This database was created in 2012 and has been developed and curated by Barbara Flueckiger, professor at the Department of Film Studies, University of Zurich to provide comprehensive information about historical film color processes invented since the end 19th century including specific still photography color technologies that were their conceptual predecessors.
Timeline of Historical Film Colors is started with Barbara Flueckiger’s research at Harvard University in the framework of her project Film History Re-mastered, funded by Swiss National Science Foundation, 2011-2013.
In 2013 the University of Zurich and Swiss National Science Foundation awarded additional funding for the elaboration of this web resource. 80 financial contributors sponsored the crowdfunding campaign Database of Historical Film Colors with more than USD 11.100 in 2012. In addition, the Institute for the Performing Arts and Film, Zurich University of the Arts provided a major contribution to the development of the database. Many further persons and institutions have supported the project, see acknowledgements.
Since February 2016 the database has been redeveloped in the framework of the research project Film Colors. Technologies, Cultures, Institutions funded by a grant from Swiss National Science Foundation, see project details on SNSF grant database.
Follow the links “Access detailed information ›” to access the currently available detail pages for individual processes. These pages contain an image gallery, a short description, a bibliography of original papers and secondary sources connected to extended quotes from these sources, downloads of seminal papers and links. We are updating these detail pages on a regular basis.
In June 2015, the European Research Council awarded the prestigious Advanced Grant to Barbara Flueckiger for her new research project FilmColors. Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Aesthetics, see press release of the University of Zurich and short abstract on the university’s research database.
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The development of the project started in fall 2011 with stage 1. Each stage necessitated a different financing scheme. We are now in stage 3 and are looking for additional funding by private sponsors. Please use the Stripe interface to pay conveniently online or transfer your financial contribution directly to
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“40. KOMPOSITION IN BLAU, 1935, 35mm, colour, sound, 4 min
It the same time that Fischinger worked on cigarette and toothpaste commercials for profit, he worked on Komposition in Blau [Composition in Blue] for his own pleasure and delight in experimentation. Composition in Blue shares the same jolly atmosphere as the commercials, but whereas each of Fischinger’s previous films had utilized only one basic animation technique, Composition in Blue bursts forth with half a dozen different new techniques – mostly involving pixillation of three-dimensional forms – for which it was duly recognized by enthusiastic critical praise as well as world-wide popular success.
The basic format of the film centres around solid objects moving about in an imaginary blue room. Fischinger delights in setting up conditions so that the audience makes associations with probable or “real” everyday happenings, and then extending the analogy beyond the limits of possibility, bursting the bubble of the audience’s credulity. In the opening scene, Fischinger is careful to show the red cubes entering the “room” through a door, so we will identify with this as a plausible situation. Then he subtly introduces a mirror as the “floor” to the room, again gaining our confidence in this special but logical reality. Then at the climax of the film, a cylinder pounds on the mirror-floor and creates circular ripples as if the floor had suddenly liquified, something that pushes us, with a rush of delight, out of the realm of reality, into a joyous world of sheer, absurd fantasy. The symphonic latitudes of Otto Nicolai’s “Merry Wives of Windsor Overture” give Fischinger a further chance to explore a full range of sensations, from the incredible sensuous beauty of a yellow panel merely gliding slowly to the floor, to the startling swift flow of mosaic squares across a field, to the zany whirl of an abstracted weather-vane that always turns in precise rhythmic time, an image later borrowed by Harry Smith in one of his early abstractions.
Beyond the comic facade lies a “serious” discussion of some oriental philosophical issues regarding the yin-yang or male-female polarity principle. The rectangles function as mobile, three-dimensional, but non-regenerative (“male”) forms, while the circles are static, flat, but through their radiating, reproductive (“female”) forms. The circles gradually draw the rectangles into their creative rhythm, rounding them off in the process, until the phallic column becomes the instrument of new procreation at the climactic moment. This brilliant mixture of the mystic rhythms of concentric circles and the comic pomp of blustering cylinders makes this one of Oskar’s most satisfying and memorable creations.
The first answer print of Komposition in Blau was accepted in April, 1935, and the film was registered at 108 metres as No. 39267 on 10 May 1935. Several 35mm nitrate prints survived both in European and American archives. The Fischinger collection had three in excellent condition, from one of which Elfriede struck 35mm and 16mm safety internegatives with the help of the Creative Film Society in 1968. New preservation elements were made in 2000 by the Academy Film Archive.
At some of the early performances, Komposition in Blau was referred to as Lichtkonzert Nr. 1 [Light-Concert No. 1].”
(Moritz, William (2004): Optical Poetry. The Life and Work of Oskar Fischinger. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, on pp. 226–227.)
“Bevor Agfacolor 1939 für den Kinofilm eingeführt wurde, diente Gasparcolor zur Herstellung von Trick- und Werbefilmen. Agfa stellte seit 1933 dafür einen ebenfalls schon mehrschichtigen Kopierfilm her. Allerdings enthielten die Filmschichten im Unterschied zu Agfacolor fertige Farbstoffe, die motivgemäß bei der Entwicklung des Films abgebaut wurden (sogenanntes Silberfarbstoff-Bleichverfahren). Gasparcolor wurde in den I930er-Jahren auch in anderen europäischen Ländern für Kurzfilme benutzt.”
(Beyer, Friedemann; Koshofer, Gert; Krüger, Michael (2010): UFA in Farbe. Technik, Politik und Starkult zwischen 1936 und 1945. München: Collection Rolf Heyne, on p. 50.) (in German)
Kreise [Circles] was commissioned by the Tolirag advertising agency as a commercial for themselves. Working from the slogan, “Alle Kreise erfasst Tolirag” [Tolirag reaches all circles of society], Fischinger prepared a free-form composition for richly-coloured circles which radiate, fly, flash, interlink and surge past the viewer in triumphant bands. From a purely visual standpoint, it is one of Fischinger’s finest achievements. Every one of the 1000 animation paintings is an interesting art work in itself, prefiguring, say, Frank Stella’s serial work with coloured circles and arcs.
The first part of the film, synchronized with some of the Venusberg ballet music from Wagner’s Tannhauser was made with black-and-white images (charcoal and poster paint, like the studies) which were tinted with coloured filters during the printing process. In several cases there are three layers of images, and they overlap in interesting opaque and translucent combinations. The second part, synchronized to the ending of Grieg’s “Huldigungs March” from Sigurd Jorsalfar, was painted on paper with poster colours. In the original, these circles appeared against a white background, and the letters spelling “Alle Kreise Erfasst Tolirag” were intertwined among the circles during the last few seconds. This version, released in December 1933, caused a sensation, partly because it was probably the first European film made with a three-colour-separation process, and the resultant colours were much more brilliant and varied than those ever seen before. The film was further sold to several more companies in different countries who merely substituted their own firm name for “Tolirag”.”
(Moritz, William (2004): Optical Poetry. The Life and Work of Oskar Fischinger. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, on p. 220.)
Kreise [Circles] was commissioned by the Tolirag advertising agency as a commercial for themselves. Working from the slogan, “Alle Kreise erfasst Tolirag” [Tolirag reaches all circles of society], Fischinger prepared a free-form composition for richly-coloured circles which radiate, fly, flash, interlink and surge past the viewer in triumphant bands. From a purely visual standpoint, it is one of Fischinger’s finest achievements. Every one of the 1000 animation paintings is an interesting art work in itself, prefiguring, say, Frank Stella’s serial work with coloured circles and arcs.
