Today in History – April 8, 1953 – the first major 3D movie was released. Well, actually the first 3D movie shown to a paying audience is reported to be the September 22, 1922 screening of a movie called Power of Love shown in a theater in Los Angeles. But the first major Hollywood 3D film was Man in the Dark, a not so great 3D remake of Ralph Bellamy’s move The Man Who Lived Twice. Two days later, another 3D movie with the addition of stereo sound – House of Wax – was screened with a bit better reviews.
Stereoscopic 3-D images or movies use two cameras to capture left and right eye images. They cameras are positioned to mimic the human eye’s stereo vision by providing two images of the same scene from the different angles. These movies have been considered more gimmicks than an improvement in quality of the viewing experience. The movies are hard to create and the infrastructure for viewing is primitive, but that may change with new digital algorithms and viewing media. NASA is exploring using 3D images and films to better project complex phenomena. For example, NASA’s Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) satellites provided the first three-dimensional images of the sun. Using 3D, scientists are reported to be able to see structures in the sun’s atmosphere in three dimensions in a way that improves understanding of solar physics and space weather forecasting. I am skeptical about the increased understanding bit, but the images are fascinating.
Interested readers may want to read Michael Smith’s November 21st blog on the phonograph as he moves on to current technologies and talks about the release of the full digital movie Toy Story and the 3D graphics that are now pervasive in entertainment and education, such as Alice, an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web.
For more information, see the Engineering Pathway‘s resources on 3D movies and visuals or the Toy Story and computer animations. Or visit our community sites in Information Technology Education or Computer Science Education.