Technicolor No. III


The third Technicolor process used the same camera as process no. II to combine a pair of frames of the red and green record respectively on the b/w negative (see image). In contrast to the former process, however, the two images were printed on one side of the positive by the dye transfer or imbibition process.

For the dye transfer, again matrices were prepared by hardening the gelatin with a tanning developer and washing away the soft portions of the gelatin. These wash-off reliefs were then dyed with the complementary hues in green-blue and red-orange respectively. In the actual imbibition process the dyes were transferred by contact onto a blank film which was specially prepared to absorb the color and to prevent it from bleeding.

While this process was very sophisticated in terms of mechanical precision, it was still a two-color process and as such it was not able to display the whole range of colors (see images).

Nevertheless it was an economic success when in the wake of the transition to sound many producers also started to shoot in color at the end of the 1920s. In addition the Technicolor company launched a publicity campaign in fan magazines to support the acceptance of color films. However, the company was not able to handle the sudden huge demand without compromising the quality. Thus after a short peak in color production at the turn to the 1930s the number of films declined very fast again.

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Original Technical Papers and Primary Sources

Ball, J. Arthur (1935): The Technicolor Process of Three-Color Cinematography. In: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 25,2, 1935, pp. 127-138, on pp. 128-129. View Quote

Secondary Sources

Alt, Dirk (2011): “Der Farbfilm marschiert!” Frühe Farbfilmverfahren und NS-Propaganda 1933-1945. München: Belleville, on pp. 42–43. (in German) View Quote

Behlmer, Rudy (1964): Technicolor. In: Films in Review 15,6, 1964, pp. 333–351, on pp. 242–243. View Quote

Bordwell, David; Staiger, Janet; Thompson, Kristin (1985): The Classical Hollywood Cinema. Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. London: Routledge, on p. 353 View Quote and on p. 355. View Quote

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. 284-286 (all Technicolor processes). View Quote

Cornwell-Clyne, Adrian (= Adrian Klein) (1951): Colour Cinematography. London: Chapman & Hall, pp. 451-479 (all Technicolor processes).

D’haeyere, Hilde (2013): Technicolor – Multicolor – Sennett-Color. Natural Color Processes in Mack Sennett Comedies 1926-1931. In: Simon Brown, Sarah Street and Liz Watkins (eds.): Color and the Moving Image. History, Theory, Aesthetics, Archive. New York, London: Routledge, pp. 23–36, on pp. 26–29. View Quote

Everett, Wendy (2007): Mapping Colour. An Introduction to the Theories and Practices of Colour. In: Wendy Everett (ed.): Questions of Colour in Cinema. From Paintbrush to Pixel. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 7–38, on pp. 20–21. View Quote

Flueckiger, Barbara (2015): Zwischen Chromophobie und Farbrausch. Entwicklungslinien des frühen Technicolor. In: Connie Betz, Rainer Rother, Annika Schaefer (Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen) (eds.): Glorious Technicolor. Berlin: Bertz und Fischer, pp. 20–47. (in German) Download

Haines, Richard W. (1993): Technicolor Movies. The History of Dye Transfer Printing. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, on pp. 8–13. View Quote

Kalmus, Herbert T. (1938): Technicolor Adventures in Cinemaland. In: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 31,6, 1938, pp. 564–585, on pp. 571–577. View Quote

Layton, James; Pierce, David (2015): The Dawn of Technicolor. Rochester: George Eastman House.

Neale, Steve (1985): The Beginnings of Technicolor. In: Angela Dalle Vacche and Brian Price (eds.): Color. The Film Reader. New York: Routledge, 2006, pp. 13–23, on pp. 14–15. 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, on pp. 225–243. View Quote

Ryan, Roderick T. (1977): A History of Motion Picture Color Technology. London: Focal Press, p. 79. View Quote

Ruedel, Ulrich (2009): The Technicolor Notebooks at the George Eastman House. In: Film History, 21,1, 2009, pp. 47-60, on pp. 49-50. View Quote

Society of Motion Picture Engineers (1930): Report. Progress in the Motion Picture Industry. In: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 15, December 1930, pp. 791–793, on p. 792. View Quote

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. 186. View Quote