On a recent interview, I was asked my thoughts on 3D and 4D. Still fresh in my mind was a custom trailer for a new giant screen film about the 4th dimension from 3D Entertainment that I had just seen at the GSCA Film Expo a few weeks prior. I don’t think I quite gave the desired response. I answered, “By 4D, do you mean ‘time’ or ‘in-theater effects?'”
The idea of using theatrical effects to enhance a movie is nothing new. Back in 2002, I published an electronic magazine about the special format film industry called The SFC Review. In our second issue, dedicated to film-based attractions, 3D historian Ray Zone contributed a piece on the history of immersive cinema. He wrote:
“It’s likely that Kansas City fire chief George Hale was inspired by the Paris Exposition of 1900 and the phantom ride films to create Hale’s Tours, a popular attraction of 1904 at the St. Louis Exposition in which audiences boarded a rail car to view movies that had been shot from the rear of a train. Underneath the car, lugs on a belt with rollers created the clickety-clack sound of a train in motion as the audience watched the rear-projected movies. Mechanically produced rushes of air were blown in at the audience as the car was swayed side to side during the program. Hale’s Tours was a big success and by 1907 had opened up at as many as 500 locations.”
Although gimmicks such as moving seats, environmental effects, animatronic figures, and static and moving sets and elements have been used for over a century in conjunction with 2D film at amusement attractions, expos, and even gimmicky presentations in conventional cinemas (think Smell-o-Vision), it is the combination with 3D film that creates a 4D experience.
Today marks the third anniversary of Toy Story Mania at Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida. This combination dark ride and interactive stereographic game traces its roots some twenty-five years back to what many consider to be the first major 4D experience, Captain EO.
Today, The Kinotech Blog presents a plethora of video celebrating some of the major 4D attractions over the past quarter century. The videos are a mix of complete shows, vfx work in progress reels, behind the scenes tours, press events, and trailers. One important 4D experience, IMAX’s Race For Atlantis, is not included here as it will be featured in an upcoming post on The Kinotech Blog.
The final two videos preview the newest 4D experiences, one new and two reimagined, all of which have traded in inexpensive linear polarized glasses for the more expensive Infitec models.
Finally, a piece of important trivia: If you look up the credits on the following film-based attractions, one name appears on most of them – Peter Anderson. There’s a reason for that.
In order to assist the stereoscopically challenged, all videos are presented in glorious 2D.
Text (C) 2011 Joseph L. Kleiman