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3-D film

For 3D computer graphics and related software, see 3D computer graphics. For technical information, see stereoscopy.
This US Postage Stamp depicts the 3-D movie craze of the 1950s.
This US Postage Stamp depicts the 3-D movie craze of the 1950s.

The term 3-D (or 3D) is used to describe any visual presentation system that attempts to maintain or recreate the illusion of depth as seen by the viewer.

The basic principle involves taking two pictures, either still or moving, with cameras positioned side by side, and with identical technical characteristics. When viewed in such a way that each eye sees only the image taken on the same side as itself, the viewer's visual cortex will interpret the pair of images as a single three-dimensional image. See stereoscopy for a more detailed description.

As early as 1853 the Englishman Sir Charles Wheatstone experimented with a modified stereoscope to show 3-D paper strips (the perforated film had not yet been invented) with scenes filmed in London's Hyde Park.

The very first publicly shown short 3-D movie (lasting only about a minute) was made by the Brothers Lumiére in 1903 (L'Arrivée du Train), showing the arrival of a train in a railway station. It was presented at the World Fair of 1903 in Paris. It could only be viewed by one person at a time on a modified stereoscope, as a proper screening-process to divide the left and right pictures for viewing had not been invented.

The first screening of 3-D short motion pictures, for a paying audience, dates back to June 10th 1915, when the short Jim, the Penman was shown at the Astor Theatre New York, starring John Mason and Marie Doro along with some scenes from rural America and the Niagara Falls. They were also the very first 3-D movies in which the audience had to wear red/green anaglyph spectacles.

Experimental or novelty 3-D films continued to be produced sporadically through the early days of cinema. The 3-D boom began in 1952 with the release of the exploitation film Bwana Devil, produced by Sidney W. Pink, who used a camera with two lenses and who introduced the use of the now-ubiqitous disposable two-color cardboard glasses. Pink, who is considered the father of the genre, went on to produce over fifty 3-D movies throughout the 1950s.

Bwana Devil was followed the next year by the first full-color, stereophonic 3-D movie, House of Wax. The theatrical 3-D craze continued throughout the 1950s. In later years sporadic attempts to revive the form were made with limited success.

Today many IMAX films are made in 3-D.

Besides entertainment, 3-D does have serious uses. For instance, examining stereoscopic aerial images can provide insights into topography which can have scientific and military applications.

3-D is used in computer displays primarily for technical and scientific data.

There are several ways to create projected 3-D images.

Most of the computer-games or so-called 3D computer graphics claiming to be "3-D" are actually totally flat. They only have one picture with a perspective view into the game-scenes. For a genuine 3-D-game you however at least need two pictures, one for the left and one for the right eye, to be viewed by respective means (e.g. red/green-spectacles or shutter-spectacles).

See also

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Last updated: 05-08-2005 04:56:58