3D movie

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A 3-D film ( 3-D film , three-dimensional film , correct stereoscopic film or outdated spatial film ) is a film that uses stereoscopic methods to convey a moving image to the viewer with an impression of depth for stereoscopic viewing . 3D movies with special effects are sometimes referred to as 4D movies for marketing reasons .

A 3-D film is recorded using stereo cameras , and playback is performed using a 3-D display , i.e. it is shown on a screen or as a projection . Spatial vision is made possible by the distance between the two eyes. In film, you work with two lenses that are also spaced apart in order to enable the stereoscopic effect. Since the 3D camera technology is complex and inflexible when shooting, larger film projects are increasingly turning to the subsequent conversion of the image content, which, with the help of software, delivers similarly good 3D results.

If the correct image is fed to the eye, a spatial impression is created. The spatial effect can be increased by increasing the distance between the lenses, but the human brain then classifies everything as smaller.

The first heyday of 3D films was in 1953 and 1954, when more and more viewers stayed away from the cinemas and preferred to watch inexpensive television . Film producers tried to lure viewers back to the cinema with new inventions. Since it was not possible to show 3D films on black and white television, 3D film was one of the attractions that could only be viewed in the cinema. For similar reasons, 3D technology was increasingly relaunched after 2008.

Viewers watching a 3D film during the 1951 Festival of Britain in London.


Typical modern anaglyph glasses with red / cyan filters, similar to others with red / green or red / blue filters.
RealD glasses for viewing circularly polarized 3D films
Shutter glasses XpanD method
Disposable glasses MasterImage process

For a 3D film, two images have to be recorded from slightly different perspectives - either with a stereo camera with two lenses, with two separate cameras or by subsequent conversion in which missing image content is digitally added.

In the early days of 3D film, the film images were projected onto two separate film strips with two mechanically coupled projectors . It often happened that a film strip tore and the film showing could only be continued “flat” because a synchronization of the two film strips was hardly possible. This problem was only remedied when it was possible to accommodate both film frames on one film strip.

The 3D films of the 1950s and later were predominantly projected either in anaglyph (red-green) technique (these films were ultimately black and white) or in the polarization process , which enables viewing in color. Modern digital projection systems use either polarization technology, interference filter technology or shutter glasses . A few films were also shown on autostereoscopic wire mesh screens, e.g. B. performed in Moscow. There was only one feature film among the works shown: the 1947 Russian feature film Robinzon Kruzo .

Various television programs (or some DVDs ) that are supposedly broadcast in 3D on conventional television are mostly not stereoscopic, but use the Pulfrich effect . One eye is darkened by special glasses so that an image arrives in the brain with a slight delay. When taking a picture, the camera is moved sideways, creating a stereoscopic effect at times when viewing it. Once the camera stops moving, the effect is over. Such a film can also be viewed quite normally without glasses (without double contours or color distortions as with anaglyph film).

Some computer animation films ( CGI ) or computer games advertised with 3D technology can only appear to have a spatial effect due to the lack of a second image with a second perspective, have nothing to do with real stereoscopy and are completely “flat”. In 2004, Der Polarexpress was the first animation film to be produced in stereoscopic 3D. From 2009 further stereoscopic 3D animation films were added, such as Monsters vs. Aliens or Ice Age 3 - The dinosaurs are on the loose , which are also available in 3D on Blu-ray Discs for high-resolution stereoscopic playback on 3D televisions or 3D projectors . They can be clearly distinguished from the 3D films based on the anaglyph method , which are also available on DVD or Blu-ray Disc and which usually come with some color filter glasses (for example, The Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D ). Anaglyph 3-D films can be run on all available image display devices, but with the typical quality weaknesses in color reproduction and left-right crosstalk, known as “ghosting”, in this process. In the (Internet) mail order business, DVDs with IMAX 3D films (stereoscopic 3D, field sequential) were also widespread, which also enabled real spatial playback at home on suitable playback devices ( NTSC- compatible). In the meantime, however, these have largely been replaced by a large number of available 3D Blu-ray titles.

Legal Aspects of 3D Conversion

A subsequent 3D conversion of an existing film work results in a reproduction of the film under German law , which is fundamentally not permitted without the consent of the author - especially the director . In addition, there may be a processing ( § 23 UrhG). At the level of moral law , the conversion can also lead to a gross distortion of the film ( §§ 93 , 14 UrhG); Whether this is always the case or whether it depends on the quality of the conversion work is a matter of dispute. These questions have not yet been clarified by the higher or highest court.



