3D in Movies - A gateway to endless possibilities

3D in Movies - A gateway to endless possibilities

18 March 2020 by martin

3D movies are much more than the IMAX effects you know from your local cinema. From this post, you will find out how and when 3D in movies was initially used and how it affected the movie industry. You will discover its exciting present and future applications. Read now:

There is not a single industry that has encountered 3D and remained the same as before. However, one industry, in particular, has been taken on another level thanks to the new technologies. 

3D in movies changed the way they are produced, filmed and most of all experienced. Most folks consider 3D movies to be the ones you need to watch with 3D glasses in cinemas or at home. While this is true, there is much more to the story. 

Stay with us until the end of this post to find out what is a 3D movie, how it evolved, how computer animation empowered the movie industry and what you can expect from the future. 

The first usage of 3D in movies - the game is changed forever!

Ever since the movie industry was born in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries the producers wanted to improve their films in all possible ways. The concept of using some sort of 3D technology has been born.

The first attempts were stereoscopic 3D films. They were broadcasted on two separate screens. With the usage of a stereoscope and the merging of the images of both screens, the viewers could experience a 3D motion and at the time this was great!

Some may argue what was the first 3D movie. There are two popular picks - the 1903 short "L'arrivee du train" and the 1922's "The Power of Love". The first one was so realistic at its time that the viewers really thought that the arriving train would run through them. 

However "The Power of Love" is considered the first 3D movie that was commercially released. Another important aspect of this movie was the first usage of anaglyph glasses (maybe the first-ever 3D movie glasses). Their lenses are in opposite colors (mostly red and cyan were the preferred choices) and this combined with a matching film strip would result in a 3D effect.

Next came the Teleview System created by Laurens Hammond and William F. Cassidy. This happened in late 1922. However, this format was too cumbersome and was eventually abandoned.

The experiments continued with other technologies however with the Great Depression these would become very expensive and eventually the industry took a brief halt. Only one notable success story exists during this period and it is the Audioscopiks. The 3D effect was achieved with the usage of anaglyph format utilizing red/cyan colors. The movie won the Academy Award in 1936.

When 3D in Movies really catches on?

The attack of the movies 3D craze was during the 1950s. It went for a short while and then it was reborn in the 1980s. This happened with the 1981's Western "Comin’ at Ya!". During this period 3D in Movies took several improvements and even animated features were introduced.

And this takes us to the '90s where 3D proved its quality, endless possibilities and great viewer experience. Entering “Robocop 2” - the first usage of early real-time computer graphics to create a movie character. Also known as digital puppetry. 

Another great example from the era -  “Jurassic Park” from the director Steven Spielberg. It was the first movie to introduce the first photorealistic CG creatures. 

“Babylon 5” - the first TV series to use CGI as their prime visual effects method. “The Matrix” - first usage of interpolation achieved with CGI. This was combined with the famous bullet-time effects. 

“Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace” - the first extensive usage of CGI in a movie. The list goes on and on! And the first 3D animation movies also appeared during this period. Also classics like the original.

Star Wars trilogy was re-released in 3D effects by utilizing CGI characters and elements. Other movies also went through 3D conversion so that they can be more appealing to the younger audiences.

3D is used within every movie nowadays

Hollywood eventually became dependent on the possibilities and benefits of digital 3D movies. After all 3D in motion pictures made it simpler to create your set. 

No more need for risky live action! Why? Because most (if not all) special effects are created thanks to CGI. 

Want an incredible explosion, without killing some of your set crew or actors? Do it with the help of CGI! Want a gigantic wave to drown a megalopolis? Create both with 3D! Non-human characters do exist thanks to 3D technologies. 

Take Thanos from the Avengers' movies. The actor wore a special helmet and suit and did his part. All his moves were recorded, analyzed and re-created entirely in 3D. His face and body were modified so that he could be transformed from an ordinary human to the mighty titan Thanos.

And what about Gollum from the "Lord of the Rings"? Similar techniques were used to transform the actor.

But that is not all! 3D in movies allows the creation of entire worlds and even universes. Sci-fi movies cannot be created without 3D. They depend heavily on 3D technology to represent impossible conditions and places around the universe as well as forward or backward in time.

What about 3D animations?

A special case of the evolution of 3D in movies is Disney and Pixar. We all know the Disney animated classics. However thanks to the collaboration with Pixar an entirely new type of animation arose. 

What was the first 3D animated movie? It was the first-ever "Toy Story" released in 1995. From then to the modern 3D animation we have seen the great evolution of these movies thanks to the constant efforts and creativity of 3D video movie makers and the technologies that they use. 

The graphics became smoother and incredibly realistic whilst keeping the feeling of animation. That is why Disney and Pixar have created and will continue to create some of the best 3D animated movies! 

With a good example of these studios, many other 3D animations are created from other 3D movie makers. Quality constantly improves. We have all sorts of animations nowadays - even great looking 3D animation action movies!

Prepare to be mind-blown

There is another important aspect. We can all agree that some movies will never be the same without certain actors. And if there is another movie in the series that needs to feature the same actor it would be disappointing (at least) if he is changed with another one. 

Unfortunately, there are times that replacement is the only way. Sadly, we have seen such situations where a beloved actor passes away.

The other important aspect of 3D in movies is the possibility to resurrect actors from the dead, sort of speak. Take Paul Walker from the "Fast and Furious" series. 

Another example is Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2". Peter Cushing - "Rogue One" is yet another example. The list goes on and on! 

