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Encyclopedia > Technicolor
Logo celebrating Technicolor's 90th Anniversary
Logo celebrating Technicolor's 90th Anniversary

Technicolor is the trademark for a series of color film processes pioneered by Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation (a subsidiary of Technicolor, Inc.), now a division of Thomson. Technicolor was the second major color film process, after Britain's Kinemacolor, and the most widely used color motion picture process in Hollywood from 1922 to 1952. Technicolor became known and celebrated for its hyper-realistic, saturated levels of color, and was used commonly for filming musicals (such as The Wizard of Oz and Singin' in the Rain), costume pictures (such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and Joan of Arc), and animated films (such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Fantasia). Image File history File links Technicolor-90th. ... Image File history File links Technicolor-90th. ... Color is an important part of the visual arts. ... Film is a term that encompasses individual motion pictures, the field of film as an art form, and the motion picture industry. ... This article concerns the media and entertainment company. ... Kinemacolor was the first successful color motion picture process, used commercially from 1908 to 1916. ... ... In semiotics and postmodern philosophy, Hyperrealism (not to be confused with surrealism) is a term to describe a symptom of an evolved, postmodern culture. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Singin in the Rain is a 1952 musical film starring Gene Kelly, Donald OConnor, and Debbie Reynolds and directed by Kelly and Stanley Donen, with Kelly also handling the choreography. ... The Adventures of Robin Hood is a 1938 film based on the Robin Hood legend. ... Joan of Arc is a 1948 film. ... Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. ... Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a 1937 animated feature, the first produced by Walt Disney Productions. ... Fantasia is a 1940 motion picture produced by Walt Disney. ...


The Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1915 by Dr. Herbert Kalmus, Dr. Daniel Comstock, and mechanic W. Burton Wescott. Nickname: City on the Hill, Beantown, Athens of America, The Hub (of the Universe)1 Location in Massachusetts, USA Counties Suffolk County  - Mayor Thomas M. Menino (D) Area    - City  89. ... Dr. Herbert Thomas Kalmus (born 9 November 1881, Chelsea, Massachusetts – died 11 July 1963, Los Angeles, California) was the co-founder and president of the The Technicolor Corporation. ...

Contents

About the Technicolor process

Shooting Technicolor footage, 1934-1954

Technicolor's advantage over most early, natural color processes was that it was a subtractive synthesis rather than an additive one. Technicolor prints could run on any projector; unlike other additive processes, it could represent colors clearly without any special projection equipment or techniques. More importantly, Technicolor held the best balance between a quality image and speed of printing, compared to other subtractive systems of the time. Subtractive color mixing An 1877 color photo by Louis Ducos du Hauron, a French pioneer of color photography. ... An additive color system involves light emitted directly from a source or illuminant of some sort. ...


The Technicolor Process 4 used colored filters, a beam splitter made from a thinly coated mirror inside a split-cube prism, and three strips of black-and-white film (hence the "three-strip" designation). The beam splitter allowed ⅓ of the light to shine straight through into a green filter and onto a strip of panchromatic black-and-white film, which registered the green part of the image. The other ⅔ of the light, reflected sideways by the mirror, went through a magenta filter to remove green light, exposed a layer of blue-sensitive orthochromatic film and then onto a red-sensitive strip of panchromatic stock. The "blue" and "red" films were layered into a "bipack". The "green" film was a separate strip. A beam splitter is an optical device, that splits a beam of light in two. ... If a shaft of light entering a prism is sufficiently small such that the coloured edges meet, a spectrum results In optics, a prism is a device used to refract light, reflect it or break it up (to disperse it) into its constituent spectral colours (colours of the rainbow). ... Panchromatic is a term describing a type of photographic film that is sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light. ... Orthochromatic refers to any spectrum of light that is devoid of red light. ... Panchromatic is a term describing a type of photographic film that is sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light. ...


To print the film, each colored strip had a print struck from it onto a light sensitive piece of gelatin film. When processed, "dark" portions of the film hardened, and light areas were washed away. The gelatin film strip was then soaked with a dye complementary to the color recorded by the film: cyan for red, magenta for green, and yellow for blue (see also: CMYK color model for a technical discussion of color printing). This does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


A single clear strip of black and white film with the soundtrack pre-printed was first treated with a mordant solution and then brought in contact with each of the three dye-soaked colored strips in turn, building up the complete color image. This process is referred to as "dye imbibition", a technique which was commonly used in conventional offset printing or lithography but which the Technicolor process utilized on film. The final strip of film would have the dyes soaked into its emulsion and not simply printed onto its surface. The end result was a bright and clear representation of natural color. Look up Mordant on Wiktionary, the free dictionary A mordant is a substance used to set dyes. ... Offset lithography printing process Offset printing is a widely used printing technique where the inked image is transferred (or offset) from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. ... Lithography stone and mirror-image print of a map of Munich. ...


Early in the process, the clear film would be pre-exposed with a 50 percent density black-and-white positive image derived from the green matrix. This process was used largely to cover up fringing in the early days of three-strip printing, and to print framelines that would otherwise be white. Because the layer was of neutral density, the contrast blacks in the picture was increased, but colors were muted to an extent. By the early 1940s, however, Technicolor streamlined the process to make up for these shortcomings and this practice ceased.


