchased a Nikon camera that could load and shoot 250 frames, and began automating the stereogram printer. For their thesis for the Institute of Higher Professional Education, Erik van Nuland and Rik Koch used an Apple IIe computer with interface cards to write the program to run the printer. All of the control equipment has since been replaced by state-of-the-art IBM computers and interface cards.

    Fig. 10. Flash Tunnel, limited-edition hologram (250 copies), 30x40 cm, 1992. A fence-like tunnel with geometric objects in it. The special effect of this hologram is a light that travels through the tunnel. The reflection of the light on the tunnel creates a flash effect.

    We worked with Eindhoven based computer graphics company NeoGeo to adapt this animation and rendering software package for holography. We used it to generate five stock computer generated holograms (CGH), namely, Molecule (Fig. 9), Piano, Flashtunnel (Fig. 10), Planets and Kupu. Each of these images demonstrate an effect that had been impossible to achieve with traditional recording techniques. For instance, one of the atoms in Molecule vibrates within the structure, while an animated light in Flashtunnel sweeps like a spotlight through the tunnel. These are the first CGHs to be commercially available to the public. TRACES runs on our two Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) 3D workstations and uses the SGI Graphics Library extensively, making it a software package tailored to the SGI. Real time 3D renderings are possible (Fig. 11). TRACES is not only ideal for 3D visualization using holograms, but also for video production. TRACES became commercially available in the first quarter of 1993 from DHL.



    Fig. 11.(a) Computer-assisted design (CAD) drawing of a dashboard and (b) a rendering of the dashboard using 3D animation software TRACES, 1994. Images designed in TRACES can be automatically transferred into photoresist masters from which the embossed holographic material, e.g. stickers, are produced. The photoresist records the graphic computer data from an LCD screen. With this new LCD technique, pixels are visible, comparable to 35mm slide film quality.