The history of 3D technology
3D technology can be traced back to the beginning of photography. In 1844, David Brewster invented the stereoscope. It was a new invention that could take 3D photographic images. Later, Louis Jules Duboscq took that invention and improved on it. Louis took a photo of Queen Victoria using the improved technology and exhibited it at the Great Exhibition of 1851. This photo became well known throughout the world. Stereoscopic cameras began to catch on and became quite common for personal use in World War II.
In 1855 the Kinematascope, a stereo animation camera, was invented. He was able to create 3D moving images. In 1915 the first anaglyph film was produced. Anaglyph technology used 3D glasses with 2 different colored lenses that directed an image to each eye. In 1890, William Friese-Greene, a British film pioneer, filed a patent for the 3D film process. In 1922, the first public 3D movie, “The Power of Love,” was shown. In 1935 the first 3D Color film was produced. The use of the technology would remain dormant for more than a decade.
In the 1950s, 3D technology made a comeback. During this era, televisions had become extremely popular and had begun to appear in many homes. In the 1950s a number of 3D movies were being produced. In 1952, United Artists’ “Bwana Devil” was shown throughout the United States. This was the first 3D movie from the 1950s. The movie was shot using a process called Natural Vision. This process was thrown at Hollywood studios, but they all passed. A year later, in 1953, “House of Wax” was released in 3D. “Dial M for Murder” was originally planned to be released in 3D, but Alfred Hitchcock decided to release the film in 2D to maximize profits. Not all movie theaters were equipped with 3D technology. 3D movies were also being developed outside of the United States. In 1947, the Soviet Union released its first full-length 3D film, “Robinson Crusoe.”
In the 1960s a new technology called Space-Vision 3D was released. This technology took two images and printed them one on top of the other in a single strip. Unlike previous 3D technologies, it required a single projector with a special lens. This new technology eliminated the need to use two cameras to show 3D movies. Two-chamber systems were difficult to use because they required the two cameras to be perfectly synchronized. The first movie to use this technology was “The Bubble.” The film was panned by critics, but the 3D experience still drew a large audience. It became a profitable film, making the new technology ready for promotion to other studios.
In 1970, Allan Silliphant and Chris Condon developed Stereovision. This was a new 3D technology that put two compressed images side by side on a single strip of 35mm film. This technology used a special anamorphic lens that magnified the image using a series of polaroid filters. The first movie to be released on Stereovision was a soft sex comedy called “The Stewardesses”. The film cost just $100,000 USD and earned a whopping $27 million in North America.
In the early 1980s, many 3D movies were released using the same process as Space Vision. Some of the movies that were released were Amityville 3-D, Friday the 13th Part III, and Jaws 3-D. In the mid-1980s, IMAX began producing 3D documentaries. IMAx 3D technology emphasized mathematical correction and this eliminated the eye strain seen in previous 3D technologies. In 1986, Canada had developed the first 3D movie that used polarized lenses. It was called “Ecos del Sol” and was created for Expo 86.
During the 1990s, many movies were released in IMAX 3D. The most successful IMAX 3D movie released during this time was “Into the Deep.” The first fictional IMAX 3D film, “Wings of Courage” was released in 1996.
During the 2000s, many major studio movies were released in 3D. In 2003, James Cameron released Ghosts of the Abyss. This was the first full-length 3D IMAX feature film. This movie used the latest IMAX 3D technology called the Reality Camera System. The technology used the latest HD video cameras and was developed by Vince Pace. This same technology was used in “Spy Kids 3D: Game over”, “Aliens of the Deep”, and “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D”. In 2004, the first full-length 3D animated film was released. It was called “The Polar Express”. This movie was so successful in 3D that it sparked a lot of interest in 3D animated movies. The 3D version of the film earned 14 times more per screen than the 2D version. In 2005, The Mann’s Chinese 6 theater in Hollywood became the first commercial theater to have Digital 3D technology. In 2007, Scar 3D was released internationally and was the first film shot with a completely digital workflow.
In 2010, Sky UK took a big step towards 3D television. On January 1, the first 3D channel began broadcasting in South Korea. The channel shows educational programs, animated shows, sporting events, documentaries and musical performances, all in 3D, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We should expect the use of 3D technology to continue and expand into the normal home. Most of the major electronics manufacturers are planning to launch their 3D TV lines. As the technology ages, expect prices to drop further and further, and as they drop, more and more people will buy 3D TVs.