History of Technicolor

Two-color Technicolor

Technicolor originally existed in a two-color (red and green) system. In Process 1 (1917), a prism beam-splitter behind the camera lens exposed two adjacent frames of a single strip of black and white negative film simultaneously, one behind a red filter, the other behind a green filter. Because two frames were being exposed at the same time, the film had to be photographed and projected at twice the normal speed. Exhibition required a special projector with two apertures (one with a red filter and the other with a green filter), two lenses, and an adjustable prism that aligned the two images on the screen. Technicolor itself produced the only movie made in Process 1, The Gulf Between, which had a limited tour of Eastern cities, primarily to interest motion picture producers and exhibitors in color. The near-constant need for a technician to adjust the projection alignment doomed this additive color process. The RG color space can produce shades of red, green, and yellow. ... See also: 1916 in film 1917 1918 in film years in film film Events Technicolor is introduced Top grossing films Cleopatra Movies released Movies released in 1917 include: The Adventurer, a Charlie Chaplin short. ... The Gulf Between was the first motion picture made in Technicolor, the third feature-length color movie, and the first feature-length color movie produced in the United States. ...

 Screenshot from the Technicolor picture The Toll of the Sea (1922)
Screenshot from the Technicolor picture The Toll of the Sea (1922)

Technicolor became a subtractive color process with Process 2 (1922) (cited by academics originally as "two strip" Technicolor, although the term is erroneously used for Technicolor's first three formats). As before, the special Technicolor camera used a prism beam-splitter to expose simultaneously two adjacent frames of a single strip of black and white film, one behind a green filter and one behind a red filter. The difference came in the creation of the print. The frames exposed behind the green filter were printed on one strip of black and white film, and the frames exposed behind the red filter were printed on another strip. The "green" positive was then toned red and the "red" positive was toned green, thereby coloring each positive with their complementaries to the negative. The two strips, made of film stocks thinner than regular film, were then cemented together base to base to create a projection print. The Toll of the Sea debuted on November 26, 1922 as the first general release film to use Technicolor. Image File history File linksMetadata Anna_May_Wong_holds_child_in_The_Toll_of_the_Sea. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Anna_May_Wong_holds_child_in_The_Toll_of_the_Sea. ... The Toll of the Sea is a motion picture produced by the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation, and released by Metro Pictures in 1922, featuring Anna May Wong in her first leading role. ... See also: 1921 in film 1922 1923 in film 1920s in film years in film film Events November 26 - Toll of the Sea debuts as the first general release film to use two-tone Technicolor (The Gulf Between was the first film to do so but it was not widely... An example of light amber tinting and blue toning. ... The Toll of the Sea is a motion picture produced by the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation, and released by Metro Pictures in 1922, featuring Anna May Wong in her first leading role. ... November 26 is the 330th day (331st on leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1922 (MCMXXII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar). ...

Frame enlargement of a Technicolor segment from The Phantom of the Opera (1925). The film was one of the earliest uses of the process on interior sets, and demonstrated its versatility.
Frame enlargement of a Technicolor segment from The Phantom of the Opera (1925). The film was one of the earliest uses of the process on interior sets, and demonstrated its versatility.

The second all-color feature in this process, Wanderer of the Wasteland, was released in 1924. Process 2 was also used for color sequences in such major motion pictures as The Ten Commandments (1923), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), and Ben-Hur (1925). Douglas Fairbanks' The Black Pirate (1926), became the fourth feature to be filmed entirely in Technicolor. Faith of Millions (1927), a religious documentary, was the fifth silent silent feature to be photographed entirely in Process 2. The first sound Technicolor feature (with a synchronized sound track and sound effects) was The Cavalier (1928), which was also the last feature to be photographed in Process 2. Image File history File linksMetadata Phantomtechnicolor. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Phantomtechnicolor. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Wanderer of the Wasteland is a 1924 silent western film. ... The Ten Commandments is a 1923 epic silent film directed by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Theodore Roberts as Moses, Charles de Rochefort as Pharaoh Rameses, Estelle Taylor as Miriam the sister of Moses, and James Neill as Aaron, the brother of Moses. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Ben-Hur is the second silent film, and first feature-length version, based on the novel Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace. ... Douglas Fairbanks Douglas Fairbanks (May 23, 1883 – December 12, 1939) was an American actor, screenwriter, director and producer, who became noted for his swashbuckling roles in silent movies such as The Mark of Zorro (1920), The Three Musketeers (1921), Robin Hood (1922), The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and The Black... The Black Pirate is a 1926 adventure silent film shot entirely in Technicolor which tells the story of a young nobleman who infiltrates a ship full of pirates to avenge his fathers death. ... The Cavalier is a 1928 Technicolor Western directed by Irvin Willat for Tiffany Studios. ...


Although successful commercially, Process 2 had technical problems of its own: the film images on the two cemented matrices did not share the same plane sometimes creating a soft focus, depending on the depth of field of the projector's optics. More destructively, the uneven thickness of the film would cause it to cup irregularly, taking it further out of focus and damaging the film. The presence of the image on both sides of the print could lead to twice the amount of scratches being visible onscreen with normal wear. Prints would buckle as the strip of celluloid nearest the light would contract from the heat, and a great amount of light was needed to project an early Technicolor film.[1] Splicing became difficult as both emulsions had to be scraped before applying cement, and the irregular thickness of the base could cause splices that were either too heavy or too weak, breaking the film as it went through the projector. Technicolor had to print up replacement reels that were constantly being shipped between its Boston, Massachusetts plant and exhibitors, with the buckled prints being ironed out by Technicolor employees before being shipped back on the exhibition circuit. An example of very shallow depth of field in a macro photograph. ... Nickname: City on the Hill, Beantown, Athens of America, The Hub (of the Universe)1 Location in Massachusetts, USA Counties Suffolk County  - Mayor Thomas M. Menino (D) Area    - City  89. ...

