Stereo and Immersive Media 2016

Photography and Sound Research

October 27-29, 2016, Lisboa
Universidade Lusófona | Faculdade de Belas Artes, Universidade de Lisboa

Conference Series

Denis Pellerin

Denis Pellerin

The first movie ever was in 3-D

  • London Stereoscopic Company, UK
  • October 29th, Universidade Lusófona, Agostinho da Silva Auditorium

No enterprise seemed impossible for the Victorians. They wanted to capture images almost instantaneously and they invented photography. They wanted their photos to be in 3-D and they came up with stereoscopy. They wanted their 3-D photographs to be in colour, tried several processes and failed, but ended up tinting their photographs in such a delicate way that it is sometimes hard to believe that the final images are not colour images. They also wanted movement and devised the taumatrope, the phenakistiscope, and the wheel of life, or zoetrope. What is little known however is that they also experimented with 3-D moving images and that the very first movie of the history of the cinema (actually a moving loop) was in 3-D ! It was developed over 40 years before the Lumière brothers’ first public projection by a French optician and, to this day, only one copy of his work has been found. It is kept in Ghent, Belgium. The “film” itself has been seen by only a handful of people when it should be celebrated as a major step in the history of the seventh art.

Denis Pellerin is a self-taught photo-historian with a passion for stereo photography. He was bitten by the 3-D bug while visiting a relative and chancing upon a stack of what seemed like two identical images stuck on a piece of cardboard. When he put one of these photos into a crossbow-like instrument he literally stepped into one of the rooms of the Tuileries Palace in Paris, over a century after it was burnt to the ground. For a few intense seconds Denis Pellerin felt actually transported into space and time, in a three-dimensional world. He borrowed the photos and the instrument, a stereoscope and, the next day, bought his first stereoscopic cards. He soon realised that there was next to no literature on the subject and decided to make it his specialty.

Denis Pellerin has been researching and learning about the history of stereo photography for over 25 years and has written several articles and books on the subject, both in French and in English. During his thirtieth year as a teacher, Denis Pellerin had the good fortune to meet and work with Dr. Brian May before being hired by the latter as the curator of his extensive photographic collection. Brian May and Denis Pellerin have now co-authored three books (including La Photographie Stéréoscopique sous le Seconde Empire and Diableries. Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell) and are currently working on a couple more publications while being also deeply involved in the various activities of the London Stereoscopic Society, re-created by Brian May in 2008.

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