Handschiegl / DeMille-Wyckoff / Wyckoff Process
Similar to stenciling, the Handschiegl process was applied mechanically to manually defined image parts. Therefore it is an applied color process.
After the film was shot and edited, for each color applied a separate print was made. In contrast to stenciling, the image parts which were to be colored were covered with an opaque paint. Subsequently a dupe-negative was made. A tanning developer hardened the gelatin in the exposed areas while leaving the blocked-out areas soft. The softer parts absorbed the acid dyes which were then transferred onto the positive print during an imbibition process. Usually up to three colors were applied to a film. The process allowed for subtle blending of different colors.
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Images courtesy of the 20th Century Fox Collection at the Academy Film Archive. Photography by Barbara Flueckiger.
Original Technical Papers and Primary Sources
Alvin Wyckoff and Max Handschiegl, U.S.P No. 1,303,836. May 13, 1919 and U.S.P No. 1,303,837. May 13, 1919.
Kelley, William Van Doren (1927): Imbibition Coloring of Motion Picture Films. In: Transactions of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 10, 28, 1927, pp. 238-241.
Kelley, William Van Doren (1931): The Handschiegl and Pathéchrome Color Process. In: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 18,2, 1931, pp. 230-234.
Cherchi Usai, Paolo (2000): Silent Cinema. London: BFI, pp. 32-33.
Read, Paul (2009): ‘Unnatural Colours’: An introduction to colouring techniques in silent era movies. In: Film History, Vol. 21, No. 1, p. 16, see list of handschiegl dyes on p. 37.
Coe, Brian (1981): The History of Movie Photography. Westfield, N.J.: Eastview Editions, p. 114.
Ryan, Roderick T. (1977): A History of Motion Picture Color Technology. London: Focal Press, pp. 23-24.
Hanssen, Eirik Frisvold (2006): Early Discourses on Colour and Cinema. Origins, Functions, Meanings. = Diss. University of Stockholm (Stockholm Cinema Studies, No. 2, p. 80.
Nowotny, Robert A. (1983): The Way of all Flesh Tones. A History of Color Motion Picture Processes, 1895-1929. New York: Garland Pub., pp. 15-17.
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.