Three Dimension Movies Leap from Screen (Aug, 1931)

Three Dimension Movies Leap from Screen

PATENTS have recently been granted to Jacob Burkhardt of Detroit, Michigan, on a type of motion picture film which produces pictures having so realistic a three dimension effect that the actors seem almost to walk from the screen among the audience.

The new film has two pictures in a single frame, and the top and bottom of these pictures are parallel with the sides of the film instead of at right angles. The lower of the two pictures is the image or action picture while the upper is the background picture.

The background of the action picture is blacked out, as is the background picture in the space occupied by the foreground picture, so that the light from those sections of the film will not appear on the screen to mar the projection.

A refracting prism, placed in front of the lens, projects the side by side images as one complete picture on the screen. This prism also turns the image at right angles, so that it will appear right side up instead of standing on one end. Space has been allowed on the film for a sound track.

  1. Eamon says: August 27, 20088:37 pm

    How would this create a 3D effect?

  2. Peter says: August 28, 20082:48 am


    It’s only a method of storing 3D on film. The patent doesn’t explain how to produce the 3D illusion from the film. That appears to be Jacob Burkhard’s only patent – so I guess he never figured that part out.

  3. Mike says: August 28, 20085:02 am

    Eamon, I think he wanted to place one image on top of the other, it sounds expensive to produce.

  4. jayessell says: August 29, 20085:10 am

    I also shenanigate.
    The left and right eyes are seeing the same image.
    The images would appear flat.

    How would you film anything?
    Live action in the studio against black velvet?
    Dozens of animators to make the mattes? (Like TRON?)

  5. Peter Knight says: August 29, 200812:39 pm

    Oops – Modern Mechanix got his name wrong. It’s Jakob Burkhardt.

    The indexing of patents of that era is a little wonky on Google Patents due to OCRing from such old originals, but I’ve found these:
    #1,801,656 Moving-picture film…
    #1,833,706 Apparatus for tinting motion picture…
    #1,859,021 Method of producing motion pictures…
    #1,859,022 Projection printing machine…
    #1,859,023 Projection apparatus for motion pictures…

    They are all heavily focussed on the film layout with little mention to how background masking might work – but the last patent hints at how the projection might work. I suspect the intention was to have a semi-transparent front screen which the background was projected through. Each layer has a different lens, so they could focus at different depths.

    It doesn’t look very practical to me though – focussing and alignment would have been a nightmare, you would need huge lenses to achieve that much depth selectivity from a distant projection position. Besides, the semi-transparent screen would introduce a lot of blur. The lenses need to be very close for alignment, but well separated for adjustment. It’s one of those things that works really well on a small bench, but probably didn’t scale to useful proportions.

  6. jayessell says: September 3, 20084:29 am

    So, it would be like the ViewMaster reels of cartoons.
    Flat images floating in front of a flat background?

Submit comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.