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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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 (1925): Color Photography Patents (cont.). In: Transactions of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 24, Oct., pp. 149–161, on p. 150 and on p. 151. View Quote, Download PDF

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. View Quote

Secondary Sources

Alt, Dirk (2011): “Der Farbfilm marschiert!” Frühe Farbfilmverfahren und NS-Propaganda 1933-1945. München: Belleville, on pp. 36–37. (in German) View Quote

Basten, Fred E. (1980): Glorious Technicolor. The Movies’ Magic Rainbow. South Brunswick: Barnes, on p. 14. View Quote

Cherchi Usai, Paolo (2000): Silent Cinema. London: BFI, pp. 32-33. View Quote

Coe, Brian (1981): The History of Movie Photography. Westfield, N.J.: Eastview Editions, p. 114. View Quote

Hanssen, Eirik Frisvold (2006): Early Discourses on Colour and Cinema. Origins, Functions, Meanings. = Diss. University of Stockholm (Stockholm Cinema Studies, No. 2, p. 80.

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. View Quote

Layton, James; Pierce, David (2015): The Dawn of Technicolor. Rochester: George Eastman House, on p. 111 View Quote and on p. 126. View Quote

Misek, Richard (2010): Chromatic Cinema. A History of Screen Color. John Wiley & Sons, on p. 22. 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., pp. 15-17. View Quote

Pierotti, Federico (2012): La seduzione dello spettro. Storia e cultura del colore nel cinema. Genova: Le Mani-Microart, on pp. 96–97. (in Italian) View Quote

Read, Paul (2009): ‘Unnatural Colours’: An introduction to colouring techniques in silent era movies. In: Film History, Vol. 21, No. 1, p. 16 View Quote, see list of handschiegl dyes on p. 37. View Quote

Ryan, Roderick T. (1977): A History of Motion Picture Color Technology. London: Focal Press, pp. 23-24. 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. 185. View Quote

Contemporary Reception

The Affairs of Anatol (USA 1921, Cecil B. DeMille):
Whitely Fletcher, Adele (1921): Across the Silversheet. New Screen Plays In Review. In: Motion Picture Magazine, XXII,8, Sep., pp. 68–69, on p. 69. View Quote
Full text on the Media History Digital Library website. View Link


The Phantom of the Opera (USA 1925, Rupert Julian):
Barr, Al (1925): A Duplex Report on The Phantom. In: Exhibitors Herald, XXII,12, Sep., p. 52. View Quote

Benson, Sally (1925): The Screen in Review. Expensive and Everything. In: Picture-Play Magazine, XXIII,4, Dec., p. 59. View Quote

Hall, Mordaunt (1925): The Screen. A Fantastic Melodrama. In: The New York Times, 7 September 1925, p. 15. View Quote
Full text on The New York Times website. View Link


The Ten Commandments (USA 1923, Cecil B. DeMille):
Anonymous (1923): The Screen. In: New York Times, 22 December 1923, p. 8. View Quote

Anonymous (1924): The Ten Commendations of The Ten Commandments. In: Variety, LXXIII,7, Jan., p. 69. View Quote

Anonymous (1924): The Shadow Stage. A Review of the New Pictures. The Ten Commandments. In: Photoplay, XXV,3, Feb., p. 62. View Quote

Selected Analyses

The Affairs of Anatol (USA 1921, Cecil B. DeMille):
Fischer, Lucy (2017): Cinema by Design. Art Nouveau, Modernism and Film History. New York: Columbia University Press, on p. 76. View Quote

Street, Sarah; Yumibe, Joshua (2019): Chromatic Modernity. Color, Cinema, and Media of the 1920s. New York: Columbia University Press, on pp. 89–93. View Quote


The Phantom of the Opera (USA 1925, Rupert Julian):
Traber, Bodo (1995): Dramaturgische Funktionen monochromer Farbgebung im Stummfilm. In: Karl-Dietmar Möller-Nass Möller-Nass, Hasko Schneider and Hans J. Wulff (eds.): 1. Film- und Fernsehwissenschaftliches Kolloquium. Münster: MAkS, pp. 30–36, on pp. 31–33. (in German) View Quote


The Ten Commandments (USA 1923, Cecil B. DeMille):
Birchard, Robert S. (1992): The Ten Commandments (1923). DeMille Completes Personal Exodus. In: American Cinematographer, 73,10, pp. 76–80, on pp. 76–77. View Quote

Layton, James; Pierce, David (2015): The Dawn of Technicolor. Rochester: George Eastman House, on pp. 99–102. View Quote