The History of 3D Technology

Setting the 3D Standard

What is 3D Technology?

3D technology is the illusion of depth. It is a visual representation system that tries to create or reproduce moving objects in the third dimension. It is a visual illusion that employs complex synchronization of two separate images in such a way that the brain interprets both images as one, thus creating an illusion of depth.

The two images are usually recorded at right angles to each other using mirrors.

Early Efforts

The advent of 3D technology dates close of the 19th century. Pioneering works in this field are credited to British film maker William Friese-Greene who patented his 3D movie-viewing process. In his patent, using the instrumentation of a stereoscope, a viewer was made to see two separate films at right angles to each other, as a single 3D film.

In 1915, using two lenses were coupled together; Edwin S. Porter and William E. Waddell demonstrated that it was possible to carry out 3D stereo film recording using two films.

Stereoscopic filmmaking

In 1922 three great milestones were recorded in the journey of 3D technology

First, the earliest films using dual strip projection which used the anaglyph format was shot. The anaglyph which is one of the earliest attempts at this technology simply employed two separate colors in the recording of motion pictures so that they could appear to be 3D when projected. In the very first known effort in this regard, Harry K. Fairall, and Robert F. Elder used red and green filters using the anaglyph format to shoot a film called “The Power of Love.” Then came the works of William Van Doren Kelley in using the Prizma color system which he invented about a decade earlier, to print anaglyph films at the fall of the same year.

Quickly following the efforts of Kelly which were bedeviled by lack of patronage, was the invention of the Teleview system by a Cornell University graduate, Laurens Hammond as the year ran to a close. The system used a technique called alternate-frame sequencing to record stereoscopic pictures. This simply refers to a system of placing films in a single strip in an alternate manner. This method has long been replaced by the polarization method. Then quickly followed the era called the Polaroid era.

The Polaroid Era

The pioneer of this era is Edwin H. Land who invented and patented and marketed what he called the Polaroid J Sheet thus introducing a brand new era to 3D technology and heralded the introduction of the flowery name of Polaroid filters as a means of projecting stereoscopic presentations. For a long while, most of the other advances in this era centered on this landmark invention by Edwin. His invention remained relevant even through what has come to be known as the golden era of 3D technology.

The Golden Era

Historically, what has been called the “golden era “covers the post-Polaroid era to the mid 1950s. During this era, film makers still using the principles of the Polaroid filter, made advances still using a dual strip format. But there soon a decline in frenzy about 3D technology attributable to several factors prominent among which was the necessity for simultaneous projections which made synchronization difficult and at times impossible. The system then went back to single strip filming of the 1960s through the 90s in what has been referred to as the revival period.

The Revival Period

Not much happened in terms of technological advancement until the advent of stereovision or stereoscopy in 1970. With stereo vision, it was now possible to produce perfect synchronization. This was done by simultaneous recording of images using two cameras facing each other and filming at 90 degrees using mirrors.

The present and the future

Currently, film makers are interested in producing not just 3 D images but these images are now digital and are being projected in high definition .The future lies in the availability of technology to convert existing 2D images into 3D presentations as previous effort in this regard have proved abortive.