March 11, 1954 - October 22, 2002
By Ray Zone
At 48 years of age, Tony Alderson, stereographer, cartoonist, and voluminous correspondent on photo-3D has passed away. Succumbing to liver and kidney failure in North Hollywood, California at 10:30 pm on Tuesday night, October 22, 2002, Tony went to the great 3-D drawing table in the sky.
Hired to work at 3D Video Corporation in 1982, Tony converted Jack Kirby's art to 3-D for the "3D Cosmic" book Battle for a Three Dimensional World. He also created numerous stereo conversions, including one for a Friday the 13th Part 3 poster in 3-D that has since become highly collectible.
In 1985 a very unique "self-published" comic appeared in Los Angeles. "Noble crusade or cynical scam?" asks the cover which depicts a hapless cartoonist fleeing a demonic cyclopean businessman whose pockets overflow with cash. The comic was 3D Zomoid Illustories, the world's first to be published "in the miracle of FREEVISION" and the writer/artist was Tony Alderson. The story related "The Nightmare of 3-D Jonestown" and was a thinly veiled humorous expose of the rise and fall of the 3D Video Corporation which published the 3-D comic book Battle for a Three-Dimensional World which I wrote in 1982.
I first met Tony Alderson when I was hired to work at 3D Video Corporation in 1982 and it was Tony who converted Jack Kirby's art to 3-D in Battle for a Three Dimensional World. For two decades, Tony and I have since worked intermittently together on different 3-D projects. And we have maintained an idiosyncratic dialogue with each other that incorporates Tony's uniquely satirical slant on the vagaries of stereoscopic business practices.
Tony is the artist responsible for the National Stereoscopic Association
(NSA) 2002 Convention logo and he also created the logo in 1986, the
last time the convention was held in Riverside, California. The new
logo was a gorgeous computer-generated montage combining the classic
Holmes stereoscope, Sir Charles Wheatstone, and a Keystone motif with
some California oranges and blossoms. The 1986 logo, with deft line art
rendered into 3-D, combined the Keystone motif and a stereoscope which
held an actual stereo pair showing palm trees, another symbol of
Before leaving 3D Video Corporation in 1983, Tony produced the 3-D conversions for the Topps Jaws 3-D gum trading cards. He wrote an interesting "3-D bible" for the artists at Topps and it contains some clear observations about stereoscopic fundamentals for neophytes. "In the 3-D conversion process," Tony wrote, "I take the drawing you supply me as the left image. I then simulate the right image by cutting apart copies of the drawing and reassembling them with the proper displacements to create retinal disparities when viewed." Tony always wrote about stereography with great clarity.
After leaving 3D Video Corporation in 1983, Tony began working in motion pictures creating special effects for films like Metalstorm 3-D for which he did stereoscopic rotoscoping. At the same time he served as President of the Stereo Club of Southern California (SCSC) from 1984 to 1985 and its Program Director in 1986-87.
Tony's monthly covers for SCSC's 3-D News during his term as President were witty stereo-delights. His inaugural page was a side-by-side 3-panel "freevision" stereographic cartoon showing him blasted out of a cannon straight at the reader. For his final cover Tony produced the very first anaglyph issue of the 3D News. It featured a self-caricature and a visual joke about the "stereo" window.
Over the years Tony produced stereo conversions for such 3-D comic books as Sheena 3-D, Spirit Classics in 3-D, The Rocketeer, Spacehawk 3-D, Dracula 3-D and 3-Dementia Comics which reprinted one of Tony's great humorous inventions from 1985.
"Noble crusade or cynical scam?" queried Tony who depicted himself as a hapless cartoonist fleeing a demonic cyclopean businessman whose pockets overflow with cash. The comic was 3D Zomoid Illustories, the world's first to be published "in the miracle of FREEVISION." The narrow, vertical side-by-side cartoon panels related "The Nightmare of 3-D Jonestown" and was a thinly veiled and very humorous expose of the rise and fall of the 3D Video Corporation.
