Numerous types of color processes in film has been witnessed throughout time. It is evident that some color has been more successful in film than others. As a matter of fact, some colors have remained dominant for an extended period while others fade away quickly if not required. In the future, the film industry will go ahead to experience advanced technology that will enable filmmakers to use more attractive and sophisticated colors. Probably an essential point to remember is that the evolution in film has been undergoing a gradual transformation since time immemorial. Like a century ago, people thought that color would ruin motion pictures but instead proceeded further to induce visual narratives. From the history of black-and-white film stock to the present history, it is noticeable that celluloid has been manipulated to create color. The history of "moving pictures" to the current days, has shown that film technology has evolved. Early in 19th century, creative photographers could retouch their black-and-white landscapes and portraits to make them realistic (Gunning, 2013, p.1). However, the outcome could be rather surreal. In the dawn of the age of films, the addition of black-and-white was to bring out the potential for disastrous garish results.
Early in the 1830s, the first photographs were produced and this instilled a desire to create an outstanding color photograph. The images were dyed, painted, and colored with numerous inks for a long period of time before the way to create true color images worked in 1861. The color processes has witnessed a progressive transformation through different phases that entails the Smith and Urban’s Kinemacolor, Prizmacolor, Gaumont’s Chrono chrome, and the two color versions of Technicolor and KodaChrome. Color, to some degree, is a superadded prevailing method of reproduction, an additional sensual intensity which generates its importance at least to reveal the difference between black and white.
The essay will take through the journey of the evolution of film technology, moreover in inventions that are concerning color film processes. Basically, the paper will define the phenomenon called color in film technology. As explained by Isaac Newton, color is a psychological reaction to a very slight band of electromagnetic spectrum that is called light (Higgins, 2007, p.189). Therefore, the essential reason to event color film processes was to create a psychological reaction to the audience as well as for exhibiting and photographing motion pictures. The first attempt was carried out in the late 18th century and brings out a suitable format to display motion picture film that bears images in color (Neale, 2012, p.13).
Background of Autonomous colors
Similar to the introduction of sound, much improvement is noticeable when it comes to color. The introduction of color into motion films was as logical and led to improved quality on films. Therefore, as time flies, we do expect rapid advancement in color processes techniques. In the mid-1930s, much faith was put in color when the three-strip Technicolor was invented as well as other color processes that were showcased. Additionally, in the mid-1930s color had generated excitement in the film industry professionals.
Before the introduction of Technicolor, there were various schemes such as tinting, toning, stenciling and hand-coloring of frames to inject pigment into the pictures. The schemes were the earliest history of film shading. Incredibly, a scheme such as hand-coloring was done precisely as the name suggests (Neale, 2012, p.14). Therefore, this implied that the processes were labor-intensive technology and were only possible since by then the film were very short. Stenciling was distinctly easier compared to hand-coloring but still was labor-intensive technology.
In stenciling, etched glass plates were attached to the main photographic shapes to cover the portion of the film. This helped to apply dye to the relevant sectors of each frame. Early in 19th century, the most coloring process method was tinting, it was inexpensive and a less labor-intensive technology of producing color in the film stock. The process involved dyeing the whole frame of a sequence that helped to match the sequence's mood or activity. Toning included dying the black parts of the frame by using a chemical (Neale, 2012, p.14). Toning and tinting were the most advanced technology and was liked by many since they enhanced the psychological mood of the film. In the 1920s, 80-90% of most American currently known as Hollywood movies were using some form of toning or tinting techniques. However, the methods could hardly be considered an accurate rendering of a color image and were cumbersome. Therefore, this gives time for curtain rising to articulate the whole story of the durable and best color film processes ever used on a commercial basis.
