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Notes on the Zapruder Film

Zapruder Film Clip
a dual moment motion picture

(AVI format, 2.4 megs, < 5 seconds)
Red/Blue or Red/Cyan


Same Clip
Zipped AVI  1.2 megs

View one frame






Nov. 22, 1963 used to contain a moment all of us would personally remember as long as we live.  Now it just contains a moment that a shrinking number of us personally remember.  Historians will have to rely on remnants of that day saved as evidence and archived for the future. The Zapruder Film is one of these remnants.  It sheds light on what happened to the President that day. 

Abraham Zapruder decided to use his 8mm movie camera to film part of President Kennedy's ride through Dallas.  He found a spot on the knoll where he could capture the limo as it passed.  His assistant held him steady while his film recorded the last normal moments of John Kennedy's life followed by the shooting that ended it.

The Zapruder film has a stereoscopic nature.  It is a dual moment movie.  Depth information is extracted by merging adjacent frames.  The stereo is less than perfect because a number of different motion factors are at work, such as:

   1.  Abraham Zapruder's camera handling motions.
   2.  The (apparent) counter-clockwise motion of the limo.
   3.  The (apparent) motions of the background and foreground.
   4.  The motion of bystanders and limo occupants.

The clip here is a sample based on a poor quality original.  I made it last year, frame-by-frame, in the anaglyph format.  I stabilized the camera jitter by matching a point on the limousine's windshield frame.  I also set the sequence spatially within a larger black frame.  It's interesting to watch how Mr. Zapruder was framing his subject.

The clip is pre-homicide.  The complete version would be too intense for the purpose.  I present this to give evidence for the validity of dual moment detection, collection, and projection.  In short, under certain circumstances, dual moment frame matching yields depth information for stereoscopic motion pictures as well as for still pictures.

It should be noted that this and other films with certain motion characteristics can also be viewed in stereo by observing the passing frames, side-by-side, cross-eyed or with stereo-card glasses.

David Neufer
May 18, 2002

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The Z-Film and Pulfrich

I have viewed the 2D Version of the Zapruder Film using Pulfrich glasses - dark filter over the left eye.  The depth sensation is similar to the one seen in the anaglyph film clip presented here.  I can't say that it is the same since my anaglyph frames involved my personal choice for convergence (the windshield frame).  The Pulfrich view does its own thing.

I believe the dual moment method and the Pulfrich method are closely related.  They are certainly cousins, but not identical twins.  For my own work, Pulfrich glasses might help me find useful depth information when creating dual moment stills. 

The main difference between Pulfrich and dual moment frame matching is that you can't view stills with Pulfrich glasses.  Motion is mandatory.  When the motion stops, the stereo stops.  Pulfrich is kinetic.

Due to the motions involved (see above), I'm not sure if seeing this type of stereo view of the crime, Pulfrich or dual moment, will satisfy all sides in the search for absolute certainty.  In fact, I'm sure it won't.  However, for what it's worth, Pulfrich glasses do produce a kind of stereo.  And it's a heck of a lot easier to produce than making hundreds of anaglyphs. 

▼ ▲ ▼ ▲ ▼

For a less disturbing movie to work with, I suggest this link from the Library of Congress:

North River

It offers a film made in 1903 taken from a boat going down the Hudson (North River).  View it with Pulfrich glasses, dark filter over the left eye, and discern the stereo effect.  It is from this film that I made the dual moment images seen here:

Lower Manhattan - 1903

May 21, 2002



1994 Article by Martin Shackelford