Lenny Lipton

Leonard "Lenny" Lipton (born May 18, 1940, Brooklyn, New York) is an author, filmmaker and inventor. At age 19, Lipton wrote the poem that became the basis for the lyrics to the song "Puff the Magic Dragon". He went on to write books on independent filmmaking and become a pioneer in the field of projected three-dimensional imagery. His technology is used to show 3D films on more than 25,000 theater screens worldwide.

Lenny Lipton
BornMay 18, 1940 (age 78)
Brooklyn, New York
OccupationInventor, author, experimental filmmaker, lyricist
Years active1959-
Known for"Puff, the Magic Dragon", 3D display technology


Lipton majored in physics at Cornell University after starting out in electrical engineering. A self-described "mediocre student", he only excelled once he found a field he loved. Lipton now urges schools to be more "accepting of eccentric people with a different point of view because we are the people who make the difference."[1]


Puff the Magic Dragon

Lipton was 19 when he wrote the poem that was adapted into the lyrics for the 1963 song "Puff the Magic Dragon", performed by Peter Paul and Mary. His inspiration was a 1936 Ogden Nash poem, "A Tale of Custard the Dragon". "Pirates and dragons, back then, were common interests in stories for boys," Lipton said. "The Puff story is really just a lot like Peter Pan.” Lipton has spent years denying that the song was about marijuana and believes that the myth was created by New York columnist Dorothy Kilgallen.[2]

Independent films

In the 1960s, Lipton shot several experimental films on 16 mm stock, most with running times of less than 10 minutes. The best known, Let a Thousand Parks Bloom, a 27-minute film about Berkeley's People's Park, played at the Tate Liverpool Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art.[3][4] The following decade, he wrote two books on technologies and methods for independent filmmakers: The Super 8 Book (1975) and Independent Film Making (1979). Lipton on Filmmaking, a compendium of his magazine writings, was also published in 1979.[5]


Lipton is a pioneer in the field of projected three-dimensional imagery and is one of the creators of the electronic stereoscopic display industry.[6][1] His interest dates back to his childhood in New York where he attended movie palaces, with some films shown in 3D. He drew his own 3D comics using red and green crayons on tracing paper, which were viewed using primitive glasses constructed of cardboard tubes and magnifying lenses.[7]

Royalties from "Puff the Magic Dragon" and Independent Filmmaking, which remained in print for 20 years, gave Lipton an independent income that allowed him to follow his interests. His career in stereoscopic display began to gel around 1972. In one early stint, he served as the "convergence setter" for the 1983 3D film Rottweiler: Dogs from Hell, determining for each shot the optimal distance separating the two camera lenses. Previewing a scene from the film, technical staff from Universal were impressed by the stereoscopic imagery, but little else.[5]

He built a prototype of a flicker-free, field-sequential 3D display system and founded StereoGraphics Corporation in 1980 to fund development. The system worked by doubling the display rate of images, thereby overcoming a problem inherent in 3D motion picture projection, where each eye views only half the available images.[8] In 1989, he patented the active ZScreen polarization filter that uses a circularly polarized liquid crystal filter placed in front of a projector, which can then display both the left and right halves of a stereo pair. After Real D Cinema acquired StereoGraphics in 2005, the technology became the basis for the RealD cinema system.[9] As of 2017, the system was in use in more than 26,500 screens worldwide.[10] Lipton was the chief technology officer at RealD until 2009, when he left to do independent consulting.[11]

Lipton published his definitive treatment of the subject, Foundations of the Stereoscopic Cinema: A Study in Depth, in 1982.[12] In 2011, the International 3D Society gave him its Century Award for Lifetime Achievement.[13] As of 2015, he held 68 stereography-related patents.[2]


  • Independent Filmmaking (1972)
  • The Super 8 Book (1975)
  • Lipton on Filmmaking (1979)
  • Foundations of the Stereoscopic Cinema: A Study in Debth (1982)
  • The CrystalEyes Handbook (1991)
  • Puff, the Magic Dragon (Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton, 2007)


