SLIDESHOW

The History of 3D Movies and 3D TV

As 3D TVs become more widely available and 3D movies draw attention, we look at the evolution of this technology -- which has been around for awhile.

3D Through the Years

With 3D TVs like Samsung's Series 7 (UA55C7000) hitting the market, we decided to take a look back at where it all began: in the 1890s, when British film pioneer William Friese-Greene filed a patent for a 3D movie process. Two films were projected side by side on screen, with viewers having to look through a stereoscope to unite the two images together.

Image: Lisa Spiro

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Frederick Eugene Ives followed this up by patenting his stereo camera rig in 1900. The camera had two lenses adjoined together about four centimetres apart.

Image: 3D-Review

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Anaglyph made its first major impact in 1915, when Edwin S. Porter and William E. Waddell presented tests to an audience at the Astor Theater in New York City. The presentation featured three images in red-green anaglyph - which superimposed a red and a green-tinted image upon each other with a slight horizontal shift.

Image: 3D Zone

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The earliest confirmed 3D film shown to a paying audience was The Power of Love, on 27 September, 1922, in Los Angeles. It was a projected dual-strip in the now-classic red and green anaglyph format, making it the earliest known film in which anaglyph glasses were used. The film is now unfortunately lost. Harry K. Fairall (pictured) was the producer of Power of Love and one of the pioneers of stereoscopy.

Image: Daniel L Symmes

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In 1936, Jacob Leventhal and John Norling were hired to film MGM's Audioscopiks series. The prints were by Technicolor in the red/green anaglyph format, and were narrated by legendary film producer Pete Smith. The first film, Audioscopiks, premiered on 11 January, 1936, and The New Audioscopiks premiered 15 January, 1938. Audioscopiks was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Short Subject, Novelty in 1936.

Image: Daniel L Symmes

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Once 3D began to kick off, the revelation of image polarisation came to light (pardon the pun). An early short that utilised the Polaroid 3D process was 1940's Magic Movies: Thrills For You. It consisted of views that could be seen on Pennsylvania Railroad's trains.

Image: The Silent Photoplayer

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Aficionados consider the 'golden era' of 3D to have begun in 1952, with the release of the first colour stereoscopic feature - Bwana Devil, which was produced, written and directed by Arch Oboler. The film was shot with Natural Vision, projected in dual-strip with Polaroid filters.

Image: 1000 Mis-spent Hours

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Groundbreaking features in 3D came one after the other in 1953, with Man in the Dark and House of Wax being the first 3D features with stereo sound. The reception these two films revived the film industry as it battled TV for audiences.

Image: D3.com

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What's considered the best example of the 3D process? Why, none other than Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder, of course. This film was available in 3D when released in 1954, but there are no known play-dates in 3D due to Warner Bros instating a 3D/2-D release policy. The film finally screened in 3D in 1980, and it did so well that it was rereleased in 3D two years later.

Image: Scene Stealers

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The quality of 3D movies hit a bump in the '60s and '70s. Most were softcore or hardcore adult films, horror films, or somewhere in between. Need an example? Andy Warhol's Frankenstein or Friday the 13th Part III should do the trick.

Image: The 3D Revolution

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3D found its feet once again in the mid-1980s with Michael Jackson's Captain EO. This ‘4D' adventure, named due to its in-theatre effects, was shown at Disney theme parks in the 1980s and 1990s - and will return to commemorate the King of Pop's life. It helped pave the way for the IMAX network to begin showing 3D films.

Image: Chicago Now

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With IMAX booming and 3D documentaries taking the world by storm, TV also gave it a go in the '90s. Out of the many sitcoms that gave it a stab, none did better than Home Improvement and Third Rock from the Sun. Both 3D episodes, on competing networks, were released in the same month of 1997, with viewers confused between which kind of glasses they needed to get. The Third Rock episode cost US$1.5 million to make.

Image: Mr3D.tv

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In 2003, Reality Camera Systems come into action; James Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss was the first full-length 3D IMAX feature recorded using the system. It was also employed in box-office films Spy Kids 3D: Game Over and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D.

Image: IMP Awards

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The family-friendly trend of mediocre films made in 3D continued in 2008. Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert or Journey to the Center of the Earth, anyone?

Image: First Showing

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And finally, we reach the current pinnacle year for 3D in films - 2009. With blockbusters like Monsters v Aliens, Up, and Avatar being served to audiences, 3D has set itself up for the long haul.

Image: Wild About Movies

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TV has also continued to dish out 3D episodes. Last year saw popular action-comedy show Chuck play an episode entirely in 3D in an effort to promote the release of Monsters v Aliens.

Image: Sending A Wave Wordpress blog

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So far this year we already have a plethora of 3D films on our plate. Alice in Wonderland and How to Train Your Dragon have already been released, but the biggest box-office smash so far has been Clash of the Titans. Get set for a lot more 3D in the not-too-distant future.

Image: 3DGuy.tv

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