In six months, all rights reverted to Fischinger, and he re-photographed the ending with retouched drawings so that the whole film would be purely abstract. In the process, he had the colours printed in negative, or reverse from how they had been in the earlier version, i.e. so that the circles move against a black background. The reversed colours are somewhat more balanced and orthodox than those in the advertisement, so Oskar probably planned ahead on this last reversed version as the definitive artwork. The abstract version was premièred in July 1934, despite the Nazi ban on abstract art, using the censorship approval number of the advertisement.
A 35mm safety negative was made by the Library of Congress in Washington, DC from an old print of the pure abstract version which Fischinger had loaned to Rebay who kept it in her collection, which later passed to the Guggenheim Foundation, then to the American Film Institute then to the Library of Congress.
Only one print of the original Tolirag ending survived among Fischinger’s films, and a safety negative from this is currently being used as a master for printing 16mm copies. The Fischinger estate contains several 35mm nitrate prints of the abstract version which were not properly copied until the Academy Film Archive prepared 35mm preservation materials in 2000. The best surviving GasparColor nitrate print was used for preservation of the abstract version. The Tolirag version was preserved by using a nitrate successive exposure negative for the second half, and using part of the abstract version for the first half.”
(Moritz, William (2004): Optical Poetry. The Life and Work of Oskar Fischinger. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, on pp. 220–221.)
Anders als beim angloamerikanischen Technicolor konnten Agfacolor-Negativfilme nämlich in jeder normalen Filmkamera aufgenommen werden und geschah das Kopieren wie bei Schwarzweiß auf einem entsprechenden Farbpositivfilm und nicht, wie bei Technicolor, in einem aufwändigen Druckprozess. Für farbige Kinofilme hatte die Agfa schon mit ihrem zweifarbigen Bipack-Verfahren (“Ufacolor”) und der Produktion der Gasparcolor-Kopierfilme reiche Erfahrungen sammeln können. In der Bipack-Kamera, wie sie auch in den USA für billige Filmproduktionen sogar noch bis 1954 benutzt wurde, wurden zwei Schwarzweißfilme gleichzeitig belichtet; einer war für die grünen Lichtanteile empfindlich, der andere für die roten.19
1931 war Bunte Tierwelt als erster farbiger Kulturfilm der Ufa im zweifarbigen Ufacolor entstanden. Ihm folgten zahlreiche Kurzfilme – jedoch lediglich in den für eine “natürliche” Farbwiedergabe unzulänglichen Grundfarben Rotorange und Blaugrün, mit denen sich nicht alle Farbtöne mischen ließen. Dagegen war Gasparcolor, benannt nach seinem Erfinder, dem ungarischen Arzt und Chemiker Dr. Bela Gaspar, schon dreifarbig. Dafür stellte Agfa seit 1933 die sogenannten Tripo-Filme her. Das waren dreischichtige Positivfilme mit fertig eingebetteten Farbstoffen, die zur bildmäßigen Darstellung chemisch abgebaut werden mussten (“Silberfarbstoff-Bleichverfahren”). Dank der Filmemacher Oskar und Hans Fischinger in Deutschland sowie George Pal, Humphrey Jennings und Len Lye in England entstanden beachtliche Trick- und Werbefilme in Gasparcolor.20 Mangels entsprechender Kameras wie der von Technicolor konnten jedoch keine realen Aufnahmen von Personen und Landschaften gedreht werden – Gasparcolor war ein reines Kopiermaterial. Eine Ausnahme davon war der Kurzfilm Colour on the Thames (England 1935), für den der Leiter des englischen Gasparcolor-Labors, Adrian Klein, eine Bipack-Kamera für die dreifarbige Aufnahme umgebaut hatte.
LITERATUR- UND QUELLENANGABEN
19 Gert Koshofer: COLOR Die Farben des Films (1988), S. 37ff.
20 Koshofer in 19, S. 49ff.”
(Beyer, Friedemann; Koshofer, Gert; Krüger, Michael (2010): UFA in Farbe. Technik, Politik und Starkult zwischen 1936 und 1945. München: Collection Rolf Heyne, on pp. 49–50.) (in German)
“There are three different films under the “Allegretto” umbrella. In 1936, Oskar was commissioned by Paramount to create an animation to Rainger’s Radio Dynamics score as the opening number for their feature Big Broadcast of 1937. Since Ernst Lubitsch had specifically mentioned Oskar as the filmmaker of Composition in Blue when Paramount telephoned him in Berlin to ask if he would come to Hollywood, Oskar assumed that they wanted him to produce something similar to Composition in Blue, and he designed a cel-animation that contained rather primary geometrical shapes, mostly in primary colours. When they informed him that no colour footage had been requisitioned, since the feature itself was all black-and-white, and his three-colour separation negative would just have to be printed in black-and-white, Oskar refused, quite logically, since the dark reds and greens and blues would all become the same black, with no differentiation, and consequently little dramatic tension. As far as we know, this negative was never printed. In 1941, with a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation, Oskar was able to buy it back from Paramount, but he painted a new set of cels and made a completely new film. The original nitrate Radio Dynamics three-colour separation masters which had been made at Paramount were printed in 2000 by the Academy Film Archive to create what is now known as the “early version” of Allegretto. The print of this first version is quite brilliant, and different from the later better-known version. The animation is simpler, with fewer background textures and elements, and the main figures are pure geometrical shapes, many like the cylinders of Composition in Blue, and in primary colours. It is nonetheless impressive, and surely would have been successful if Paramount had printed it in colour as a special episode in the feature.
The second version of Radio Dynamics was prepared in just a few weeks to meet the production deadline for the main feature. Oskar used a little bit of the abstract animation from his first version, but all the images are combined on one hand with additional animated patterns (e.g. overlapping concentric circles radiating inwards and outwards) and with special-effects of live-action elements: coffee cans bursting open, champagne bottles blowing their corks and pill bottles recapturing escaped pills through reverse printing, autos and streetcars and neon signs – and walking cigarettes. The result is lively and cute, and would have worked as an introduction to the main live-action comedy of the feature, but apparently it was not finished early enough to be previewed and okayed by key executives, although it was printed, and that black-and-white nitrate among Oskar’s films was transfered to a 16mm safety master, synched with the soundtrack, in 1971. The nitrate 35mm materials were preserved and printed by the Academy Film Archive in 2000.
The colour version that Oskar prepared for the Guggenheim grant in 1941, re-named Allegretto to please the Baroness Rebay who liked musical references, was largely a new film. Oskar re-painted most of the cels, adding in the concentric circle textures and other layering of images. Visually, Allegretto is very rich indeed. Fischinger’s fascination with the new (to him) technique of cel animation led him to experiment with multi-layered see-through constructions which are more diverse and complex on the surface than those in most of his other films. At the same moment, one sees a background pattern of two overlapping concentric radiating circles, comet-like figures, sparkling and stretching diamonds, a row of teeth-like triangles gliding down one side of the frame like a liberated soundtrack, and other sensuous or mechanized motifs, each moving independently. The colours are more diverse, California colours – the pinks and turquoise and browns of desert sky and sand, the orange of poppies and the green of avocados. The figures work themselves up into a brilliant and vigorous conclusion, bursting with “skyscrapers” and kaleidoscopes of stars and diamonds, and Hollywood art-deco of the 1930s. It is a celebration, plain and simple, of the American life style, seen fresh and clean through the exuberant eyes of an immigrant. Perhaps because of the supression of Allegretto and its subsequent revelation in 1941, it bears a strong influence on Radio Dynamics in form, colour and technique, with, however, a marked advance in structure and clarity in the latter work.”
