Tinted film base / Kodak Sonochrome
Kodak Sonochrome was a specially prepared tinted film for sound film that did not interfere with the spectral sensitivity of the photo-electric cell for the reading of the optical sound track.
The 17 Sonochrome tints were dyed in mainly light hues for maximum light transmission, with the exception of purple, blue and green that had transmissions below 40%. The hues were given poetic names to express color-mood associations.
Eastman Kodak, Agfa, Pathé and others produced pre-tinted film base before the advent of sound.
Pre-tinted stock can be identified by scratching the emulsion off in a small area outside the frame revealing the colored film base.
Galleries Hide all Galleries ×Open all Galleries ▼
Earl Sponable Collection. Sonochrome Sound Test. Images courtesy of the 20th Century Fox Collection at the Academy Film Archive.
Edge code: Kodak 1929 and 1930. Cf.: Brown, Harold (1990): Physical Characteristics of Early Films as Aids to Identification. Brussels: FIAF, on pp. 13–17. View Quote on Page: Edge Codes and Identification.
Intolerance (USA 1916, D. W. Griffith).
Credit: Library of Congress.
Photographs of the pretinted nitrate print from 1935 by Barbara Flueckiger.
Original Technical Papers and Primary Sources
Didiée, L. (1926): Le Film vierge Pathé. Manuel de développement et de tirage. Paris: Pathé, pp. 139-140. (in French)
Jones, Loyd A. (1929): Tinted Films for Sound Positives. In: Transactions of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 37, May 6–9, 1929, pp. 199-226.
Fossati, Giovanna (1998): When Cinema Was Coloured. In: Luciano Berriatúa et al.: Tutti i colori del mondo. Il colore nei mass media tra 1900 e 1930. = All the colours of the world. Reggio Emilia: Edizioni Diabasis, pp. 121-132, on p. 125.
Layton, James; Pierce, David (2015): The Dawn of Technicolor. Rochester: George Eastman House, on p. 258.
Pierotti, Federico (2012): La seduzione dello spettro. Storia e cultura del colore nel cinema. Genova: Le Mani-Microart, on pp. 132–134. (in Italian)
Read, Paul (2009): ‘Unnatural Colours’. An Introduction to Colouring Techniques in Silent Era Movies. In: Film History, 21,1, p. 14and pp. 21-24.
Ryan, Roderick T. (1977): A History of Motion Picture Color Technology. London: Focal Press, p. 17.
Yumibe, Joshua (2009): ‘Harmonious Sensations of Sound by Means of Colors’: Vernacular Colour Abstractions in Silent Cinema In: Film History, 21,2, pp. 164-176, on pp. 170-172.
Yumibe, Joshua (2012): Moving Colors. Early Film, Mass Culture, Modernism. New Brunswick et al.: Rutgers University Press, on pp. 144-147.
Edge Codes and Identification
Brown, Harold (1990): Physical Characteristics of Early Films as Aids to Identification. Brussels: FIAF.
Edge marks: Kodak. View Quote on Page: Edge Codes and Identification
Fossati, Giovanna (1998): When Cinema Was Coloured. In: Luciano Berriatúa et al.: Tutti i colori del mondo. Il colore nei mass media tra 1900 e 1930. = All the colours of the world. Reggio Emilia: Edizioni Diabasis, pp. 121-132, on pp. 126-131.
Read, Paul; Meyer, Mark-Paul (2000): Using Pre-tinted Positive Film on which to Make the Print. In: Restoration of Motion Picture Film. Oxford, pp. 184-185.