3-D Conversion of Movie Poster by 3-D Revolution Productions.It seems 3-D technology is everywhere these days. From 3-D films to 3-D television sets, the technology appears to be catching on as the latest entertainment craze. But you might be surprised to learn 3-D technology was pioneered in the early 1900s. The first 3-D film, The Power of Love, was shown in 1922, nearly 88 years ago. Remarkable, right? 

During the years, the popularity of 3-D films has risen and fallen, and the technology behind 3-D has been refined again and again. From the white cardboard glasses with blue and red lenses to polarized lenses to no glasses needed, 3-D technology continues to evolve. But why? Why does the technology keep waxing and waning in popularity? Why does it continue to be re-worked and re-imagined?

Well, if you’ve seen a 3-D film in the past century, you are probably aware of two things: (1) it’s fun, seeing a film in 3-D can be enormously enjoyable, and (2) it kind of hurts, your eyes and brain do not always enjoy that fun 3-D ride. Or 3-D technology did kind of hurt – advancements in 3-D technology are built around making 3-D viewing comfortable and natural, partly by re-working the technology to model how we see images.

With better 3-D technology, the why of 3-D’s latest surge in popularity is not such a mystery. When you feel comfortable watching a film in 3-D, you can appreciate the feel and depth of a 3-D film. Some regard 3-D films as fads – the latest gimmick from Hollywood – but 3-D is an artistic expression of sorts. For films like Tron: Legacy, 3-D can suck you into the film, much like the main character Sam is sucked into the computer. 3-D can give the feel of immersion and heighten awareness of the world within the film. Subtle use of the technology can also strengthen a film’s storytelling, such as the 2007 film Beowulf. Characters in the film gained and lost powers, which coincided with intensified or diminished 3-D effects. 

But if you still are not a fan of 3-D, have no fear, there’s a new product on the market just for you: 2-D glasses. Just slip them on to experience your favorite 3-D film in the glory of two dimensions. Problem solved.

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