Daniel L. Symmes


NOTE: This article is dynamic in that it will change over time as new or different information is found.
First published 18NOV 2006 - current revision 5DEC2008

The author suggests the reader first read LOST AND FOUND Part 1 in order to understand the context and reason for this article.

An important aspect of attempting to ascertain who did what, when, and especially how, is collecting evidence and the analysis of same.

The collecting is difficult; the analysis more so.


  1. William van Doren Kelley produced a one reel short titled KELLEY’S PLASTICON PICTURES – MOVIES OF THE FUTURE, which went on the Rialto Theatre screen on 23DEC1922. As of this writing, it stands as the first 3D film exhibited commercially in the world.

  2. Kelley’s business (Prizma) was as a color film laboratory—and therefore making prints was his focus. He had many patents for color processes, all aimed at his making lots of prints.

  3. His method of making color film prints utilizing duplitized film stock (emulsion on both sides) was good enough to make him a leading provider of subtractive color prints for the first half of the 1920’s.

  4. Kelley, perhaps with Charles Raleigh, built a 35mm film camera (based on a jointly-filed patent in 1914) that is virtually the same as Kinemacolor’s. Specifically, by late 1921, it was a single lens camera with a color filter wheel behind the lens, composed of two colored filters, essentially red and blue-green. The camera was sequential, meaning the red exposure was made on a frame of film, and the blue-green exposure on the next, successive frame. As was well known at that time, sequential systems had the major flaw of fringing around objects moving in the scene.

  5. In examining the footage believed to be from MOVIES OF THE FUTURE, it is this author’s opinion that whatever camera was used to shoot the short, it was not sequential.

  6. In OCT1923, Kelley, at an SMPE (now SMPTE) meeting clearly stated: “The camera pulls down two picture areas at a time and exposes both at once. Each lens is provided with a prism so that one lens sees about 1 3/8” to the right of center, while the other sees the same distance to the left. The same camera that is used for color pictures was utilized by making a new mounting for the prisms and lenses interchangeable with the color lenses. Two exposures are made simultaneously.” One has to accept his words as truth, even if they cause more pause. The key points are that “...two picture areas at a time and exposes both at once“, “Each lens…” and “…two exposures are made simultaneously.” This clearly means a single camera with two lenses, simultaneous exposure. The only Prizma camera I am aware of in the 1921/1922 period had a single lens, and shot two, SEQUENTIAL (successive) images.

  7. Kelley’s primary Prizma cameraman, William T. Crespinel, apparently did not shoot MOVIES OF THE FUTURE, and didn’t mention it in a 1977 interview which was otherwise very detailed. Yet, in 1923, he teamed up with Jacob F. Leventhal and, using two cameras provided by Frederic Eugene Ives, they shot some sample stereoscopic footage in Washington, D.C., apparently on Veteran’s Day, 28MAY23. This sample film lead to the production of five stereoscopic shorts, the first of which, PLASTIGRAMS, was first seen at the Rivoli Theatre in NYC, 3FEB24.

It is obvious from the foregoing that MOVIES OF THE FUTURE was shot with a different camera than subsequently used by Crespinel/Leventhal.

So now the questions are:

  1. Why didn’t Crespinel/Leventhal use the MOVIES OF THE FUTURE camera?
  2. What camera WAS used for MOVIES OF THE FUTURE?
  3. And as we will see further along, why did Kelley patent such a camera as late as JUL24, but for an incredibly different reason?

U.S. patent number 1,729,617 was filed on 24JUL24 by William V. D. Kelley and Dominick Tronolone, with it being issued 1OCT29, and assigned to the by then defunct Kelley Color Laboratory, Inc.

The patent is amazing in many ways, and in this author’s opinion, may be the missing link to answering question #2 above.

When Leventhal took the Washington, D.C. sample film to the management of the Rivoli/Rialto theatres sometime perhaps mid-1923, it was rejected as not being spectacular enough. Reference was made to the 3D shadowgrams as first seen in the Teleview show at the Selwyn Theatre in NYC starting 27DEC22.

The shadowgram idea was filed on 23JAN23, and issued to its inventor, Laurens Hammond, as patent 1,481,006 on 15JAN24.