Mimetic processes (natural colors) beginnings
In the 19th century, there were two primary methods of creating color, the additive color, and subtractive color. This increases sprouting of many companies holding color patents. The additive color process referred to mixing colors on the screen's surface itself, instead of dyeing the film strip. On the other hand, the subtractive color process involved coloring the film itself, and removing some color from respective three pieces of film. Afterward, when resultant is projected simultaneously, it mixes to give a wider and more realistic experience of color. The techniques behind addictive and subtractive color processes marked the form classic Technicolor took.
Both subtractive and additive color were applied to produce color camerawork. In 1908, the Natural Color Kinematograph Company and Charles Urban tried the first endeavor into capturing color naturally in the film. Another color film process was the Kinemacolor system which was an invention that was innovated by George Albert Smith (Jackson, 2015, p.2). The technique was successive of a good example of the color additive process. In the Kinemacolor technique, the camera had one frame that would capture with a red filter (Neale, 2012, p.13). On the other hand, the other frame was to be captured with a back and green filter. A projector having a red, green filter flywheel was used to play the film. As a result of audience persistence of vision a red and green following images would "add" together. The outcome of the movie was unanticipated good color image regardless of being only a two color system and was screened around the world.
Kinemacolor proved there was a market of color film. However, the technique of additive color film process was very expensive by then since the processes extremely inclined labor-intensive. Other various schemes of additive methods included Cinechrome, British Raycol, and Chronochrome though, addictive color systems for the film showed to be much technically challenging to implement (Jackson, 2015, p.10). This makes the other addictive techniques which were used in electronics. After a short period, two-strip subtractive Technicolor was the first genuinely fruitful color system for film.
The Kinemacolor Company, in 1910, perfected the approach of synchronizing a camera to capture red and green alternating frames. The system introduced the way of recording the actual colors in form of motion pictures. Since kinemacolor was flickery and needed a special projector, it was abandoned within no time. The problem with kinemacolor is that it failed to produce an attractive color spectrum but instead appeared with a strange appearance of greenish and washed out-skies. On the other hand, the Chrono chrome process invented by Gaumont provided a short- term solution by making film shredding smaller, and this made it a sustainable three-color process although it never proceeded until the 1920s.
The Rise of Technicolor
In the year 1912, Technicolor process began when the film of Comstock and Kalmus was formed (Haines, 1993, p.4). Technicolor implies the digital innovation of series of color motion picture processes. A milestone that is celebrated and changed visual narratives forever. Technicolor has been improved to updated versions over several decades. Technicolor technique was second key color process after Kinemacolor. In early 19th century, it was hard to abandon color additive processes, and therefore the very first Technicolor color process was a technique from an addictive with conjunction to Kinemacolor and Chronochrome (Street, 2010 p.54). Contrary to Kinemacolor, Technicolor was to concentrate on shooting color films as well as color sequences rather than its films production.
The optical system of 1917 Technicolor camera.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Technicolor technique was still experimental to the extent of being absurd. This is because the art was a two-color process and therefore, it could not capture the entire spectrum (Haines, 1993, p.2). During this Dawn of Technicolor, there were so many errors that needed to be corrected, particularly in the early days of the 1920s, where the films could not get proper blues, yellow or purples. Typically, the purple color in the movie was projected as brown or black.
In the year 1915, The Technicolor Corporation was established, intended to adventure a two-color additive process. Though the technique was incorporated in the year 1915, I t was not until after World War II that full-color films started to be acknowledged by viewers (Street, 2010 p.56). The first film to be produced by the Technicolor Corporation was an absolute failure. Therefore, the company changed direction and began employing a technique of a two-color subtractive process. In 1922, a new process was patented, and the company used a beam prism in its camera to help them split the light into two white and black film stocks.
The first frame was eventually dyed red-orange while the other one was to be dyed blue-green. Subsequently, the dyed positive images would be bonded together for an ultimate color positive image. The resultant image would be performed back in the approved projectors with no exceptional equipment. In the year 1922, The Toll of the Sea was the first motion picture to receive the Technicolor two-strip subtractive process (Haines, 1993, p.2). Two-strip Technicolor was an immediate hit. In mid-1920s, Technicolor advanced the process with a step known as Imbibition or IB. IB helped in joining together the color separations onto a third black gelatin coated movie which made Technicolor a beautiful autograph.