  1. ^ a b "Once a physicist: Lenny Lipton". IOP: Institute of Physics. July 2007. Retrieved 2017-11-11.
  2. ^ a b Chelin, Pamela (2015-02-03). "The Man Who Wrote "Puff, the Magic Dragon" Swears It's Not About Drugs". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  3. ^ "Lenny Lipton - NY Filmmaker's Coop". film-makerscoop.com. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  4. ^ Lipton, Lenny. "Lenny Lipton: Inventor, Author, Songwriter and Filmmaker". www.lennylipton.com. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  5. ^ a b Zone, Ray (2005). 3-D Filmmakers: Conversations with Creators of Stereoscopic Motion Pictures. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810854376.
  6. ^ Cohen, David S. (2016-04-14). "RealD at 10: 3D Giant Reinvents Itself to Serve All Screens". Variety. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  7. ^ Kung, Michelle (2011-07-14). "A 3-D Maven Weighs In". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  8. ^ Zone 2005 p. 25
  9. ^ Richardson, Martin (2013). Techniques and Principles in Three-Dimensional Imaging: An Introductory Approach. IGI Global. p. 94.
  10. ^ "RealD - Visual Technology". www.reald.com. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  11. ^ "At the Crossroads | Computer Graphics World". www.cgw.com. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  12. ^ Zone 2005 p 17
  13. ^ "International 3D Society Names Lenny Lipton Century Award Winner for Lifetime Achievement | Computer Graphics World". www.cgw.com. February 3, 2011. Retrieved 2017-12-28.

External links


1940 (MCMXL)

was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1940th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 940th year of the 2nd millennium, the 40th year of the 20th century, and the 1st year of the 1940s decade.

Flushing High School

Flushing High School is a four-year public high school in Flushing, in the New York City borough of Queens. The school is operated by the New York City Department of Education.

Lipton (surname)

Lipton is a surname, and may refer to:

Bruce Lipton (born 1944), American developmental biologist

Carwood Lipton (1920–2001), US Army officer and World War II veteran portrayed in Band of Brothers (TV miniseries)

Celia Lipton (1923–2011), British actress, singer and philanthropist

Ellen Lipton (born 1967), American lawyer and politician

Eric Lipton (contemporary), New York Times reporter

James Lipton (born 1926), American writer and poet

John Lipton (born 1936), American politician

Lawrence Lipton (1898–1975), American journalist, writer, and beat poet

Lenny Lipton (born 1940), American author, filmmaker and stereoscopic vision system inventor

Lew Lipton (1897–1961), American screenwriter

Lynne Lipton (contemporary), American actress

Marcus Lipton (1900–1978), British Labour Party politician

Martha Lipton (1913–2006), American operatic mezzo-soprano

Martin Lipton (born 1931), American lawyer

Michael Lipton (born 1937), British economist

Peggy Lipton (born 1946), American actress and socialite

Peter Lipton (1954–2007), American philosopher of science and epistemologist

Richard J. Lipton (born 1946), American computer scientist

Seymour Lipton (1903–1986), American abstract expressionist sculptor

Sydney Lipton (1905-1995), English bandleader

Sir Thomas Lipton (1848–1931), British merchant and yachtsman; created the Lipton tea brand

Zachary Lipton (born 1985), American jazz saxophonist, composer, and bandleader

List of Cornell University alumni

This list of Cornell University alumni includes notable graduates, non-graduate former students, and current students of Cornell University, an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York. Cornell counted 245,027 living alumni as of August 2008. Its alumni constitute 25 recipients of National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation combined, 33 MacArthur Fellows, 34 Marshall Scholars and 31 Rhodes Scholars, 231 elected members of the National Academy of Sciences, 174 elected members of the National Academy of Engineering, 190 plus heads of higher learning institutions in the United States and around the world, and Cornell is the only university with three female winners of unshared Nobel Prizes among its graduates (Pearl S. Buck, Barbara McClintock, and Toni Morrison). Many alumni maintain university ties through Homecoming's reunion weekend, through Cornell Magazine, and through the Cornell Club of New York. In 2005, Cornell ranked #3 nationwide for gifts and bequests from alumni. Alumni are known as Cornellians. Cornellians are noted for their accomplishments in public, professional, and corporate life.Fictional alumni have been portrayed in several films, television shows, and books. Characters include Andy Bernard of The Office, Natalie Keener of Up in the Air, and Christina Pagniacci (portrayed by Cameron Diaz) in Any Given Sunday.

