”Kelley’s first color process was a four-color additive system introduced in 1913. Called Panchromotion, Kelley formed a company which would exploit the process commercially and, he hoped, provide strong competition for Kinemacolor. He apparently felt his four-color system would prove superior to any previous two- or three-color method in its ability to produce all colors of the visible spectrum. Unfortunately, any improvement in color rendition gained by this process was overshadowed by technical problems encountered during both principal photography and during projection.

Panchromotion utilized a rotating color disk similar to that used by Kinemacolor. Exposure was made on successive frames of panchromatic black and white film through a single camera lens. The rotating disk incorporated a red-orange, blue-green, blue-violet, and yellow filter segment separated by one of four alternating clear segments. Film speed is not known, although it is likely that a minimum of 32 frames per second was tried initially, then increased to reduce fringing. The camera was designed so that each frame of film received an exposure from one of the color filters, as well as an exposure of unaltered white light taken through the adjoining clear segment on the filter disk. A similar disk was necessary for projection, and synchronization between the color filter and the corresponding color record needed to be maintained.

Kelley received two patents for his Panchromotion process, yet he failed to interest members of the motion picture industry in his four-color additive system. Color fringing, excessive film speed and inadequate projection brilliance were the primary drawbacks. As a result, Panchromotion was never utilized in the production of a commercially released film.”

(Nowotny, Robert A. (1983): The Way of All Flesh Tones. A History of Color Motion Picture Processes, 1895-1929. New York: Garland Pub., pp. 154-156.)

  • Steinbacher (2013)
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Secondary Sources

Cherchi Usai, Paolo (2000): Silent Cinema. London: BFI, p. 34. View Quote

Coe, Brian (1981): The History of Movie Photography. Westfield, N.J.: Eastview Editions, p. 119. View Quote

Klein, Adrian Bernhard = Cornwell-Clyne (1940): Colour Cinematography. Boston: American Photographic Pub. Co. 2nd revised edition, pp. 18-19. 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. 154-156. View Quote

Ryan, Roderick T. (1977): A History of Motion Picture Color Technology. London: Focal Press, p 30. View Quote

Theisen, W.E. (1935): William Van Doren Kelley (1876-1934). In: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, Vol. 24, March 1935, pp. 275-277. View Quote

Theisen, Earl (1936): Notes on the History of Color Motion Pictures. In: The International Photographer, Vol. 8, No. 5, June 1936, pp. 8-9 and p. 24, on p. 8-9. View Quote