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3D! The wave of the future! Color? Pfft. It'll never catch on.




3D movies first became a fad for a few short years in the 1950s; they were expensive to show and required special equipment that was often not used correctly. A second 3D movie fad began in the early 1980s with the low budget Western Comin' At Ya!; this was when film franchises started releasing their third movies in 3D, and television station would even occasionally show 1950s 3D movies using red/blue glasses.

After trickling out around 1984 or so, 3D movies came around again in the 2000s, creating the third 3D movie fad. Advances in computer technology made it much easier to create 3D movies in general, and especially in computer animation. This is also after IMAX had spread. People have noted modern 3D has worked best with animation with animated feature films being the most highly praised 3D productions to date such as How to Train Your Dragon (98% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Toy Story 3 (99%). However, the increased costs to produce 3D movies, coupled with the recent decline in attendence of 3D movies, has caused some speculators to express concern over the longevity of the format. The failure to get 3D television sets into homes also does not bode well for the format.

3D Movies have their own variation of Shoot the Money where things will jut out towards the audience a lot more frequently than would occur in a 2D movie.

Thanks to the proliferation of 3D movies, studios naturally have jumped at the chance to get more money out of their audiences by converting movies into 3D which were shot "flat" (with only one camera). However, this often turns out imperfectly, due to having to squeeze a lot of intricate post-production work (imagine having to cut out a piece of an image in Photoshop, then adjust it to move twenty-four times a second—now imagine doing it for multiple layers of an image, for the entire length of a feature film) into the short period before a fast approaching release date. Critics such as Roger Ebert, already pretty biased against 3D, are even more venomous towards fake 3D.

It has been noted by several of these critics that, like the other big periods of 3D movies in the 1950s and 1980s, the recent boom of 3D releases comes when Hollywood's profit margins are significantly under threat by an outside force (television in the first case, home recording and VHS in the second, downloading and DVD today) with the consequence that studios are desperately looking for any old gimmick that will get people into movie seats. There has also been some recent concern about 3D movies wreaking havoc with the focus and convergence of people's vision. Another issue has been a few theaters being too lazy to change out the 3D lens of their projectors when they put on a 2D movie instead, leaving those patrons stuck with a very dim image on the screen to watch.

See Three Dimensional Episode for non-3D series with episodes in 3D. (Which can overlap with 3D movies if it's a series of movies.)


Movies Filmed in 3D

Movies Filmed in 2D and Converted to 3D

References to 3D movies in media

  • In The A Team, the team is planning to break out Murdock out of a psych ward, so they send one of his friends a 3-D movie, and in the beginning a Humvee drives towards the camera, which then a REAL Humvee drives through the wall.

 Murdock You can see these bullets in 3D! It's like we're actually being shot at!

B.A. Baracus We are getting shot at you crazy ass fool!

  • In Doctor Who, the Tenth Doctor uses what look like 3D glasses to see the background radiation of the void (the gap between parallel universes) in "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday".
  • Fry and Leela attend a 3D movie in the Futurama episode "Fear of a Bot Planet". The glasses don't work on the one-eyed Leela, however.
  • The Muppets Take Manhattan: Scooter works at a theater showing a 3D movie. Advertising for the 2011 film would later make a point of the fact that the film was not in 3D
  • The Fifties fad of 3D movies is referenced in Back to The Future. One member of Biff's gang goes around wearing 3D glasses. He's named "3D" in the credits.
  • One episode of Star Trek: Voyager had the crew watching a 1950s 3D movie with red/blue glasses on the holodeck, and B'Elanna points out to Tom (who created this holodeck simulation) how absurd it is to use a technology capable of producing solid 3D images to simulate a cinema in which a 2D film uses effects to seem 3D. He dismisses her objection basically on the principle of Rule of Cool.
  • Parson in Erfworld acquires a pair of red/blue glasses that enable him to see characters' and creatures' combat and movement stats.
  • An episode of Home Improvement's Show Within a Show Tool Time was shot in 3D. When asked how 3D belonged on a legitimate show about construction Tim replied that it didn't, hence why they were doing it on Tool Time.
  • This trope was parodied by Sock Tube Presents.
  • SCTV's Count Floyd occasionally ran a low-budget "3D" horror flick, notably Dr. Tongue's 3D House of Stewardesses. They did several of these, including Dr. Tongue's 3D House of Slave Chicks (in Smell-A-Rama!), and a few-second-long "peek" at Dr. Tongue's 3D House of Pancakes.
  • Pretty Cure Heavy Metal has Sakura Cobain become a member of the 3D Movie Appreciation Club at her school halfway through the first season.
  • An episode of the Dennis the Menace cartoon had a movie called The Future in 3-D.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Strong Bad planned for his home movie Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective to be in 3D. It wasn't. It was, however, a video game, which is probably way cooler.
    • Some of the cutscenes were later put together and turned into an actual (eight-minute) 3D Movie as a bonus feature on the SBCG4AP DVD. The DVD doesn't come with 3D glasses, though.
    • You can play the PC version of the game in 3D (if you have the graphics card and drivers in order to do so).
  • This Garfield comic from the mid eighties.