(Moritz, William (2004): Optical Poetry. The Life and Work of Oskar Fischinger. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, on pp. 228–229.)
“35. MURATTI GREIFT EIN, 1934, 35mm, colour, sound, 3 min
Every syllable of extravagant praise which has been lavished on the colour Muratti ad is totally justified by the wonderful film – a creation of absolute delight. Here the pop-classic music – excerpts from Josef Bayer’s once popular ballet Die Puppenfee [The Dollfairy] – fits appropriately to the mad-cap antics of walking cigarettes.
Fischinger carefully builds up our sense of belief in this impossible world, first by ingeniously reinforcing its “reality” through the use of simulated tracking and boom shots which emphasize the depth and physical presence of the actions, and second by subtly introducing the cigarettes with gradated movements – walking, then marching, then dancing, then ice-skating – each of which is just a little bit more absurd than the last until finally we are willingly exploded into the grand closing image: crowds of cigarettes worshipping the rising sun that radiates their name, Muratti.
As an advertising film it is a supreme masterpiece, thoroughly convincing by being minimally didactic and maximally delightful. The message – the joys of cigarette smoking – are just quietly implicit in the images. And few people who have ever seen the film have forgotten Muratti Cigarettes.
The technique of animating the cigarettes is also one of Fischinger’s best ideas. Real cigarettes were used, with a toothpick inserted in one end. The acting surface was a turntable covered with a layer of kaolin-wax which was then sprinkled over with loose tobacco. For each movement every cigarette’s toothpick was stuck into the wax to hold it steady, then photographed one frame, then pulled up and reinserted in the wax, then another frame, etc.
This colour Muratti greift ein [Muratti Gets in the Act] film was released in April 1934, to thunderous acclaim, and was still playing a year later when Composition in Blue premièred.
The best surviving print of this film is in the collection of the Cinémathèque Suisse in Lausanne which received it in the 1970s from the estate of producer Julius Pinschewer. Freddy Buache at the Cinémathèque made a 35mm preservation negative, and gave Elfriede Fischinger a 35mm print for her collection. The Library of Congress has made a safety negative of good quality from one of the Guggenhem-Rebay prints, but the copy I have seen from this negative was missing the tail section, and I have no idea if that was a fault of the print or the original negative. The Fischinger estate contained several good 35mm nitrate prints, from which current rental and sales copies were being struck directly as reductions.”
(Moritz, William (2004): Optical Poetry. The Life and Work of Oskar Fischinger. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, on pp. 222–223.)
“The history of Technicolor and Walt Disney shows an extensive set of references to this Shakespearean comedy; conversely, the cultural ties between American audiences and British ones are presumably suggested in the film by the reference to this comedy insofar as it already embodied aspects of Disney’s association between Technicolor and fantasy (Basten, 48). The comedy’s remarkable staging of the invisible fairies, and the references to colour as a means of imagining their nearly constant ‘invisible’ presence on the stage, makes the world of fantasy and the world of reality cohabit on the same stage within the same time unit. The constant metamorphosis ensures our interest in fantasy world of little relevance to topical issues, a device which gives a subtext to the fantasy in Powell’s film, as is the case in The Wizard of Oz.
Basten, Fred E., Glorious Technicolor: The Movies’ Magic Rainbow, Cranbury (New Jersey): A.S. Barnes & Co., 1980.”
(Costa de Beauregard, Raphaëlle (2009): Technicolor and Jack Cardiff’s Art and Craft in Powell and Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death (1946). In: Raphaëlle Costa de Beauregard (ed.): Cinéma et couleur. Paris: M. Houdiard, pp. 225–236, on pp. 229–230.)
“GLORIOUS AGFACOLOR, BREATHTAKING TOTALVISION AND MONOPHONIC SOUND. COLOUR AND “SCOPE” IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA
The cinema industry was one of the first industries to become state-owned in post-war Czechoslovakia.1 Although state interference in film production, distribution and exhibition grew as the political climate of the cold war became increasingly tense, it did not stop Czechoslovak cinema from following technological changes which were happening abroad. However, isolation from the western world and political and economical dependence on the centre of socialist power in Soviet Russia caused considerable problems. Efforts to evolve independently inside the socialist block were affected by the growing internationalization, standardization and globalization of the cinema industry.
In this chapter I will examine how this tension between Soviet self-sufficiency and a global cinema market affected the adoption of colour in Czechoslovakian cinema in particular in relation to the change of colour process required by the adoption of widescreen. While the Czechoslovak film industry was content to use low-quality East-German colour film stock in the late 1940s, owing to the international adoption of widescreen it was forced to exchange it for Eastmancolor during the following decade. In this period therefore the necessity for technological change powered by the global industry overwhelmed the political realities of the Soviet system.
The first mainstream natural colour films were screened in Czechoslovakia well before 1945, including films utilizing various two-colour systems in the 1920s, American Technicolor productions in the 1930s and German Agfacolor films in the 1940s.2 Although there were minor independent experiments with colour in the period, and Czech workers helped during production of Agfacolor features at Barrandov studios in Prague during the war, regular colour production would start only after 1945.3
The particular character of the Czech film industry between the wars did not allow for the earlier proliferation of colour films. Since the mid 1920s the state would only licence charitable organizations to run cinemas, which discouraged entrepreneurship and meant that film production was not seen as a profitable enterprise and thus was never supported by banks or other private investors. In addition so many distribution companies were set up in the post-First-World-War period, flooding the market with hundreds of films from all over Europe and the U.S. every year, that they did not leave much space for domestic releases, nor did they enjoy long lives in this highly competitive atmosphere themselves (Heiss and Klimeš 2003: 303-320).
After 1945 on the other hand, the state-owned industry was provided financial protection by vertical integration and, on account of the German occupation of the Barrandov studios during the war, not only were experienced workers and fully equipped laboratories available, but also a limited supply of colour film stock. However, before Czechoslovak cinema ventured into its own colour production, it needed more experience, hosting Soviet colour production in the first few post-war years.4 But they could not wait long. Colour production was supposed to prove both the technological and the artistic maturity of the industry. As in other countries, the first attempts at colour cinema were made with short and nonfiction films, and from the latter half of 1945 colour stock was used prominently for both short and feature-length animation. While the focus on short films is understandable due to initial experimenting and high costs of colour stocky the choice of the animation genre not only copied foreign patterns, but also drew on the international reputation of Czechoslovak animation at the time, such as Jiří Trnka’s Animals and Bandits (Zvířátka a Petrovští, 1946) or The Christmas Dream (Vánoční sen, 1945), collaboration of Karel Zeman, Bořivoj Zeman and Hermína Týrlová, both in Festival de Cannes competition in 1946. The young state-owned industry was in need of reorganization and lacked modern equipment in both production and cinemas, as well as the support of domestic manufacturers of technology and film stock.
In such a situation, colour animated films seemed an ideal product to be exchanged for much needed foreign currency.5 For example, in 1947, thirteen out of seventeen short animated films were in colour, as was the only feature-length animated film produced that year, while only one feature out of eighteen and two out of fifty-three non-animated shorts were in colour. At the same time, only some of the films shot in colour were distributed as such at home, the colour copies being reserved for international festivals and the foreign market. The first live action feature film in colour, Jan Roháč of Dubá (Jan Roháč z Dubé, 1947), was made in 1947 and the production of colour films increased steadily every year until the mid-1950s. Even in the critical year of 1951, when only seven feature films were made in total, two of them were in colour.6 The 1950s were also marked by an interesting (but quite understandable) inclination of colour productions towards popular films in general and children’s movies in particular. Children’s and animated films were successful at international festivals and often sold abroad. They constituted prestige product, not only securing the foreign currency, but also showing both possibilities and abilities of the newly nationalized cinema industry, advertising the idea of socialism.
