The third dimension in film has been around a lot longer than you may imagine. Its first recorded use was at the Astor Theater in New York, on June 10, 1915.
Not quite the spectacle both audience and filmmakers were hoping for – an anaglyphic process (a 3D effect achieved by encoding each eye’s image using filters of different colours) was used, developed by Edwin S. Porter and W.E. Waddell.
The result? Well according to Lynde Denig who wrote for Moving Picture World at the time – “Images shimmered like reflections on a lake and in its present form the method couldn’t be commercial because it detracts from the plot.”
Almost 100 years on, Denig’s review is still relevant and directly applicable to many recent releases. Modern filmmakers who choose to add 3D to their work often still struggle to utilise it to enhance the final picture. Instead the 3D effect usually detracts from the overall experience and in some cases, even highlights other technical and creative inadequacies.
If you know you’re films and had to name a 3D example from the last 30 years which stands out as the worst, most of you would probably name the renowned failure – Jaws 3D.
Although that monstrosity of a film had the power to convince every person on planet earth to never watch a 3D film again, it didn’t stop filmmakers from trying to harness our ever evolving technological capabilities in order to create convincing, entertaining 3D films. In fact, I think it may even have spurred a few of them on to prove that 3D can work in film.
Obviously there was a lull after Jaws 3D’s release in 1983. I think we all needed a period of two-dimensional tranquillity before gathering enough strength to tackle the issue again.
But after the millennium, we did try again.
Of the most famed pioneers, it was James Cameron who started to take the reins and the initiative, in a bid to push us all forward into an era of 3D glory and acceptance. He forged new techniques and technological breakthroughs, allowing an increased number of less daring studio’s and their filmmakers to take an interest in how 3D could improve their productions with significantly less financial risk than before. Continue reading