As previously mentioned, the Crespinel/Leventhal short, PLASTIGRAMS (and because of Ives’ loaning of cameras, and the weight of Ives’ name, the final credit was Ives/Leventhal), was seen theatrically as of 3FEB24.

PLASTIGRAMS is currently regarded as a lost film. Thus we cannot confirm a shadowgram scene, though other footage attributed to Crespinel does have shadowgram footage, and is a key to Kelley’s patent 1,729,617.

I am reproducing the entire text of the patent below, along with comments (in colored text) so the reader can share in my amazement of this patent. Nothing has been altered, including misspellings, and typos.

As you read through the patent, you can click on the three links below to see each of the three pages of illustrations referenced in the patent. They popup in separate windows, assuming your browser allows popups :o)

                                     PAGE ONE                   PAGE TWO                 PAGE THREE


Patented Oct. 1, 1929                                                                                                                    1,729,617



Application filed July 24, 1924      Serial No. 727,984

This invention relates to photography particularly to motion picture photography and more especially to stereoscopic motion picture photography.

The principal object of this invention is to provide a means and method of exhibiting to an observer a simulation of motion as an image, on a screen which will produce a stereoscopic effect when properly viewed.

A further object of the invention is the production of a camera which is adapted to receive light rays from an object through two orifices spaced apart in a horizontal plane, a distance corresponding somewhat to the interpupillary interval of the average human eyes and to then operatively direct those rays through two lenses spaced apart in a vertical plane a distance corresponding to the distance between the centers of two adjacent image spaces of the ordinary motion picture film.

A further object of the invention is a camera of the type specified which will produce an image in one picture space displaced to the left as regards the longitudinal center line of the film and an image of the same subject simultaneously formed in an adjacent picture space displaced to the right as regards the longitudinal center line of the film.

A further object of the invention is the provision of color means for differentiating the image formed to the left from that formed to the right of the longitudinal center line of the film.

A further object of the invention is the provision of means involving colored viewing mediums, whereby one image only will be seen by one eye of an observer and the other image only will be seen by the other eye when the properly colored images are projected on a viewing screen or surface.

Other objects and advantages will appear as the description of a particular physical embodiment of our invention, selected to illustrate the same, hereinafter appears and as a description of our method expands, and the
novel features will be pointed out in the appended claim.

In describing the invention in detail and the particular physical embodiment selected to illustrate the invention, reference is had to the accompanying drawing, wherein we have illustrated a particular preferred physical embodiment of our invention, and wherein like characters of reference designate corresponding parts throughout the several views and in which:

Figure 1 is a schematic view illustrating an arrangement and means for producing a film. for projection in accordance with our invention; 2, is a schematic view illustrating the projection and viewing of an image in accordance with our invention; Fig. 3, is a front view of a camera lens and prisms mount employed to produce the results of our invention; Fig. 4, is a rear view of the device as shown by Fig. 3; Fig. 5, is a detail perspective view of a part of the lens and prisms mount, Fig. 3 ; Fig. 6, is a cross sectional view of the plane indicated by the line VI—VI of Fig. 3, viewed in the direction of the arrows at the ends of the line; Fig. 7 is a cross-sectional view on the plane indicated by the line VII—VII of Fig. 3, viewed in the direction of the arrow; Fig. 8, is a schematic view illustrating the attachment of our lens and prisms mount Fig. 3 to a camera.

In Fig. 1, applicants have illustrated a source of red light R and a source of blue-green light B G. These lights may be obtained in any of the usual and ordinary and well known manners, either by the use of one light generator and differently colored filters or by two light generators and suitable filters. However obtained the lights are complementary and so arranged that each completely illuminates a screen 1, if no object is interposed between the lights and the screen, as indicated by lines 2­—3 and 4—4. The lights are separated about three inches in practice, but varies according to the size of screen used.

The screen 1 may be of any suitable or appropriate properly translucent material, such as ground glass or tracing cloths to the end that illuminated images formed on the back thereof, that is the side toward the lights, may be properly photographed by suitable camera positioned at some suitable distance in front of the screen.