On with the Show (1929), the first all-color, all-talking picture
On with the Show (1929), the first all-color, all-talking picture

Based on the printing technique created by Max Handschiegl, Technicolor Process 3 (1928) was developed to eliminate the projection print made double-cemented prints, in favor of a print created by a process similar to lithography called dye-imbibition. The Technicolor camera for Process 3 was identical to that for Process 2, simultaneously photographing two adjacent frames of black and white film behind red and green filters. Every other frame of the camera negative was printed onto one strip of blank film (or "matrix") to create a red record, and the remaining frames were printed onto a second strip of blank film to create a green record. These matrices were coated with a gelatin that hardened in relation to the amount of light that struck it from the negative. The softer gelatin was then washed off the matrix, leaving a relief image created by the hardened gelatin. The matrices were floated in dye baths of complementary colors — the strip containing the red record was dyed green, and the strip containing the green record was dyed red — in which the gelatin would absorb the dye. The thicker the gelatin, the more dye it absorbed. The matrices were then placed in contact with a third, blank strip of film (coated with a substance to absorb dye), and the dye was transferred from the matrices to the new print. Image File history File linksMetadata OnWithTheShow3. ... Image File history File linksMetadata OnWithTheShow3. ... The Handschiegl color process was a stencil color technique used on motion picture film to give the effect of real color. ... See also: 1927 in film 1928 1929 in film 1920s in film years in film film // Events Although some movies released in 1928 had sound, most were still silent. ... Lithography stone and mirror-image print of a map of Munich. ...

The first sound Technicolor cartoon was a Flip the Frog cartoon called Fiddlesticks (1930).
The first sound Technicolor cartoon was a Flip the Frog cartoon called Fiddlesticks (1930).

The first feature made entirely in the Technicolor Process 3 was The Viking (1928), which had a synchronized score and sound effects. Redskin (1929), with a synchronized score, and The Mysterious Island (1929), a part-talkie, were photographed almost entirely in this process also but included some sequences in black and white. The following talkies were made entirely in Technicolor Process 3: On with the Show! (1929) (the first all-talking color feature), Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929), The Show of Shows (1929), Sally (1929), The Vagabond King (1930), Follow Thru (1930), Golden Dawn (1930), Hold Everything (1930), The Rogue Song (1930), Song of the Flame (1930), Song of the West (1930), The Life of the Party (1930), Sweet Kitty Bellairs (1930), The Bride of the Regiment (1930), Mamba (1930), Whoopee! (1930), King of Jazz (1930), Under a Texas Moon (1930), Bright Lights (1930), Viennese Nights (1931), Woman Hungry (1931), Kiss Me Again (1931) and Fifty Million Frenchmen (1931). In addition, scores of features were released with Technicolor sequences. Numerous short subjects were also photographed in Technicolor Process 3, including the first color sound cartoons by producers such as Ub Iwerks and Walter Lantz. Song of the Flame became the first color movie to use a widescreen process (using a system known as the Vitascope which used 65mm film). Image File history File links Fiddlesticks. ... Image File history File links Fiddlesticks. ... Flip the Frog and his girlfriend. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Redskin 1929 is a feature film with a Synchronized Score and Sound Effects that was photographed partially in Technicolor. ... The Mysterious Island, directed by Lucien Hubbard, is the 1929 film adaptation of Jules Vernes French novel LÎle mystérieuse (The Mysterious Island), published in 1874. ... Madeline and Marion Fairbanks dancing. ... opening number - Song of the Gold Diggers. ... Chinese Fantasy number. ... The Wild Rose number. ... The Vagabond King is a 1930 musical operetta film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... Follow Thru is a 1930 musical comedy film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... Golden Dawn is a 1930 musical operetta film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... Hold Everything 1930 is an All-Talking musical comedy that was photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... Lawrence Tibbett singing a love song to Catherine Dale Owen in The Rogue Song. ... Song of the Flame is a 1930 musical operetta film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... Advertisment for the film. ... The Life of the Party is a 1930 musical comedy film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... Sweet Kitty Bellairs is a 1930 musical comedy film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... The Bride of the Regiment is a 1930 musical operetta film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... Mamba is a Tiffany Pictures production, directed by Albert S. Rogell. ... Whoopee! is a Broadway musical comedy which debuted on 4 December 1928. ... King of Jazz is a motion picture starring Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra (Whitemans nickname was The King of Jazz, hence the films name). ... Under A Texas Moon is a 1930 musical western film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... An editor has expressed a concern that the subject of the article does not satisfy one of the guidelines for inclusion on Wikipedia on one of the following topics: If you are familiar with the subject matter, please expand the article to establish its notability, citing reliable sources. ... Viennese Nights is a 1930 musical operetta film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... Woman Hungry is a 1931 musical western film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... Kiss Me Again is a 1931 musical operetta film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... Fifty Million Frenchmen is a 1931 musical comedy film photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... A publicity photograph (circa 1929) of Ub Iwerks and his most famous co-creation, Mickey Mouse. ... Walter Lantz in 1983, with painting of Woody Woodpecker Walter Lantz (April 27, 1900 – March 22, 1994) was an American cartoonist and animator, best known for founding the Walter Lantz Studio and creating Woody Woodpecker. ...

Revue sequence from Glorifying the American Girl (1929). Although the two color process could not reproduce a true blue, it could produce a pleasing turquoise color.
Revue sequence from Glorifying the American Girl (1929). Although the two color process could not reproduce a true blue, it could produce a pleasing turquoise color.

