“In 1898 William Friese-Greene, a professional portrait photographer by trade, demonstrated in London “the first process of true natural-color cinematography.” His program consisted of “a series of animated natural-color pictures,” and although this demonstration aroused considerable interest at the time, Friese-Greene was unable to exploit this system on a profitable basis. Undaunted, he eventually developed a total of four different color methods. Although each contained serious drawbacks precluding their commercial use, Friese-Greene’s experiments are important to study. Not only do they serve as a starting place for the evolution of color cinematography, but his work provided “the basic principles which…have served as the foundation for the operations of all the experimenters who have followed.”

(Nowotny, Robert A. (1983): The Way of all Flesh Tones. A History of Color Motion Picture Processes, 1895-1929. New York: Garland Pub., p. 27.)

  • Friese-Greene Reflection
  • Mannoni_FrieseGreene1912bleu_vert_et_rouge.jpg
  • CherchiUsai_Friese-Greene_3color1909.jpg

Galleries Hide all Galleries ×Open all Galleries

Original Technical Papers and Primary Sources

Bedding, Thomas (1909): “Moving Pictures In Natural Colors”. In: Moving Picture World, 4, February 27, 1909, pp. 230-231. View Quote

Secondary Sources

Allister, Ray (1948): Friese-Greene. Close Up of An Inventor. London: Marsland.

Anonymous (1910): Friese-Greene Color Process. In: The Moving Picture World, 7, 7.12.1910, p. 1413. Repr. from: Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly. London.

Anonymous (1911): The Friese-Greene Color Process, Moving Picture World, January 21, 1911, p. 146.

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. 271-272. View Quote

Brown, Simon (2013): “The Brighton School and the Quest for Natural Color” – Redux. In: Brown, Simon; Street, Sarah; Watkins, Liz (eds.): Color and the Moving Image. History, Theory, Aesthetics, Archive. New York, London: Routledge, pp. 13-22. View Quote

Cherchi Usai, Paolo (2000): Silent Cinema. London: BFI, p. 28. View Quote

Hopwood, Henry Vaux (1915): Color cinematography. In: Henry Vaux Hopwood: Hopwood’s living pictures. Their history, photoproduction, and practical working. With classified lists of British patents and bibliography. London: The Hatton Press, new ed., rev. and enl. by R.B. Foster, pp. 253–273, on p. 262. View Quote

Hulfish, David Sherill (1913): Motion-Picture Work. Chicago: American School of Correspondence. First edition, pp. 262-277, on pp. 273-277. View Quote

Huntley, John (1949): British Technicolor Films. Cornhill, London: Skelton Robinson, on p. 17. View Quote

Klein, Adrian Bernhard = Cornwell-Clyne (1940): Colour Cinematography. Boston: American Photographic Pub. Co.. 2nd revised edition: p. 5. View Quote

Misek, Richard (2010): Chromatic Cinema. A History of Screen Color. John Wiley & Sons, on pp. 120–121. View Quote

Nowotny, Robert A. (1983): The Way of All Flesh Tones. A History of Color Motion Picture Processes, 1895-1929. New York: Garland Pub., pp. 27-38. View Quote

Talbot, Frederick A. (1923): Moving Pictures. Philadelphia: Lippincott 1923, p. 343. View Quote