In the practice of our invention we form images of desired still or moving objects on the screen 1 by positioning the object or objects between the lights and the screen. In Fig. 1, we have for the purposes of illustration shown an object 6 so positioned. It will readily be seen that object 6 will cast a shadow on screen 1, by reason of light R, extending from point 7 to point 8. It will also be seen that object 6 will cast a shadow on screen 1, due to light B G extending from point 9 to 20 point 10. These shadows overlap from 8 to 9 and by following lines 11 and 12 it will be seen that light from neither source reaches the section 8 to 9 of the screen so that this section as viewed from the front will appear 25 black.

It is obvious that both sections 10 to 13 and 7 to 14 of the screen 1 will appear illuminated but as though illuminated by so-called white light. These sections are both illuminated by light from both sources, as will be seen by following the ray lines of Fig. 1. Section 10 to 13 is illuminated by, red light because at least included in the angle made by lines 4 and 12. It is illuminated by blue-green light because included in the angle made by lines 3 and 15. Section 7 to 14 is included in the angle made by lines 5 and 16 and so illuminated by red light. It is also at least included in the angle between lines 2 and 11 and so is illuminated by blue green light. The illumination of sections 10 to 13 and 7 to 14 must be as though by white light because produced by a combination of complementary colored lights, as red and blue-green.

Sections 7 to 9 and 8 to 10 are not absolutely black as in section 8 to 9, nor are they illuminated by white lights as are sections 7 to 14 and 10 to 13. Section 7 to 9 is not illuminated by light from source R as herein before pointed out, but it is illuminated by light from source B G as will be seen by following lines 2 and 11. Section 8 to 10 is not illuminated by light from source B G as hereinbefore pointed out, but it is illuminated by light from source R as will be seen by following lines 4 and 12.

The result of the arrangement as hereinbefore described is that an observer, in front of screen 1, will see: two sections, 7 to 14 and 10 to 13 illuminated by white light; one section, 8 to 9 dark; section 8 to 10 appearing as the form of object 6, less such amount as appears in section 8 to 9, illuminated by red light, and section 7 to 9 appearing as the form of the object 6, less such amount as appears in section 8 to 9, illuminated by blue-green light.

The foregoing is dangerously close to Hammond's patent as it gives specific details for creating stereoscopic shadowgrams. However, Hammond's patent was specific to a "live" show, whereas this patent is the photography of a live show, allowing it to be seen on film in any theater. At best a variation, but not particularly "clean."

But, the "nerve" of filing this patent six months AFTER Hammond's patent was issued is notable. Obviously Kelley would have known of Hammond's patent.

Hammond "licensed" the use of his patent to the Zeigfiled Follies and possibly to a variety show playing in London as of SEP23. Otherwise, in an article, he mentioned something to the effect his idea was ripped off by others, and gave the effect he didn't pursue the violators.

And now, the part of the patent that seems too good to be a coincidence.

As we desire to make a permanent record of the results obtained on screen 1, the screen is photographed. In order to do this we prefer to proceed in a special manner. 39 is a lens and prisms mount to be hereinafter fully and particularly described. For present purposes it is sufficient to explain that this lens and prisms mount has two stop openings 17 and 18, the centers of which are horizontally displaced substantially corresponding to the interpupillary distance of the average human eye. Stop opening 17 is covered with a red filter and stop opening 18 with the complementary colored filter blue-green. Assuming that 39 is a lens and prism mount and that 19 is a fragment of motion picture negative film placed in the camera of which 39 is the lens and prisms mounts then upon exposure latent images will be 8 formed on film 19. The images which will be formed by light passing through opening 17 will be, when developed clear in that portion of the film corresponding to section 7 to 8 of the screen. The section 8 to 9 is black on the, screen and so would naturally form a clear image, when developed on film 19. Section 7 to 9 is illuminated by blue-green light which is cut off by filter over stop opening 17, so that the image of section 7 to 8 of the screen will appear on the film when developed as clear. In the same way the image of section 9 to 10 will be clear as the red light from section 8 to 10 is cut off by the blue-green filter in passing through stop opening 18. Light from section 8 to 13 and from section 7 to 14 passing through the red filter over stop opening will appear on the film as black, when developed, because those sections are illuminated either, by white light or by red light. Light from sections 10 to 13 and 9 to 14, passing through the blue green filter over stop opening 18 will appear as black, when developed, because those sections are illuminated either by white light or blue-green light.