In 1931, a new Technicolor process was developed which removed grain from the Technicolor film and resulted in a more vivid and vibrant color.[2] This process was first used on a Radio Picture entitled: The Runaround (1931). The new process not only improved the color but also removed specks (that looked like bugs) from the screen, which had previously blurred outlines and lowered visibility. This new improvement along with a reduction in cost (from 8.85 cents to 7 cents per foot) led to a new color revival.[3] Warner Bros. led the way once again by producing three features (out of an announced plan for six features) in the new process: Manhattan Parade (1932), Doctor X (1932) and Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933). Radio Pictures followed by announcing plans to make four more features in the new process.[4] Only one of these, Fanny Foley Herself (1931), was actually produced. Although Paramount announced plans to make eight features and MGM promised two color features, these never materialized.[5] This seems to have been as a result of the lukewarm reception of the public to these new color pictures. Two independently produced features were also produced in this improved Technicolor process: Legong: Dance of the Virgins (1934) and Kliou the Tiger (1935). Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... Glorifying the American Girl is a 1929 musical comedy film produced by Florenz Ziegfeld and highlighting his Ziegfeld Follies girls. ... The Runaround (1931) is an All-Talking comedy drama that was photographed entirely in Technicolor. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Doctor X is a First National/Warner Bros. ... Fay Wray and Glenda Farrell in Mystery of the Wax Museum Mystery of the Wax Museum is a mystery/horror All-Technicolor film from 1933, directed by Michael Curtiz for Warner Brothers, starring Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, and Glenda Farrell. ...


Very few of the original camera negatives of movies made in Technicolor Process 2 or 3 survive. In the late 1940s, most were discarded from storage at Technicolor in a space-clearing move, after the studios declined to reclaim the materials. Those that survived into the 1950s were often used to make black and white prints for television and simply discarded thereafter. This explains why so many early color films exist today solely in black and white.


Warner Bros., which had vaulted from an extremely minor exhibitor to a major studio by its introduction of the talkies, latched onto Technicolor as the next big thing. Other producers followed the Warner Bros. example by making features in color, with either Technicolor or one of its competitors, such as Brewster Color and Multicolor (later Cinecolor). However, the aspect of color did not increase the number of audiences to the point where it was economical. This, and the Great Depression severely strained movie studios' finances, and spelled the end of the first Technicolor boom. Warner Bros. ... A sound film (or talkie) is a motion picture with synchronized sound, as opposed to a silent movie. ... Multicolor is a subtractive natural color process for motion pictures. ... Cinecolor is an early subtractive color-model two color film process, based upon the Multicolor system of the 1920s. ... The Great Depression was a global economic slump that began in 1929 and bottomed in 1933. ...


Three-strip Technicolor

Development and introduction

Prediction from 1930 that states that the year would see color take over films just as sound had in 1929
Prediction from 1930 that states that the year would see color take over films just as sound had in 1929

As early as 1924, Technicolor envisioned a full-color process, and by 1929, the company was actively developing such a process. Hollywood made so much use of Technicolor in 1929 and 1930, that many believed that Hollywood would soon be turning out color films exclusively. By 1931, the Great Depression took its toll on the movie industry, and they began to cut back on expenses. The production of color films had decreased dramatically by 1932, when Technicolor unveiled its first three-color process in an attempt to entice the movie studios. Light passed through the lens where it was broken down into magenta and green light by a beam splitter and filters. The green record was recorded on one film strip, and then the magenta light was further broken down by two bi-pack strips sensitized to red and blue light. This process accurately reproduced the full color spectrum and optically printed using a dye-transfer process in cyan, magenta and yellow. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1023x1590, 379 KB) Page from the Film Daily Yearbook for 1930 This image is of a book cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned either by the artist who created the cover or the publisher of the book. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1023x1590, 379 KB) Page from the Film Daily Yearbook for 1930 This image is of a book cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned either by the artist who created the cover or the publisher of the book. ... The Great Depression was a time of economic down turn, which started after the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday. ...


Kalmus convinced Walt Disney to shoot one of his Silly Symphony cartoons Flowers and Trees (1932) in Process 4, the new "three-strip" process. Seeing the potential in full-color Technicolor, Walt Disney negotiated a two-year exclusive contract for the use of the process. Competitors such as the Fleischer Studios and the Ub Iwerks studio were shut out — they had to settle for either the two-color Technicolor systems or use a competing process such as Cinecolor. For the company founded by Disney, see The Walt Disney Company. ... Silly Symphonies is a series of cartoons made by Walt Disney Productions. ... Flowers and Trees was the first animated cartoon to be produced in the full-color three-strip Technicolor process. ... For the company founded by Disney, see The Walt Disney Company. ... Fleischer Studios, Inc. ... A publicity photograph (circa 1929) of Ub Iwerks and his most famous co-creation, Mickey Mouse. ... Cinecolor is an early subtractive color-model two color film process, based upon the Multicolor system of the 1920s. ...


Flowers and Trees was a success with audiences and critics alike, and won the first Academy Award for Animated Short Film. The next Silly Symphonies to be shot with the process, Three Little Pigs, engendered such a positive audience response that it overshadowed the features it played with. Hollywood was buzzing about color film again. According to Fortune magazine, "Merian C. Cooper, producer for RKO Radio Pictures and director of King Kong, saw one of the Silly Symphonies and said he never wanted to make a black and white picture again." This class was known as Short Subjects, cartoons from 1932 until 1970, and as Short Subjects, animated films from 1971 to 1973. ... Three Little Pigs is an animated short film released on May 27, 1933 by United Artists, produced by Walt Disney and directed by Burton Gillett. ... ... Fortune magazine is Americas second longest-running business magazine after Forbes magazine. ... Merian C. Cooper Merian Caldwell Cooper (October 24, 1893, Jacksonville, Florida, USA — April 21, 1973, San Diego, California, USA, died of cancer) was an American aviator, American Air Force and Polish Air Force officer, adventurer, director, screenwriter and producer. ... The classic logo of RKO Radio Pictures. ... King Kong battles a pterosaur in the original 1933 version. ...


Although Disney's earliest Technicolor cartoons utilized the general three-strip camera, an improved process was adopted in 1934 solely for cartoon work: the camera would contain one strip of black and white negative film, and each animation cel would be photographed three times, on three sequential frames, behind alternating red, green, and blue filters. Three separate dye transfer printing matrices would be created from the red, green, and blue records in their respective additive colors, cyan, magenta and yellow.


