Big Bugs in Stereo! (1954 version)

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Dec 6, 2014.

  1. This might be “Cameras in Movies, Part n+6” but it tags on an earlier post.

    Waay back in 2011, I did a report on the Stereo Realist, made by David White Co., 1947-1971 ( ).

    As a sort of Easter Egg, I mentioned that the Stereo Realist was the camera used in the movie Them! [1954] by Dr. Pat Medford (an entomologist with the Department of Agriculture, working with her father, Dr. Harold Medford the “foremost myrmecologist”).

    Them! is arguably the first, and certainly the best, of the “Big Bug” movies of the 1950s. It was originally meant to have been a 3D color film, but the craze was dying, so it was shot at the last minute in B&W mono, although a number of ‘stereo’ cliches of things coming at you in the picture were filmed. I have seen it stated that there actually was a second camera, but the film from it is not known to have survived. A tragic loss to those of us who love both stereo and big bugs.

    Here is Dr. Pat Medford (Joan Weldon) taking a picture of the giant ants’ “egg chamber” with the Stereo Realist. With her are the lead of the film, James Whitmore (as Sergeant Ben Peterson of the New Mexico police), and James Arness as the FBI agent Robert Graham. John Wayne is said to have seen Arness in this film, and from that recommended him for the role of Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, Arness’s signature role (after the Thing [1951], of course). [Disney supposedly found Fess Parker from a small role in this film, and there is a brief appearance by Leonard Nimoy].

  2. A Stereo Realist, of course, would have been very appropriate for a movie shot in stereo, as this one was planned to have been.

    However, was this actual “product placement”? In 1954, it might have been.
    I had always noted that the prints from the Stereo Realist, on the other hand were simply 8x10 glossies, as shown here.

  3. However, only recently did I become aware that there were more film references to the Stereo Realist products. Here, as Dr, Harold Medford (Edmund Gwenn) examines the prints, in the background you can see Gen. O'Brien (Onslow Stevens) looking through a Stereo Realist viewer - whether it is a red-button viewer or a green-button viewer, I cannot say. These things do matter to Stereo Realist collectors (yes, Virginia, there are Stereo Realist collectors).

  4. However the ultimate in “product placement,” if that is what it is, is in the same scene as General O’Brien lowers his viewer, while Major Kibbee (Sean McClory) looks at a mounted Stereo Realist slide on the left, and there is another viewer at the elbow of Dr. Pat Medford.

  5. Well, that’s enough, but I thought it might as well be on the record.
  6. Oddly enough, I've just been reading an article on the development and demise of the Stereo Realist, including the celebrity-orientated advertsing philosophy of the David White Company and it's ad men, and quite a tale it is. I can easily believe that there was an element of product placement at work, here. Interesting post, JDM; I never had the pleasure of watching the movie, but then I'm not overly fond of ants, giant or otherwise...
  7. I got me one!
  8. I don't think there is a simple answer for this but I will ask anyway. Is there a way to view 3D Realist images on a computer sceen without crossing one's eyes? It gives me a headache when I do this. If there was a viewing device out there, I would like to know as I have not only a Realist camera but a Kodak Stereo as well.
  9. Daniel - I wonder if there is a way (should be) to create side-by-side high-def video of the stereo image that can then be view on a 3D high-def flat-screen. I've got to think it's possible although I've never looked into it.

