History of 3D and now Customized Clip-On Glasses

  • BY Zenni Optical

In 1986, my parents took my brothers and I to Disneyland. In addition to the Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean ride, we saw Caption EO, the George Lucas 3D Michael Jackson film. It was the first time I had ever seen a 3D movie and it was IN-sane. I still remember reaching for the asteroids flying at my face as Michael danced across the screen.

Much like how 6-year-old me reacted, the creation of 3D movies has been a film “wonder” and is still impressing audiences around the world today. Although the technology had been around since the 1920’s it wasn’t until the 1952 release of The Wana Devil, the real use of 3D blew up the film industry. Prompting Universal Studios to look into building their own 3D camera. The underwater scene in, Creature from the Black Lagoon, was a major undertaking on camera technology and was huge deal at the time for film. Between costume, music score, film technology and with previous combination success of lead actor and director the studio thought “Creature” was a for sure hit; and it was. Previewing in, 1953, it was shown in both 3D and 2D, with 3D mainly being played in larger theaters in major cities. The movie did so well, it was the only film of it’s time to get a sequel, in 3D. However, it was around this time 3D movies also were beginning to fizzle out.

The waning of the 3D movie hype has said to have been blamed on the comfort of the glasses, but it seems a conspiracy to kill the great film technology was coming from all directions, and none of it had to do with glasses. Operator error, poor film handling, inexperienced placing and the projectionist’s union were the real downfall. In the months after June of 1953, shortly after the release of Creature, the audiences started to dwindle at the box office. Although, polaroid tried to find a remedy to the loading issues and make 3D films easier it came as no avail. In the Spring of 1954, Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder was released not in it’s originally planned 3D version, but instead flat. The same month Variety’s’ front page declared “3D Looks Dead in the United States.” In 1955, Universal-International made one last attempt at 3D with the March 1955 release of, “Revenge of the Creature.” Although, it had a number of 3D bookings, it did not do as well as hoped, and officially ended the golden age of 3D.

With a 20ish-year hiatus, 3D did see a slight resurgence in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Technology had become a bit more efficient, but film production was still too expensive for studios and the movies themselves were still cumbersome for theaters. Also, this time, audiences were not happy with the cheap anaglyph 3D glasses, which hadn’t changed in 30 years. Again, 3D movies saw another crash.

Then in 2003, James Cameron started gearing up for his 2009, 3D blockbuster hit Avatar. Cameron needed to test out his use of 3D technology with the journey through the real Titanic, Ghosts of the Abyss, before he made 3D as we know it today.

With the changing of the actual 3D film, came the update of 3D glasses. Gone are the days of the cheap cardboard glasses, and a plastic more comfortable 3D frame without the traditional red and blue lens was released. While great for those who don’t wear optical frames, the new 3D glasses were still a huge challenge for actual glasses wearers. We at Zenni set out to change that with the creation of the 3D clip-ons. Now when you pick your new frames you can add on, at checkout a set of clip-on 3D lens in the exact shape of your new frames…we know, mind blown!

With 3D movie viewing so much easier, what movies are you excited about seeing this summer? Let us know in the comments and tag us on Instagram so we can see what frames you chose to add 3D clips-ons to. #justgotmyzennis

3D movie summer releases:

  • May 25th – Solo: A Star Wars Story
    *For all you Star Wars fans, checkout our Star Wars themed glasses!
  • June 15th – Incredibles 2.
    *We also make custom 3D clip-ons for kids glasses as well!
  • June 22nd – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • July 6th – Ant-man and the Wasp
  • July 13th – Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
  • July 13th – Skyscraper
  • July 27th – Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  • August 10th – The Meg
  • August 17th – Alpha