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.
Subscribe to the blog to receive all the news: http://filmcolors.org/ (check out sidebar on individual entries for the “follow” button).
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
Account IBAN CH2509000000604877146
Account holder: Barbara Flueckiger, CH-8005 Zurich, Switzerland
SWIFT Code / BIC: P O F I C H B E X X X
Bank: PostFinance AG, Mingerstrasse 20, CH-3030 Bern, Switzerland
Clearing Nummer: 09000
Read more about the financial background of the project on filmcolors.org.
The author has exercised the greatest care in seeking all necessary permissions to publish the material on this website. Please contact the author immediately and directly should anything infringe a copyright nonetheless.
“The Brewster Color process was comparable to Technicolor’s additive camera, but used a semi-mirrored perforated partition angled behind the lens (known as a “Swiss-cheese mirror”) to redirect light instead of a beam-splitting prism system. The two color records were captured onto separate rolls of film behind the mirror, then printed onto double-coated film and dyed complementary colors. Percy Brewster was an independent inventor from East Orange, New Jersey, whose process evolved over many years but never reached mainstream commercial viability. Brewster remained unable to exploit his process on a large scale, although D. W. Griffith used it twice in the early 1920s; both Way Down East (1920) and Dream Street (1921) contained brief Brewster Color sequences.9
9 “New Color Process,” Film Daily, April 13, 1923,1. The Brewster process also holds the distinction of enabling the first color cartoon. The Debut of Thomas Cat, released in 1920 as part of Bray Pictograph No. 423, a magazine reel distributed by Goldwyn.”
(Layton, James; Pierce, David (2015): The Dawn of Technicolor. Rochester: George Eastman House, on pp. 63–64.)
“All-color shorts were commonplace in the 1920s, but few had been made in Technicolor. Notable exceptions included the Hope Hampton short Marionettes (1925) and a series of three “Romance Productions” in 1926. Audiences had become used to seeing both natural- and applied-color short subjects on theatre bills. Prizma had built its business model producing color travelogues and documentaries in the early 1920s, and others had followed. New stencil-colored actuality footage was offered weekly in the “Pathé Review” series; animation, documentary, and novelty shorts were colored by William Van Doren Kelley’s Kelley Color process; and Eastman Kodak Company’s two-color Kodachrome was used prominently for the “McCall’s Colour Fashion News” series, also star ring Hope Hampton. Other smaller-scale efforts sprang up, mostly producing advertising and industrial shorts.”
(Layton, James; Pierce, David (2015): The Dawn of Technicolor. Rochester: George Eastman House, on p. 180.)