Some say the “Golden Era” of 3D cinema was in the 50s after Edwin H. Land developed a linear polarizing projection system and a set of companion glasses to view the format. The system used two projectors, placed behind different polarizing filters, to superimpose two images shot from slightly different perspectives onto the same screen. Eyeglasses equipped with a pair corresponding polarizing filters would then block one set of images to a viewer’s left and right eye, creating a three-dimensional effect. This method greatly improved the 3D viewing experience compared to the anaglyph 3D (red & blue lenses) format before it, but it still had plenty of downsides.

To learn about how RealD 3D Cinema changed the movie industry forever, keep reading on the next page.

Circular polarization was the next evolution in 3D viewing since, unlike its linear predecessor, it eliminated the need for viewers to keep their head aligned at specific angles with the screen in order to see “3D” effects. Almost five years before the outrageous (and warranted) buzz that surrounded Avatar, RealD created the world’s first stereoscopic projection system for digital cinema. Unlike older systems, RealD was designed as a lightweight mount to any digital cinema projector, and was capable of recreating circular polarized 3D using just one projector by alternately displaying left and right eye digital images. This advancement significantly reduced the costs of showing 3D movies in theaters, and helped bring the format back to mainstream popularity.

Today, RealD is the leading global supplier of 3D cinema technologies, but it’s not all just about entertainment. In fact, the company has continued to make advances in 3D viewing systems for a wide array of pragmatic applications for government agencies, the U.S. military and even piloting NASA’s Mars Rover.

To learn more, check out the history of RealD on their website.

Written by Justin Gural. Additional contribution by Ben Bowers and Eric Yang