 John: Why did we waste our evening at that movie? And why was the photography so bad?

Garfield: And why did they hand me three pairs of 3-D glasses?

  • One of Brad's friends on Kick Buttowski wears anaglyphic glasses. He works at a movie theater, which uses the same glasses for their 3-D movies.
  • On The Looney Tunes Show, Daffy is seen wearing 3-D polarized glasses, claiming that he is seeing everything in 3-D from now on.

 Daffy: It's like I can almost touch you!

Bugs: Please don't.


Video Games

Some games include support for stereo rendering of the graphics. Granted, it could just be the developers showing off considering that the theoretical basis for it is pretty simple.

  • A number of DOS games supported VR headsets.
    • The BUILD editor, used by Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior supports red/blue anaglyph rendering in its 3D editing mode, although the quality is debatable.
    • Magic Carpet has this as an option. Another options uses a moving random dot stereogram to display 3D, presumably for people who like getting headaches.
    • Descent, likewise.
  • Track Mania Nations Forever includes an option for anaglyph rendering.
  • The original release of Serious Sam: The Second Encounter supported anaglyph rendering with at least two different colour filter pairings. I don't think it's supported in the Updated Rerelease, though.
  • Sly Cooper 3 has the option to play certain missions in red/blue 3D; the characters even sport matching glasses during those sequences.
  • The Windows Vista/7 drivers for Nvidia's newer graphics cards include support for rendering Direct X-based 3D games in stereo for several different output devices, including red/cyan anaglyph glasses. Some older games don't work properly (Unreal and Unreal Tournament come to mind), and the anaglyph mode is useless for games which rely on colour distinctions as part of the gameplay, especially if the game also employs Real Is Brown.
  • Minecraft has an option for red/cyan anaglyph. You can also download fan-made addons that allow for differently colored glasses, stereoscopy and other 3D options.
  • While not technically a game, the DOS fractal calculation program Fractint does support red/blue anaglyph calculations of certain fractals.
  • The Nintendo 3DS has 3D effect accomplished without glasses.
  • 3D World Runner and Rad Racer, two NES games by Square Soft, included an option for anaglyphic 3D. The Japanese disk versions of these two games were among the few games to support the field sequential Famicom 3D System, along with the Konami shooter Falsion.
  • The Sega Master System also used the field-sequential process for its SegaScope 3-D games, of which eight were produced: Blade Eagle 3-D, Line of Fire, Maze Hunter 3-D, Missile Defense 3-D, Out Run 3-D, Poseidon Wars 3-D, Space Harrier 3-D and Zaxxon 3-D.
  • Starship Titanic came with anaglyph glasses for a certain puzzle involving a starfield.
  • Sega's SubRoc-3D in 1982 was the first 3D Arcade Game, with shutter glasses attached to the cabinet. (It was ported to the Colecovision, which had no 3D system, as SubRoc.) Relatively few 3D arcade games have been made since, until the 3D-fad revival in the late-2000s. Recent examples include Sega's Let's Go Island 3D and Namco's Maximum Heat racing game.

Web Comics