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3D: The Cinema Revolution

In the first of a two part series, Ben takes a look at the past, present and future of 3D Cinema.

By: Ben Gourlay | Editorials in HT & Movies | Posted: Feb 17, 2010 1:23 pm

3D: The Cinema Revolution


Up until the cinema release of James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar in late 2009, you could mention the concept of 3D cinema and immediately watch a movie fans face contort into a look of disgust, as they conjure up images of headache-inducing anaglyphic 3D (red and blue). This form of 3D has few fans, but in this article we'll discuss why this has all changed. First up, though, a brief history of 3D cinema.


The first 3D feature film was released in 1922, called The Power of Love (predating the Huey Lewis classic by six decades), produced by Harry K. Fairall. This film is the first known case of a 3D film demonstrated to an audience (i.e. not a test). However, the film is now thought to be lost and nothing immediately came of the technology.




After three decades, Cinema was in a major decline, bought on by the 1950's introduction of television to homes across the world. Movie studios quickly searched for a gimmick to convince movie patrons to once again leave their homes and the concept of 3D (now used mostly for comic books), was dusted off and a rash of films were produced for the format. Notable features included The House of Wax, House on Haunted Hill, It Came from Outer Space and Pardon my Backfire starring the Three Stooges. Most of these films were relatively low budget affairs, with dubious production values, solidifying the notion of 3D as a gimmick that did little to add to the cinema experience. While for a time this proved to be successful, the 3D feature film fad died off.




In the early 1980's filmmakers gave it another stab, releasing a glut of films that, mirroring the 1950's effort, were decidedly low brow. Notable films included Jaws 3D, Friday The 13th: Part III and Amityville 3D. The 3D craze once again boomed for a time, but lacking high quality films, it once again earned the 'fad' moniker and died off.


At the turn of the new millennium, similar to the threat of Television in the 1950's, movie studios panicked at falling revenues. Notable factors played a part in this; including the explosion in piracy from file sharing and home DVD burners and the popularity of high quality home theatre systems, which began to fall in price rapidly whilst increasing in quality due to the DVD format. The decision was made to once again pursue 3D technology, with a highly evolved form of the technology. Disney studios in particular were aggressive in announcing support.




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