The net result of photographing in the manner set forth is to produce a film which when developed will have two images thereon, shown by clear spaces, one image being that of section 9 to 10 and the other of section 7 to 8.

This is EXACTLY the right thing to have shot MOVIES OF THE FUTURE (though without the color filters). But, that was way back two years. One is supposed to file a patent within one year of the first "sale."

As will be described hereinafter more in detail the lens and prisms mount 39 is so constructed that the light entering stop opening 17 is received on one image space of the film and the image of sections 7 to 8 is formed substantially to the right of the longitudinal median line of the film. The light entering stop opening 18 is received on an adjacent image space of the film and the image of section 9 to 10 is formed substantially to the left of the longitudinal median line of the film. The image of section 7 to 8 would therefore be formed at 20 and the image of section 9 to 10 in the adjacent image space 21. It will be, also obvious that as the images are formed in adjacent image spaces the film must be advanced two image spaces for each exposure.

After the negative has been obtained and developed, a positive is made therefrom and the image resulting from light passing through the red filter will be colored blue green and the image made by the light passing through the blue-green filter will be colored red. This may be done in any of the approved or well known methods. The resulting positive will appear as shown by 22, the images being reversed in position on the film.

In Fig. 2 we have illustrated an arrangement, schematically for exhibiting the positive film. 23 designates the projection machine of any usual or well known type. The film 22 has light from source 24 pass there-through and then through lens 25. The result on the screen will be an exact duplicate of that shown on screen 1. On screen 26, 25 sections 27 to 28 and 31 to 32 will appear white; section 29 to 30 black; section 28 to 29 blue-green, and section 30 to 31 red.

The screen 26 is viewed by an observer 33, provided with a viewing medium which presents a red filter to his right eye and a blue-green filter to his left eye. The object will appear as an image in stereoscopic relief. The right eye of the observer will see only section 28 to 30, because section 30 to 31 being red will not appear dark. The left eye will see only section 29 to 31, because the section 28 to 29 being blue-green will not appear dark.

As the complementary colored picture appear on adjacent image areas it will be necessary to increase the rate of movement of the film so that approximately thirty-two pictures per minute are exhibited.

He specifies 32 fps (error he says "per minute") projection speed. Additive color didn't look good even then.

In order to have stop openings spaced apart in a horizontal line and still have the images formed one over the other in substantially a vertical line it has been necessary to devise an apparatus as shown in elevation in Fig. 3, designated a prism and lens mount. This mount as shown best by Fig. 6, includes a camera attaching ring 36, which may be attached as by bolts, as 37, to a camera body. This ring is internally threaded as shown at 38, and into this screws the lens and prisms carrying body holder 39. This holder 39, is cylindrical for a distance 40 and then flares outwardly as at 41. The body 39 is merely a shell, the inside surfaces being indicated at 42 and 43. The body 39 has positioned therein the lens and prisms carrying body proper 44.

The body 44 conforms in outward shape to the internal shape of the holder 39, and is apertured, at 45 to receive the lens barrel 46, carrying lens combination 47 and 48. The body 44 is also excavated to receive two prisms 49 and 50. These two prisms abut along line 51, Fig. 3 and are both shaped as shown by 50 in Fig. 7. They are placed at an angle to the transverse line VI—VI of Fig. 3 so that the face of one is in front, of lens combination 47, that is prism 49 is in front of lens 47, and prism 50 is in front of lens 48. The prisms are in effect parallelepipedons having as shown by 50, one face silvered and a parallel face as 53 also silvered.

The prisms 49 and 50 are retained in place and stop openings therefor are formed by plate 54, having openings 17 and 18. The centers of these openings are about interpupillary distance apart as hereinbefore stated. The plate 54 is secured to the prism body 44 by screws as 57.

The lens and prisms body proper, 44, is secured in holder. 39 by annulus 58, attached by screws, as 59, passing therethrough and into the body 44, the annulus also bearing on holder 39.

