Media Lifeline: 3D

It has taken many decades to take off but 3D is finally starting to fulfil its potential in cinemas and now on TV.

September 1922: The Power Of Love, the first truly throbbing attempt to punt 3D to a mass cinema audience, previews at the Ambassador's cinema in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it flops - and its grip on media immortality is further loosened when the producers bin all existing prints and negatives. Hollywood now focuses on other potential innovations - such as sound.

March 1954: But production technology comes on in leaps and bounds after World War II - and audiences with jaded appetites are ripe for renewed exploitation by 3D movie-makers. The jewel in the new crown is Creature From The Black Lagoon.

April 1995: Disillusion soon sets in, however - the technology just isn't reliable enough, the stereoscopic effect slips out of synch and headaches result. 3D hibernates once more, to be awoken briefly in the mid-90s by the latest new cinema technology - IMAX. The first narrative production is the unforgettable Wings Of Courage - a film about the trials and tribulations of an airmail pilot, which premieres in 1995.

December 2009: When James Cameron tweaks the technology and allies it to powerful digital image processing computers, he makes a big breakthrough with Avatar. It becomes the biggest-grossing movie ever and inspires a deluge of 3D blockbusters in 2010.

July 2010: TV gets in on the act too. Since April, BSkyB had been trialling 3D coverage of sporting events, relayed to select audiences in pubs and clubs in Britain and Ireland. Now, with domestic 3D sets coming to the market in increasing numbers (the big manufacturers all launched new kit in the spring), Sky announces that it's to launch a dedicated 3D television channel in October, with content including films and sport.

Fast forward ...

April 2020: The fad had passed, not least in TV, with audiences finding they had little appetite for 3D slo-mo close-ups of globules of sweat wobbling on the end of Wayne Rooney's nose. But technology rides to the rescue once again, with "beyond the proscenium" holographic 3D media offering a truly immersive experience. But cinema audiences for the remake of Creature From The Black Lagoon are bemused when invited to don scuba gear.


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