10 things you never knew about 3D

It's been an excellent week of 3D here at Pocket-lint for us and we hope you've thoroughly enjoyed it too. If you've only just found it, then do take a look under our 3DTV tag for everything we've written from interviews, reviews, videos and demos to histories, top 10s, gaming and what to expect from the future as well. But to sign out and leave you with a few nuggets of trivia gold and something to impress your friends and family with over the weekend and in years to come, here are 10 things you never knew about 3D:

1) The glasses myth

Only a very small number of films ever required those red/cyan glasses to watch them. Despite being heavily associated with the genre in the 50s, those films were actually in colour and used polarised light to make the visual effect rather the anaglyph system. It was only comic books and the odd short film that were watched through the colour filter specs.

2) The real box office smash

The self-rated X, but actually rated R, soft porn film The Stewardessess was, and still is, the most profitable 3D film to date. It opened in 1970 in just 800 theatres and grossed $27 million, equivalent to approximately $114 million by today's standards, despite costing just $100,000 to produce. 3D legend Chris Condon and Director Ed Meyer are set for a remake in the very near future.

3) Take Two

The only 3D feature to have spawned a sequel also shot in 3D is the Creature from the Black Lagoon after Revenge of the Creature was released in 1955. The film also happened to offer a certain Clint Eastwood his first screen role as an uncredited lab technician. There was even a third in the series, the Creature Walks Among Us, but that was shot on flat.

4) The next (very) big thing

The most staggering cinema trick to convince audiences to come back to the theatre houses since 3D, and the one that eventually took over, if only for a short while, was Cinerama. Special theatres were constructed with super wide, enormous domed screens which were essentially three normal cinemas titched side by side. The films were shot on three cameras onto three different strips and all projected at the same time to produce a 146 degree cover over a massive 105' x 35' area.

5) Not just a stage name

The silver screen is more than a glitzy metaphor for the cinema. 3D films viewed with passive glasses must be projected onto a silver painted screen. The technique involves using polarised light to create the 3D effect and only a silver screen is good enough to reflect the film image back without losing that polarisation.

6) Pulfirch Effect

Despite depth being all about binocular vision, it is actually possible to create a 3D effect with just one eye. German physicist Carl Pulfrich discovered that if you swing a pendulum in front of someone, when they close one eye, people report that the pendulum begins to move towards and away from them in an apparent elliptical path. This effect was used in a special 1997 episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun.

7) 3D on the web

There's already buckets of stereoscopic 3D videos and images to view any time you like on the internet. YouTube has recently introduced a 3D tag and has a channel with over 5,000 user-generated videos and there's a storming community of over 200,000 3D stills you can view on Flickr.

8) IMAX

There are eight IMAX cinemas in the UK. Four are in London - Wimbledon, Waterloo, Greenwich and the Science Museum - and the others are in Bradford, Glasgow, Birmingham Science Museum and Manchester. The largest in the world is in Sydney which features a 354 square metre screen.

9) Leaping out at you

Amongst all the sports and movies, Sky has recorded a performance of Swan Lake by the English National Ballet as part of their 3D tests. They used their HD cameras to capture the show specially played in the Royal Naval College in Greenwich. It's been one of the best received sections of the Sky test reels.

10) The time has come

Avatar has been ready for release for some time now. The big wait was that James Cameron wanted to make sure that there was a critical mass of 3D-capable cinema screens around the world for the film to be a proper box office success. There is now.

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