(L-R) myself, Perry Hoberman (USC), Ray Zone, Lenny Lipton at SDA 2006

(L-R) myself, Perry Hoberman (USC), Ray Zone, Lenny Lipton at SDA 2006

It was with deep sadness that I learned about the passing this week of my good friend and colleague Ray Zone. In the world of the stereoscopic sciences and arts, there are those who have an understanding of the science and nature of the medium and those who exhibit a pure passion for it. Ray was, if nothing else full of passion. Not only was he a practitioner of stereo photography and 3d conversion, he was also a zealot for 3d comics and cinema, a historian, an author, an advocate, and a teacher.

I met Ray over 15 years ago through the Large Format Cinema Association. Our paths would cross many times, whether at an ETC or SMPTE sponsored event or the annual Stereoscopic Displays and Applications conference. In 2006, I invited Ray to join me on a visit to In-Three and REALD at a time when both companies were just starting to come into the public light. Ray’s input was indispensable and the trip resulted in two articles, one by myself, and the other Ray’s “Threshold of the Future.”

On the ride to Agoura Hills to visit In-Three, Ray related to me how prior to venturing into stereoscopics full time, he had worked in the steel industry. He related what was going on with the cinema industry’s transition to digital the same way he saw American steel – that if elements within the industry did not position themselves for change, they would eventually cease to exist.

Ray also loved cinema in general, especially large format cinema. He taught me that the motion picture, by its very nature, is composed of 3D images simply projected on a 2D screen. In 2003, he conducted a one-on-one interview with cinematographer Rodney Taylor as part of the ceremony surrounding Taylor’s being awarded the Kodak Vision Award. Ray showed that, although on the exterior he appeared a stalwart of 3D cinema, he truly understood the impact of the visual image in all its forms and how the filmmaker and audience perceives it.

For me, it is best to remember Ray in his own words. Below are three of his written works:

  • “Thinking Big: The Large Format Cinematography of Rodney Taylor” was written for the 2003 Kodak Vision Award Ceremony and was handed to attendees as part of the program during the ceremony at the LFCA’s annual conference at the Universal Studios IMAX Theater in Los Angeles.
  • In 2003, I invited Ray to write about the history of IMAX 3D for the SFC Review, a publication I was editing at the time. What I received was one of the most definitive histories of film-based attractions I’ve ever seen, “Motion in Space: 4-D and the Ridefilm.”
  • “Threshold of the Future: 3-D Cinema Comes of Age” appeared on Ray’s website, www.Ray3dZone.com and features Ray’s thoughts on stereographic digital cinema.