3-D Movie Meeting Report by Ray Zone

The October 9 3-D Movie Division meeting of the Stereo Club of Southern California, took place at a real movie theater at the Columbia School in Tarzana, former home of Panavision, with a 10 x 20 foot silver screen and 72 sloped seats with blue upholstery.

Before taking a break at 5:00 pm for a quick dinner, John Rupkalvis and I threaded up Dimensions of Oldsmobile Quality (single-strip over-under 35mm) on a pretty old Simplex XL projector dating from the middle 1960s. The Simplex was fitted with a Stereo Vision lens that could be adjusted with an Allen wrench to accommodate different vertical spacings. The Oldsmobile film was in conventional Stereo Vision format.

Chris Condon, Victoria Silliphant and George Rigney showed up during the dinner break. Chris brought his anamorphic lens for side-by-side Stereo Vision projection of the last reel of Capitol Hill Girls and spent most of the time in the projection booth during the meeting making sure the films were projected in 3-D properly. After our chairman John Hart had everybody introduce themselves Victoria and Chris spoke briefly about their careers in 3-D. Chris mentioned his concept (that he introduced at his Keynote Speech at SPIE a few years ago) that he thought stereographers should be licensed to project 3-D. It was a nice turnout of about 30 people for the meeting so those blue seats were just about half filled. Oliver Dean and John set up the video projection and the plan was to alternate between film and video to allow for changeover in the projection booth.

We screened the print of the Oldsmobile film and I thought it looked pretty good. It’s not easy to go out onto an automobile factory floor and shoot 3-D movies but that’s exactly what Lenny Lipton did with producer/director David Seago in 1981 with StereoVision “Future Dimension” lenses to photograph the 12 minute film with Eastman color and optical sound. Showcasing production of the 1982 Oldsmobile, this film was made specifically for sales promotion and, according to Hayes was “presented as part of a two-hour multimedia show.” There is a splice and sprocket hole tears for about the last minute and a half of the film which I will have to repair because the film goes pseudo at that point. I’ll probably just eliminate one complete frame at a point where there is no sound, if possible.

Going to video we looked at the Shrek 4-D projected from a DVD that Puppet Kite Kid had made. Apparently, PKK combined elements from both the anaglyph and 2D DVD releases to produce full color stereo-pairs for twin projection. It looked and sounded pretty nice with minimal retinal rivalry. It was just a trifle dark.

It was a real treat for me to find that the box labeled “Carnival” actually contained a Japanese print (in English) of Sensorium the 1986 “4-D” single-strip above-and-below 35mm film produced and shot by Steve Schklair and directed by Keith Melton for Six Flags Corporation. This film opens with a fine 3-D title created by Sean Phillips who also produced a great effect sequence with a baseball hovering in slow motion out in the audience space. Sensorium was shot with Arrivision 3-D using an Arri 35BL camera and is a trip through time that incorporates a vaudeville act, a main street parade and baseball action while narrated by a professorial type from the 19th century who we see at the beginning of the film in black-and-white. Sensorium runs about 14 minutes.

We took a short break for refreshments then looked at a short reel of workprints from Jaws 3-D that Chris had shot with StereoVision lenses in 1982. It was just a rough assembly of odd shots running about 6 minutes and they alternated between slates from pseudo to ortho so everybody was flipping their glasses over in the audience as Victoria identified the actors and commented on the shots.

Oliver Dean’s aquarium piece looked and sounded great projected on the big silver screen. He has refined the edit, added an end credit and incorporated some really nice instrumental music that makes the piece hang together nicely. It runs about 10 minutes.

Marvin Jones had brought out all 6 reels of his print of Starchaser, the Legend of Orin but we just threaded up the first reel. It looked very good and is a good condition print. For some reason the film looks better to me now than it ever has before and there is a nice use of some continuous “vanishing point” 3-D in several of the opening shots. Everybody really enjoyed looking at Starchaser and we’ll either look at the whole thing at a future meeting or, at least, run it in installments.

Tom Koester had brought out his Planes of Fame piece on DVD which looked excellent on the silver screen. Chris Condon is a vintage airplane nut (in fact he was wearing a “Liberator” aviator’s cap) and he really enjoyed seeing Tom’s movie. I sat beside Chris during the screening and he identified every one of the old airplanes by name and number as they appeared on screen. He was also impressed by the clarity and depth of Tom’s movie and afterwards Tom gave Chris a look at the dual DV rig he used to shoot it. A big crowd surrounded them as they talked excitedly about digital video and vintage airplanes.

Chris had mounted his anamorphic lens and was ready to show Capitol Hill Girls in side-by-side StereoVision. There was some pretty risqué R-rated action in 3-D onscreen and apparently Chris had mistakenly brought out reel 5 and had intended to bring out reel 4 which had some kind of exotic dance instead. But there were no kids in the audience and everybody hooted with pleasure at the campy goings on in the film. Did you know that Daniel Symmes appeared in Capitol Hill Girls…? … as did Victoria who we got to see onscreen briefly in a speaking part. It was a nice finish to the evening to see this piece of 70s kitsch.

Of course everybody stood around talking afterwards and we finally had to get out of there so the night watchman could lock up the gates and go home. One of the improvements we’re going to make for future meetings at this venue is to add black screen masking to properly frame the 1.85 single-strip 3-D onscreen.