From the construction of the lens and prisms mount it will be seen that light entering opening 18 will pass into prisms 50, being reflected at surface 53 to surface 52 where it is again reflected and then passes into lens combination 48. In the same way light entering opening 17 passes into lens combination 47. The light passing through lens combination 47 forms the upper of the two images as shown by film 19 and the light passing through lens combination 48 forms the lower of the two images on film 19, Fig. 1.

In Fig. 8 we have shown the attachment of the lens and prism mount to an ordinary motion picture camera, having body 60 and tripod 61.

In the practice of our method any suitable object, of which 6 is merely illustrative may be utilized. The process may be applied to living objects, so called animated cartoons or paper cut-outs by interposing them in a suitable manner between the lights R and B G and screen 1. If the effect of the objects leaving the screen and appearing over the observer is desired then the object, as 6, is brought nearer the lights. In fact very interesting and amusing effects may be obtained by moving the object, as 6, toward and away from the light sources during the photographing of the same.

Although we have described our preferred method of arranging the apparatus for producing the desired results, nevertheless it is desired to have it understood that we do not desire to exclude the making of negatives by the use of one or two light sources without filters. If two light sources are used, a shutter would be fitted to uncover the lamps alternately in my mechanism with its camera shutter. As the shadow representing the left eye is on the screen an exposure is made in the camera, the film is then covered and advanced and the shadow representing the right eye is thrown on the screen and another exposure then made. The film will then represent the left and right eye shadows alternately. We do not mean either to exclude the use of one light source moved the required distance from right to left or vice versa so as to produce the right and left shadows, with a camera synchronized as above pointed out.

This would seem to challenge Hammond's patent.

The making of the positive films to obtain the desired result is a matter of some moment in order to obtain the best result. It is well known that to produce a perfect result on the projection screen it is necessary to have color edges that are totally eliminated by the colors in the filters of the viewing medium used. If the colors in the positives are produced by tones; they are not entirely satisfactory. Any dyeing method that produces any effect on the gelatine the nature of relief due to hardening action of the chemical baths used will be detrimental. In the present system only tints on the screen are seen. These are most easily controlled. These colors must be uniform throughout the reel of film. Obviously the easiest method for doing this would be by a color filter attached to the projector about the same as used in the well known Kinemacolor projector. The drawback of the latter matter is the danger of having color reversed, the necessity of a special projector and the interference with sharp ness on the screen. In our process we take the positive film after it has been developed, fixed and washed and dye the entire frame of film in the blue-green color to the proper density, rinse and dry. We then coat the pictures taken through the right eye lens with a water proof varnish, such as Zapolin, which is a celluloid in solution and which dries quickly. We then replace the film on the racks and place in a wash tank until the dye has been washed out completely from the exposed areas, thus leaving every other image area colored blue-green. We then dip the film and reel in a red dye, wash and dry and we have a film evenly colored throughout its length having alternate image areas dyed blue-green and the other red.

Yikes! Easier said than done, I suspect. Friese-Greene's Bioschemes/Biocolour idea (ca. 1911) was also based on alternate frames of red and green dyed on the film, versus a color wheel on the projector (see below). And that wasn't even the first time the idea had been seen publically.

Additive color is not acceptable.

Although we have particularly described the construction and mode of operation of one physical embodiment of our invention, and explained the operation and principle thereof, nevertheless, we desire to have it understood that the form of apparatus selected and the procedure followed is merely illustrative but does not exhaust the possible physical embodiments of the idea of means underlying our invention.

What we claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent of the United States, is:

The method of producing motion pictures in stereoscopic relief which consists in photographing the shadows of an object on a curtain, the shadows being overlapped colors from two light sources and each succeeding exposure on the strip representing the right and left views, making a contact print and coloring each area in alternating complementary colors so that when projected in rapid succession the sensation of an image in relief is given to the beholder wearing spectacles containing transparent colored substances complementary to the color edges of the projected picture.


Well, the patent has one of the smallest claims I've ever seen, which is all the more interesting because clearly they were revealing a stereoscopic shadowgram method and a very specific camera construct. Yet, neither is particularly CLAIMED. Most patents have as many claims as can be jammed through the patent office, as it is commonly understood a patent is stronger with many claims.

