3D in the mid 60s in Europe with Hi-Fi Stereo 70
The 70mm Newsletter
by: Gerhard Witte, Berlin,
Advertisement from the author's collection
In the mid 1960s the first attempt was made in
Europe to use the great advantages of 70mm wide-film for an analogue
single-strip 3D projection by fitting the two half-frames of a 3D film next
to each other in a 65mm negative film.
After conversion work at the U.T. - Urania-Filmtheater, the film
“Operation Taifun" (With Death on Your Back) was shown from
21st September 1967 in Hamburg in "Hi-Fi Stereo 70" using the
in 70mm reading:
3D Mitte der 60er Jahre in Europa mit: “Hi-Fi
3D IMAX 70mm today
The Grindel Filmtheater
The "Savoy" in Hamburg
The Shoes Of The
The U.T.-Urania –Filmtheater (Urania Film Stage at Stephansplatz), Hamburg,
Fehlandtstraße 40 as it was at the time. Image and information taken from the brochure: “Filmtheater in der Freien
und Hansestadt Hamburg” 1971/72 season, among other sources.
The U.T.-Urania-Filmtheater had been in existence since 1927 and was used,
among other things, as an army cinema for the Allies in the post-war period.
In 1956 the cinema underwent fundamental modernisation by the architect
Helmut Fischer and the CinemaScope projection process was introduced in
conjunction with a significantly larger screen.
In the summer of 1967, further renovation work was carried out. It got an
even bigger screen, 70mm projection machines for wide-film in conjunction
with a 4-channel magnetic sound system and new seating (419 seats, with
considerably larger distances between rows). Unfortunately, the theatre was
completely destroyed by fire in June 1980 and was not subsequently re-built.
Berlin Cinema Compendium
Kinomuseum Berlin e.V.
The Holographic Studio of the Scientific Research Cinema & Photo Institute
The life of Willi Burth
The Film- and Televisionmuseum Hamburg
List of 3D-Films
“Operation Taifun” (aka: Spion wider Willen).
Picture from the author's collection.
Con la Morte alle spalle (aka: Con la Muerte en la Espalda)/Electra 1/Putain
de mission France/Typhon sur Hamburg/With Death on your Back.
FRG 1967. 65mm negative film, presented in 70mm/4 channel magnetic sound.
3D film process: Hi-Fi Stereo 70.
A production of the INTERNATIONAL GERMANIA FILM G.M.B.H.
In collaboration with P.C.B., Barcelona, C.F.F., Paris and West-Film, Rome.
Colour: Eastman Color, 70mm.
And other examples of the few films that were made using the process in
Europe at the time:
”Die Vampire des Dr. Dracula”.
Pictures from the author's collection.
Frankenstein's Bloody Terror/Hell's Creatures/Le notti di Satana/ Les
vampires du Dr. Dracula/La Marca del Hombre Lobo/The Mark of the Wolfman.
Spain 1968. 65mm negative film, presented in 70mm/4 channel magnetic sound.
3D film process: Hi-Fi Stereo 70.
"Liebe in 3 Dimensionen".
Advertisement kindly provided by Jean-Pierre Gutzeit, Kinomuseum-Berlin e.V.
Love in 3-D/Amore in tre dimensioni/Amor en 3-dimensiones.
FRG 1973. 65 mm negative film, presented in 70mm/4 channel magnetic
3D film process: Hi-Fi Stereo 70 - marketing label of the
Constantin film “Triarama“
"Operation Taifun" was largely made in 1966/1967 in
was also the beginning of a new 3D filming and reproduction process with the
name Hi-Fi Stereo 70 in Europe at the time.
With this new process it was possible for the first time to reproduce two
anamorphic images next to each other, simultaneously with one camera, on a
65mm negative film. As a result of the fact that the camera lenses are
eyes' width apart (the standard distance is 63.5mm), a real stereoscopic
impression is conveyed when watching the film using the polarisation
The Stereo 70 camera (which at that time was actually a converted
studio camera) was designed by the Norwegian
Jan Jacobsen (1916-1998) - also
the ingenious designer of anamorphic lenses. Previously he invented the
MCS 70 Field Camera, which weighed only 13.5 kg (without cassette). In
1962 it was used to film the first German 70 mm film “Flying Clipper -
Traumreise Unter Weißen
Segeln" (Mediterranean Holiday). The film was shown
again at the Berlin Film Festival
Retrospective “70mm- Bigger than Live” on
11 February 2009 using a newly made 70mm copy with DTS sound.
Image taken from the souvenir booklet "Operation Taifun".
The camera simultaneously takes two scope images through a 65 mm negative
Click to see enlargement
The two anamorphic base lenses of the Stereo 70 camera have a focal length
of 50 mm and a light intensity of f:2.8. The range of focus can be adjusted
from 1.50m to infinity (also from 60cm to 2.50m if accessory lenses are
used). The convergence point is automatically on the focal plane. However,
for special effects the convergence point can be moved in front of or behind
the focal plane.
The Camera (converted M.C.S. 70 Studio Camera). Image taken from the souvenir booklet "Operation Taifun"
The mechanism of the Stereo 70 camera corresponds to an already proven
system. It is a mirror reflex camera with double-sided transport and locking
claws, equipped with 300 metre cassettes, combined motor for 16 volt battery
drive (4 to 30 frames/sec) and 220 Volt AC (24 frames/sec synchronous). The
camera weighs about 45 kg, it makes little noise and can be operated
relatively easily (see illustration below).
The Projection Lens.
Image taken from the souvenir booklet "Operation Taifun"
For screening in the cinema, a 70mm copy with 4-channel stereo sound is
used. The conversion of the theatre is easy to carry out as the film is
shown using a special lens (Stereo-Kinotar) on a normal 70mm projector.
