A three-dimensional stereoscopic film (also known as three-dimensional film, 3D film or S3D film) is a motion picture that enhances the illusion of depth perception, hence adding a third dimension. The most common approach to the production of 3D films is derived from stereoscopic photography. In it, a regular motion picture camera system is used to record the images as seen from two perspectives (or computer-generated imagery generates the two perspectives in post-production), and special projection hardware and/or eyewear are used to provide the illusion of depth when viewing the film. Some methods of producing 3D films do not require the use of two images. 3D films are not limited to feature film theatrical releases; television broadcasts and direct-to-video films have also incorporated similar methods, especially since the advent of 3D television and Blu-ray 3D.
3D films have existed in some form since 1915, but had been largely relegated to a niche in the motion picture industry because of the costly hardware and processes required to produce and display a 3D film, and the lack of a standardized format for all segments of the entertainment business. Nonetheless, 3D films were prominently featured in the 1950s in American cinema, and later experienced a worldwide resurgence in the 1980s and 1990s driven by IMAX high-end theaters and Disney themed-venues. 3D films became more and more successful throughout the 2000s, culminating in the unprecedented success of 3D presentations of Avatar in December 2009 and January 2010.
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