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The View-Master Mistress
November 7, 2008 11:22 PM   Subscribe

View-Master. It's was, for many, their first exposure to 3D. But where did all those little dioramas come from? Well, sculptor Florence Thomas for one, responsible for these Tom Corbett images. More. Via. Previously.
posted by Astro Zombie (36 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
Actually, I think most people's first exposure to stereoscopic images was right after birth.
posted by delmoi at 11:26 PM on November 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


I miss my view-master. It was tossed in some house-cleaning ages ago. Mom, I'll never forgive you.
posted by maxwelton at 11:29 PM on November 7, 2008


Actually, I think most people's first exposure to stereoscopic images was right after birth.

Not me. I was cross-eyed.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:31 PM on November 7, 2008


I make my own :)
posted by jfrancis at 11:31 PM on November 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


I totally had the Winnie the Pooh reel. I always found this image slightly disturbing as a child.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:48 PM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks for rekindling traumatizing imagery from my childhood, DiscourseMarker.
posted by tumult at 12:14 AM on November 8, 2008


Arg, this eyepatch be giving me troubles with the stereoscopy...
posted by crapmatic at 12:42 AM on November 8, 2008


Actually, I think most people's first exposure to stereoscopic images was right after birth.

I would think probably not; seems to me that processing the differing data from the two eyes into a (perceived) stereo image is something that the brain has to learn how to do. I think 'right after birth' pretty much all that we 'see' is a blurred cascade of light and shadow.

I think.
posted by woodblock100 at 1:08 AM on November 8, 2008


Like many people, I suppose, my interest in and experience with View Master ended with childhood, but has been rekindled in the past couple of years. My wife started getting into them, and my daughter and I have followed right along! We've been buying old reels from online dealers like these folks, and our collection includes several of the old fairy tale diorama reels created by Florence Thomas. We also have one reel which includes a 3D (of course) picture of Thomas herself, at work on a diorama, so I knew who she was. I'd never looked her up or anything, though, so thanks for this post, AZ.

Her lovingly assembled creations harken back to an altogether different era: the reels are a window onto a world long gone. Like some old roadside attraction with painted cave walls and little gnome statues, they have a stark, odd and primitive beauty, and are possessed of a certain mystery and strangeness you just can't get in computer animation and mass production.

BTW, I'm happy to say that I am a proud owner of the very first model View Master viewer. That is, the black, round one that's shown on the top page of AZ's first link in this FPP. Mrs. Flapjax found one on auction and snatched up. It's a lovely object in itself.

Sniffing around the nets for more View Master stuff, I stumbled across these clocks made out of old View Master viewers. Seems like kind of a waste to me, but...

One other thing: it's a bummer that computer screens can't do 3D. Or, is it? Actually, the holding of a View Master viewer in your hands, the inserting of reels, the clicking through a very finite gallery of images on each reel: that's part of the magic, I reckon. It's so analog.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:50 AM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


More on that vintage viewer mentioned in my comment above: the one I have is actually the Model B, which wasn't the very first, as I erroneously indicated earlier, but rather the 2nd model. However, as a piece of design I think it's handsomer (with its Art Deco styling) than the more generic Model A. There's a Model B on offer right now, BTW, on Ebay. You'll note links to Ebay from the pages linked to in this comment.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:59 AM on November 8, 2008


Actually, I think most people's first exposure to stereoscopic images was right after birth.

I have a stereoscopic picture, taken by my grandfather, of the flowers my father sent my mother after their first date.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:18 AM on November 8, 2008


Before the Viewmaster, there was the Stereoscope.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:25 AM on November 8, 2008


One other thing: it's a bummer that computer screens can't do 3D.

They can.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:34 AM on November 8, 2008


I mean, they can.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:35 AM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Loved my View Master. It was magic. Have a young son, and I'll get him one.
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:20 AM on November 8, 2008


My love of Viewmasters was rekindled thanks to a kick-ass tchotchke - an REM Viewemaster to promote New Adventures in Hi-Fi. I had forgotten how cool things look through a Viewmaster.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:35 AM on November 8, 2008


Astro Zombie, this is an exactly perfect Metafilter post. Thanks so much for putting it together!
posted by anastasiav at 7:01 AM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


With today's modern CAD - why not spec cutting paths to make new camera holders?

