Video Village With Ask Chris: Where Did 3D Movies Come From?


Ray Zone was hooked on 3D as a kid when he first saw Mighty Mouse fly off the comic book page. The Los Feliz artist and technical expert has been drawing comics, making movies and advancing the stereographic arts for decades and has a new book out this month: 3D Revolution: The History Of Modern Stereoscopic Cinema. He shared his top five watershed moments in 3D history.


Charles Wheatstone’s stereoscope offered proof of the invention of 3D. There were zoetropes and thaumatropes and all sorts of devices, which attempted to capture motion. The stereoscope had images reflecting off of mirrors. Others were dancing around the idea but he created it.”


“In Tune With Tomorrow (AKA Motor Rhythym) was a stop-motion film of a Chrysler assembling itself created for the New York World’s Fair. It announced the use of polarizing filters invented by Edward Land, who would go on to invent the instant (Polaroid) camera. Polarized filters were used with a silver screen and two cameras and two projectors.”


“Bwana Devil announced the 3D movie boom of the 1950’s. Life magazine characterized it as a “cheap preposterous film” but that didn’t stop people from lining up around the block to see it. Jack Warner licensed the technology and released House of Wax, which led to a boom of 50 feature films.”


“Transitions is a kind of a gimmicky film about factories created for the Vancouver Expo but it was the first full blown 70mm 3D movie. That’s the equivalent to 10 times a conventional film frame. For 20 years IMAX and theme parks kept 3D going with films like Captain Eo.”


“The thing that really showed the permanence of 3D movies is Avatar, the most successful motion picture of all time. James Cameron got his 3D initiation at T23D, an attraction at Universal Studios that’s still playing to packed rooms. The film was a powerful economic incentive to go digital and now all digital projectors are 3D enabled. It keeps growing every week.”