Convincing Hollywood

The Wizard of Oz, filmed in 3-strip Technicolor
The Wizard of Oz, filmed in 3-strip Technicolor

The studios were willing to adopt three-color Technicolor for live-action feature production, if it could be proved viable. Shooting three-strip Technicolor required very bright lighting, as the film had an extremely slow speed of ASA 5. That, and the bulk of the cameras and a lack of experience with three-color cinematography made for skepticism in the studio board rooms. Image File history File links WizardOfOzTechnicolor. ... Image File history File links WizardOfOzTechnicolor. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Film speed is the measure of a photographic films sensitivity to light. ... Cinematography [Greek: kine (movement) and graphos (writing)], is the discipline of making lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for the cinema. ...


Fortune magazine's October 1934 article stressed that Technicolor, as a corporation, was rather remarkable in that it kept its investors quite happy despite the fact that it had only been in profit twice in all of the years of its existence, during the early boom at the turn of the decade. A well-managed company, half of whose stock was controlled by a clique loyal to Kalmus, Technicolor never had to cede any control to its bankers or unfriendly stockholders. In the mid-'30s, all the major studios except MGM were in the financial doldrums, and a color process that truly reproduced the visual spectrum was seen as a possible shot-in-the-arm for the ailing industry.


Live-action use of three-strip Technicolor was first seen in a musical number of the M-G-M feature The Cat and the Fiddle, released 16 February 1934. On 5 August 1934, Warner Brothers released the comedy short, Good Morning, Eve! in three-strip Technicolor. Pioneer Pictures, a movie company formed by Technicolor investors, produced the film usually credited as the first live-action short film shot in the three-strip process, La Cucaracha released 31 August 1934. La Cucaracha is a two-reel musical comedy that cost $65,000, approximately four times what an equivalent black-and-white two-reeler would cost. Released by RKO, the short was a success in introducing the new Technicolor as a viable medium for live-action films. The three-strip process also was used in some short sequences filmed for several movies made during 1934, including the final sequences of The House of Rothschild (20th Century Pictures/United Artists) with George Arliss and Kid Millions (Samuel Goldwyn Studios) with Eddie Cantor. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... February 16 is the 47th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1934 (MCMXXXIV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... August 5 is the 217th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (218th in leap years), with 148 days remaining. ... 1934 (MCMXXXIV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... Warner Bros. ... Short subject is an American film industry term that historically has referred to any film in the format of two reels, or approximately 20 minutes running time, or less. ... A contemporary corrido song sheet of La cucaracha issued during the Mexican Revolution. ... August 31 is the 243rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (244th in leap years), with 122 days remaining. ... 1934 (MCMXXXIV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... RKO could stand for: RKO Pictures The R.K.O. - finishing manoever (and initials) of WWE professional wrestler Randy Orton. ... The House of Rothschild is a 1934 film which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. ... Twentieth Century Pictures was a Hollywood motion picture production company created in 1932 by Joseph Schenck, the former president of United Artists, Darryl F. Zanuck from Warner Brothers, and William Goetz from Fox Films. ... The current United Artists logo (a variant was used during the 1980s). ... George Arliss (10 April 1868- 5 February 1946) was a British actor. ... Plot details Spoiler warning: The story features Eddie, a kid from Brooklyn, who suddently inherits $77 million dollars from his lost father, an archeologist that had looted Egypt of its treaures. ... // Samuel Goldwyn (July, 1879, Warsaw, Poland – January 31, 1974, Los Angeles, California, United States) was a widely known motion picture producer and founding contributor of several motion picture studios. ... Eddie Cantor in the 1920s Eddie Cantor (January 31, 1892 - October 10, 1964) was a comedian, singer, actor, songwriter, and one of the most popular entertainers in the United States of America in the early and middle 20th century. ...


Pioneer/RKO's Becky Sharp (1935) became the first feature film photographed entirely in three-strip Technicolor. Initially, three-strip Technicolor was only used indoors; then, in 1936, Trail of the Lonesome Pine became the first production to have outdoor sequences, with impressive results. The spectacular success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), which was released in December 1937 and became the top-grossing film of 1938, caused the studios to sit up and take notice. RKO could stand for: RKO Pictures The R.K.O. - finishing manoever (and initials) of WWE professional wrestler Randy Orton. ... The 1935 film Becky Sharp, based on the novel Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, tells the story of a lower-class girl who insinuates herself into an upper class family, only to see her life and the lives of those around her destroyed. ... See also: 1934 in film 1935 1936 in film 1930s in film years in film film Events Judy Garland signs a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). ... A reel of film, which predates digital cinematography. ... The Trail of the Lonesome Pine is a 1908 romance novel/western novel written by John Fox, Jr. ... Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a 1937 animated feature, the first produced by Walt Disney Productions. ... See also: 1936 in film 1937 category:1937 films 1938 in film 1930s in film years in film film // Events April 16 - Way Out West premieres in the US. May 7 - Shall We Dance premieres in the US. Top grossing films Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Conquest Damaged Lives...


Problems and difficulties

One major drawback of Technicolor's 3-strip process was that it required a special, bulky, and very heavy Technicolor camera. Film studios could not purchase Technicolor cameras, only rent them for their productions, complete with a number of camera technicians and a "color supervisor" to make sure sets, costumes and make-up circumvented any limitations imposed by the system. More often than not on many early productions, the supervisor was Natalie Kalmus, ex-wife of Herbert Kalmus and part owner in the company. Natalie Kalmus (neé Dunfee, 1878 - November 15, 1965), was the wife of Technicolor founder Herbert T. Kalmus from July 23, 1902 to June 22, 1922, although they continued to live together until 1944. ...


