Some of you will be aware of Brian May’s extra curricular activities which he has pursued throughout his axe-grinding antics with 70’s/80’s legendary rock outfit Queen.

A lover of astronomy, he initially abandoned his physics doctorate to forge a career in rock. Throughout the years however, May has co-authored various research paper and publications on the subject and in 2008, he finally completed his PhD thesis in astrophysics.

What is perhaps less obvious is May’s lifelong passionate of stereophotography (3-D imaging). He has been collecting photographs and images from as far back as the Victorian era since he was a child (a 2009 book he co-wrote, A Village Lost and Found, features the work of English stereophotography innovator TR Williams) and is the presenter of a documentary commissioned for Sky 3D, Brian May’s Brief History of 3D, which is being shown on July 7th.

A fascinating glimpse into the world of 3D (which has seen a huge resurgence of late), May talks to a number of trailblazers in the professional, including one of the medium’s biggest advocates, James Cameron. But May is equally enamoured with what has come before, and aside from the aforementioned 18th century stereophotography, we get a peek at the work from an early innovator of cinema like Georges Méliès, who used 3D in more rudimentary form. Later, schlocky exploitation pictures (which did more harm than good in the development of 3D) are covered, including the hilarious-looking 1980 western Coming At Ya! which, in staying true to its title, appears to have objects hurtling towards the audience at every available opportunity.

Alongside a couple of other journalists/bloggers, HeyUGuys were fortunate to be given the opportunity to spend some time in the company of the guitar legend (and some key figures behind the documentary) after the screening.

He was asked about the resilience of 3D:

“Yeah, it’s a bouncing ball really isn’t it? It has such a history of being abused that it’s had a hard time, but the magic that you get when it’s done right is just indisputable. When you reach the end of this documentary and you start to feel comfortable with all those images, it’s just a joy and I think you get to a point when you forget about the medium in those sequences and you enjoy that feeling of complete reality.”

Talking about the early stereographic images from his recent book:

“It’s actually more than countryside – it’s a document about the way people lived in harmony with the countryside. The book was a real labour of love and a big part of 30 years research, but that document by TR Williams is about one little village, but its also about the people and their dreams and the way they interact with each other, the animals, and the land. It was a real dream for me to bring that into the 21st century.

When viewers see the documentary, they’ll have to use a pause control because the richness of some of those images is astonishing. You could spend an hour looking at one of those village scenes and not get bored.”

On his early dalliances with the medium:

“I’ve got stereoscopic pictures I made at the age of ten. I released if I used two cameras I could create them myself. Much later on I realised there were actual stereo cameras available on the market and I started collecting them, but it’s the images that really get me. I have tens of thousand now mainly from that first flush in the 1980’s, and 40 plus years later on from collecting them, I still find them.”

On whether he’s ever used 3D cameras to record events in the other aspects of his career:

“I’m doing it all the time really. Following the book that I put out, which I actually designed and manufactured a stereo viewer to go with it, I’ve currently been working on some set of cards to go with the viewer and one of the sets is astrology.

I carried a 3D camera throughout the Queen years so I have quite a good collection of stuff. 3D pictures of myself, Freddie, Rodger and John doing various things, on and off stage. I’m working on getting them released.”

On what surprised him during his journey in producing the documentary:

“I hadn’t seen the Méliès stuff. I was pretty amazed by that. I was quite sceptical initially, but when I saw it all synced up its truly amazing stuff. I was a fan of his work anyway, and we used some of his stuff in our [Queen] videos.

Does he still get that same sense of wonder when watching the latest 3D as he did with the stereographs as a child?

“Totally. I still get that buzz. I think it’s wonderful. One of my favourites on the big screen is How to Train Your Dragon. It’s beautifully shot and technically it’s flawless and everything else like story and plot is handed really well. I think it’s a breathtaking film.”

Brian May’s Brief History of 3D is showing on Thursday 7th July at 10.00pm on Sky 3D.