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Toning / metallic toning (French: virage, German: Tonung)

Description

In contrast to tinting, toning is not the simple immersion of a film into a dye bath but involves a chemical reaction converting the silver image. In this reaction the neutral silver image in the emulsion of the positive film is replaced by one consisting of colored metal compounds. These were usually iron ferrocyanide (Prussian Blue) for blue, copper ferrocyanide for red/brown, silver sulfide for sepia or rarely uranium ferrocyanide for reddish brown. Toning had been used in still photography before. But since film was projected on the screen it required transparent toning compounds.

In principle, toned images can be identified easily by the transparent bright image parts and perforation areas, while the shadows and the dark parts are colored in a specific hue (see images on this page). In practice, however, the brighter parts can also be affected by the diffusion of dyeing compounds, or the images were tinted and toned in combination (see images 1 and 2 on this page).

There were two chemical recipes available for toning, either a one-bath or a two-bath process. In the one-bath process, the silver image is converted to silver ferrocyanide and then combined with the colored ferrocyanide. In the two-bath process, metallic ferricyanide first bleaches the metal silver to silver ferrocyanide. In the second step, the silver ferrocyanide is converted to colored metal ferrocyanide.

See also mordant or dye toning

  • Pathé Manual (1926)
  • Maman Poupée (France 1919
  • Maman Poupée (France 1919
  • Photomicrograph
  • Photomicrograph
  • Photomicrograph
  • Photomicrograph
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)
  • Unidentified melodrama (1928)

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Original Technical Papers and Primary Sources

(1925*): Agfa Kine-Handbuch. Berlin: Actien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation, Teil I on pp. 79–80 and Teil III on pp. 7–15. (in German) [* year estimated] View Quote

Didiée, L. (1926): Le Film vierge Pathé. Manuel de développement et de tirage. Paris: Pathé, pp. 129-135. (in French) View Quote

Eastman Kodak Company (1916): Tinting and Toning of Eastman Positive Motion Picture Film. Rochester, NY. [following editions in 1918, 1922, 1924, and 1927] View Quote

Secondary Sources

Anonymous (1911): Toning and Tinting as an Adjunct to the Picture. In: Moving Picture World, 8, 18.3.1911, p. 574.

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. 286-287. View Quote

Cherchi Usai, Paolo (1996): The Color of Nitrate. Some Factual Observations on Tinting and Toning Manuals for Silent Films. In: Abel, Richard (Hrsg): Silent Film. New Brunswick : Rutgers University Press, pp. 21-30, on pp. 26-27. View Quote

Cherchi Usai, Paolo (2000): Silent Cinema. London: BFI, pp. 24-27. View Quote

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. 18 View Quote and on pp. 18–19. View Quote

Fossati, Giovanna (1998): When Cinema Was Coloured. In: Luciano Berriatúa et al.: Tutti i colori del mondo. Il colore nei mass media tra 1900 e 1930. = All the colours of the world. Reggio Emilia: Edizioni Diabasis, pp. 121-132, on pp. 125-126 View Quote, pp. 127-128 View Quote and p. 130 View Quote.

Genaitay, Sonia; Dixon, Bryony (2010): Early Colour Film Restoration at the BFI National Archive. In: Journal of British Cinema and Television, 7,1, pp. 131-146.

Mazzanti, Nicola (2009): Colours, Audiences, and (Dis)Continuity in the ‘Cinema of the Second Period’. In: Film History, 21,1, 2009, pp. 67-93. Link to download.

Oliveira, João S. de (2002): Black-and-White in Colour. In: Roger Smither (ed.), This Film is Dangerous. A Celebration of Nitrate Film. Brussels: FIAF, pp. 117-122, on pp. 118-119. View Quote

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 pp. 18-19. (in French) View Quote

Read, Paul (2009): ‘Unnatural Colours’. An Introduction to Colouring Techniques in Silent Era Movies. In: Film History, 21.1, pp. 9-46, on pp. 14-15 View Quote, see list of metallic tones on pp. 37-39 View Quote and combined tones on pp. 44-45. View Quote

Ryan, Roderick T. (1977): A History of Motion Picture Color Technology. London: Focal Press, pp. 19-20. View Quote

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 p. 185. View Quote

Yumibe, Joshua (2012): Moving Colors. Early Film, Mass Culture, Modernism. New Brunswick et al.: Rutgers University Press, pp. 4-6  View Quote and pp. 100-105. View Quote

Restoration

Berriatúa, Luciano (1998): Regarding a Catalogue of the Tints Used on the Silent Screen. In: Luciano Berriatúa et al.: Tutti i colori del mondo. Il colore nei mass media tra 1900 e 1930. = All the colours of the world. Reggio Emilia: Edizioni Diabasis, pp. 135-139. View Quote

Hertogs, Daan; De Klerk, Nico (1996): Disorderly Order. Colours in Silent Film. The 1995 Amsterdam Workshop. Amsterdam: Stichding Nederlands Filmmuseum, on pp. 6-7 View Quote, on pp. 12-14 View Quote, on pp. 18-19 View Quote, on pp. 23-25 View Quote, on pp. 71-76 View Quote and on pp. 87-88. View Quote

Mabberley, Bob; Read, Paul; Snoek, Sonja (1998): Recording and Reproducing the Original Tints and Tones of Quo Vadis. A Technical Case Study. In: Luciano Berriatúa et al.: Tutti i colori del mondo. Il colore nei mass media tra 1900 e 1930. = All the colours of the world. Reggio Emilia: Edizioni Diabasis, pp. 151-155. View Quote

Mazzanti, Nicola (1998): The Colours of the Film d’Arte Italiana. In: Luciano Berriatúa et al.: Tutti i colori del mondo. Il colore nei mass media tra 1900 e 1930. = All the colours of the world. Reggio Emilia: Edizioni Diabasis, pp. 141-146. View Quote

Read, Paul; Meyer, Mark-Paul (2000): Films Coloured by Toning. In: Restoration of Motion Picture Film. Oxford, pp. 185-188. View Quote

Contemporary Reception

Coustet, Ernest (1921): Le cinéma. Paris: Librairie Hachette, on p. 6 View Quote and on pp. 160-162. (in French) View Quote

Fossati, Giovanna (1998): When Cinema Was Coloured. In: Luciano Berriatúa et al.: Tutti i colori del mondo. Il colore nei mass media tra 1900 e 1930. = All the colours of the world. Reggio Emilia: Edizioni Diabasis, pp. 121-132, on pp. 126-131. View Quote