The truth about old 3D

Anaglyph 3D has popped up several times since the 1950s craze died

I've read a lot of articles in the last year or so about the new 3D trend in theatrical movies and HDTV, and far too many of them have made the same mistake about the 3D movie craze of the 1950s.

The myth: 3D movie projection in the 1950s used anaglyph technology, requiring audiences to wear those inferior, red-and-blue (or red-and-green) glasses. Anaglyph 3D is inferior, making black and white images look horrible and color images look worse. But while there were anaglyph 3D comic books in the 1950s, and perhaps some shorts, no Hollywood feature film was commercially released that way.

The 3D movies that enjoyed brief popularity from 1952 through 1954 used polarized lenses, as do most of today's theatrical 3D presentations. The technology at the heart of theatrical 3D really hasn't changed.

Today's 3D projection systems have some advantages. In some, but not all, of them, you can tilt your head to the side or wear the glasses lopsided without ruining the 3D effect--a universal problem with older polarized 3D. And the old system was extremely complicated to project, increasing the chances of projectionist error marring the presentation.

Ironically, anaglyph 3D has popped up several times since the 1950s craze died. Universal re-released Creature from the Black Lagoon and It Came from Outer Space that way in the 1970s. Within the last decade, both Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl played that way. And several 3D movies are available on DVD or Blu-ray in anaglyph form. (The advantage of anaglyph is that you don't need special projection equipment. The disadvantage is that it looks terrible.)

I suspect that some people in the movie and home theater businesses want this 1950s anaglyph myth to continue. It fits the desired narrative: 3D failed then because it was primitive, but it's no longer primitive and therefore will prevail. But there's a big difference between desired narrative and truth.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags 3d TV

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lincoln Spector

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?