In this age of VR, along comes this charming 3D photo collection (complete with viewer) taken by the bands guitarist Brian may.
300 images from the very earliest days to the present (including Adam Lambert) all in 'stereoscopic' layout that adds that little bit of immersive magic when viewed through Brian's own designed viewer. There have been many books written about Queen. Some are authorised versions but none have ever been in their own hand so this is probably the nearest we will get to an autobiography.!
At the books launch we took the opportunity to film Brian taking us through some of the images with anecdotes (check the film below). And in our interview below Brian tracks his facination with 3d, what the band thought and tips for the reader.
D: Can you remember the first time you took a 3D image (and how it felt when you looked at the result)?
Brian: YES !! I was 12 years old. 1959. I took our kitchen table outside in the back garden, and on it, I set up my Woolworths two and sixpenny camera (A ‘VP twin’ that ran on 127 film, making contact prints not much bigger than 35mm) facing back into the kitchen. The back door was still open, and my Dad was standing on a ladder, whitewashing the ceiling. I asked him to keep still for me, and took one exposure with the camera resting on the table. Then I moved the camera about 3 inches to the right, wound on the film, and took another exposure. I was convinced this was going to give me two pictures that I could mount on a piece of cardboard to make a stereo card like the ones I’d been collecting from Weetabix packets. My Dad did everything himself, including developing and printing black and white photographs. He taught me how to do it. We made the prints, I stuck them on a piece of card, on which I wrote the ‘trade mark’ “SEETHROO Ltd” and I put the card in the Weetabix stereo viewer (which I’d received through the post after sending off a packet top and one and sixpence). WOW! It worked ! There was my Dad in astounding realism, captured forever in 3-D. You can see the result in my book (Queen in 3-D). It still works. I then got my Dad to take 3-D pictures of me using the same ‘sequential’ technique, and, again in the new book, you can see the very first 3-D images of a very young rock star ! It was thrilling to me then, and it still is now. I’m so excited to be able to share this stuff with the world - along with a whole history of 3-D moments captured throughout Queen’s career.
D: What were the cameras you used for documenting Queen in 3D?
Brian: I used a number of different 3-D cameras along the way …
1) in the beginning, it was a mono (non-stereo) SLR – taking the pictures sequentially, like my first efforts as a kid (and like some of the great original masters of stereoscopy in the 19th century … notably my hero T.R. Williams.)
2) Then, when we hit the USA for the first time, I found I could buy second-hand 1950s stereo cameras … magic! So I used these for many years – 35mm art deco masterpieces of design .. Stereo Realists, Iloca Rapids, F 40 Verascopes, etc … the results, stereo colour slides viewed in the special 35mm stereo viewers that were sold with the cameras, were truly awesome. As used by Lucille Ball and Buster Keaton !
3) Then, with the advent of digital, I used various mobile phones with camera features, going back to the sequential method.
4) When FujiFilm brought out their W1 digital stereo camera, we stereo nuts whooped with glee. Instantaneous stereo in the digital domain. Instantaneous in more than one way ! The two halves were taken simultaneously – and you could also view the result immediately. Amazing. I still use my W1 a lot, though sadly they’re not made any more.
D: How did the band respond to this unusual camera around them?
Brian: They were fine ! John actually got interested in stereo pictures too. Freddie loved images of all kinds … being an artist and graphic designer at heart as well as a pretty fine musician. Even in those days Roger liked photo bombing and generally being disruptive ! ha ha ! So everyone was into it in some way.
D: As this is your book were there any particular memories (sense memories) that came back to you when you were putting this together that made you smile/sad (and that you are happy to share with us!).
Brian: Well, it’s all in the book. It’s packed with memories which were only triggered by the extraordinary realism of the stereo slides. Otherwise they probably would have stayed in my subconscious forever. Those ‘first times’ at Madison Square Garden, the Bodokan, Wembley Stadium, Brazil, Argentina … the pictures are so evocative. The places and the people. So many of my pals are gone now … Pete Brown, who looked after us in the early days, Richie Anderson, who looked after my guitar on many of those early tours … these are names that might not mean much to anyone except us, right now, but in the book you’ll get to know them. And of course Freddie – looking so real and cheeky and alive. My favourite of him in the book is a very intimate one of him being helped with his make-up back-stage. Nobody has ever seen that … until the book comes out. Even I didn’t know that picture existed because I’d squirrelled it away on a roll of film that was developed but uncut – unmounted – so I’d never viewed the photos on it. I was stunned. There’s also a great picture of Freddie with his beloved Polaroid camera (one of the first instant cameras) taking a photo of me ! I wonder where that picture is ! Well if we find it, it can go in the second edition ! But Queen aficionados are going to enjoy seeing this stuff, for sure. And they’ll see it not as flat photos, but in true stereoscopic 3-D – using my patent OWL viewer which is supplied with the book.
D: You have published 3 previous 3D books… was that experience useful in compiling Queen 3D?
Brian: Yes … I’d researched the work of 1850s photographers and fulfilled a dream by bringing their stunning stereos into the 21st century. Now I was using the same techniques to bring my own historical work to light.
D: We seem to be entering the age of VR… is the renewed interest in 3D photography partly a response against the technology?
Brian: To some extent, yes. But it’s probably more a response WITH the technology, because it’s fundamentally the same. Suddenly we see dozens of VR viewers – which are essentially Victorian-style stereoscopes, like the OWL. The difference is in the software, which, in addition to 3-D, uses the 360 degree ‘trick’ to make things even more ‘real’ in a virtual way.
D: Is there a gadget that a young Brian May would be using today to document Queens history?
Brian: I’d recommend finding a FUJIFILM W1 or W3 second hand on the Internet. And I can share a simple program with you that splits the files it outputs, so you can process your own 3-D images on your laptop.
D: Is there a favourite image?
Brian: That’s a hard one. Probably Freddie in make-up. Also the cover shot of Freddie live and dangerous on stage. He was a good subject !!
D: Queen & AL will be touring the UK later in the year… and we are told it will be a new stage show. Do we need to keep hold of the 3d glasses from the cinema?
Brian: Nope … we will be 3-D without the need for any special optical devices. Live, dangerous, very human, and in your face !!
Queen in 3-D, by Brian May, published by The London Stereoscopic Company, £50, Out now www.queenin3-d.com
END !!!!! - Bri