Stereoscopic Cinema and the Origins of 3-D Film, 1838–1952


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Stereoscopic Cinema and the Origins of 3-D Film, 1838–1952 examines this "novelty period" of stereoscopic film, charting its progression from Charles Wheatstone's 1938 discovery of 3-D to the 1952 release of Arch Oboler's innovative film, Bwana Devil

From stereoview cards to large-format IMAX films, 3-D technology's heightened realism and powerful visual allure have held audiences captive for over a century and a half. The technology, known as stereoscopy, creates an illusion of depth by presenting two slightly different images to the eye in print or on-screen. The advent of stereoscopic film technology excited both filmmakers and audiences, as a means of replicating all of the sounds, colors, movement, and dimensionality of life and nature for the first time.

The origins of 3-D film are often linked with a proliferation of stereoscopic films in the 1950s. By the time films like Man in the Dark and House of Wax was attracting large crowds, however, the technology behind this form of filmmaking was already over a century old. Stereoscopic specialist Ray Zone argues that the development of stereoscopic film can best be understood through a historical analysis of the technology rather than of its inventors. Products used to create stereoscopic images are examined, noting such milestones as David Brewster's and Oliver Wendell Holmes's work with stereoscopes, the use of polarizing image selection, and the success of twin-strip 3-D films, among others.

In addition, films produced up to 1952 are discussed, including public reception of early 3-D short films as well as longer features such as Power of Love in single-strip anaglyphic projection in 1922 and Semyon Ivanov's 1941 autostereoscope Robinson Crusoe. The evolution of 3-D film with other cinematic developments demonstrates the connection between stereoscopic motion pictures and modern film production. This is an exhaustive study of not only the evolution of 3-D technology and the subsequent filmmaking achievements but also the public response to and cultural impact of 3-D movies. Explore the rich history of a field that predates photography and that continues to influence television and computer animation today.

- Hardcover
- 232 pages, 6 × 9 × 0.7 inches
- 50 photos
- 2014
SKU: 36958

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