Today is the big day – Monsters v. Aliens dukes it out in both 3-D and 2-D cinema across the country. But the buzz has been all about 3-D. Few of us could miss the fact that no less than five weeklies had articles and multi-page advertisements with those amber and dark blue paper lenses. It’s as if this is the first ever 3-D movie of all time. But the technology has been around for a hundred years.
And the person most responsible is Lenny Lipton, the fabulous brainpower behind digital 3-D. We love that it always comes back to the geeks. Lipton, a physics guy, invented the technology for engineers, medical professionals and others to view complex 3D computer graphics models. He was also into movies, founder of StereoGraphics Corporation which was later acquired by RealD.
We think it sounds like the name of a hip-hop artist? Yo. This is the RealD coming at you. But RealD is actually the digital 3-D company behind Monsters v. Aliens. Original 3-D used the paper glasses to merge the input from each eye. It sometimes caused dizziness, and in rare cases, a certain anti-gravity effect on the stomach. RealD sends through 72 frames per second to each eye. The viewer through polarized lenses sees one continuous image.
All of this depends on super computing power – Seymour Cray where are you? Silicon Valley geeksters who worked on the film, envision a future where digital 3-D is the norm on your desktop and laptop. Just yesterday AMC, the movie theater company announced a partnership with RealD to add more of its screens to multiplexes around the world.
Along the way, we’ve noticed that not everyone is feeling the digital 3-D love. Folks are complaining. Costs more. Less theaters. But we like that Lenny Lipton keeps going. Some of his other inventions went into the Mars Rover. And most of all, he wrote the lyrics to Puff the Magic Dragon – which funded the stereoscopic work.