In the beginning, Technicolor prioritized certain colors for naturalness. For instance, sometimes it could take red color for the skin tone while the green color could go for foliage. Which meant skies and water would never reproduce accurately in the movie. This was a wakeup call for the Technicolor, and there was a need for improvement and the first three-color subtractive system was innovated (Neale, 2012, p.20). The process helped in introducing a third primary color that is blue color into subtractive color technology. Theoretically, the technique was capable of incorporating a visible spectrum much accurately and widely into its technical and aesthetic domain.
In 1917, William Van Doren introduced the very first successful subtractive color process at the American Museum of Natural History. Its name was Prizma, which had begun in a year earlier as an additive system. The discovery of Prizma resulted to a succession of similarly printed color processes (Street, 2010, p.60). The mechanical techniques of Prizma were different from that of Kinemacolor. It used two strips of film which were running through the camera, one recording blue-green and the other one recording red light. On the duplicated film, black-and-white negatives were being printed. At the same time, the color images were toned blue and red, and this resulted in creating a subtractive color print efficiently.
Another breakthrough of two-strip Technicolor in the theater was made in the 1930s and 1940s. During this period, two-strip were used primarily for individually selected scenes and only rarely for entire features. For example, in a film like Hell's Angels had two-color sequences, but for a movie like Universal's King of Jazz was notable full length all color film. In the year 1933, the number of productions that used Technicolor reduced and the only notable film was produced with all color features were Doctor X (Kalmus, 2006, p.4). This was because the interest was fading due to the limited range of colors and seemed to be a gimmick rather than an artistic choice. An additional problem of two-strip Technicolor techniques had apparent grained that was caused by improperly exposed matrices and the reels had an inconsistent color balance that makes the techniques mediocre in quality control. It was evident there was a necessity in advancing to the third color to expand the operation.
The success of Technicolor has been visible throughout the advancement of color process techniques. In 1938, a showcase of Technicolor from Warner Bros won three Academy Honors for having the best artistic application of color in the film Adventure of Robin Hood. This marked the golden era for Technicolor after producing the Wizard of Oz that demonstrated the incredible richness of Technicolor when they created a magical Land of Oz. Early in the year 1940, Technicolor introduced another technique that was referred as Monopack. The method was successful since they combined the three separations into one single reel of the motion picture that was loaded with conventional cameras. The technical, therefore, become ideal for geographical shooting. This shown that Technicolor had emerged with a vengeance after their failure of two strips and they will remain on top of their game. Monopack holds a virtual domination over color motion picture production.
The Rise of Monopack Color Films
The technique was based on the subtractive color system with the aim of using superimposed cyan, yellow and magenta dye to filter colors from white light. The Monopack color process creates images from records of the amount of blue, red and green light that I presented at each point of the picture formed by the camera lens. When one of the additive primary color that is either red, blue or green has been removed from the spectrum, a subtractive primary color (cyan, yellow, magenta) is what remains. Monopack color films such as Eastman Kodak has incorporated three separate layers with different color sensitive emulsion into one strip of film. In this case, a single layer records on of the additive primaries and is processed to produce a dye image in the matching subtractive primary. One of the first successful Monopack multilayer films in the market was Kodachrome that was introduced in the year 1935.
The Rise and Fall of Color Film Processes
The color consciousness resulted in a difficult transition from black-and-white to the modern cinematography. All invention was intended to make color work conveniently, illustrating the perception of the world as well as replicate the field of vision in an accurate way. The invention of motion pictures resulted in the necessity and desire for color images. Technicolor was invented to bring a change from black-and-white vision to at least simultaneous green and red images (Haines, 1993, p.6). This generated excitement on the audience and made Technicolor first genuinely fruitful color system for film. In the 1930s, Technicolor technique resulted in a three-color camera that was the first viable full-color system. This was a smashing success, and it speeded Technicolor into profitability. The vibrant color and rich hues made Technicolor looks fantastic. However, this made it require specialized equipment and became expensive. Unfortunately, the invention that was conducted by the Kodak to curb the cumbersome of Technicolor become difficult to process though it had vibrant color.
