Technicolor No. II
The first subtractive 2 color process introduced by Technicolor captured the incoming light through a beam splitter with red and green filters also. However, in contrast to the first Technicolor process, the two b/w images were recorded on one negative strip. This was achieved by the pull-down of two frames simultaneously, a process that required the double speed in the camera. These two frames were arranged in pairs, whereby the green record was inverted up-side down (see image).
These two images were then step-printed onto two positives. A tanning process hardened the silver image. In the following step the soft portions were washed away. The relief matrices were then glued together and the opposite sides of the film dyed red-orange and blue-green respectively.
Although the first film shot in this process, The Toll of the Sea (1922) was a huge commercial success, the system encountered many practical difficulties. The cemented film tended to be scratched more easily and more noticeably and even more so it curled as a result of irregular shrinking caused by the heat in the projector. In addition, the costs were very high and Technicolor faced difficulties to deliver on time due to their limited capacities. Only very few feature films were shot entirely in color. More often, the films contained short scenes in Technicolor while the rest of the films were dyed by the usual applied processes (see list of films on this page).
In the course of time Technicolor II prints fade to orange.
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Credit: Images courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library. Photographs by Barbara Flueckiger.
Some parts of Ben Hur (USA 1925, Fred Niblo) were originally shot on Technicolor No. II and combined with tinted, toned and black-and-white scenes.
Trailer, Technicolor No. III dye-transfer print. Credit: Library of Congress.
Technicolor dye-transfer print. Credit: Národní filmový archiv / National Film Archive, Prague.
Chromogenic print. Credit: Národní filmový archiv / National Film Archive, Prague.
Chromogenic print. Credit: George Eastman Museum, Moving Image Department.
Technicolor fragment of Lights of Old Broadway (USA 1925, Monta Bell).
Credit: Library of Congress. Photographs of the nitrate print by Barbara Flueckiger.
Frames from the Technicolor Collection show typical signs of decay.
Credit: George Eastman Museum, Moving Image Collection. Photographs by Barbara Flueckiger.
Technicolor No. II samples from the Kodak Film Samples Collection at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford.
Credit: National Science and Media Museum Bradford.
Photographs by Barbara Flueckiger in collaboration with Noemi Daugaard, SNSF Project Film Colors. Technologies, Cultures, Institutions.
Original Technical Papers and Primary Sources
Troland, Leonard T. (1927): Some Psychological Aspects of Natural Color Motion Pictures. In: Transactions of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 11, 26.9.1927, pp. 680–698, on pp. 695–696.
Alt, Dirk (2011): “Der Farbfilm marschiert!” Frühe Farbfilmverfahren und NS-Propaganda 1933-1945. München: Belleville, on pp. 42–43. (in German)
Behlmer, Rudy (1964): Technicolor. In: Films in Review 15,6, 1964, pp. 333-351, on pp. 336-342.
Bordwell, David; Staiger, Janet; Thompson, Kristin (1985): The Classical Hollywood Cinema. Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. London: Routledge, on p. 353and on p. 355.
Brown, Simon (2012): Technical Appendix. In: Sarah Street: Colour Films in Britain. The Negotiation of Innovation 1900-55. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 259-287, on pp. 284-286 (all Technicolor processes).
Cherchi Usai, Paolo (2000): Silent Cinema. London: BFI, p. 38.
Coe, Brian (1981): The History of Movie Photography. Westfield, N.J.: Eastview Editions, p. 132.
Cornwell-Clyne, Adrian [= Adrian Klein] (1951): Colour Cinematography. London: Chapman & Hall, 3rd edition, pp. 451-479 (all Technicolor processes).
Everett, Wendy (2007): Mapping Colour. An Introduction to the Theories and Practices of Colour. In: Wendy Everett (ed.): Questions of Colour in Cinema. From Paintbrush to Pixel. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 7–38, on p. 20.
Haines, Richard W. (1993): Technicolor Movies. The History of Dye Transfer Printing. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, pp. 4-7.
Happé, Bernard (1984): 80 Years of Colour Cinematography. London: British Kinematograph Sound & Television Society, p. 8.
Kalmus, Herbert T. (1938): Technicolor Adventures in Cinemaland. In: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 31,6, 1938, pp. 564-585, on pp. 566-571.
Koshofer (1993): Seit 75 Jahren Technicolor-Filme. In: Film & TV Kameramann, 42,1, 1993, pp. 24-34, on p. 24. (in German)
Mees, C. E. Kenneth (1937): The Development of the Art and Science of Photography in the Twentieth Century. In: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 28,1, pp. 3–20, on p. 13.
Neale, Steve (1985): The Beginnings of Technicolor. In: Angela Dalle Vacche and Brian Price (eds.): Color. The Film Reader. New York: Routledge, 2006, pp. 13-23, on pp. 14-15and on p. 18.
Nowotny, Robert A. (1983): The Way of All Flesh Tones. A History of Color Motion Picture Processes, 1895-1929. New York: Garland Pub., pp. 210-217and pp. 220-224.
Penning, Lars (1988): Farbe im klassischen Piratenfilm. In: Karl-Dietmar Möller-Nass, Hasko Schneider and Hans J. Wulff (eds.): 1. Film- und Fernsehwissenschaftliches Kolloquium. Münster: MAkS, pp. 36–40, on pp. 36–37. (in German)
Pierotti, Federico (2012): La seduzione dello spettro. Storia e cultura del colore nel cinema. Genova: Le Mani-Microart, on pp. 126–127. (in Italian)
Pinel, Vincent (1992): La forêt des techniques. In: Michel Ciment (ed.): Ciné mémoire. Colloque international d’information (7-9 octobre 1991). Paris: Femis, pp. 17-24, on p. 21-22. (in French)
Ruedel, Ulrich (2009): The Technicolor Notebooks at the George Eastman House. In: Film History, 21,1, 2009, pp. 47-60, on p. 49.
Ryan, Roderick T. (1977): A History of Motion Picture Color Technology. London: Focal Press, pp. 78-79.
Anonymous (1924): The Shadow Stage. A Review of the New Pictures. Wanderer of the Wasteland. In: Photoplay, 26,3, p. 49.
Anonymous (1926): The Shadow Stage. A Review of the New Pictures. The Black Pirate. In: Photoplay, 29,6, p. 48.