Some critics debate the moral aspects of resurrection with the aid of CGI, but one way or another it is a great way to see a loved familiar face once again. Of course for this resurrection, a real-life actor may still be needed, but he is only the carrier for the CGI image that the viewers are going to see. The procedure is similar to the creation of non-human characters and similar technologies are used.

Last but not least - 3D cinema

We have finally reached the part where we talk about 3D cinema. For most viewers, it is the only appliance of 3D in movies. However now we know that this isn't entirely correct. 

3D cinema utilizes the same CGI effects as its non-3D version. Here are added additional features that allow the images to come out of the screen. 

Modern IMAX 3D movies provide a great viewer's experience. You are part of the movie - it is happening in front of your eyes! Some of the best movies of all time have been presented with the help of 3D cinema!

It is no coincidence that most people thought that James Cameron's "Avatar" (released in 2009) was the first 3D movie. In fact, it was the first 3D movie that revolutionized 3D cinema. Cameron revealed that initially this movie was planned to be filmed right after "Titanic". 

So originally we were to see "Avatar" around 1999. However, James Cameron considered the current technology not suitable for what he had in mind. With the latest 3D technology he was finally able to create history! 

The success of Avatar is because of the combination of its exciting storyline, related to the exploration of outer space and the conquering of the foreign planet Pandora, plus all the non-human characters and worlds. 

When it was announced with all its wonderful CGI effects and of course IMAX 3D shots, this movie caused the box office to literally explode! It set a new standard for future 3D filmmaking. People instantly fell in love with the new way of watching movies! That is why it was no surprise that soon many other great movies would follow!

Two years later another famous director decided to give 3D cinema a try. Martin Scorsese has produced his first 3D movie - "Hugo". Again the audiences were thrilled! Hugo won 5 Academy Awards (out of 11 for which it was nominated): for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual Effects. 

Hugo was also nominated for eight BAFTAs and ended up winning two of them. This 3D movie is also the reason for Scorsese's third Golden Globe Award for Best Director. Thanks to its wonderful storyline and effects, Hugo grossed $185 million against its $150–$170 million budget.

As of today - 3D cinema is a norm for movie makers! Most movies are made in two versions - 3D and non-3D. However, the recent practice is to always have a 3D debut on cinema and the non-3D versions are to be set for the small screen so that viewers can enjoy the movie at home.

How do 3D movies work?

Well, thanks to the special glasses that you are wearing in cinemas you can see a clear image and not a double one. The way this is achieved is by polarizing the light with two separate filters so that you can see a 3D picture. One is intended for the left eye and the other one - for the right eye.

This comes to answer the long asked question "can you watch a 3D movie without the glasses". In short - you can but you will be seeing a double image with each of your eyes and that will be neither comfortable nor with great quality.

However, there are some technologies that allow this to happen. There are special displays that can bring 3D cinema to the audiences without the funky glasses. But these are not yet commercially available. 

And while there are other solutions that can offer this for the home 3D television set, they cannot be scaled to larger screens such as cinemas' yet. Nevertheless, the technology improves every day and maybe sooner this will be a reality.

There are also side by side 3D movies. A side by side 3D movie still requires glasses or other suitable peripherals to be seen as "coming from the screen". The movie is split into two parts and each features the same image. 

If you wear Anaglyph Red and Blue 3D Glasses (yes, like the ones from the dawn of 3D movies) you can again enjoy a 3D movie even at home. Some TV channels are created especially for 3D side by side movies and shows so that they can provide you with better experience. And such 3D glasses can be very cheap so that you can have as many as needed for your family and guests. 

Is 3D cinema dangerous for your health?

Ever since the revolutionary return of 3D cinema people have been wondering if it is safe, especially for children. It is important to know that, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there is no evidence that watching something in 3D could damage a child's vision. The same can be applied to adults as well. 

In fact, if you watch 3D movies then the reception is pretty much the same as watching something in real life. Of course, some effects may cause dizziness but the cases are very few. Just to be on the safe side - always try to not watch too many 3D movies at once or if you do, then at least try to have a reasonable amount of breaks and physical activities between them.

What is the future of 3D in Movies?

Like other industries that have benefited from 3D, movies will soon rely on holograms. This will allow an even more immersive viewing experience and an entirely new line of movies. Imagine a large holographic cinema? 

Mixed reality (AR & VR) will surely impact movies too. If you wanted to be part of the movie, touch, and feel, then these technologies are what will bring this dream into reality.

Another future usage of 3D in Movies is the AI deep fake, real-time productions. However, this must be approached with caution. 

Deep fake can be dangerous. Why? Because such videos might be misleading and may lead to people believing false facts. 

Deepfakes are produced by sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI). The result is a video manipulation that appears to be real in means of sound and looks. 

Now imagine having this technology applied to a famous politician. Imagine hearing horrible things that seem true. Mass panic is only one of the disasters that may occur.

That is why such technology should not be used with illegal intentions. On the other hand, it can be extremely useful for the future of cinema and television if used correctly!

How do you feel about the endless possibilities and viewer experience of 3D in Movies?

In this post, you have found out what can be produced by skilled artists with suitable 3D animation and movie making software. You discovered how the best 3D movies of all time came to life since we took you on a journey to the dawn of 3D in movies. We have presented the way technology is used in movies and you know what to expect from the future. If you need help with your next movie project or have questions, do not hesitate to contact us!

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