Just in time for the holidays A&E puts together three of their history documentaries and send them out to you in 3D. I’m talking about the History In 3D collection, of course. This is a 3-disc set with an episode on each disc. They come in a nice box with a holograph cover to get you in the 3D mood. Here’s what you get:
WWII In 3D:
“The 2nd World War’s violent, disturbing images have been constantly replayed for decades. Sometimes it seems there is little we can see that we haven’t seen before. But buried in archives and tucked away in private collections, an astonishing set of 3D films and photographs with the power to erase time and transcend space will now be seen for the first time in nearly 70 years.”
I know what you’re thinking. Like the above prologue says, it hardly seems like we can get anything new out of footage from World War II. There have been countless of specials and serials to the point of overload for many. Yet History Channel has found ways to bring cutting edge technology to these old themes, and somehow they find new ways to intrigue us. Historians are living in a veritable new age of discovery. The boom began when footage was cleaned, restored, and mastered in high definition. History was there every step of the way and delivered the goods in WWII in HD. But they haven’t stopped there. 3D has been trending lately, and now we have this documentary which delivers stunning 3D images from 70 years ago. What will be the next step?
At first I assumed these images were merely the same cans of World War II footage we’ve already seen post-converted to 3D. I was wrong. These are images that were actually shot with the 3D technology of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Most of the material is simply a collection of stills. You might remember the old stereoscope viewers. My grandparents had one. They were all the rage in some bygone age. You might expect the images to be rather dull and unimpressive given today’s digital 3D technology. You’d be wrong once again. These images are brilliant and stunning. It’s not hype to say that you haven’t seen anything like this before.
Most of the images were taken from the Nazi side of the war. Hitler was always concerned about image and started a huge 3D photography project to feed his propaganda machine. He was careful to exclude images of the brutality and genocide. These images were intended to impress the world with his charisma and tremendous war machine. Many offer up those by now very familiar images of Hitler at perfect attention in the traditional salute, stolen from the Romans. Many depict the impressive displays that often brought together as many as 400,000 troops in a display of parade and might. All always depicted just under Hitler’s tight grasp. Never before has evil looked so stunning in its grandeur.
There is more here, including photographs taken by a French 3D photographer in defiance of occupation directives. He also managed to capture the liberation of Paris in brilliant and colorful 3D images. There is film footage as well, though it’s not quite as impressive. This is history like you’ve never experienced before, and it belongs on every American’s film shelves. The price is right, and it’s only 45 minutes long. If you have a 3D-capable home theater, this one’s a no-brainer.
Titanic: 100 Years In 3D
By Bob Ross
I never really meant to have 3D TV in my home theater. But our Sony Blu-ray player was 3D-ready, and the receiver and monitor both needed warranty replacement about the same time. Bingo: All I needed were a couple pairs of glasses ($40 each at Amazon) and some 3D programming. Having seen almost every 3D big-screen release already, I was pretty sure the TV version would be an inferior format. I was wrong. The electronic-shutter glasses beat the heck out of those old red-and-green gimmicky glasses. They work as well as the polarized lenses at the multiplex.
To me, 3D television is sort of like a talking dog: It doesn’t matter what the pooch says, the miracle is that he can speak at all. My internet hookup provides two 3D channels, but they are mainly short demo reels and trailers for films and video games. So now my DVD and Blu-ray collections are joined by a much smaller shelf of 3D Blu-rays. It includes a very view features (A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas is an absolute hoot) and several documentaries, mainly travelogues from the IMAX catalog.
The Grand Canyon and CGI dinosaurs make for fascinating 3D viewing, but nothing hypnotizes a history buff like the massive marine tragedy that took 1,500 lives a century ago. Titanic: 100 Years in 3D, retells the still-compelling story with one eye-opening new angle. Three-dimensional cameras with wide lenses and sharp lighting dove under, around, and eerily close to the hulk that went down in the north Atlantic on April 15, 1912.
Using scale models, voice-over readings of survivors’ memoirs, and actual footage of the wreck and its surroundings, this History Channel documentary reminds us of the magnitude of a disaster no one thought was possible.
We all know that an iceberg ripped the starboard side below the water line and that the massive craft sank a mere two and a half hours later. But this version adds details we didn’t get in some previous versions, particularly the heavily fictionalized James Cameron mega-hit, Titanic. (By the way, we saw Cameron’s own 3D documentary on the wreckage, Ghosts of the Abyss, in theaters several years ago. It was a spellbinding visit to the depths, and is due out on 3D Blu-ray this fall.) That sort of relegates this version to minor status despite being first on the home video market.
No matter. Titanic buffs will want to experience them both. So will folks who like to demonstrate the 3D miracle on their own home systems.
