Kodachrome Two-color 1915, after 1930 renamed Fox Nature Color
The Kodachrome process was invented in 1913 by John G. Capstaff for still photography and subsequently adapted to motion pictures. For the process two frames were advanced simultaneously, one located above the other. The light passed either through two lenses or through a beam-splitter, fitted with red and green filters. From the camera negative a master-positive was produced on an optical printer. During this step, optical problems caused by the arrangement were also corrected. The release print was exposed through a beam-splitter whereby the alternate frames were projected onto either side of double-coated stock. After development by a usual b/w process, the film was tanned to harden the exposed areas. The soft areas were dyed red-orange and blue-green respectively.
Due to the loss of light caused by the filters and by the optical set-up, the speed of the process was rather low.
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Series in Fox Nature Color.
Credit: Images courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. Photographs of the nitrate print by Barbara Flueckiger.
[Kaleidoscope] by Loyd A. Jones.
Credit: George Eastman House Moving Image Collection. Photographs by Daniela Currò, Preservation Officer, and Barbara Flueckiger.
“This preservation was derived from two nitrate film elements donated to George Eastman House from the Kodak Research Laboratories in 1961. Both elements, a b&w negative and a color positive, displayed no credits and did not appear to be complete. The negative consisted of two brief sections, and part of the positive had been removed as a consequence of decomposition. Kaleidoscope was the title on the two cans. The can in which the positive element was originally stored indicated “two-color Kodachrome” as the color process used and “Dr. Jones” as the author of the experiment. So, upon its arrival at George Eastman House, the positive was easily identified, while the negative, displaying sequential frames exposed through two different color filters, was originally believed to be a Kinemacolor negative.
During the mid-1920s Loyd A. Jones, head of the Physics Department of Kodak Research Laboratories, worked on the production of dynamic color effects using glass prisms and glass discs irregularly coated with dyed gelatin. These moving discs were to be reproduced with the two-color Kodachrome process, a negative-positive process not to be confused with the later Kodachrome reversal principle.
Kaleidoscope was the result of one of those experiments. As Jones explains in The Reproduction of Mobility of Form and Color by the Motion Picture Kaleidoscope, a paper published in 1928 by the Society of Motion Picture Engineers: ‘By using the kaleidoscopic principle, highly perfected from the optical standpoint, in conjuction with a colored patternplate moving at a relatively slow uniform velocity, dynamic designs of extraordinary beauty and symmetry can be obtained which show a succession of evolutionary changes that are indeed remarkable. The effects thus obtained can be recorded by means of color motion photography and then projected on a suitable screen in the ordinary manner.’
Kaleidoscope may have never been shown to a paying audience, but in those same years similar experimental films produced by Kodak reached the public. Jones himself mentions that “a film entitled Mobile Color showing these moving kaleidoscopic patterns” was projected at the Eastman Theater in Rochester during one of its regular programs. Also, the New York Times reports that on 19 March 1926 Color Dynamics, “an inspiring study in prismatic patterns” produced by Eastman Kodak Laboratories, was on the supporting program at the Cameo Theatre in New York preceding the projection of The Three Wax Works [Das Wachsfigurenkabinett] by Paul Leni, along with The Pilgrim by Charlie Chaplin and Ballet mécanique by Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy.
The unusual colors and the psychedelic patterns of Kaleidoscope won’t fail to fascinate today’s audience as well. – DANIELA CURRÒ” Source: Cineteca del Friuli
The Flute of Krishna (US 1926, Eastman Kodak).
“Production Company: Eastman Kodak Co. Choreographer: Martha Graham.
Sets and Costumes: Norman Edwards.
Cast: Robert Ross (Krishna), Evelyn Sabin (Radha), Thelma Biracree, Constance Finkel, Betty MacDonald.
Credit: George Eastman Museum. Moving Image Collection.
Photographs of the nitrate print: Barbara Flueckiger
Kodachrome Two-Color 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.
Parisian Modes in Colour (USA 1926, Anonymous), Dutch title: De Mode in Parijs. Credit: EYE Film Museum. Photographs of the nitrate print by Olivia Kristina Stutz, ERC Advanced Grant FilmColors.
Original Technical Papers and Primary Sources
Anonymous (1916): The Kodachrome Process. In: The British Journal of Photography, Colour Supplement, 10, p. 234and 485.
Alt, Dirk (2011): “Der Farbfilm marschiert!” Frühe Farbfilmverfahren und NS-Propaganda 1933-1945. München: Belleville, on pp. 41–42. (in German)
Dr. N. (1937): Mehrschichten-Film. In: Film-Kurier, 27.8.1937, Serie “Farb-Film-Fibel”. (in German)
Klein, Adrian Bernhard = Cornwell-Clyne (1940): Colour Cinematography. Boston: American Photographic Pub. Co.. 2nd revised edition, pp. 14.
Koshofer, Gert (1996): Early Colorfilm Processes for the Cinema. In: Monica Dall’Asta, Guglielmo Pescatore and Leonardo Quaresima (eds.): Il colore nel cinema muto. Bologna: Clueb, p. 43.
Layton, James; Pierce, David (2015): The Dawn of Technicolor. Rochester: George Eastman House, on p. 59, on pp. 61–62 , on p. 63 and on p. 180.
Matthews, Glenn E. (1930): A Motion Picture Made in 1916 by a Two-Color Subtractive Process. In: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 15,5, 1930, pp. 624-626.
Mees, C.E. Kenneth (1929): The Processes of Color Photography. III. Color Cinematography. In: The Journal of Chemical Education, 6, pp. 44–51, on p. 48.
Nowotny, Robert A. (1983): The Way of All Flesh Tones. A History of Color Motion Picture Processes, 1895-1929. New York: Garland Pub., p. 152.
Ryan, Roderick T. (1977): A History of Motion Picture Color Technology. London: Focal Press, pp. 66 ff.
Pierotti, Federico (2012): La seduzione dello spettro. Storia e cultura del colore nel cinema. Genova: Le Mani-Microart, on p. 129. (in Italian)