As early as the late 1890s, the British film pioneer William Friese-Greene applied for a patent for 3D films. In 1915, Edwin S. Porter and William E. Waddell showed a 3D test film ( The Morals of Marcus with Marie Doro ) to an audience at the Astor Theater in New York . However, it was not until September 27, 1922 that the first feature-length film in red-green, The Power Of Love , was shown as a silent film in 3D. In 1927, the French film pioneer Abel Gance also used 3D sequences in his silent film masterpiece Napoléon , which, however, were soon removed from the film. The first sound film in 3D was the Italian Nozze vagabonde in 1936 , produced by the Società Italiana Stereocinematografica .

On May 27, 1937, the first test film in color in the polarization process took place in Dresden with the garden show . In the case of the film Zum Greifen nah , shown on December 5, 1937 , a promotional film by Boehner-Film, Dresden, for Volksfürsorge life insurance, the title was program.

The "golden era" in the USA (1952–1954)

In 1952, a brief "golden era" of 3D film was ushered in with Bwana, the devil in the USA . With the help of "Natural Vision" it was now possible to watch color films in 3D. The method was based on a two-image extract based on the pattern of polarization images. The spectators used special polarization glasses instead of the usual red-green glasses. So that the polarized light could be reflected, metallized canvases were necessary. Initially, the partial images were projected with two projectors (“two-band method”), which led to synchronization problems.

Professor Bondi's Cabinet (1953) was the first 3D film with stereo sound.

One of the first CinemaScope films, another invention intended to lure viewers back to the cinema, Das Gewand (1953), was advertised at the time as a film that could be seen “vividly without glasses ”, which was not the case. CinemaScope just has a very wide image that was initially projected onto a curved cinema screen. A real 3D film, however, absolutely needs two images with different perspectives, one for each eye, otherwise no spatial effect is possible.

In 1954, the popularity of 3-D films quickly vanished again in the USA, which was mainly due to the complex technology and the poor quality of the hastily produced films.

The first CinemaScope film actually shown in 3D was 1960's The Treasure of the Balearic Islands (September Storm) by director Byron Haskin .

In German cinemas on September 25th and 26th, 1954, the first 3D two-volume film " Hummelkinder " by Dr. Willy Pfaff presented to a cinema audience in color and sound. After his death on July 28, 2003 at the age of 93, the estate was able to show the film again as part of a series of events on September 24, 2004, almost 50 years after the first showing in the cinema hall of the Munich Film Museum . The film was supplemented by omitted scenes in 2D.

Digital age

In Germany, more than 310 cinemas were able to show digital 3D films in mid-2010, in Germany, Austria and Switzerland a total of around 390 cinemas. A special incentive for this is the film Avatar - Departure to Pandora , which was specially produced using 3D recording technology with mixed real and computer graphics effects.

3D cinema films are either produced and shown as two-strip 70 mm film using the IMAX 3D process or as a digital cinema version ( DCI ) in 2K resolution (e.g. Die Geister der Titanic ).

Depending on the projection method, the viewer wears either conventional polarization glasses or LCD shutter glasses controlled by infrared light . With the RealD process, which is based on digital projection, the viewer wears polarization glasses, which differ from the IMAX 3D process in that they are circularly and not linearly polarized .

Since 2006 more and more stereoscopic 3D films have been produced again, especially in the USA. The digital recording and playback technology eliminates some of the weaknesses of the film-based 3D projection. Fluctuations in the image level, as can occur due to poorly maintained film projectors or inaccurately copied film copies, no longer occur here. There are also no stripes or spots in the image that may be visible due to scratched or dirty film material.

Since 2007, 3D animation films such as Chicken Little or Shrek have also been produced in a stereoscopic version, but could only be viewed "flat" in the majority of cinemas due to the lack of appropriate digital projection technology.

Since 2009, improved software has also increasingly been used to convert films made using traditional 2D technology to 3D for cinema use. The first examples of this (controversial) trend were G-Force - Agents with Bite (2009) and Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans published in 2010 .

Since 2009 there is a new 3D projection method. It is based on multi-wave triplets. One advantage of this method is the significantly better channel separation compared to the usual methods. It is known as Infitec (interference filter technology). It is marketed by the company Dolby under Dolby 3D in digital 3D cinema.

Film schools also deal with the topic of 3D. In 2002 the film Cyberheidi 3D was co-produced by the University of Television and Film (Munich). In spring 2009 the Hamburg Media School (HMS) shot a real 3D commercial for the Süddeutsche Zeitung called Morgen . The University of Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg followed in November 2009 with the German real 3D feature film Topper does not give up . The project was funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics under the PRIME research project. The film was released in April 2010.

In early 2010, several companies, including Panasonic , Samsung , Sony and Toshiba , launched the first 3D TVs that can be used to watch 3D movies at home.

At the end of 2012, The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey , which used twice the frequency of 48 images for projection instead of the usual industry standard of 24 images per second , was the first high-frame-rate 3D film in cinemas.

