The Beginnings of 3D leading to the invention of 3D Home Theater

3D Home Theater becoming a reality

3D has been with us since the beginnings of photography and filmmaking. In fact, the first 3D movie was made in 1903 and the first publicly shown 3D movie was The Power of Love in 1922. However, the first true “Golden Age” of 3D began in 1952 with the film Bwana Devil. Although there were some classic film titles filmed and presented in 3D during this period, such as HondoCreature From The Black LagoonIt Came From Outer Space, and House of Wax, the difficulty of presenting 3D with the technology available at the time made audiences disappointed in the result. Who knew that television would put 3D home theater into reality in the future?

The First 3D Revival

However, that did not prevent the studios from deserting 3D altogether, and some technological progress was made in the 1970’s and 80’s, but suffered with, unfortunately, unmemorable film titles, such as Jaws 3DSpacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.

Enter IMAX

Then in the mid-1980’s things began to change in the world of 3D with incorporation of the 3D technology with the IMAX film format. Although too expensive to be widely adopted in mainstream movie theaters, 3D IMAX presentations made headway by becoming a “special event” experience, giving audiences an impressive large screen 3D effect, combined with material, such as nature, history, and travel that seemed to be more accepting by audiences than the abundance of B-class 3D movies of previous periods. Also, instead of those terrible cardboard red/blue or polarized glasses, IMAX 3D began the trend of using active LCD shutter glasses that more precisely directed 3D information into the viewer’s eyes.

However, they were big and bulky.

3D at the Beginning of the 21st Century

Enter the 21st century. With the introduction of new filming techniques, such as CGI, motion capture, high definition video, the use of digital projection in an increasing number of movie theaters, as well as new, more effective, and comfortable, 3D glasses technology, such as Dolby 3DReal D, and XpanD, 3D became more accessible than ever.

This second “Golden Age of 3D” is alive and well. 3D films ranging from pure animation, such as Coraline and UP, to the new all-time biggest box office draw that combines sophisticated motion-capture, animation, and live-action, James Cameron’s Avatar have drawn moviegoers into the movie theater in ever larger numbers. As a result, movie studios are not only filming more movies in 3D, but are actively pursuing the conversion of films originally shot in 2D into 3D in an effort to increase their box office appeal.

For additional references on the history of 3D, check out the A Short History of 3D Movies (Widescreen Movies Magazine)Directory of 3D Movies, and 3D Movie Timeline Chart: 1903 to 2011 (Sony Professional via Nerd Approved).

Moving 3D Into the Home

The current success of 3D at the local cinema has not gone unnoticed by the powerful consumer electronics industry, so now there is a big effort in place to get 3D into consumers’ homes. Hence the 3D Home Theater experience.

There have been some attempts at broadcasting TV programs in 3D (ChuckMichael Jackson Grammy Tribute) and on Blu-ray so far (CoralinePolar Express). However, the methods used produces poor results for the viewer, since it has to rely on current TV display and Blu-ray Disc player capabilities.

The systems used up until 2010 are not the same as the 3D systems that are employed in movie theaters for such films as James Cameron’s Avatar, or that are used with the new 3D TV and Blu-ray products coming out that are the subject of this article.

Why has 3D continued to capture the imagination of both filmmakers and movie goers and now the forces with in the consumer electronics industry? 3D is definitely a way for movie studios to make more money by getting consumers out their homes and into the movie theater more often or consumer electronics manufacturers to get consumers to buy more “stuff” in order to integrate 3D into the home entertainment experience.

However, that being said, just as we went from Black and White to Color, from stereo to surround sound, from 4×3 to 16×9, from analog to HDTV, 2D to 3D is a natural progression in the quest to converge the fantasy of film and TV with the real world. The question is, is it the right time for the movie studios and consumer electronics manufacturers to make their case, and is the right time to ask consumers to dig into their pocket books, especially so soon after many consumers have just purchased their first HDTV, 3D Home Theater?


For more comprehensive information on 3D, also check out Complete Guide to Watching 3D at Home, which includes 3D TV Pros and Cons, what you need to know about 3D glasses, how to adjust a 3D TV a good viewing experience, lists of Best 3D Plasma and LCD TVs and 3D Blu-ray movies, as well as additional tips on how to best integrate 3D into your home theater experience.


This article is courtesy of Robert Silva

Updated October 24, 2016