Before 1945, domestic manufacture of film stock was virtually nonexistent, and even in later years only a small amount of black-and-white positive material could be secured internally.7 Czechoslovakia thus depended on foreign supply. The negative colour film stock used well into the 1960s was East German Agfacolor, initially bought through the Soviet Union administration after 1945, and later directly from the Agfa factory in Wolfen (from the mid-sixties, the same stock was called Orwocolor). However, since the mid-1950s, the industry had been experimenting with stock by other European manufacturers and with Kodak products, looking for new and better colour material.
It is important to consider at this point how similar the background for decision-making mechanisms are when it comes to comparison of technological change in the nationalized cinema of a socialist country such as Czechoslovakia, and other cinemas governed by the free market. This is largely due to the nature of cinema as an industry. While in the late 1940s and early 1950s the cinemas of the East-European countries tended towards separatism, as did other industries, quite soon the need of at least partial success in the international market became obvious. Also, while Soviet and other socialist countries’ films were preferred by individual governments, tastes of the audiences in these countries did not differ much from those in the western world (Skopal 2009). Finally, although the main goal of the cinema was to educate the people in the ways of the new and future socialist world, economics constituted an inseparable force behind the control of the industry.
While shooting in colour was not without issues, screening colour films proved to be equally problematic. Firstly, the quality of the eastern Agfa stock was low. In various tests conducted in the period, Czechoslovak technicians found the definition of Agfacolor positive materials 50 per cent lower than that of Eastmancolor, while the sensitivity of the emulsion was uneven, sometimes in the same reel. Up to 10 per cent of the Agfacolor material was sent back to Wolfen as faulty every year. Reports from the period comment on the low quality of the colour stock causing problems during shooting and processing (Anon. 1955). Proof of this is evident in the poor colour saturation in scenes with lower intensity of light (for example night scenes) and changes of colour during dissolves which are visible on the surviving prints and recently released digital copies of some films. Second, domestic cinemas were very poorly equipped for the projection of colour films. Nation-wide surveys showed that some cinemas only had one projector and most of them had machines that were more than twelve years old. Even silent-era equipment, only later adjusted for sound screening, was not unusual. Old projectors were feared to be more likely to damage expensive colour copies during screenings. Furthermore, these projectors had very poor lighting properties. Not only did their optics absorb most of the light before casting it on a screen, but also the light sources were insufficient themselves, as were the reflective qualities of materials used to make screens. Before colour, even a dim projector light was enough: black-and-white films required less light to be sufficiently luminous and cinemas in Czechoslovakia were mostly small, with short distances between projector and screen.8 Screenings in larger venues, however, revealed the inadequacy of the machines.9 Not surprisingly, when reviewing projectors manufactured domestically after 1945, cinema representatives usually complained, about lamp houses and optical arrangement, which had the biggest effect on the light efficiency of the projector.
The survival of Czechoslovak cinema depended on foreign product and the ability to screen films produced abroad.10 As coordination and division of labour and flow of product inside the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) was still poor, Czechoslovakia could not close itself inside the Eastern bloc, at least from the point of view of the cinema market. Being able to screen foreign films and occasionally sell some domestic product abroad was necessary, and therefore if the foreign product was in widescreen, Czechoslovakia needed to be able to adapt to new formats.
The widescreen revolution brought a new set of concerns for Czechoslovak cinema and they were to test the new organization of the industry after little more than a decade of its existence. Firstly, the administration of the centralized cinema industry had to decide which of the emerging new formats to adopt. Having more than one new format alongside academy ratio was impossible for economic and organizational reasons.11 In the initial anarchy of emerging new formats, Czechoslovak cinema technicians had to decide, or rather guess, which of the formats would get the major share of the cinema screens in the world. As they started to consider a new format quite late, around the end of 1954 or the beginning of 1955 (and in these years only preliminary research was made, while the actual adoption was planned for 1956), the chosen format was CinemaScope, which was at that point the dominant widescreen format and had a number of fully compatible competitors. While the word CinemaScope appears (in various distortions of the original spelling) in cinema journals and archival documents of the period, this actual brand never made it to Czechoslovakia, and was substituted by compatible European technology for shooting (for instance French Totalvision), and by domestic equipment for screening.
Now that the decision was made, the next step was to prepare the industry for the transition as quickly as possible. A five-year plan was prepared for the period 1956-1960, during which ten features were supposed to be made, and forty cinemas adapted for the new technology. While the number of films actually made corresponded with the initial plan, over 250 cinemas were adapted during the period. Of these, however, only approximately forty had stereophonic sound reproduction alongside the wider image.
While Agfacolor negative stock was barely sufficient for academy ratio shooting and screening, it was even more inadequate for “scope” or even masked formats.12 As a result, from 1957 the situation became more complicated. For “scope” films, Eastmancolor became the standard, while academy ratio productions continued to use eastern Agfacolor/Orwocolor. We can see this distinction in the film Death in the Saddle (Smrt v sedle, 1958). The film was shot in two formats, academy on Agfacolor and “scope” on Eastmancolor stock.13 A similar situation arose with Provisional Liberty (La Liberté surveillé / V proudech, 1957), the first “scope” feature finished in Czechoslovakia, which was a co-production with the French Trident company. According to negotiations, the French co-producer was supposed to supply the Eastmancolor stock, although in fact what they provided was western Agfacolor. Czech cameramen working on the film found the quality sufficient, although the material needed some changes in lighting and laboratory processing. The release copies were printed on Italian Ferraniacolor.14A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Sen noci svatojánské, 1959), a “scope” animated feature by Jiří Trnka that went into production in 1956 and was released in 1959, was shot entirely in Eastmancolor. However, in 1956 there was no laboratory to process Eastmancolor in Czechoslovakia, so the rushes were sent to Paris, while Trnka used black-and-white academy materials shot simultaneously to check the movements of his puppets. Also, he was forced to make alterations to his usual methods of puppet-making, due to the differences in colour rendering with Agfacolor and Eastmancolor.15
While the first colour widescreen films were being made, research groups were formed to compare the qualities of Agfacolor and Eastmancolor and to investigate possibilities of introduction of the latter into laboratory practice. The main problems were connected with old and insufficient machinery and inaccurate measuring instruments. However, unlike the Agfa/Wolfen factory, Kodak provided technical support during the introduction of the new laboratory equipment and processes, and remained in contact with the Prague laboratories. While preparing for Eastmancolor as a new negative material, Czechoslovak researchers continued to review other colour stocks produced in Europe. Small groups of technicians (usually two or three) were sent to the Soviet Union, as well as the DEFA studios in Germany, the Gevaert factory in Belgium and the Ferrania factory in Italy. During the 1960s and 1970s, Eastmancolor became and remained the main colour stock for negatives and intermediate materials, while cheaper colour processes (most often eastern Agfacolor, later Orwocolor) were used for distribution copies. There were however a few scope films using Agfacolor or Orwocolor negative film stock, especially in the late 1960s.
Although the widescreen revolution did not take a direct course and was held back, in Czechoslovakia probably more than elsewhere, it did significantly influence the transition from black-and-white to colour. While eastern Agfacolor was perceived as problematic and inferior from the very beginning, the major impulse for a change of colour system came with the introduction of widescreen in Czechoslovakia, as anamorphic processes tested the limits of the film stock, and made all the known issues even more visible. Czechoslovak studios never saw the real CinemaScope and worked with compatible European “scopes”, as the cinemas had to use domestic technology, however clumsy it might be. It was therefore not glorious Technicolor, breathtaking CinemaScope and stereophonic sound at first in Czechoslovakia.