In October 2016, Ang Lee (director Life of Pi ) presented the film Billy Lynn's crazy heroic tour at the New York Film Festival in 4K , 3D and 120fps. Although the film can only be shown in six cinemas worldwide in this resolution and frame rate, it is still considered to be groundbreaking for high-quality 3D. Other variants that could also be shown in other cinemas are: 2K, 3D, 120fps (in designated Dolby Cinemas) and in most other cinemas the following variants would be possible: 2K, 3D, 60fps or 2K, 2D, 120fps. However, Sony denies the distribution in Germany only with the 24fps 2D version. In October 2019, Gemini Man , another Ang Lee film in 3D and with a frame rate of 120 fps, will be released in cinemas.

World 3-D Film Expo

In September 2003 - on the occasion of the fiftieth "birthday" of the 3D hype of the 1950s in the USA - the first World 3-D Film Expo was held at Grauman's Egyptian Theater , Hollywood , after extensive preparatory work .

During the two-week festival, over 30 restored theatrical and short films from the 3D films made in the golden fifties were shown in their original format. Many of the films that were later only shown in red and green were shown for the first time in the original polarization display, including Alfred Hitchcock's Murder on the Call or the long- lost 3D version of the film musical Kiss Me, Kate . In addition to the film screenings, there was an extensive supporting program in which many of the former participants took part.

At the 3-D Film Expo, which was repeated in September 2006, other restored films were shown, such as Diamanten ( The Diamond Wizard , 1954) and Cease Fire! , Taza, Son of Cochise , Wings of the Hawk, and Those Redheads From Seattle .

4D, 5D and XD films

4D film is a misleading term for a film in which, in addition to the usual image projection (in 2D or 3D) and multi-channel sound reproduction , other means are used during the showing to increase the completeness of the illusion. In Germany there has also been an operator chain since 2003 that markets such films and the corresponding cinemas under the name “Magic Cinema 4D”.

There are 4D films with the following special effects:

  • Seats or entire stands are moved or vibrated
  • Fragrances are introduced into the cinema (see also smell cinema )
  • artificial rain and / or fog are produced
  • Wind is produced
  • Additional actors or animatronics act in front of the screen
  • So-called leg ticklers (mostly threads made of plastic) rotate under the cinema seats. They should imitate grass, moving insects or the like.

Such films are shown in special 4D cinemas , which can also be found on newer cruise ships, for example. Under the name "gimmick films", cheap productions, especially by William Castle, were "upgraded" with this concept as early as the 1950s . (A popular example of this is the scream when the Tingler arrives .) For this, however, the corresponding cinema halls were only temporarily equipped with the necessary equipment.

The term 5D film , like the term 4D film, is misleading. In addition to the so-called 4D effects listed above, there is also the 5D effect, which describes olfactory sensations. In the case of a 3D film and the 4D effects, smells are also released in the cinema . Currently (April 2013) there are only so-called 5D cinemas in Berlin, Langenhagen , Warnemünde, Wilhelmshaven and Waiblingen in Germany . Another meaning of the term relates to an interaction of the viewer with the medium, which is added to the 4th dimension, such as in the Ghostbusters 5D cinema in the Heide Park Resort .

There is currently a so-called XD cinema in Potsdam in the Babelsberg Film Park , where viewers can interact with the screen. The Filmpark understands the following as the dimensions in the cinema:

  • 1D is the picture
  • 2D is the sound
  • 3D is the depth, it looks as if the picture is going deep or coming out of the canvas.
  • 4D means the seats are moving
  • XD means that viewers have a say in the film, i.e. can interact with the screen.

However, this view of the dimensions does not coincide with the general view or mathematical definitions.


As recently as 2010/12, some viewers experienced headaches and headaches while watching films. There were mainly two effects that are unnatural to human vision: double images caused by incomplete separation of the two images and the deviation in convergence and accommodation caused by the difference between the perceived position of an object in front of or behind the screen and the actual origin of the light from the screen.

Other physical reactions could range from dizziness, sweating to nausea. The causes are comparable to so-called simulator sickness . In 2011, some manufacturers warned that 3D televisions could lead to “motion sickness, disorientation, eye strain and reduced postural stability”.

In 2013, 28 million cinema viewers in Germany visited 3D films. The 2015 FFA study also shows that 3D film has established itself in the cinema.

In May 2016, a study commissioned by RealD showed that children have greater ability to react and concentrate after watching a 3D movie than after watching a 2D movie.