During his twenty-year career as a stereographer, Tony used NASA satellite telemetry to produce computer-generated anaglyph movie "fly-throughs" of Yosemite and Venus for a 3-D CD-ROM project. He also created numerous gray-scale depth-map stereo conversions for two different series of Star Wars lenticular 3-D trading cards. Tony wrote numerous articles on stereography for magazines such as Stereoscopy, published by the International Stereoscopic Union (ISU), the March 1993 issue of which includes his essay "An Introduction to 3-D Computing."
Tony worked on many film and TV projects with his business partner Frank Isaacs at the AI (Alderson-Isaacs) Effects company which they co-founded together in 1994. They both recently won Emmy awards for their special effects on "Dune" which premiered on the Sci-Fi cable channel in December 2001.
Though he has many stereographic accomplishments, I always thought of Tony Alderson as a stereo caricaturist, poking devastating humor at himself and the highly competitive world of 3-D business. As a kind of prescient finale to his stereographic work, Tony presented a slide program which was a career overview titled "Make Those Lenses Swing" at the NSA 2002 Convention.
The last time the SCSC hosted a NSA Convention was in 1986 in Riverside on the campus of University of California at Riverside (UCR). The stereoscopic logo for the 1986 convention was created by former SCSC President Tony Alderson. It was a natural choice to have Tony create the new logo for the NSA 2002 Convention. The 1986 logo was drawn in stereo completely by hand and the 2002 image was created entirely on the computer. Tony also presented a stereo slide program on Friday during the 2002 Stereo Theater with an overview of his work in stereoscopy.
Alderson produced many
stereo conversions designed to be viewed in binocular freevision and
wrote one of the most comprehensive explanations of the process with an
article titled Everyone's Guide to Freevision for the November/December
1988 issue of Stereo World (Vol. 15, No. 5) published by the National Stereoscopic Association (NSA).
"Every 3-D enthusiast eventually confronts the problem of stereoscopically viewing an interesting pair when there is no stereoscope handy," wrote Alderson. "At this moment one realizes that the necessity of a viewing device, while one of the central charms of the three-dimensional art, is at the same time one of its great handicaps. Fortunately there are a simple set of techniques that will enable about anyone with reasonably normal eyes to fuse certain common stereo pairs without any external aids. This unaided stereoscopic fusion is called "freevision.""
It is fitting that a great proponent of binocular freevision should rest beneath a permanent stereo pair of his own creation.
|Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D One-Sheet Movie Poster 3-D Version (1982)
In 1982, 3-D Video licensed the artwork from the film Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D to distribute an anaglyphic 3-D one-sheet movie poster. The poster features a large anaglyph showing Jason swinging an axe through a glass window. It is the same anaglyphic artwork featured on the Friday the 13th 3-D soundtrack album also released in 1982 by Grammavision Records.
The poster was published by 3-D Cosmic Publications, a division of 3-D Video Corporation in Hollywood, California. Technical staff who worked on the poster include Editor-in-Chief Susan Pinsky, artist Berry Jackson, the 3-D art was converted by the late Tony Alderson and the many layers of painted cells were photographed by John Rupkalvis. Barry Jackson also did the movie poster art for the John Carpenter film Escape from New York.
In mint, rolled condition, the posters sell on auction sites like eBay for around $70 each.
LA Weekly : Living in Stereo
by Matthew Duersten
Reprinted from - LA Weekly September 5-11-03
SOMEWHERE IN A DESERT cemetery near Tempe, Arizona, stands the world's first stereoscopic headstone. Depicting side-by-side cartoons of the late Tony Alderson that pop to three-dimensional life when viewed through binocular freevision, it marks the final resting place of a former president of the Stereo Club of Southern California (SCSC), a group of amateur stereo photographers and enthusiasts founded during the Atomic Age. Going to meetings of the SCSC means hearing a piano roll of obituaries -- Charlie Piper, George Skelly, Earl Colgan, Paul Wing and Alderson in the last two years -- which may be why this gang of obsessives meets monthly in the downstairs auditorium of the Wilshire United Methodist Church.