    Interesting post JDM!
  10. "Them" - one of my favorites. "The Blob" with Steve McQueen before he became famous. Those were the days. A quarter for a Saturday afternoon at the movies, 2 main flicks, a few cartoons, shorts and "News of the Day". What a bargain for my folks to get rid of me and my sister for the afternoon. I wonder what they were up to?
  11. For the actual prints or stereo slides, you can use any of a number of viewers. Printed large enough, the old "stereopticon" will do just fine.
    But on a screen? You can try putting a piece of cardboard vertically between the two halves and bring your eyes up from that , but that has never worked too well for me.
    Cross-eyed viewing is fairly easy for me after years of practice, but I can do the parallel viewing too, though most people find that somewhat harder.
    Of course, you can also make these into anaglyphic (red-green) images and view them with red-green glasses.
  12. JDM,
    Thanks for the nightmares, I mean memories. I remember these films from my childhood. The bug movies didn't really scare me. The giant tarantula did.
    Two movies that really affected me were War of the Worlds and Invaders from Mars. I really identified with the young boy from Invaders from Mars. I suppose that is what they wanted.
    I like these threads on old cameras and old movies.
  13. Interesting, JDM. I always enjoy seeing classic gear used in movies from the same era. Thanks.
  14. If I copy and resize Robert's stereo image to something closer to actual eye width, its easier to view cross-eyed. I resized it below to 4 inch width. Unfortunately, when I do this, the background trees look closer to me than the girls on the rock!?
  15. Whoops, resizes the image to fit. I will try again by pasting the image on a larger white background. Unfortunately, most of the 700 pixel width is now wasted on the white background so the resolution goes away. Try viewing it cross-eyed at a comfortable distance and then move your head in closer.
  16. Mr. Hill.... I'm away from home in Florida so I don't have my good scanner with me. I did however make a fairly large version, side by side (not cross-eyed). The view is only 9666 pixels by 5702 pixels. I hope that is large enough for your purposes.
    A. T. Burke
  17. A famous sci-fi writer, Thomas M Disch, once said that the "golden age of science fiction was twelve". To which he added, "the age at which we began to read it".
    I was twelve or thirteen when Them! was released.
    It's not the only reason I like the movie, however. It was surprisingly progressive for its time. Not only does it have a starring role for a woman scientist, but when the little girl is being treated in the hospital, her doctor is a woman MD. Efforts to say the nest is too dangerous for a woman, are brushed aside, and so on.
    Plus, when Dr. Harold Medford is telling the policemen where to shoot the giant ant, he distinguishes between the antennae, and then when one of them is shot, the other antenna. How can you not like that? :)
  18. Oh, here is a stereo view (X-view) of my Stereo Realist.
  19. Here's a parallel pair. I often make anaglyphs, but that requires the red blue glasses and messes with the colors.
  20. Here are two parallel versions. I have trouble with parallel; I usually make anaglyphs, but then the color is sketchy.
  21. smaller...
  22. The amazing thing to me is our recurrent fascination with stereo photography. Civil war era, 1890's 1950s, even as recent as a few years ago, Fuji came out with digital stereo camera and viewer. (I bought the full set) Then there was stereo flat screen TVs. Stereo in movie theaters. They keep on coming to life, like the phoenix out of the ashes, only to crash and burn within a year or two. You'd think we'd learn, its a gimmick that will never be mainstream. We see in three dimensions, but we don't necessarily want to have our photos in three dimensions. This monster needs a stake through its heart to keep it down.
  23. We see in three dimensions, but we don't necessarily want to have our photos in three dimensions. This monster needs a stake through its heart to keep it down.​
    I think it's more true to say we'd love to see our images in 3D, but without the apparatus and all required by even the most satisfactory 3D systems to date.
    It is because I know the history of 3D that I have only been to one 3D movie (Hobbit 2) and have not bought a 3D TV.
    [that, and also because neither Them! or It Came from Outer Space (which was released in 3D) are available on media for 3D TV]. :)
  24. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    I haven't seen them in quite a while but there used to be 3D postcards and photos. You could look at the photo without any glasses or what ever and it looked like the flower was popping out of the photo. I think there was also a camera maybe back in the 1970s with required special processing that would allow you to take photos like that. What were those photos called?
  25. James, I suspect you're thinking of the "Nimslo" camera, circa 1980's, a camera using a lenticular system to produce 3D prints. Despite huge investment, the project was not a commercial success.
  26. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator


    Thank you. I was indeed thinking of the Nimslo camera. It was good for a few novelty shots and then could be relegated to the back shelf next to the ultra wide fish-eye lens.
  27. Robert. Your second posting of the girls-on-rock images has the two images correctly reversed from the initial posting.
    The trees now appear to be behind the rock instead of in front when viewed cross-eyed. The difference is that the left eye
    should see more of the tree just to the left of yellow jacket and the right eye less, etc. I find it interesting, but not
    surprising, that the brain uses the same parallax cues when synthesizing the two images cross-eyed as it does when
    viewing the real three dimensional world non cross-eyed.
  28. Very interesting. The squint eyed viewing is a bit painful. The stereos are useful when mapping landscapes with aerial photographs. Thanks, sp.
  29. There was a fascinating repeat broadcast of a NOVA show on PBS last night about British 3D photo recon of Germany during the second world war. 3D photos were instrumental in identifying the purpose of Peenemunde as a rocket development site (for V1 and V2 rockets), and to convince the British government that a massive bombing raid was necessary to destroy it. The cameras used were Williamson F24 and F52 cameras that took up to 500 8.5 in. by 7 in. photos on magazine loaded film rolls. The cameras were mounted in Spitfire fighters, who needed to fly in a horizontal path at altitudes of up to 30,000 feet to capture stereo pairs of negatives. I found this forum discussion that describes the cameras,
    The photos were viewed by interpreters who hand aligned two prints under a stereoscope to view them. (From Wikepedia: "A typical stereoscope provides each eye with a lens that makes the image seen through it appear larger and more distant and usually also shifts its apparent horizontal position, so that for a person with normal binocular depth perception the edges of the two images seemingly fuse into one "stereo window".)
  30. Oh @Marc.. Invasion from Mars... was liked one mentioned a real nightmare when I first saw at probaly 10
    or 12 . @Ken I liked you analysis on the history of 3D I will not drive a stake... but it does seem to follow
    this cycle! I found the last "parallel" images perfect for me. I forget who it was, mentioned the minds
    technique/ability is the same for both parallel or cross/eyed. I think sometimes I can do both but parallel is
    always right. I would like a myth buster course on the physics of the two systems.
  31. Without my glasses, I can focus close enough to view 3D images with the right spacing.
    But after looking at it, I notice it says cross-eyed. I can't do that. So it has an inverse 3D effect, where things that should be in back are in front.

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