3-D technology brings movies to life

Story by Abigail O'Gorman

You watch in terror as a grotesque, mutated space beast lurches out at you, its slimy tentacles flailing. Your instincts scream, “Run away!” but you are motionless, transfixed at the pulse-pounding spectacle playing out before your eyes. This isn’t science fiction, far from it. What you see in today’s theaters is one of cinema’s oldest gimmicks: 3-D.

3-D, or stereoscopy, is almost as old as the film industry itself. The first 3-D film was produced in 1903 by the Lumiere brothers, who also invented cinema.

Because of its obscenely high production costs, however, 3-D did not catch on with mainstream audiences until the 1950s and 60s. This period, the first “Golden Age” of 3-D, sported stereoscopy’s popularization.

3-D fell somewhat out of favor during the earlier 1970s, though it began to regain widespread use in the latter half of the decade. Imax 3-D was invented in 1986, revolutionizing the movie viewing        experience to audiences everywhere.

Despite the introduction of Imax 3-D, the ‘90s brought another slump. However, with the technological revolution of the 2000s came sweeping improvements to 3-D production and visual quality, and a new “Golden Age” was born.

Today, 3-D is at an apex of popularity, with more 3-D films being made than at any other time in cinema’s history. The massive success of “Avatar” further cemented 3-D’s position as an extremely effective profit-getter.

Freshman Alex Simpson has a favorable opinion of 3-D.

“It seems more realistic than 2-D,” Simpson said.

Doubt, however, is not unfounded. Many people question 3-D’s legitimacy, and speculation about the “uber-genre’s” potential longevity in the filmmaking industry is by no means baseless.

“3-D is good when it’s used sparingly. But when it’s used over and over, it sort of ruins the movie,” sophomore Ramsey Anderson said. “At times, it just makes the movie ridiculous.”

Despite its problems, 3-D has made an undeniably huge impact on the film industry. Whether it will continue to be successful in the future, however, is anyone’s guess.