Film list

See also


  • Peter A. Hagemann: The 3-D film (publisher: Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek for the Berlinale 1980), Verlag Monika Nüchtern, 1980.
  • David Hutchison (Ed.): STARLOG Photo Guidebook: Fantastic 3-D , Starlog Press, ISBN 0-931064-53-8 (English).
  • RM Hayes: 3-D Movies , 1989 (English).
  • Hal Morgan & Dan Symmes: Amazing 3-D , Little, Brown and Company, 1982, ISBN 0-316-58283-2 (English).
  • Wolfgang Benedikt Pielmeier: Technical and economic aspects of the development of 3D films in American mainstream cinema . Thesis. Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies at the University of Vienna, 2012 ( Online [PDF; 69.0 MB ]).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See for example Marie C. Haffner, 3D in Copyright: A Copyright Analysis of Selected Processes for Image Generation and Processing , for Object Measurement and Replication , Nomos, Baden-Baden 2016, ISBN 978-3-8487-3250-0 , p. 80 -88. Regarding the authorship of the director: Loewenheim in Schricker / Loewenheim, 5th edition 2017, § 2 Rn. 224, with numerous other references.
  2. Marie C. Haffner, 3D in Copyright: A Copyright Analysis of Selected Methods for Image Generation and Processing , for Object Measurement and Replication , Nomos, Baden-Baden 2016, ISBN 978-3-8487-3250-0 , pp. 80–88 .
  3. ^ Gross distortion: Schack, Copyright and Copyright Contract Law , 8th edition 2017, marginal no. 402; Sascha Sebastian, The moral right in the third dimension: How a film author can defend himself against the 3-D conversion of his work , in: Archive for Copyright and Media Law (UFITA) , No. 3, 2012, p. 721– 741, here pp. 728-737. Differentiating: JB Nordemann in Fromm / Nordemann, copyright , 12th edition 2018, § 93 marginal no. 23 (“The better the conversion technique used, the less often gross distortion is possible”).
  4. 3D cinematography: polarization method . In: Lexicon of film terms .
  5. The 3D film. Feature films. The Robe. Wilfried Wittkowsky, accessed January 12, 2014 . The robe. (jpg) Wilfried Wittkowsky, accessed on January 12, 2014 (advertising poster).
  6. 3-D . In: Encyclopædia Britannica .
  7. ^ Dieter Lorenz: Photography and space: Contributions to the history of stereoscopy . Waxmann, Münster New York, NY Munich Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-8309-2738-9 .
  8. ^ Jan-Keno Janssen: 3D cinemas in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. c't Magazin, accessed on June 30, 2010 .
  9. Marion Kamp: Interview with James Cameron: "3D is not an amusement park". FAZ.net, accessed on December 16, 2014 .
  10. Panasonic presents 3D plasma TVs to the public. heise online, accessed on February 1, 2010 .
  11. Big cinema: Samsung's wide 3D range takes you into the fascinating world of three-dimensional television. Samsung Electronics GmbH , March 4, 2010, accessed March 19, 2010 .
  12. The future today - 3D television. (No longer available online.) LedFernseher.org, archived from the original on November 10, 2012 ; Retrieved February 1, 2010 .
  13. a b Mike Fleming Jr: Ang Lee On His Game-Changing 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' . In: Deadline . October 15, 2016 ( deadline.com [accessed December 6, 2016]).
  14. was confirmed by a cinema operator on request by email
  15. Adrian Pennington2019-03-26T07: 00: 00 + 00: 00: Craft Leaders: Demetri Portelli, Stereographer. Retrieved July 30, 2019 .
  16. World 3-D-Film Expo 2006 ( Memento from March 3, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (English)
  17. ^ Costa Deliziosa. (No longer available online.) Costa Cruises , archived from the original on January 15, 2011 ; Retrieved January 18, 2011 .
  18. ↑ World novelty 5D cinema in Berlin. pressetext.de, accessed on February 4, 2011 .
  19. Ghostbusters 5D - The ultimate ghost hunt. Retrieved March 7, 2018 .
  20. XD cinema in Babelsberg Film Park. freizeitpark-welt.de, accessed on May 1, 2015 .
  21. 3D no better than 2D and gives filmgoers headaches, claims study - Film. guardian.co.uk, accessed June 8, 2012 .
  22. Frank Patalong: Not bad - only I get sick! Spiegel Online , March 29, 2010, accessed April 15, 2010 .
  23. See e.g. B. Many people complain of headaches from 3-D , derstandard.at, January 26, 2011.
  24. Film starts: New study: 3D films in Germany more successful than ever before . In: FILMSTARTS.de . August 25, 2014 ( filmstarts.de [accessed December 6, 2016]).
  25. FFA Filmförderungsanstalt | 2016. In: www.ffa.de. Retrieved December 6, 2016 .
  26. Current, scientific study shows: 3-D cinema improves the physical and mental performance of children . In: presseportal.de . August 3, 2016 ( Current, scientific study proves: 3-D cinema improves the physical and mental performance of children ( Memento of December 6, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) [accessed on December 6, 2016]). Current, scientific study proves: 3-D cinema improves physical and mental performance of children ( memento of the original from December 6, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.presseportal.de