The process of splitting the image reduced the amount of light that reached the film stock. Since the film speed of the stocks used in the camera were fairly slow, early Technicolor productions required an additional amount of lighting than a black and white production. It is reported that temperatures on the film set of The Wizard of Oz frequently exceeded 100 °F (38 °C), and as a result some of the more heavily costumed characters required a large water intake to replace loss by perspiration. Some actors and actresses claimed to have suffered permanent eye damage from the high levels of illumination. Film speed is the measure of a photographic films sensitivity to light. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


Because of the added lighting and triple amount of film necessary, Technicolor's productions demanded a high budget film for its usage.


The introduction of Eastman color and decline

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, an example of Technicolor filming in 1950s Hollywood.

Color film processes that recorded all three primary colors on one strip of camera film had been developed for amateur film gauges (16 mm and 8 mm) in the 1930s by Agfa in Germany and Eastman Kodak in the United States. Technicolor introduced Monopack, a single-strip color reversal film (actually a 35 mm version of Kodachrome) in 1941 for specialized uses on location where the bulky three-strip camera would be impractical, but the higher grain of the image made it unsuitable for studio work. Image File history File links Gentlemen_Prefer_Blondes_Movie_Trailer_Screenshot_(34). ... Image File history File links Gentlemen_Prefer_Blondes_Movie_Trailer_Screenshot_(34). ... Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a novel written by Anita Loos that was published in 1925, a Broadway play produced in 1926, a Broadway musical produced in 1949, which Loos also wrote the book for, and two motion pictures. ... ... Agfa was a company which produced a range of photographic products including films, photographic papers and cameras. ... Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE: EK) is an American multinational public company producing photographic materials and equipment. ... A single slide, showing a color transparency in a plastic frame In photography, a reversal film is a still, positive image created on a transparent base using photochemical means. ... Kodachrome (also known as Tripack) is a brand of color transparency (slide) film sold by Kodak. ...


Eastman Kodak introduced its first 35 mm color negative film in 1950, and then in 1952 an improved version of a quality suitable for Hollywood production. This change meant that Technicolor prints could be struck from a single camera negative exposed in a standard camera. Foxfire (1955), filmed in 1954 by Universal, starring Jeff Chandler, was the last American-made feature photographed with a Technicolor three-strip camera. Look up universal in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Jeff Chandler can refer to different people: Jeff Chandler: a cinema actor Jeff Chandler: a boxer This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...


In 1953, Eastman Kodak also introduced a high-quality color print film, allowing studios to produce prints through standard photographic processes as opposed to having to send them to Technicolor for the expensive dye imbibition process. That same year, the Technicolor lab adapted its dye transfer process to derive matrices and imbibition prints directly from Eastmancolor negatives. In the case of post-1953 Technicolor movies, the dye transfer release prints never faded, whereas the color negatives from which they were derived, the cyan record faded in as little as five years.


The same year, Technicolor unveiled their own stereoscopic camera rig for the ever-growing demand of 3-D films. The rig utilized two three-strip cameras, running a total of six strips of film at once (three for the left eye and three for the right). Only two films were shot with this camera set-up: the Nat Holt production of Flight to Tangier with Jack Palance, Joan Fontaine, and Corinne Calvet, and the Hal Wallis production of Money From Home, starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Previously a similar, but different system had been used by a different company, utilizing two three-strip cameras side-by-side for a short called Royal River. Stereoscopy, stereoscopic imaging or 3-D (three-dimensional) imaging is a technique to create the illusion of depth in a photograph, movie, or other two-dimensional image, by presenting a slightly different image to each eye. ... This US Postage Stamp celebrates the 3-D movie craze of the 1950s. ... Jack Palance, (born Volodymyr Palanyuk (Ukr: Володимир Паланюк))on February 18, 1919, in Hazle Township, Pennsylvania, USA), is an Academy Award-winning American actor. ... Joan Fontaine (born October 22, 1917) is a Japanese-born British actress, who became an American citizen in April 1943. ... Corinne Calvet (real name: Corinne Dibos) (1925 – 2001) was a French actress who appeared mostly in American films. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


In 1954, Technicolor made reduction dye transfer prints of the large format VistaVision negative. Their process was also adapted for use with Todd-AO, Ultra Panavision 70 and Technirama formats. All of them were an improvement over the three-strip negatives since the negative print-downs generated sharper and finer grain dye transfer copies. A VistaVision 35 mm horizontal camera film frame. ... Todd-AO was a widescreen film format developed in the mid 1950s. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with MGM Camera 65. ... Technirama is a screen process that was used by some film production houses as an alternative to CinemaScope. ...

Foxfire - Last American film madein 3-strip Technicolor - 1954
Foxfire - Last American film made
in 3-strip Technicolor - 1954

Technicolor eventually fell out of favor in the United States as being too expensive and too slow in turning out prints. While paying audience numbers were decreasing, the number of movie screens in the US was increasing. And while dye-transfer printing yielded superior color printing, the number of high speed prints that could be struck in labs all over the country outweighed the fewer, slower number of prints that could only be had in Technicolor's labs. The last new American film released before Technicolor closed their dye plant was The Godfather, Part II (1974). Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (424x648, 160 KB) This image is of a film poster, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher of the film or the studio which produced the film in question. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (424x648, 160 KB) This image is of a film poster, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher of the film or the studio which produced the film in question. ... Al Pacino as Don Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II The Godfather, Part II is the 1974 sequel to The Godfather. ...