Furthermore, initially Czechoslovak encounters with colour were determined by the character of the cinema industry – low domestic production, small number of cinemas and dependence on international cooperation – rather than by the political situation. Yet after 1945 colour production gained an increasingly prestigious standing from both apolitical and economic point of view. Politically, colour films were meant to show the accomplishments of the state-owned industry, while economically they constituted a unique source of foreign currency. Ultimately the latter half of the 1950s and the 1960s saw a period of development and expansion in the Czechoslovak industry and liberation in politics and society, which encouraged and enabled the government to spend more on the superior Eastmancolor stock. Where colour film stock was concerned, political issues ceased to be important, and once it became economically possible, the cinema technicians and engineers went for the quality first. Eastmancolor was adopted as the standard negative stock material in the following decades, which in turn saw a significant increase in the number of films made in colour, leaving the use of black-and-white marginal by the end of the communist era in 1989.
1 By the government decree no. 50/1945 on arrangements in the cinema sphere of business, the Czechoslovak state gained a monopoly on cinema production, laboratory processing, distribution, public screenings and international trade.
2 Short Prizmacolor films were distributed in 1921-1922. In December 1923 The Glorious Adventure (UK, 1922) premièred and The Toll of the Sea (US, 1922) in two-colour Technicolor was released in December 1924 (Štábla 1982: 355-357).
3 For example IRE-film, a Prague studio owned by Irena and Karel Dodal, made several animation shorts in colour between 1933 and 1938 (Strusková 2006: 99).
4 For example, the shooting of Alexander Ptuschko’s colour film The Stone Flower (Kamennyy tsvetok, USSR 1946) began in August 1945, and the film was the first to be finished in the Barrandov studios after the war.
5 While the studios did not suffer much damage during the war (at least in comparison with other Central and East-European countries), the cinemas were in desperate need of new equipment. According to a post-war survey, up to 85 per cent of them were “insufficient for orderly operation”, not only in terms of equipment, but also in issues of hygiene and safety (Bystřický 1947: unpaged).
6 In 1950, several films were reprimanded by communist party officials and a list of preferred topics was issued. This interference led to a production crisis in 1951, when only a fraction of the originally scheduled 52 films for that year were actually produced.
7 On the other hand, film for still photography had been domestically produced since 1914 by Neobrom, and from 1921 by Fotochema (now Foma), alongside other smaller companies.
8 According to the data collected in 1947, only 110 cinemas had an auditorium longer than 30 metres, and the maximum length was 42 metres (Anon. 1950a: unpaged). In 1950, only nine cinemas had a capacity of more than 1,000, while almost 85 per cent of all cinemas could seat less than 500 (Černík 1954: 89, 198). In later decades, the national cinema network was being improved, also by building new cinemas in previously neglected regions. Of these cinemas, some were constructed especially for widescreen or 70 mm, and as such, they tended to be larger. Also, open-air cinemas, with programming concentrated to summer months, had longer distances between the screen and the projector booth, and could have up to several thousands of spectators. For example, the first “scope” screening in Czechoslovakia during the International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary in summer 1956 took place in a newly constructed open air cinema, which would seat up to 3,500 spectators (Anon. 1956: 9).
9 As the report by a member of Cinema Technology Committee (FITES) states, during the screening at the Fair palace in Prague held in 1950 for the anniversary of the Soviet October Revolution, the visibility of the image was so reduced that a viewer could hardly have recognized that the film was in colour. In conclusion, the report suggested that if the minimum luminance required for colour screening is not achieved, colour films should not be shown at all, as that would ruin their political mission (Anon. 1950b: unpaged).
10 Because of the small number of cinemas, low ticket prices and high costs of production, an average Czechoslovak film would theoretically take thirty-six months to break even, during which time demand would fall dramatically. Thus only extremely popular Czechoslovak films or foreign films turned a profit (Bláha 1955: 12).
11 Although since 1964 some new large cinemas were built for 70 mm projection, Czechoslovak cinema never produced a film on 65 mm negative, except for a handful of co-productions with the USSR. A few other Czechoslovak films were released in 70 mm blown-ups from original 35 mm negatives. It should also be noted that masked formats (1:1,66 and 1:1,85), which could be screened with just small alterations to current projectors, were quite common in Czechoslovakia, but there is no data on their actual proliferation.
12 Only during the 1970s did colour become standard in Czechoslovakia. Until then the majority of both academy and “scope” films were shot in black-and-white.
13 This practice was used for a few early widescreen films, as the Prague laboratories did not have a way to make academy copies from the “scope” originals yet, and at the same time, only a few cinemas were scope-friendly. Having a film on widescreen only would substantially limit its use in distribution.
14 In general, co-production became the way of obtaining quality colour stock and better shooting technology in the late 1950s and during the 1960s (see Skopal 2009).
15 In a monograph on Trnka, the reason offered for switching from Agfacolor to Eastmancolor is the blurriness of the wider image towards the left and right extremes. Also, Eastmancolor is described as more “naturalistic”, showing the materials used to manufacture the puppets for what they really are (Boček 1963: 247-248).
Anon. (1950a) Zápis 60. schůze komise promítací FITES dne 19.6.1950 [manuscript], Filmový technický sbor, FITES 1950, Praha: Národní filmový archiv.
Anon. (1950b) Zápis 65. řádné schůze promítací komise 14. listopadu 1950 [manuscript], Filmový technický sbor, FITES 1950-1951, Praha: Národní filmový archiv.
Anon. (1955) Zápis plenární schůze Filmového technického sboru ze dne 28. září 1955. Zavádění nových technologií. Filmový technický sbor, FITES 1951-1959, Praha: Národní filmový archiv.
Anon. (1956) “Preparations for the IXth International Film Festival at Karlovy Vary in Full Swing”, The Czechoslovak Film, 4: 9.
Bláha, R. (1955) Ekonomika čs. kinematografie. Učebnice pro III. a IV. ročník Průmyslové školy v Čimelicích a příručka pro filmové pracovníky, Praha: Československý státní film.
Boček, J. (1963) Jiří Trnka. Historie díla a jeho tvůrce, Praha: Státní nakladatelství krásné literatury a umění.
Bystřický, J. (1947) Zřizování kin a užití substandardních formátů pro veřejný provoz [manuscript], Filmový technický sbor, FITES 1947, Praha: Národní filmový archiv.
Černík, A. (1954) Výroční zpráva o čs. filmovnictví. Rok 1950, Praha: Československý státní film.
Heiss, G. and Klimeš, I. (2003) Obrazy času / Bilder der Zeit. Český a rakouský film 30. let / Tschechischer und österreichischer Film der 30er Jahre, Praha: Národní filmový archiv.
Pilát, F. (1972) Studie dlouhodobého rozvoje filmové techniky, Praha: Ústřední ředitelství Československého filmu.
Skopal, P. (2009) “The ‘Provisional Liberty’ of Colour and Widescreen: The Czech Co-Productions with the ‘West’, 1959-1969”, paper presented at NECS conference at Lund, 2009. Also online. Available at http://www.phil.muni.cz/dedur/?lang=l&id=21534 (accessed 30 April 2011).
Strusková, E. (2006) “Iréna & Karel Dodal. Průkopníci českého animovaného filmu”, Iluminace, 63: 99-146.
