“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.)
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Kino the Girl of Colour (GB 1920, William Friese-Greene, Claude Friese-Greene).
Credit: Courtesy of BFI National Archive. Photographs by Barbara Flueckiger.
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.
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.
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.
Cherchi Usai, Paolo (2000): Silent Cinema. London: BFI, p. 28.
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.
Hulfish, David Sherill (1913): Motion-Picture Work. Chicago: American School of Correspondence. First edition, pp. 262-277, on pp. 273-277.
Huntley, John (1949): British Technicolor Films. Cornhill, London: Skelton Robinson, on p. 17.
Klein, Adrian Bernhard = Cornwell-Clyne (1940): Colour Cinematography. Boston: American Photographic Pub. Co.. 2nd revised edition: p. 5.
Misek, Richard (2010): Chromatic Cinema. A History of Screen Color. John Wiley & Sons, on pp. 120–121.
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.
Talbot, Frederick A. (1923): Moving Pictures. Philadelphia: Lippincott 1923, p. 343.