The color transition took decades since each process has its advantages and disadvantages. The reasons why some color film processes were more successful than others can be divided into three categories. The categories are based on economic, technological and aesthetic issues. In the mid-1930s, the heart of the difficult adoption of color in the film industry was as a result of technological problems (Haines, 1993, p.5). At this period, the color film process techniques were perceived as default, and making changes to a process was seen as unsteady and tricky. However, at the beginning of the year 1915, there was the birth of Technicolor that is remembered vividly and decisive event in the journey of colored films.
The two-color subtractive process was invented with two negatives attached back to back to capture green and red lights. In 1929, the technique was used by Warner Bros was Technicolor which its rises halted the technique due to lack of quality in releasing-printing. Consequently, the growth of three-strip process in the year 1932 was not successful since the elaborate process was much time-consuming (Haines, 1993, p.7). Additionally, the technique failed to breakthrough since the cameras were massive. This made transportation limited and excluded outdoor shooting. Another technological problem that led to the downfall of Technicolor was a little light that the technique produces. It is a necessity for a film to have clear color images throughout the whole movie and this becomes the biggest problem. For those who tried using the Technicolor techniques in shooting the process was slower since keeping the lighting consistent was a necessity.
Another issue that has restrained, full expansion of color within color film process is the financial problems. The color transition has become laborious due to the commercial awareness. The cost of color production of Technicolor was too expensive, and the audiences could still be in love with black-and-white and monochromes cinematography. The psychological, aesthetical and ideological impediments shared among the public, critics and artists are the aspects that make color partly difficult to adopt. From the ancient times, several attempts were made to devalue and eliminate color from the culture. In the ancient era, color was perceived as an extreme bias in Western civilization and was removed from the higher matters of thinking since it was related to the primitive, the feminine and superficial. The transition to color cinematography was impacted due to the objection for color was seemed as a rooted phenomenon. Another, the downfall of color was that either visually or stylistically, screen color did not persuade everyone.
Bi-pack was introduced in 1901 by A. Gurtner. He invented a front element sensitive only to the blue. In addition, there was also a rear element, sensitive up not including the red. Gurtner argued that there was a possibility to place two films emulsion to emulsion, and at the same time ensure that their edges are pasted together to develop a single pack. Nonetheless, Monopack stripping was invented in 1903 by J.H. Smith. The emulsions were coated directly on top of the other so as to offset the possible effects of poor contact between the different elements of the tripack. The process was successful since Smith used an insulating layer of collodion. In the process, a compact pack was obtained because the collodion layers could be made thin as preferred. On top of the insulating layer, the filter dyes were placed to provide insight to the likely interaction between the sensitizer and the filter dye. The ability of the intermediate dyed collodion layers ensured that the component emulsions part was stripped and placed individually (Friedman, 1934 p. 86).
In conclusion, the rise of color in film technology has taken decades to be in the current era of the pixel. The journey of black-and-white cinematography to the present screen has been full of obstacles. However, this did not interfere with the invention of color film processes, and film industries have ultimately accepted color. As decades passes by, skepticism of color disappeared since the technology keeps on advancing and becoming more accessible and efficient. Throughout the journey, color equipment in the film has shown going down and on the other hand profit in the movie has shown an increase. The best part to be remembered during the invention of color in the movies is that critics and artists withdrew their psychological barrier against color technology and they all learned to praise and appreciate it. The journey of the invention of color has shown that the technology, as well as the invention, was all about the creativity. Subsequently, the design has given the film industry more freedom to widen the aesthetical palette that gives a greater diversity of technique to the viewers.
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