When Popular Science published its February 1923 cover story, underwater cinematography was in its infancy. Less than a decade before, film pioneer J.E. Williamson invented the first device capable of capturing footage below the surface: a steel-and-glass underwater chamber that attached to an accordionlike tube. Adding a more lifelike hue to the industry, Williamson's first aquatic color film, The Uninvited Guest, came out in 1924. Nearly 90 years later, director James Cameron worked with engineers to develop his own innovation: a submersible capable of taking IMAX-quality 3-D images at the deepest point in the ocean.
The Innovations Behind Underwater Movies
1916: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Photosphere: an observation chamber with enough room for a cameraman and his equipment
1946: Épaves ("Shipwrecks")
Aqua-Lung: a self-contained under-water breathing apparatus (scuba) that enabled divers to film for long periods of time
1964: World Without Sun
The “diving saucer”: a submersible with movable lights and cameras