In the eye of the beholder

By Kenia Cris

Image by Naama Sarid-Maleta’

Cinema has undergone great changes since the first public screening of a film held by the Lumière Brothers on December 28, 1895, at Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris. The year 2011 brings the third most significant change in the history of motion pictures – 3D effects – into more than 50 movies in nearly all possible genres.

3D or S3D (stereoscopic 3D) effect had been observed by Euclid, Galen and Leonardo da Vinci at their respective times, but it was only in 1938 that close examination results published in a 12,000 words treatise by Charles Wheatstone gained particular attention.  Stereoscopic vision refers to the ability that humans have to see the same scene with both eyes in subtly different ways. It results in our ability to visually perceive depth and distances. Each eye captures a fairly different image, the brain processes these two images in a way that lets us see slightly around solid objects without needing to move our heads.

The stereoscopic era of motion pictures began in the late 1890s when British film pioneer William Friese-Greene filed a patent for a 3-D movie process. But the ‘golden era’ for stereoscopic cinema is comprised between 1952 and 1955, when more than fifty films were released. The first real day-and-date wide release of a stereoscopic motion picture took place on August 12, 1982, with  Friday the 13th Part III from Paramount Pictures opening on over 1,000 silver screens in North America.

Among the most expected 3D movies this year, they are: Thor, Green lantern, The Smurfs, and sequels to Ghost rider, Sherlock Holmes, Transformers, Spiderman, Mission Impossible, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Not everyone is a 3D fan. Some people may experience headaches, stomachaches, motion sickness, confusion, or boredom while watching 3D movies and others can’t see the effect at all. These people are often referred to as stereo-blind. Stereo-blindness is often related to medical disorders that prevent the eyes focusing and/or aligning correctly, like amblyopiastrabismus and optic nerve hypoplasia.

There are currently more than 2,000 3D screens worldwide. Industry experts predict there will be at least 10,000 by 2012.

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