List of The State episodes

This is a list of The State episodes.

Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War

Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War began with demonstrations in 1964 against the escalating role of the U.S. military in the Vietnam War and grew into a broad social movement over the ensuing several years. This movement informed and helped shape the vigorous and polarizing debate, primarily in the United States, during the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s on how to end the war.Many in the peace movement within the U.S. were students, mothers, or anti-establishment hippies. Opposition grew with participation by the African-American civil rights, women's liberation, and Chicano movements, and sectors of organized labor. Additional involvement came from many other groups, including educators, clergy, academics, journalists, lawyers, physicians (such as Benjamin Spock), and military veterans. Their actions consisted mainly of peaceful, nonviolent events; few events were deliberately provocative and violent. In some cases, police used violent tactics against peaceful demonstrators. By 1967, according to Gallup Polls, an increasing majority of Americans considered U.S. military involvement in Vietnam to be a mistake, echoed decades later by the then head of American war planning, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

Peter, Paul and Mommy

Peter, Paul and Mommy, released on Warner Bros. in 1969, is the trio Peter, Paul and Mary's first children's album. It contains hits like "Puff the Magic Dragon" among others. The single, "Day is Done", reached number 7 on the Easy Listening chart and number 21 on the Pop Singles chart.

At the Grammy Awards of 1970, Peter, Paul and Mommy won the Grammy Award for Best Album for Children.

Peter Yarrow

Peter Yarrow (born May 31, 1938) is an American singer and songwriter who found fame with the 1960s folk music trio Peter, Paul and Mary. Yarrow co-wrote (with Leonard Lipton) one of the group's greatest hits, "Puff, the Magic Dragon". He is also a political activist and has supported causes that range from opposition to the Vietnam War to the creation of Operation Respect, an organization that promotes tolerance and civility in schools.

Prime lens

In film and photography, a prime lens is a fixed focal length photographic lens (as opposed to a zoom lens), typically with a maximum aperture from f2.8 to f1.2. The term can also mean the primary lens in a combination lens system.

Confusion between these two meanings can occur if context doesn't make the interpretation clear. People sometimes use alternate terms—primary focal length, fixed focal length, or FFL to avoid ambiguity.

Puff, the Magic Dragon

"Puff, the Magic Dragon" (or "Puff") is a song written by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow, and made popular by Yarrow's group Peter, Paul and Mary in a 1962 recording released in January 1963.

Lipton wrote a poem in 1959; Yarrow found it and wrote the lyrics based on the poem. After the song was released, Yarrow searched for Lipton and gave him half-credit for the song.

RealD 3D

RealD 3D is a digital stereoscopic projection technology made and sold by RealD. It is currently the most widely used technology for watching 3D films in theaters (cinemas). Worldwide, RealD 3D is installed in more than 26,500 auditoriums by approximately 1,200 exhibitors in 72 countries as of June 2015.

Super 8 film

Super 8mm film is a motion picture film format released in 1965 by Eastman Kodak as an improvement over the older "Double" or "Regular" 8 mm home movie format.

The film is nominally 8mm wide, the same as older formatted 8mm film, but the dimensions of the rectangular perforations along one edge are smaller, which allows for a greater exposed area. The Super 8 standard also allocates the border opposite the perforations for an oxide stripe upon which sound can be magnetically recorded.

Unlike Super 35, the film stock used for Super 8 is not compatible with standard 8 mm film cameras.

There are several varieties of the film system used for shooting, but the final film in each case has the same dimensions. The most popular system by far was the Kodak system.


ZScreen is a push-pull electro-optical liquid crystal modulator that is placed immediately in front of the projector lens or computer screen to alternately polarize the light from each video frame. It circularly polarizes the frames clockwise for the right eye and counterclockwise for the left eye.

The RealD 3D system now showing in theaters is using the ZScreen that was invented by Lenny Lipton.

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