Štábla, Z. (1982) Rozšířené teze k dějinám československé kinematografie, vol. 2, Praha: Filmový ústav.”
(Batistová, Anna (2013): Glorious Agfacolor, Breathtaking Totalvision and Monophonic Sound. Colour and “Scope” in Czechoslovakia. In: Simon Brown, Sarah Street and Liz Watkins (eds.): Color and the Moving Image. History, Theory, Aesthetics, Archive. New York, London: Routledge, pp. 47-55.)
“In 1932, Joseph A. Ball created a three-strip method that offered much better color rendition. (For this method, Ball added a three-color beamsplitter and a third strip of film, so that each matrix – red, blue, green – had its own separation negative.) Tested on Walt Disney cartoons (beginning with Flowers and Trees ), a live-action short (La Cucaracha ), and then on a feature (Becky Sharp ), Technicolor attracted attention again. The success of Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1935), A Star Is Born (1937), Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), and Gone With the Wind (1939) confirmed Technicolor’s new powers. Soon the firm could not keep up with the producers’ demands. Presided over by Herbert Kalmus, Technicolor virtually monopolized Hollywood color filming until the early 1950s.3
To win Hollywood’s support, Technicolor employed a time-tested business tactic, that of supplying research prototypes. Every new Technicolor process was demonstrated in a sample film financed by the company itself or by a sympathetic backer. Kalmus and his colleagues produced The Gulf Between (1917) to display the additive process, Toll of the Sea (1922) to exhibit the initial two-color procedure, and The Flag (1927) and The Viking (1928) to publicize the revised two-color process. By the time Technicolor was ready to showcase the three-strip process in a feature film, Merriam C. Cooper and John Hay Whitney formed an independent firm, Pioneer Films, to make La Cucaracha and Becky Sharp.4 Again and again Kalmus’s company had to assume responsibility for proving that its color method could meet the industry’s standard of quality.
The issue of production economies also dogged Technicolor. Even after the three-strip method was proven viable, the studios did not rush to convert. One principal reason was that Technicolor was hard to adjust to demands of cost and labor-time. In 1936, Technicolor could increase a picture’s budget by $100,000 to $300,000, an enormous amount during the Depression. A Technicolor film consumed more production time, required more electrical power, and could not draw upon the studio library of stock footage. Many producers doubted that Technicolor’s novelty compensated for the expense. As American Cinematographer put it, if the color was unnatural, the audience noticed it (and that was bad); if the color was good, the audience forgot about it (thus it was not worth the cost).5
Technicolor was sensitive to demands for cost effectiveness because its founders were experienced engineers. Both Kalmus and Comstock were graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and had taught there; they employed three MIT physics students to work on the process; even the firm’s name paid tribute to ‘Tech.’ As industrial consultants, Kalmus, Comstock, and Wescott had gained a sound reputation for research. And as engineers, Technicolor’s directors decided on a ‘progressive step development’ strategy for nurturing their color process little by little, with a three-color process as the ultimate goal. It was Ball, one of Comstock’s students and a prominent member of the SMPE and the Academy, who designed the three-color camera and guided Technicolor research through the 1930s.6 It was generally acknowledged that Comstock, Leonard Troland, and Ball were the inventors while Kalmus was the promoter: ‘Businessmen regard Dr. Kalmus as a scientist and scientists regard him as a businessman.’7 But even Kalmus continued to experiment in solving engineering problems in his spare time.
Throughout the years, Technicolor followed many industrial-engineering principles to maximize efficiency. The company started a research laboratory. It retained a staff to design and build special printers and processing machinery. Laboratory chief Gerald Rackett pointed to his operation as a model of successful engineering. Although the cameras were built by Mitchell, they were designed and repaired in the optical and machine shops of Technicolor. The plant was a paragon of industrial organization. Management carefully divided the labor, limited knowledge to specialties, and discouraged transfers across departments. Entering sensitive areas required security passes. Only the firm’s executives had a total view of research development and patented processes.8
After the 1935 color boom, Technicolor controlled its quality by placing restrictions on production practices. Because the 1929-31 color vogue had resulted in untrained cinematographers using the process, the firm wanted to supervise production to a great degree. Filming procedures became standardized. To make a Technicolor film, a producer had to rent the cameras, hire a Technicolor cameraman (eventually to be called a ‘camera optical engineer’), use Technicolor make-up, and have the film processed and printed by Technicolor. The producer would also have to accept a ‘color consultant’ who would advise what color schemes to use on sets, costumes, and make-up. Every day the camera magazines were inspected in the Technicolor laboratory, checked out by the cinematographer, and returned at the end of the day. Only trained crews could operate the camera, and the production’s cinematographer had to work closely with the Technicolor cameraman. The firm also adjusted itself to studio differences, supplying motors for various studios’ electrical and sound requirements.9
Before 1950, few of Technicolor’s research innovations spilled over beyond the improvement of its own color process. In the mid-1930s, the firm devised a remote-control focusing device that was occasionally used on black-and-white films. Technicolor also spurred the development of bright process-projection equipment. The most significant innovation of all occurred in 1935. Since the three-color process was balanced for daylight, arc lighting most closely approximated the film’s needs. But most studios’ arc equipment dated back to the 1920s. Technicolor commissioned Mole-Richardson to design silent, efficient arc units that would yield a uniform, flat distribution of light. Two years later, Mole-Richardson introduced a new line of side arcs, overhead ‘scoops,’ and spotlights. These lamps soon became common in both color and black-and-white filming.10
As a service company, Technicolor maintained almost complete control of its product; as a color process, it had to conform to classical norms. Hollywood’s use of Technicolor was almost entirely motivated by genre. It was to the firm’s advantage to stress that color was simply an increase in realism applicable to any film, but the argument did not convince.11 On the whole, Technicolor was identified with the musical comedy, the historical epic, the adventure story, and the fantasy – in short, the genres of stylization and spectacle. […]
Even after Ball devised the more ‘realistic’ three-strip color method, color films remained codified by genre. There were musicals (The Dancing Pirate , Vogues of 1938 , Goldwyn Follies , Down Argentine Way , The Gang’s All Here ). There were historical spectacles and adventure tales in exotic locales (Adventures of Robin Hood , Drums Along the Mohawk , Northwest Mounted Police , Western Union , The Black Swan , For Whom the Bell Tolls ). A Western (e.g., Jesse James ), a comedy (e.g., Nothing Sacred ), or a romance set in an exotic locale (e.g., The Garden of Allah ) also had an occasional chance of being filmed in color. The Women (1940) justified color by its lengthy interpolated fashion show, while *An American Romance (1944) uses color to reinforce its ‘epic’ account of an immigrant making good. It is probable that two films of 1939 played a central role in defining color’s generic range: Gone With the Wind, a historical spectacle, was credited with having proven that color could add to a film’s box-office appeal, and The Wizard of Oz used Technicolor only for the central Oz fantasy, not for a rendering of Dorothy’s everyday life in Kansas. Like certain kinds of music or lighting, the presence of color was governed by genre conventions.13
Other conventions of the classical paradigm limited Technicolor’s use. While Technicolor could play up the spectacular and the artificial, the industry cautioned that color must not distract from the story. It was widely felt that two-strip Technicolor musicals had been weak films bolstered by the novelties of color and sound; this diagnosis was confirmed by the lukewarm response given to Becky Sharp (1935). ‘Never use color for the sake of color alone,’ warned a Selznick art director in 1937. ‘It is only something which is added to the story, and the story should not be made for the sake of it.’14
Technicolor was aware of Hollywood’s demands. From the outset, the firm had understood that in order to succeed commercially color would have to favor principal narrative elements. Around 1920, a producer explained the problem to Comstock:15
The human being is the center of the drama, not flowers, gardens, and dresses. The face is the center of the human being. And the eyes are the center of the face. If a process is not sharp enough to show clearly the whites of a person’s eyes at a reasonable distance, it isn’t any good no matter what it is.