On the face of it, this patent wouldn't stand in a legal setting.

"The method of producing motion pictures in stereoscopic relief which consists in photographing the shadows of an object on a curtain, the shadows being overlapped colors from two light sources and each succeeding exposure on the strip representing the right and left views, making a contact print and coloring each area in alternating complementary colors so that when projected in rapid succession the sensation of an image in relief is given to the beholder wearing spectacles containing transparent colored substances complementary to the color edges of the projected picture."

The colored part in the claim above is the only specific claim - and this concept was already used by others in commerce and I believe patented.

On the left, the Bioschemes/Biocolour sequential, tinted (versus toned), two-color, additive process (ca. 1911). On the right, is an approximation of what one might have seen on the screen. Look closely, because the process was sequential, the car had moved between the successive exposures, which can be seen as the red/green fringing - especially visible on the tires. And in this case, if you look through 3D glasses, coincidently with the red lens over your right eye, you will see a stereoscopic effect (temporal parallax).


This patent was attempting, by including the specifics of, to incorporate the Hammond patent concept of stereoscopic shadowgrams.

The second aspect of the patent is regarding the camera design. This is fascinating, as it makes sense, but with major question.

Ives/Leventhal/Crespinel got their first short, PLASTIGRAMS, on the screen 3FEB24.

Trade ad (reproduced in MOTION PICTURE HERALD) claims to
be the FIRST ad for a 3D film having national distribution.

Kelley designed and patented an ANAGLYPH camera to capture an ANAGLYPH shadowgram? By the time Kelley filed his patent, 3D shadowgrams were passé. So why would this interest him? And at a time when Prizma's fortunes were dimminishing, would Kelley have spent perhaps $10-15,000 for a camera that would only shoot shadowgrams?


I feel it’s easy to accept that Kelley/Tronolone built a good stereoscopic camera.

Two full, 35mm frames? Simultaneous exposure? Normal 16 fps (though twice as much camera stock)?

This could potentially make great 3D, though without convergence, wouldn’t be optimum.

But the VERY interesting part is…the patent clearly states that the camera used colored filters. This was to enable the camera to “decode” the anaglyph images on the shadowgram screen.

That clearly would be a stereoscopic, two-color system, and perhaps the first to be patented.

True enough this was not mentioned in the patent. But, the patent very strangely limits this camera for ONLY shooting anaglyph shadowgrams.

All you would have to do is pick the camera up and take it outside. Set the right exposure, and you would get anaglyph, color separations.

When properly printed with the Prizma, there would most certainly have been color anaglyph.

I cannot believe Kelley, et al, wouldn’t have known this. No, no, no.

But, it is very possible Kelley saw how poor a color anaglyph can look and dismissed it as unacceptable (see below).

On the left is a reference to normal color, 2-D. On the right, is a simulation
of what a two-color, color anaglyph might have looked like in 1923.
(RED lens over RIGHT eye)

Nevertheless, this camera would otherwise have been a very good 3D camera. Pull the color filters out for much better exposure.

It’s clear to me Kelley would have known all this. He likely had built a camera with the over/under lenses, but without the prisms, as an experimental color camera. The standard, single lens Prizma camera was sequential, and therefore suffered from "time" (temporal) parallax fringing. This camera shot simultaneous exposures, and would not have this flaw. However, it would have spatial parallax because of the two lenses.

If you are to design a color camera with two lenses, the vertical orientation makes the most sense. First, it uses normal film, full film frames. Horizontally oriented lenses would produce small (virtually 16mm) side-by-side images ("sub-frames") in a normal film frame. This would require optical enlargement in the printing phase. Quality would suffer, and the all-important cost would be higher. The parallax from vertical lenses could be "adjusted" by tilting one or both lens axes very slightly to converge at a nominal distance, such as 20 feet. This would eliminate visible fringing from perhaps 10 to 50 feet or more - much like depth of field. It is also possible to make this correction in the printing phase by giving one film a slight bias shift upward or downward by, say .002", effecting the same convergence. In any case, the parallax would be less pronounced than the movement-induced temporal parallax of a sequential system.