In 1975, the US dye transfer plant was closed and Technicolor became an Eastman-only processor. In 1977, the final dye-transfer printer left in Rome was used by Dario Argento to make prints for his horror film Suspiria. In 1980, the Italian Technicolor plant ceased printing dye transfer. The British line was shut down in 1978 and sold to Beijing Film and Video Lab in China. A great many films from China and Hong Kong were made in the Technicolor dye transfer process, including Zhang Yimou's Ju Dou and even one American film, Space Avenger (1989, director: Richard W. Haines). The Beijing line was shut down in 1993 for a number of reasons, largely due in part to inferior processing. Suspiria is a 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento, and co-written by Argento and actress Daria Nicolodi, whom Argento was romantically involved with at the time. ... Zhang Yimou (Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ;  ) (born November 14, 1951) is an internationally acclaimed Chinese filmmaker and one-time cinematographer. ... Ju Dou (Chinese: 菊豆; Pinyin: Jú Dòu; 1991) is a Chinese film directed by Zhang Yimou and Yang Fengliang (though it is almost universally considered to be a product of Zhangs vision as director) and starring Gong Li as the title character. ... See also: 1988 in film, other events of 1989, 1990 in film, list of years in film. // Events Actress Kim Basinger and her brother Mick purchase Braselton, Georgia for $20 million. ...


The Technicolor Corporation in the modern era

The Technicolor company remained a highly successful film processing firm and later became involved in video and audio duplication (CD, VHS and DVD manufacturing) and digital video processes. MacAndrews & Forbes Group acquired Technicolor, Inc. in 1982 for $100 million,[6] then sold it in 1988 to the British firm Carlton Communications PLC for $780 million.[7] Technicolor, Inc. acquired the film processing company Consolidated Film Industries in 2000.[8]. Technicolor is now part of Thomson. Carlton Communications plc was a former British media company, which was founded by Michael Green and listed on the London Stock Exchange from 1983 until 2 February 2004, when it merged with Granada plc, to form ITV plc. ... Consolidated Film Industries has been the leading film laboratory in the Los Angeles area for many decades. ... This is a list of film-related events in 2000. ... This article concerns the media and entertainment company. ...


Technicolor in archival work

Technicolor label on the Looney Tunes intro.

By the late 1990s the dye transfer process still had its advantages in the film archival community. Because the dye transfer process used stable aniline dyes, Technicolor prints are considered of archival quality. A Technicolor print from the dye transfer era will retain its original colors virtually unchanged for decades with proper storage, whereas Eastmancolor prints prior to 1983 would suffer color fading as a result of less stable photochemical dyes. Fading on some prints was so rapid that in many cases, after as little as ten years only the magenta record would remain on the film. Image File history File links Looney_Tunes. ... Image File history File links Looney_Tunes. ... Looney Tunes opening title Looney Tunes is a Warner Brothers animated cartoon series which ran in many movie theatres from 1930 to 1969. ... Aniline, phenylamine or aminobenzene (C6H5NH2) is an organic chemical compound which is a primary aromatic amine consisting of a benzene ring and an amino group. ...


Furthermore, Technicolor's negatives before 1954 were all on silver-based black and white stock, which stayed unaltered over the course of time. This has become of importance in recent years with the large market for films transferred to video formats for home viewing. The best color quality control for video transfer by far is achieved by printing from Technicolor negatives onto low-contrast Color Reversal Internegatives.


In 1997, Technicolor reintroduced the dye transfer process to general film production. It was also used on the restorations of films such as The Wizard of Oz, Rear Window, Funny Girl, and Apocalypse Now Redux. An article on the restoration of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (original version, 1977) claimed that a rare dye-transfer print of the movie, made for director George Lucas at the British Technicolor lab during its initial run, had been used as a color reference for the restoration. The article claimed that conventional color prints of the movie had all degraded over the years to the extent that no two had the same color balance. However, because of the variation in color balance per print, dye-transfer prints are used in the professional restoration world as only a rough guideline. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Rear Window (1954) is a motion picture directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on Cornell Woolrichs short story It Had to Be Murder (1942). ... Original cast album Funny Girl is a semi-biographical musical based on the life and career of Broadway and film star and comedienne Fanny Brice and her stormy relationship with entrepreneur and gambler Nicky Arnstein. ... Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American drama film set during the Vietnam War. ... This movie poster for Star Wars depicts many of the films important elements, such as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, X-Wing and Y-Wing fighters Star Wars, retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1981 (see note at Title,) is the original (and in chronological... George Walton Lucas, Jr. ...

Pearl Harbor, a rare example of a modern production to utilize dye transfer printing.
Pearl Harbor, a rare example of a modern production to utilize dye transfer printing.

Image File history File links Pearl-Harbour-SS.jpg This image is a screenshot from a copyrighted film, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by the studio which produced the film, and possibly also by any actors appearing in the screenshot. ... Image File history File links Pearl-Harbour-SS.jpg This image is a screenshot from a copyrighted film, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by the studio which produced the film, and possibly also by any actors appearing in the screenshot. ... Pearl Harbor is a war film released in the summer of 2001 by Touchstone Pictures. ...

Reintroduction of the dye transfer process

After its reintroduction in 1997, the dye transfer process was (somewhat unexpectedly) used in several big-budget, modern Hollywood productions. These included Bulworth, Pearl Harbor, and Toy Story. The distinct "look" this process achieves, often sought after by film makers looking to re-create the period of time at which Technicolor was at its most prominent, is difficult to obtain through conventional, high-speed printing methods and is one explanation for the enduring demand and credibility of the process. Much like American popular music, American cinema has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. ... Bulworth is an American film released in 1998, which was written, directed by, and starred Warren Beatty and co-starred Halle Berry. ... Pearl Harbor is a war film released in the summer of 2001 by Touchstone Pictures. ... Toy Story is a CGI animated feature film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution in the United States on November 22, 1995, and Australia on December 7, 1995, as well as in the United Kingdom on 22 March 1996. ...


While the color was rich and vibrant, there were many quality control problems, including contrast distortion, dye bleeding and emulsion flaking in projectors (resulting in damaged film and projector parts). Technicolor's speed at making prints was also economically unfit — 100 Eastman prints could be run off in the time that it took to make 1 quality dye-transfer print. Kodak's rival high-contrast format, VISION, soon won popularity with studios. It offered vibrant colors and rich, deep blacks, and took 1/100th of the time to print and process.