The plausible rendering of complexion and expression became the chief goal of Technicolor’s research. One critic pointed out problems of definition in the 1916-23 efforts: ‘When the figures retreat to any distance, it is difficult to distinguish their expression.’16 Complaints about Becky Sharp‘s ‘overripe’ and ‘scarletina’ skin tones made Technicolor ask Max Factor to devise pancake make-up. Throughout the 1930s, Technicolor calmed cinematographers’ fears that color would aggravate facial blemishes.17 The firm was at pains to compromise between developing a ‘lifelike’ rendition of the visible spectrum and developing a treatment of the human face that would accord with classical requisites of beauty and narrative centrality.
To fit Technicolor’s recording capacities smoothly to Hollywood’s needs, the firm created the role of color consultant. Natalie Kalmus, Herbert’s wife, had been the first model for Technicolor filming. She and Kalmus were divorced in 1921 (although they continued to live in the same house for another twenty-five years), and one condition of the divorce made Natalie the color supervisor on most Technicolor productions. A former art student, she insisted that sets and costumes be in cool colors, the better to set off the tones of the characters’ faces. She is sometimes credited with Technicolor’s reluctance to film bright or saturated colors, the assumption being that pastels were less harsh and distracting. The same worry that Technicolor would look artificial governed the ban on symbolically colored lighting, a constraint not completely overcome until South Pacific (1958).18
Natalie Kalmus also promoted the idea that Technicolor could yield not a flat and candy-box image, but actually a more rounded and deep one. With the proper color separation of foreground and background, she wrote, ‘it is possible to make it appear as though the actors were actually standing there in person, thus creating the illusion of a third dimension.’19 On the whole, cinematographers accepted this dictum. They shot Technicolor with softer and flatter light, using less backlight and letting the color difference separate the planes. […] As late as 1957, the SMPTE was still advocating low-contrast lighting for color (no more than a 3:1 key-fill ratio). Most cinematographers used the same arrangement of lighting units for color and black and white; only the intensity and number of the sources differed.20 The effect was far from transgressive, as can be seen from almost any shot in a 1930s or 1940s Technicolor film. High-key Technicolor shooting yielded an image that conformed to the norms of softness, low contrast, and diffusion characteristic of 1930s cinematography […]. The rarer low-key Technicolor shot still possesses a softness, especially in shadow areas, consistent with Hollywood norms. Classical ideals of volume, separation of planes, and dim backgrounds were amply satisfied by Technicolor cinematography.
Just as sound filming practices strove to recover the standardized procedures of the silent era, so Technicolor filming attempted to become as much as possible like monochrome filming. Color brought with it three changes: a very slow film stock, the need for arc lighting, and the awkward three-strip camera. Many cinematographers accepted certain inevitable demands, such as the necessity of gauging light by exposure meters. But knowing that light levels were a problem, Technicolor constantly tried to increase its film speed. The company’s efforts resulted in a faster, fine-grained stock first used on Gone With the Wind (1939). Combined with Mole-Richardson’s portable arc units, this film stock put color cinematography somewhat closer to monochrome methods. Nonetheless, by 1948, a cinematographer could still point out that for low-key filming, color required ten lighting units for every two used in black and white, and that changes in light intensity affected not only exposure but color gradations, often for the worse.21
From an engineering standpoint, Technicolor filming could not become fully consonant with mainstream production practice as long as it utilized a three-strip method. The bulky cameras were hard to maneuver, complicated to thread, difficult to maintain. It is clear that Herbert Kalmus set as a goal a monopack film that could be used in any camera. In 1939, he announced that in a year Technicolor would employ a single camera negative. Monopack was used for sequences in some films (Dive Bomber , Captains of the Clouds , Forest Rangers , Lassie Come Home ) and for one entire film (Thunderhead – Son of Flicka ), but the process was declared unsatisfactory. It was even slower than ordinary Technicolor stock, it rendered interior sets poorly, and the processing often gave contrasty results. Researchers were uncertain as to whether a single-strip negative film could ever yield consistently good release prints in large quantity. World War II delayed research on the process, but Kalmus was also hesitant, probably recalling the difficulties he had faced after rushing into an untried process in 1929. Expecting monopack to come eventually, Technicolor built no more three-strip cameras.22 (This decision caused further problems, since Technicolor could not satisfy the postwar demand for color.) When a color negative film arrived, however, Technicolor was not its originator.
3 F.J. Taylor, ‘Mr. Technicolor,’ Saturday Evening Post, 222 (22 October 1949): 131-3; ‘Technicolor,’ Fortune, 13 (June 1936): 40, 46, 54; Joseph Mascelli, ‘The million dollar bubble,’ IP, 23, no. 10 (October 1951): 6, 8-10; William Stull, ‘Technicolor bringing new charm to screen,’ AC, 18, no. 6 (June 1937): 237; Fred Basten, Glorious Technicolor (New York: A.S. Barnes, 1980), pp. 23-197; ‘Abstracts,’ JSMPE, 14 no. 1 (January 1930): 139-40; ‘Progress in the motion picture industry,’ JSMPE, 14, no. 2 (February 1930): 245; ‘Technicolor orders 18 new cameras,’ Hollywood Filmograph, 10, no. 16 (3 May 1930): 26; ‘Technicolor expansion program in operation,’ Technicolor News and Views, 1, no. 1 (April 1929): 1-2; ‘Increase in popularity of Technicolor productions graphically shown by 35-millimeter positive print footage output, 1932-1947,’ Technicolor News and Views, 10, no. 2 (August 1948): 2; ‘Technicolor gaining,’ AC, 25, no. 5 (May 1944): 178; J.A. Ball, ‘The Technicolor process of 3-color cinematography,’ IPro, 8, no. 6 (June 1935): 12; Howard C. Brown, ‘Will color revolutionize photography?’ AC, 17, no. 7 (July 1936): 284-5.
4 See Basten, Glorious Technicolor, pp. 29-58; ‘Color film increase,’ Business Week (22 May 1937): 47.
6 ‘Eliminating guesswork in cinematography,’ Scientific American, 115 (9 December 1916): 532, 535-6; Taylor, ‘Mr. Technicolor,’ p. 131; Basten, Glorious Technicolor, pp. 20-3, 29, 81, 199; ‘What? Color in the movies again?’ Fortune, 10, no. 4 (October 1934): 93-4, 161.
7 ‘What? Color in the movies again?’ p. 166.
8 Stull, ‘New charm,’ p. 236; ‘A cinema world wonder,’ IP, 2, no. 5 (June 1930): 84-6; Robert L. Greene, ‘The camera optical engineer,’ IP, 22, no. 5 (May 1950): 8-9; Basten, Glorious Technicolor, pp. 84-93.
9 ‘Technicolor system,’ IP, 10, no. 1 (February 1938): 9-10; Ira B. Hoke, ‘Grooming camera battery for 1931,’ IP, 2, no. 11 (December 1930): 15, 40; Stone, ‘Assistant cameraman,’ p. 13; Basten, Glorious Technicolor, pp. 66-7.