If this camera was available in late 1922, then with the addition of prisms (as confirmed by Kelley), Kelley would have an “instant” stereo camera.

But if this was so, how was the 1924 patent “legal?” True enough, there’s a fairly wide margin for when a patent is “done” and many ideas are only fully developed after the patent is granted.

I can see Kelley making the PLASTIGRAMS prints and, feeling once again there was potential interest in 3D, deciding to devise a stereo camera for a “system” (camera/printing).

But the camera is ca. 1922. How to patent it in 1924? One way would be to bury the camera in a stereoscopic “package” that includes another already patented technology. Dazzle 'em with confusion.

I don’t believe Kelley was overly enthused with shadowgrams. I feel this patent is really for the camera, which was possibly created earlier, this being a way to slip it by the patent office.

Why didn’t he patent the camera in 1922 or 1923? Perhaps Kelley was aware of patent 1,217,391 (filed APR1913, issued 27FEB1917) by Colin Bennett which seems to be the first for a two-color system with two, vertically disposed lenses, and two frame pulldown.

Or, that the Eastman Kodak company used the exact concept of two lenses, over/under, two frame pulldown, with colored filters for shooting its Kodachrome films as of 1916. I haven't found a patent for this camera configuration (still looking), though its usage is documented. I believe Kelley would have been aware of this.

We likely will never know, but Kelley could have either ignorantly built such a camera or did so knowing of its prior usage. The two lens design would be superior to the color wheel design, but as he couldn't patent such a camera, he might have created this patent in an attempt to cover his useage. I know I'm walking the line accusing him of infringing. That the patent office granted this patent seems acceptable enough that they felt it wasn't.

Maybe he didn’t think 3D was worth much beyond a passing novelty. I say this as, he didn’t himself do any other 3D production. I believe Kelley made the two-color prints for PLASTIGRAMS and the four STEREOSCOPIKS shorts, but there is nothing I have found indicating an interest in 3D after 1924.

And as for the two-lens experimental camera, I cannot see why he wouldn't have used it in place of his sequential, color wheel type. Perhaps he did. And this might be where we can understand why this camera wasn't used by Crespinel/Leventhal: it was not available.

Robert Joseph Flaherty departed San Francisco by ship for Samoa on 24APR23 to shoot a follow up to his amazing NANOOK OF THE NORTH (1922).

An excellent (though not without inaccuracies) telling of this can be found:


While MOANA (1926) wouldn't be nearly as successful as NANOOK, it is claimed to be the first feature film shot on panchromatic film, and opened many eyes to the superior quality over conventional, orthochromatic film. And the reason he used pan stock was: the Prizma camera he brought along malfunctioned. His intent of shooting certain scenes in color were dashed. Prizma required pan stock, and with the camera out of service, he decided to shoot some scenes with pan with his regular camera (Akeley) to see what it would look like. A wonderful nexus.

But what I get from this is: one of Kelley's Prizma cameras was GONE for nearly a year and a half. How many cameras would Kelley have? It could very well be that the MOANA camera was Kelley's latest/greatest: the dual lens model. As it took many weeks to reach Samoa in those days, one can assume the Prizma camera in question was unavailable from at least the begining APR23 onward. This is exactly when Crespinel/Leventhal needed it.

So a very possible answer as to why Crespinel/Leventhal had to go looking for a 3D camera was that Kelley's MOVIES OF THE FUTURE camera was busy on more profitable business (although it turned out to be a major loss for Kelley).

Not connected, but I notice the five year patent gestation which was rather long. Might have been a lot of back-n-forth with the patent office, which may explain the lack of claims.

The bottom line is that I believe this camera was built, for Kelley described it in detail - for stereoscopic work, and alluding its use for MOVIES OF THE FUTURE - in OCT23. But I don’t believe it was designed and built for shooting shadowgrams. It was originally for two-color to replace his color wheel camera(s). Late 1922 Kelley adapted prisms to it for shooting MOVIES OF THE FUTURE. But by 1924, this patent was Kelley’s attempt to get a stereo “system” available from him with the anticipated success of PLASTIGRAMS.

No matter what, this patent in light of the environment of 1924, is odd for too many reasons.

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© 2007, Daniel L. Symmes
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