Technicolor was purchased by French company Thomson in 2001 from the British company Carlton Communications,[9] which discontinued the dye-transfer process the next year. This article concerns the media and entertainment company. ... Carlton Communications plc was a former British media company, which was founded by Michael Green and listed on the London Stock Exchange from 1983 until 2 February 2004, when it merged with Granada plc, to form ITV plc. ...


The visual aesthetic of dye transfer Technicolor continues to be used in Hollywood, usually in films set in the mid-20th century. Parts of The Aviator, the 2004 biopic of Howard Hughes, were digitally manipulated to imitate color processes that were available during the periods each scene takes place. The two-color look of the film is incorrectly cited as looking like Technicolor's two-color systems, and is in fact a facsimile of Hughes' own color system, Multicolor. The "three-strip" Technicolor look begins after the newsreel footage of Hughes making the first flight around the world. The Aviator is an Academy Award-winning 2004 biographical drama film, directed by Martin Scorsese. ... Multicolor is a subtractive natural color process for motion pictures. ...


Modern terminology

Technicolor's association with color filming is still so embedded in mass consciousness that it has become a term often genericized used to describe: A genericized trademark, generic trade mark, generic descriptor, or proprietary eponym, is a trademark or brand name which has become the colloquial or generic description for a particular class of product or service. ...

  • Many different films and genres (e.g., the "Technicolor Musical") produced while the Technicolor process was at its most prominent.
  • Used by many academics as a representative parallel between the escapist optimistic tone of films produced during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
  • As slang for anything in bright garish colors.
  • 3CCD camcorders are often erroneously referred to as filming "in Technicolor" due to the similarities to Process 4. This is, however, incorrect, as 3-Chip camcorders split light into red, green, and blue portions instead of magenta, cyan, and yellow.

The Golden Age of American animation is a period in American animation history that began with the advent of sound cartoons in 1928 and lasted into the 1960s when theatrical animated shorts slowly began losing to the new medium of television animation. ... Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - Broadway theater production promotional poster from 1991. ... 3CCD is a term used to describe an imaging system used used by some video camcorders. ...

References

  1. ^ Herbert Kalmus, "Technicolor Adventures in Cinemaland," Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, December 1938:
    Technicolor was still making the double-coated cemented together relief prints, so that the red and green images were not quite in the same plane, and the pictures didn't project too sharply on the screen This double-coated film is considerably thicker than ordinary black-and-white film, with emulsion on both sides which tends to make it cup more readily and scratch more noticeably than black-and-white film. And the cupping could occur in either direction, more or less at random. Judging from the complaints, at each such change in the direction of the cupping, the picture would jump out of focus.
  2. ^ Los Angeles Times, June 7, 1931, Page C9.
  3. ^ Los Angeles Times, June 7, 1931, Page C9; The Washington Post, September 11, 1931, Page 12; Los Angeles Times, July 9, 1931, Page A9.
  4. ^ Radio Pictures announced plans to make four color features under the titles of "The Runaround" (produced), "Babes in Toyland" (never produced), "Macheta" (never produced) and "Bird of Paradise" (changed to black and white).
  5. ^ MGM announced plans to make "The Merry Widow" in color and also to rework a revue called "The March of Time" with a storyline for release. The only Paramount feature that seems to have been announced was a picture called "Rose of the Rancho" which was to have starred Richard Arlen and Dolores Del Rio.
  6. ^ MACANDREWS & FORBES GROUP INC reports earnings for Qtr to Sept 30
  7. ^ FundingUniverse.com: Carlton Communications PLC
  8. ^ Technicolor Develops the Even Bigger Picture
  9. ^ Definitive agreement reached with Carlton Communications for the acquisition of Technicolor by Thomson Multimedia

Further reading

  • Fred E. Basten, Glorious Technicolor: The Movies' Magic Rainbow. Easton Studio Press, 2005. ISBN 0-9647065-0-4
  • Richard W. Haines, Technicolor Movies: The History of Dye Transfer Printing. McFarland & Company, 2003. ISBN 0-7864-1809-5
  • Paul Read. "A Short History of Cinema Film Post-Production (1896 — 2006)," in English, in: Joachim Polzer (editor). Zur Geschichte des Filmkopierwerks. (On Film Lab History). Weltwunder der Kinematographie. Beiträge zu einer Kulturgeschichte der Filmtechnik. Volume 8.2006. April 2006. 336 pages. (available through amazon.de) — ISBN 3-934535-26-7

See also

35 mm film frames from color film print (positive) with optical sound track (no digital sound tracks present). ... This is a list of film formats known to have been developed for shooting or viewing motion pictures since the development of such photographic technology towards the end of the 19th century. ... This is a list of color film formats known to have been developed for shooting or viewing color motion pictures since the development of such photographic technology towards the end of the 19th century. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Technicolor History 1 (783 words)
The "Tech" in Technicolor was derived from their association with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Technicolor camera recorded the red and blue-green images simultaneously through a single lens using a beam splitter and color filters to record the images stacked one on top of the other.
Technicolor used a railroad car for a portable lab which allowed the Boston based company to shoot on location and develop and print the product on the spot.
Encyclopedia4U - Technicolor - Encyclopedia Article (753 words)
Technicolor is a three-strip color film process pioneered in the 1930s by the Technicolor Corporation, a company created by the husband-and-wife team of Herbert and Natalie Kalmus.
Technicolor became widely known and celebrated for its hyper-realistic, saturated levels of color, and was used commonly for filming musicals (such as The Wizard of Oz and Singin' in the Rain).
Technicolor originally existed in a two-strip (red and blue/green) system, and then as a subtractive color system where the color information was carried directly onto the film and not projected through filters.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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