10 William Stull, ‘Following focus by remote control,’ AC, 17, no. 2 (February 1936): 53, 60; William Stull, ‘Process shots aided by triple projector,’ AC, 20, no. 8 (August 1939): 363-6, 376; Farciot Edouart, ‘The evolution of transparency process photography,’ AC, 24, no. 10 (October 1943): 380, 382; Elmer C. Richardson, ‘Production use tested the “Ultra H.I. Arc,”‘ IP, 8, no. 3 (April 1936): 26-7; Peter Mole, ‘Twice the light and twice the sunlight for color cinematography,’ AC, 16, no. 8 (August 1935): 332- 3; R.E. Farnham, ‘Lighting requirements of the three-color Technicolor process,’ AC, 17, no. 7 (July 1936): 282-3, 292; E.C. Richardson, ‘Recent developments in high-intensity arc spotlamps for motion picture production,’ JSMPE, 28, no. 2 (February 1938): 206-12; W. Howard Greene, ‘Low-key lighting may be as easy in color as it is in monochrome,’ AC, 19, no. 4 (April 1938): 146, 151; ‘Pan and sound put inkies on top,’ IP, 10, no. 3 (April 1938): 47; Ray Rennehan, ‘Rennehan talks Technicolor,’ IP, 9, no. 8 (September 1937): 24.
11 See, for example, Lyle Wheeler, ‘Art direction for color by Technicolor,’ Technicolor News and Views, 11, no. 2 (June 1949): 2-3.
13 For a good discussion of how color can be seen as lacking realistic motivation, see Ed Buscombe, ‘Sound and color,’ Jump Cut, no. 17 (1978): 23-5.
14 Lansing C. Holden, ‘Color: the new language of the screen,’ Cinema Arts, 1, no. 2 (July 1937): 64. See also Philip E. Rosen, ‘Believe color will not aid dramatic cinematography,’ AC, 4, no. 5 (August 1923): 4.
15 Quoted in Basten, Glorious Technicolor, p. 30.
16Ibid., p. 27.
17Ibid., p. 57; D.K. Allison, ‘Common sense of color,’ IP, 9, no. 8 (September 1937): 7-9.
18 Taylor, ‘Mr. Technicolor,’ p. 27; Basten, Glorious Technicolor, pp. 54, 70; Lansing C. Holden, ‘Designing for color,’ in We Make the Movies, ed. Nancy Naumburg (New York: Norton, 1937), p. 240; Natalie Kalmus, ‘Color consciousness,’ IPro, 8, no. 6 (June 1935): 17; Arthur E. Gavin, ‘South Pacific – New concept in color photography,’ AC, 39, no. 5 (May 1958): 294-6, 318-19.
19 Natalie Kalmus, ‘Colour,’ in Behind the Screen: How Films Are Made, ed. Stephen Watts (New York: Dodge, 1938), p. 122.
20 ‘Rennehan talks Technicolor,’ p. 25; Peter Mole, ‘Lighting equipment for natural-color photography,’ IP, 8, no. 5 (June 1936): 17; John Arnold, ‘Cinematography – professional,’ in The Complete Photographer vol. 2, ed. Willard D. Morgan (New York: National Education Alliance, 1943), p. 767; James Wong Howe, ‘Reaction on making his first color production,’ AC, 18, no. 10 (October 1937): 409-11; SMPTE, Elements of Color in Professional Motion Pictures (New York: SMPTE, 1957), pp. 44, 70; E.C. Richardson, ‘Recent developments in motion picture set lighting,’ JSMPE, 29, no. 2 (August 1937): 183.
21 Ray Rennehan, ‘Natural-color cinematography today,’ AC, 16, no. 7 (July 1935): 288, 294; ‘Faster color film cuts light a half,’ AC, 20, no. 8 (August 1939): 355-6; C.W. Handley, ‘Advanced technic of Technicolor lighting,’ IP, 9, no. 5 (June 1937): 10; William Stull, ‘New charm,’ p. 236; W. Howard Green, ‘Creating light-effects in Technicolor,’ IP, 8, no. 12 (January 1937): 10-11, 25; Winton Hoch, ‘The Technicolor cameraman,’ IPro, 21, no. 10 (October 1946): 20-2, 34; Robert Surtees, ‘Color is different,’ AC, 28, no. 1 (January 1948): 10-11, 31; Joe Valentine, ‘Lighting for Technicolor as compared with black and white photography,’ IP, 20, no. 1 (January 1948): 7-10.
22 Basten, Glorious Technicolor, pp. 137-46; Technicolor to employ standard camera negative in year, Dr. Kalmus predicts,’ Technicolor News and Views, 1, no. 8 (November 1939): 1-2; ‘Company’s feature volume largest in history,’ Technicolor News and Views, 3, no. 2 (April 1941): 1-2; Winton Hoch, ‘Technicolor cinematography,’ in The Technique of Motion Picture Production, ed. SMPE (New York: Interscience, 1944): 20-2, 34; Taylor, ‘Mr. Technicolor,’ pp. 133-4; ‘Technical news,’ JSMPE, 43, no. 1 (July 1944): 68; Charles G. Clarke, ‘Practical utilization of monopack film,’ IP, 18, no. 1 (February 1946): 11-12, 29; ‘Technicolor establishes new records in a troubled year,’ Technicolor News and Views, 4, no. 2 (April 1942): 1, 3; ‘The Technicolor monopack process,’ Technicolor News and Views, 7, no. 3 (September 1945): 1-2; Herbert T. Kalmus, ‘Technicolor’s post war plans,’ Technicolor News and Views, 5, no. 4 (December 1943): 1, 4; Herbert T. Kalmus, ‘Future of Technicolor,’ IP, 16, no. 4 (May 1944): 29; Charles G. Clarke, ‘We filmed Kangaroo entirely in Australia,’ AC, 33, no. 6 (July 1952): 292-3, 315-7; William J. Kenney, ‘Monopack as medium for three-color process,’ IP, 16, no. 12 (January 1945): 12.”
(Bordwell, David; Staiger, Janet; Thompson, Kristin (1985): The Classical Hollywood Cinema. Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. London: Routledge, on pp. 353-357.)
“In 1932, Technicolor itself introduced a three-colour system that was so accurate and predictable that it would give the company a virtual monopoly over the production of colour films for many years.5 Yet because Technicolor had been damaged by earlier criticisms of its two-strip process, it insisted on itself controlling most features of how the studios produced Technicolor films. Not only did the company insist that its cameras be rented; not bought, by the studios,6 it also controlled the supply and processing of film stock, insisted studios hire its own cameramen and colour consultants, and rationed out colour films amongst the studios themselves. As a consequence, relatively few films were actually made in colour. Not until the legal break-up of the Technicolor monopoly was demanded by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1947 and the invention by Eastman Kodak in 1949 of Eastmancolor, which – unlike Technicolor – did not need to be shot through a special three-process camera, could the number of colour, films released increase markedly. Between 1947 and 1954, the number of coloured films produced in Hollywood rose from 12 per cent of the total in 1947 to almost 50 per cent in 1954 (Cook, 462).
5 The first full use of the new process was by the Walt Disney Studio in Flowers and Trees (1933), a “Silly Symphonies” cartoon film.
6 There were only seven Technicolor cameras in existence in 1939: all were used in the filming of Gone With the Wind.
Cook, David, A History of Narrative Film, New-York: WW. Norton, 3rd ed. 1996.”
(Stokes, Melvyn (2009): Colour in American Cinema. From The Great Train Robbery to Bonnie and Clyde. In: Raphaëlle Costa de Beauregard (ed.): Cinéma et couleur. Paris: M. Houdiard, pp. 184–192, on pp. 186–187.)