3D technology dates back to the beginnings 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 it. Louis took a photograph of Queen Victoria using improved technology and displayed it at the Great Exhibition of 1851. This image became well known throughout the world. Stereoscopic cameras began to attract attention and became quite common for personal use during World War II.
In 1855 the Kinematascope, a stereo animation camera, was invented. He was able to create 3D movies. In 1915 the first anaglyph film was produced. Anaglyph technology used 3d glasses with 2 different colored lenses that would direct an image to each eye. In 1890 William Friese-Greene, a pioneer of British cinema, filed a patent for the 3D film process. In 1922 the first public 3D film, “The Power of Love”, was shown. In 1935 the first 3D color film was produced. The use of the technology would remain inactive for more than a decade.
In the 1950s, 3D technology made a comeback. During this era, televisions had become extremely popular and had started to appear in many homes. Several 3D movies were produced in the 1950s. In 1952, United Artists’ “Bwana Devil” screened throughout the United States. This was the first 3D movie of the 1950s. The movie was shot using a process called Natural Vision. This process was launched to the 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 movie in 2D to maximize profits. Not all movie theaters were equipped with 3D technology. 3D movies were also in development 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 launched. This technology took two images and printed them one on top of the other on 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 display 3D movies. Two camera systems were difficult to use, because it required the two cameras to be perfectly synchronized. The first movie to use this technology was “The Bubble”. The film was criticized by critics, but the 3D experience still attracted a large audience. It became a profitable movie, making the new technology ready for promotion in other studios.
In 1970, Allan Silliphant and Chris Condon developed Stereovision. It was a new 3D technology that put two compressed images side by side on a single 35mm film strip. This technology used a special anamorphic lens that would magnify 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 movie cost just $ 100,000 USD and made 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. The IMAx 3D technology emphasized mathematical correction and this eliminated the eye strain seen in previous 3D technologies. By 1986, Canada had developed the first 3D film that used polarized lenses. It was called “Echoes of the Sun” and was created for Expo 86.
During the 1990s, many movies were released in IMAX 3D. The most successful IMAX 3D film released during this time was “Into the Deep”. The first IMAX 3D fiction film, “Wings of Courage” was released in 1996.
During the 2000s, many large 3D studio movies were released. In 2003, James Cameron released Ghosts of the Abyss. This was the first full-length 3D IMAX feature film. This film used the latest IMAX 3D technology called 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 great 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 cinema to feature Digital 3D technology. In 2007, Scar 3D was released internationally and was the first film to be shot using a fully digital workflow.
In 2010, Sky UK made a big push towards 3D television. On January 1, the first 3D channel began airing 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 television lines. As technology ages, expect prices to go lower and lower, and as they go down, more and more people will buy 3D TVs.