Once a year they break out for their annual awards banquet at Taix restaurant in Silver Lake, as they did last week. To an outsider, the members of the SCSC could be stock players in a Christopher Guest faux documentary. Wearing name tags on cords, they discuss the new Tim Burton - Johnny Depp remake of Willy Wonka - and lament that it's not 3-D. (Ditto Pirates of the Caribbean.) While standing among them in Taix's Bordeaux Banquet Room, it becomes immediately apparent that whatever environment these people wander into they immediately remake it. "That would be great in stereo," says one to another, nodding toward the picnic mural on the banquet-room wall. "We've been having our banquet here for years," says Oliver Dean, a white-haired gentleman with 10 Fraternal Order pins on his blazer who remembers meeting Harold Lloyd, Art Linkletter and Edgar Bergen at SCSC meetings in the '60s. "I've watched the waiters here grow up and grow gray."
2003 was a pretty good year for 3-D -- there was James Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss and Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids 3-D (number one on the film's opening weekend) -- but it's the 10-day World 3-D Expo at the Egyptian Theater (September 12 to 21) that provides the evening its real juice. Billed as "the largest 3-D tribute show ever mounted anywhere in history" the Expo will feature a number of rarities that have tonight's attendees excited, especially Gog, an oddball 1954 film about a rebellious space robot or something. SCSC members will be there, showing stereo slides in the Egyptian's Steven Spielberg Theater, and otherwise, they say with barely containable anticipation, popping vitamins, drinking rivers of coffee and seriously compromising their cash liquidity on screenings and collectibles.
A kid with clean-cut black hair and wireframed glasses rises to the podium, fumbles with a few knobs and speaks of "the night five years ago tonight when I saw my first stereo slide show. I didn't know what stereo photography was. I didn't even know what a View-Master was! A friend of mine invited me here on a whim, and lo and behold, I'm now president of the club." Philip Steinman adds that he met his young fiancee -- off to the side recording the speech with a silver digital whatsit -- while taking a 3-D picture of her at last year's L.A. marathon. (Claps and cheers.) Everyone in the room seems to be an ex-club president; no one swears or drinks too much or tells off-color jokes. So warm and corny is the tone, it might be 1955 again. A man in a fuzzy pig hat with flappable wings swears in the new officers, who recite the SCSC oath as a swaying, grinning mass: "I ... state your name..." - they repeat this literally- "... do solemnly affirm ... that I will cooperate ... to the best of my ability... in the efforts to further ... the art, science and enjoyment of stereo photography ... amen."
Then someone hands out polarizing glasses in a slotted box -- not the cheesy red green paper (or "anaglyph") glasses of matinee fame but sort of like the kind you'd get from the eye doctor. (A corporate guy in a suit brings a box of his own, sleek and Italian-looking in individual envelopes.) As the lights snap out, a roomful of Roy Orbisons exclaim hosannas over the clack of changing slide images: rock summits in Yosemite; a Gulfstream stabbing the sky; Daliesque silhouettes over the skinlike folds of a sand dune; two dogs watching Lassie on TV, heads tilted; a 1946 A-bomb test at the Bikini atoll in the South Pacific; a Spanish basilica; Forrest J. Ackerman's collection of sci-fi -horror-movie memorabilia; gothic shots of winged-angel statues and bogs in moonlight; the junk sculpture outside of MOCA; a flock of airborne gulls who appear to be tearing right through the Bordeaux Room; a frieze of water cascading past a cat's tongue and, it seems, over the first two rows.
A photo comes up that doesn't have the desired effect. The shouts follow like a fire drill: "Pseudo-stereo! Pseudo-stereo!!" Everyone suddenly yanks off their glasses and puts them back on upside down, righting the wrong of mixed-up slides. The Stereo Club of Southern California is back in sync.
It is a beautiful thing to see, especially in 3-D.