Did the executive officer shoot two passengers and himself? The filmmakers present a little evidence and a lot of speculation. Historians add stacks of anecdotal material, giving us a fuller picture of real events as well as some idea of much we still don’t know about that fateful series of horrible events. Tiny details and recovered possessions add up to a sense of massive panic and total catastrophe.
A century later the Titanic still haunts us, and this brief, high-tech summary reminds us why.
History Of The World In Two Hours
By Paul O’Callaghan
What takes 13.7 billion years? The history of the world. This History Channel special takes two hours to cover everything. Of course, Earth is only 4.5 billion years old, so when we talk about the history of the world, we are really talking about the history of the universe and everything that led up to where we are now. Little things like a gigantic planetary collision which then shoots off molten debris which forms into our moon.
3.8 billion years ago, something happened all over the planet. Bacteria. This was the beginning of life.
In fact today each one of us has more bacteria in and on our body than there are people on the planet. Bacteria create a waste product which is pretty important as well, oxygen. Eventually bacteria learn to live on oxygen.
550 million years ago we have the Cambrian explosion, which is the rapid evolution and expansion of life in all its complexity and variety, which is directly related to the increased levels of oxygen in the atmosphere. 400 million years ago our great, great, great, great (etcetera) grandfathers walk on land in the form of amphibians. 250 million years ago something entirely different happens. Massive volcanic activity causes the Permian extinction where 70% of the species die off. Then dinosaurs reign from the wake of that cataclysm for the next 160 million years. A single land mass called Pangaea starts to break apart and create the oceans and continents we know today. During the dinosaur era, mammals were small, unimportant creatures, but another massive cataclysm wipes out the dinosaurs and allows the little mammals to grow and thrive and eventually walk on two feet.
Ten million years ago, everything on the planet starts to take a familiar shape and geography. Seven million years ago grass starts growing and apes leave the trees and start walking around on the ground. 2.6 million years ago, proto-humans or hominids start picking up rocks made of silicon, which can then be chipped and shaped into tools and weapons much like we saw in 2001: A Space Odyssey. This was the famous Stone Age. What’s next? Fire. 800,000 years ago we can control fire, much like the people today learn on the TV program Survivor.
200,000 years ago the early modern humans’ larynx develops and allows complex vocal communication. Humans then begin to explore the largest land mass, Afro-Eurasia. Then another ice age begins, and man advances to Europe and Australia and the Americas. 20,000 years ago we start to do cave drawings to show and communicate what we see. Sea levels have dropped 300 feet exposing landmasses like the Bering bridge to Alaska.
So this last 20,000 years is just a small fraction of the history of the world.
10,000 B.C., and man has ventured to all the major landmasses except for Antarctica. Humans have gone everywhere and colonized the world. 4000 years ago nomadic peoples in Asia domesticate horses. Horses started in the Americas and died out, but before they did they had crossed over to Asia. Christopher Columbus was the first to re-introduce horses to America. Another animal to escape extinction in North America was the camel. The camel has not been reintroduced to the U.S..
Then settlements and early cities start to take hold, and these last 6000 years start to become the recorded history we are all so familiar with. Farming and domesticated animals become the norm.
So much has been written about these 6000 years that lead up to the present day, so that’s what’s important to focus on. The donkey is important because it gets the beginning of a world economy going. Another thing that is important is the births of Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed. The invention of the wheel was a big deal.
Metal smiths learning to work with iron is another one. Giant hordes of empire-thirsty armies gorge on thousands of miles of land and colonize. Unfortunately disease destroys some of these greedy empires. Constantine converts to Christianity in 312 A.D.. Islam becomes a powerhouse three centuries later.
A Chinese guy in 800 A.D. combines carbon, sulfur, potassium, nitrogen and oxygen to create a gunpowder explosion. Cannonballs are first used against Christian crusaders. Global warfare proliferates, and the potential threat of nuclear extermination hangs over the head of everyone on the planet. If you have gone to school, you can fill in the rest of the history of this planet right up to what kind of sandwich I bought yesterday.
This program is a very well-spent two hours.
The MVC 1080/24p 3D transfer is flawlessly detailed, with rich color content displayed to perfection. The three-dimensional aspect helps focus the viewer’s attention on the most important images while keeping background details bright enough to appreciate.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is good enough for the simple narration and added sound effects.
With 3D television comes the chance to do more than merely watch high-octane films and get poked in the eye by sticks and big breasts. There’s also a very real chance to mix your entertainment with some education. History gives you a nice starter kit for just such a noble cause. If they make a few shekels from the deal, everybody wins. You get ” a profound understanding of the power of visual imagery to mold history.”