View Full Version : WW2 3d Aerial Photography Documentary

02-02-2012, 12:15 AM
I happened upon this tonight, which turned out to be a very interesting watch for any history buff.

It deals with war photography, reconnaissance, and technologies that allowed 3D or stereoscopic viewing of photos taken of German sites during WW2. Covered are aircraft, cameras, viewing and measuring equipment, V1 & V2 rockets, and examination of sites before and after bombings(dam busters, and carpet bombing images look crazy).

Worth a watch, and I believe PBS is free to residents of the USA, not sure about availability outside of states.

Main video, 3D Spies of WWII:

Companion site for more spy pictures of other areas:

The only negative thing about the video was the ridiculous over use of lensbaby style selective focus and the chromatic aberration that accompanies it. It's in practically every other shot, and is sickening.

02-02-2012, 12:48 AM
Unfortunately not available for Australian viewers.

02-02-2012, 08:59 PM
That is a shame, maybe you can find it on netflix or hulu but anyway here is a preview of it. It kinda sucks when public broadcast tv is blocked just because you are in another country. PBS offers so many great documentaries on history, sciences, and the arts that should be free to everyone. Same with BBC programing on a similar level.


02-03-2012, 11:22 AM
I don't know if they mention it in the videos, but I think that some of these images were printed using Polaroid's "Vectograph" 3D print system. This was a system that Edwin Land and co. developed just prior to WWII.

It's a method that allows 3D prints to be made on a 2D surface, and viewed with polarized glasses by reflected light. It's a really interesting process that I just learned about recently, and apparently there was a move to reintroduce it a few years back with an inkjet variation.

Basically, you have this "vectograph film", which is a substrate coated on 2 sides with PVOH (polyvinyl alcohol) that has been stretched and thus molecularly aligned at 90 angles. Using dye-transfer matrices, you transfer special dyes to either side from the left/right images, and the interaction of the dye with the PVOH makes only the image areas dichroic, in the polarising sense. So the dye itself becomes the "polarizer", and with a reflective backing that retains the polarized light (aluminum paint) you are able to use typical 3D glasses just like you would view a 3D movie today.

Monochrome images are easier, but they did indeed find a set of tri-color dyes that had this property; allowing for full 3D, full color images to be viewed like a regular print.

Amazing stuff!

02-03-2012, 12:32 PM
The vectograph system sounds amazing and I would love to see it in person. But the videos only cover traditional stereo images, which were shot side by side from fuselage mounted cameras. They were shot only at level flight and required something like 60% overlapping coverage and were viewed through stereoscopic styled glasses at a set focal length off a table top (sort of like a open loupe for both eyes). The advantage was that objects and buildings popped from surroundings and camouflage was less effective. They used another machine to measure distances to create scale models for intel and bombing missions.

Peter Simpson
02-03-2012, 01:17 PM
Unfortunately not available for Australian viewers.
Can you watch it through a US proxy?

02-03-2012, 01:26 PM
Newt, I'll have to watch it here when I get a free moment, it sounds awesome.

These vectograph images would've been made from ordinary stereo images like that; it's just the printing technique that's different.

I'd love to see one too! Apparently this old Bausch & Laumb "Fusor" Visual Exerciser (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-B-L-Ortho-Fusor-Polaroid-3D-Eye-Visual-Exercise-/350492855697?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item519b008d91) employed the method.. and anyone remember that weird eye test (probably from elementary school) where you looked at a 3D image of a fly?? I can barely recollect it, but I think it was similar as well..