With such, one could then take modern digital camera to take the pics and feed them to any number of modern CCD headsets.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:30 AM on November 8, 2008


I taped two empty toilet tissue rolls together and went to town with the Sunday Funnies.
posted by doctorschlock at 7:30 AM on November 8, 2008


I think 'right after birth' pretty much all that we 'see' is a blurred cascade of light and shadow.
posted by woodblock100 at 4:08 AM on November 8 [+] [!]


woodblock100, the current understanding is that this is usually correct.

I say usually because of my buddy's son. Some four hours after he was born, I walked into their hospital room. A too-big-to-be-a-newborn baby was standing (propped up by Daddy's arms) on Daddy's lap, head erect. The sound of the door made the baby snap his head towards me, and he locked both his eyes on my, clearly focusing (coordinated stereo aiming). I couldn't believe (for a few seconds) that this kid was a few hours old.

Born postmaturely (word?), of couse, by caesarian, but eery.

As I said, you're probably usually right.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:44 AM on November 8, 2008


my=me

D'oh.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:47 AM on November 8, 2008


This is, like, the best Metafilter post ever today.

AZ's More link is completely fascinating. I love that the world is full of stories like this.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:07 AM on November 8, 2008


I highly recommend the View-Master art of Vladmaster.
posted by vertigo25 at 8:19 AM on November 8, 2008


The sound of the door made the baby snap his head towards me, and he locked both his eyes on my, clearly focusing (coordinated stereo aiming).

That is a terrifying mental image. Was there any ominous chanting in latin in the background?
posted by jlowen at 8:40 AM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


The real terror was the toxic waste from the Viewmaster factory near Portland, Oregon. I met a woman who had worked there briefly; she was terrified of the cancer that afflicted many workers.
posted by Cranberry at 9:24 AM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


obligatory link to Eric's Trip video
posted by Sys Rq at 9:52 AM on November 8, 2008


My very first memory of my brother involved Viewmaster reels -- I remember being carried piggyback into his room at the age of three, and being held up so I could peer into the crib. "This is your new baby brother!" they told me, as I peered down at a sleeping baby. Then they lowered me back to the ground. "and your baby brother has a present for you!" they said, and pointed out the three new Viewmaster reels that had been tucked into the ruffle around the edges of the crib. I think the new Viewmaster reels beat out the new baby brother for a good half hour or so.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:29 AM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I remember a 3-D, handheld video game from the mid-80's that had the View-Master form-factor, and a Red Baron motif. It was simple, on the level of the game watches that were available, but the 3-D effect was captivating.

Anyone else remember this?
posted by findango at 11:27 AM on November 8, 2008


Fascinating
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 11:54 AM on November 8, 2008


Wow, this takes me back—not just the View-Master, but Tom Corbett, hero of my youth. Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 11:54 AM on November 8, 2008


Findango: I think you're talking about the Tomy/Tandy "3-D Sky Duel", one of which I sat playing for ages in a Tandy (Australian "Radio Shack" brand) shop before being moved on by an irritated salesman.

Tomy had several other 3D games.
posted by dansdata at 5:15 PM on November 8, 2008


There's a way to see 3D images on your computer without glasses. They are called lenticulations (760K image).
posted by eye of newt at 9:12 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just realized that these lenticulations were created by Metafilter's own Chinese Jet Pilot.
posted by eye of newt at 9:16 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow! Those lenticulations are way cool! Kudos, Chinese Jet Pilot!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:28 AM on November 9, 2008


I will never forgive my grandmother for trashing her ViewMaster projector and the huge stash of discs she had spanning the 50s through 70s. Love you, Grandma, but not much beat lying at the end of the big wood-paneled hallway, the lights out and the smell of the lamp burning dust, imagining.
posted by mynameisluka at 3:38 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


take modern digital camera to take the pics and feed them to any number of modern CCD headsets.

3mm lenses are adjusted in the factory to optimize focus, and each come out slight individual. To do good stereo you have to use a testing bench and find a pair that match. Given twenty or so lenses you can usually find a fairly matched pair. Some stores will cooperate on this.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:09 AM on November 12, 2008


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