"One must investigate myth
to find truth."
I started truly studying 3D (stereoscopic) motion pictures when I was fourteen, though was attempting to draw anaglyph (red/green) by Ten. That was 1959.
Then a funny thing happened to me when I entered the film business: straight out of the Army, working as virtually everything on a 3D film that made a huge sum ($27,000,000) in contrast to its cost ($100-150,000).
THE STEWARDESSES wasn’t family entertainment, though not as “pornographic” as some mainstream films today.
But I learned SO much at a time my mind was a sponge the equivalent size of Jupiter with bloat.
I was busy in the 1970’s with numerous 3D films; either in production or distribution (setting up 3D lenses in over 400 theaters myself).
That certified me. I bleed 3D.
As anybody who knows me can attest, unless I am vacationing in, say, Bali, I am mostly about 3D during my waking hours.
In the late 70's I invented the first 3D filming lens (single camera, over/under) to fit ordinary, unmodified 35mm film cameras.
Also at that time, I worked my way up to director of photography, group one, in local 659 (now local 600).
In the 80's I devised the first, practical method of producing broadcast 3D TV (patented in 1987). I've written many articles, co-wrote a book, and have been involved in more 3D TV and films than even I know of.
The analogy might be Forrest J. Ackerman, self-proclaimed (and rightfully so) Mr. Sci-Fi. I’ve known him since 1963, and found influences to do what turns you on.
So all these years later, I can say I paralleled Forry by being successful practicing in the very singular “hobby” of my life.
It recently came as a disappointment when I really accepted how much I dropped the ball as a 3D historian. I shockingly don’t have stills, footage or other evidence of a number of projects I did years back.
More woefully, in the 70-80’s I knew a number of still living, early 3D practitioners, and shall forever regret I didn’t better (or in some cases at all) drill for all the information they could provide. As many were really friends, I was slow to bother them for “the stories.”
I always felt there was a tomorrow.
Yet, I have amassed the largest known collection of 3D film materials, with a preference toward historical documentation.
Early articles and books I read seemed reliable enough, but now…I have found way too much error, misunderstanding, and my pet bugaboo: MYTH.
There are a number of “adults” STILL claiming, for example, that Warner Bros.’ THEM was shot in 3D. It was not. Even the scheduled 3D testing didn’t happen (the camera malfunctioned). Not a single frame of the film was shot in 3D. But individuals choose to perpetuate the myth. And some, obnoxiously so. I have no patience for such a waste of time.
A number of years ago, a “fan” wrote a book on 3D which has become a key reference to many. It is SO loaded with errors, assumptions, invention, and MYTHS. It makes my job more difficult when someone says “…but this book says…” And the author insisted on saying many of the 3D films of the 1950’s were released with a pseudo-stereo sound system called Perspecta, which is sheer nonsense.
The plan is to write what I feel will be the most thorough and technically accurate accounting of the history of 3D moving pictures, the people involved, and the full details of the technologies of same.
I intend being a voice from the past that will speak up for the true pioneers of the stereoscopic art. It is very obvious that most producing 3D today haven't a clue. Perhaps if they can understand the past, they can realize why much of 3D today is no better and usually is worse than 3D of, say, the 1950's.
Understanding from truth.
This is the warm-up for that book. It is not a primer on film technology, film history, nor 3D. It is written with the assumption that you the reader comes with knowledge of the basics as have been covered well enough elsewhere. The final book, however, will have such basics.
If you wish to comment or add to what I have written, the link is on the previous page.
As the contents of this site are dynamic, look for changes as new information is added.
- Daniel L. Symmes