Last night I wound down from Science Online with a quiet evening alone with my spouse. He had recently acquired a new movie, World War II in 3D. Despite the History Channel logo, the title seemed like a B movie experience. I mean, the History Channel brings us Pawn Stars, a show I enjoy but do not necessarily consider "historical." This is also the network home of Swamp People.
High-brow entertainment, for sure.
We settled into the sofa in the home theater, with our special battery-operated glasses. I proceeded to learn a whole bunch I did not know about World War II.
Three-dimensional photography came about via stereoscopy in the first half of the 19th century (1838 if Wikipedia can be believed). As Hitler rose to power, some pioneers of the method used it to document triumphs of the Third Reich. They even advanced to color and motion pictures as the war went on. Many of these images did not survive; the archives were sequestered, for preservation, in a cathedral in Dresden (oops).
Of course, the technology of 3D provided benefits beyond these amazing images. Instructional videos showed how these systems enhanced anti-aircraft technology. The allies outfitted reconnaissance planes with 3D cameras which gave them topographical information (for more about 3D spy planes, click this link). The visualization techniques also improved bombing sights.
The most glorious images did not come from governments, but from a young man whose family grew orchids outside of Paris. He had a 3D camera for photographing their flowers. When he could get film, he took photos to document the occupation, even though such work was expressly forbidden. His images of the liberation of Paris document its reputation as the greatest party the world has ever known.
If you have 3D at home, this video makes for a fascinating 45-minutes.