This special lens was also developed by Jan Jacobsen and consists of two
anamorphic units positioned next to each other with two pole filters. The
exterior diameter of the special lens corresponds to the international norm,
conversion of the projector lens carrier is not necessary. The rectified
images are almost projected congruently on to the cinema screen. This must
be a (metalized) silver screen as traditional projection surfaces would
destroy the polarisation of the light (the light reflection properties of a
screen are determined by the so-called "gain factor"). With the aid of a
pair of polarisation glasses, it is now possible for the viewer to see the
correct image with each eye and experience a genuine stereoscopic effect.
(information taken from various sources, including the souvenir booklet
The Projector with Kinotar fitted
As all 3D single-strip projections with a 35 mm film with two stereoscopic
image phases lying next to or over each other suffered from a significant
loss of light in projection, the 70mm film, which was almost twice as wide,
seemed to be the ideal solution at that time.
In other countries work was also being done with similar processes during
this period: in America with the StereoVision 70 system and in Russia with
Stereo-70, developed by the Russian Scientific Research Cinema & Photo
Institute (NIKFI) founded in Moscow in 1929, also in collaboration with
Mosfilm Studios (founded in 1920 and so named since 1935). The film negative
here is 70mm wide and the photography and reproduction was spherical (no
anamorphic lens), side by side. The Stereo-70 films are also projected in
For example two of the many films made using this process are entitled:
"Net i da" (No and yes) 1968 and "Tainstvennyy Monakh" (The
mysterious Monk) 1968.
The European co-production "Operation Taifun" was not very successful in the
cinemas because of its very weak plot. That was no the case with "Love in 3
Dimensions" (in part because of the successful combination of eroticism and
3D). The film enjoyed relatively large success internationally (even in
America), also in a 35mm single-strip 3D version.
Because of the silver screens required for projection (which are nearly
twice as expensive as the usual white screens) and also the slowly declining
number of film projection venues for 70mm films, the production of 70mm 3D
films was no longer pursued seriously at that time.
That only changed later with the introduction of the
IMAX (Image Maximation)
As the television set began to be introduced into living
rooms, mainly in America, at the beginning of the 1950s, things started to
look increasingly bleak for cinemas - by 1953 over 47% of families already
owned a set. With the introduction and distribution of 3D films, firstly in
the red-green anaglyph process, then in the significantly better
polarisation process, the attempt was made to fill the cinemas again. The
period from 1952 to 1955 saw a brief boom for these films then. As a result
of many technical problems, e.g. poor quality dual-strip projections
(unsteady images and colour differences which gave people headaches) and the
introduction of so-called "3-dimensional movies with no need for
their curved large screens (CinemaScope/Cinerama/Todd-AO, somewhat later
also in Russia with the Kinopanorama/ Sovscope70 projection process), the
general interest in 3D films slowly disappeared. Moreover, the costs to
cinema owners for the conversion of their cinemas, combined with the
problems associated with the Polaroid glasses (theft, cleaning) were simply
too high in relation to their takings. Apart from a very few exceptions,
there were also no clear 3D film hits.
“The first phenomenal merger of 3D action! 3D color! and 3D sound!“
“Das Kabinett des Professor Bondi“.
Picture from the author`s collection.
USA 1953, WarnerColor: House of Wax/The Wax Works/L'homme au masque de cire
/Canavarlar sarayi /La maschera di cera/Los crímenes del museo de cera/
3D filming process: Natural Vision (dual-strip 35mm), start of the 70s also
as StereoVision 3D (35mm) and StereoVision 70 (70mm) re-issue.
The successful film entitled “Das Kabinett des Professor Bondi (House of
Wax)“ filmed in Natural Vision (dual-strip 35mm) was one such exception.
Originally the film was shown using the polarisation process, subsequently
it was even also copied over into the simpler but significantly poorer
quality anaglyph process. It was screened in America start of the 70s in a
copy converted to 70mm and with stereophonic sound, with renewed success (StereoVision
70). The director André de Toth was blind in one eye and was not able to see
the 3D effects. It is in the Guinness Book of Records as the first 3D film
with stereo sound (surround sound). RCA and Warner Bros. introduced their
short-lived 4-channel WarnerPhonic sound process here for the first time. In
parallel to the film, a 35mm magnetic tape with 3 sound tracks ran for the
loudspeakers behind the screen: left, middle and right. It carried music on
tracks one and three and dialogue and effects on track two, which was
encoded with three subaudible tone shifting cues capable of directionalizing
the audio right, center and left as the screen action required (directional
sound). For the surround loudspeaker, the mono optical sound track of the
right film was used. If anything went wrong, the mono optical sound track of
the left film carried a composite mono track consisting of all the music,
dialogue and effects, but not the rear location material.
The film had its premiere on 10 April 1953 in the Paramount Theater on Times
Square (New York), which at that time had more than 3600 seats. An extra 25
surround loudspeakers were installed in the enormous auditorium for the
WarnerPhonic sound process. The magnetic tapes with the 3 front sound tracks
have unfortunately gone missing over the years.
The CineStar IMAX cinema is described in the
Berlin Cinema Compendium
The association ”Kinomuseum Berlin e.V.” (Board of managers: Jean-Pierre Gutzeit,
Uwe Borrmann, Joachim Kelsch) get involved in preserving, arching and
maintaining the historic and ongoing cinema culture (according to the
The Holographic Studio of the Scientific Research Cinema & Photo Institute (NIKFI)
in Russia (Moscow)
The company Chace Audio in Burbank, California provides the best cinema
sound and is also responsible for the restoration of old soundtracks
The life of Willi Burth: Museum in the Cinema-Center “DIE BURG“ Ravensburg
The Film- and Televisionmuseum Hamburg
List of 3D-Films
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