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Technicolor No. III

Description

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

Troland, Leonard T. (1927): Some Psychological Aspects of Natural Color Motion Pictures. In: Transactions of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 11, 26.9.1927, pp. 680–698, on p. 689 View Quote, on pp. 694–695 View Quote and on p. 698. 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

Anonymous (1929): Making Films in Colour. The Technique of Technicolor. In: The Bioscope, 1203,LXXXI, Oct., p. ix. View Quote

Behlmer, Rudy (1964): Technicolor. In: Films in Review 15,6, 1964, pp. 333–351, on pp. 342–343. 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

Eggert, John (1932): Kurzer Überblick über den Stand der Farbenkinematographie. In: Bericht über den VIII. Internationalen Kongress für wissenschaftliche und angewandte Photographie, Dresden 1931. Leipzig: J. A. Barth, pp. 214–221, on pp. 215–218. (in German) 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

Flueckiger, Barbara (2018): Torn between Chromophobia and Colour Mania. Developments of Early Technicolor. In: Colour Turn, 1,1, Aug., pp. VI–1–VI–36. Online

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

Higgins, Scott (2000): Demonstrating Three-Colour Technicolor. Early Three-Colour Aesthetics and Design. In: Film History, 12,4, pp. 358–383, on pp. 358–359. View Quote

Holm, Wilton R. (1957): The Elements of Color in Professional Motion Pictures. Prepared by a Special Committee of the Society. New York: The Society of Motion Picture Engineers, on p. 44. 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

Keating, Patrick (2010): Hollywood Lighting from the Silent Era to Film Noir. Columbia University Press: New York, on pp. 201–203. View Quote

Kitsopanidou, Kira (2009): “Glorious Technicolor”. La stratégie d’innovation de la couleur de Technicolor dans l’industrie cinématographique Américaine. In: Raphaëlle Costa de Beauregard (ed.): Cinéma et couleur. Paris: M. Houdiard, pp. 193–206, on pp. 194–195. (in French) View Quote

Layton, James; Pierce, David (2015): The Dawn of Technicolor. Rochester: George Eastman House, on p. 114 , on pp. 142–145 View Quote, on p. 155 View Quote, on p. 160 View Quote, on pp. 169–170 View Quote, on p. 177 View Quote, on p. 179 View Quote, on p. 181 View Quote, on p. 192 View Quote, on p. 193 View Quote, on p. 205 View Quote, on p. 231 View Quote and on p. 258. View Quote

Mees, C. E. Kenneth (1937): The Development of the Art and Science of Photography in the Twentieth Century. In: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 28,1, pp. 3–20, on p. 13. View Quote

Montesanti, Fausto (1954): Lineamenti di una storia del film a colori. In: Giuseppe Sala (ed.): Bianco e Nero. Il colore nel cinema. Rassegna mensile di studi cinematografici, XV,2-4, pp. 11–51, on pp. 30–31. (in Italian) View Quote

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

Pierotti, Federico (2012): La seduzione dello spettro. Storia e cultura del colore nel cinema. Genova: Le Mani-Microart, on pp. 127–128 View Quote and on pp. 128–130. (in Italian) View Quote

Pierotti, Federico (2016): Un’archeologia del colore nel cinema italiano. Dal Technicolor ad Antonioni. Pisa: Edizioni ETS, on p. 32. (in Italian) 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

Street, Sarah (2012): Colour Films in Britain. The Negotiation of Innovation 1900-55. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, on p. 38. View Quote

Measurements

Absorbances measured with a multispectral imaging system from film areas with pure dyes. Credit: Giorgio Trumpy, ERC Advanced Grant FilmColors.

See the specific sample from which the spectra were measured.

Restoration

McQueen, Scott (1986): Doctor X. A Technicolor Landmark. In: American Cinematographer, 67, June 1986, pp. 34–42.View Quote

Contemporary Reception

Anonymous (1930): Unsatisfactory Colour. In: The Bioscope, 1233,LXXXIII, May, p. i. View Quote

Anonymous (1930): Warners Set Pace in Sound and Color. In: The Bioscope, 1213,LXXXXII, Jan., p. 78. View Quote

Anonymous (1933): Die kulturellen Möglichkeiten des Farbenfilms. In: Film-Kurier. Beilage Kinotechnische Rundschau, 90, 15.4.1933. (in German) View Quote

Belfrage, Cedric (1929): Warner’s Big Strides in Colour. In: The Bioscope, 1183,LXXXIX, Jun., p. 16. View Quote

Gordon, George (1930): Painting the Shadows. In: Photoplay, 37,5, p. 67 and p. 84. View Quote

Mees, C.E. Kenneth (1929): The Processes of Color Photography. III. Color Cinematography. In: The Journal of Chemical Education, 6, pp. 44–51, on pp. 48–49. View Quote

Shirley, Lois (1932): All Hollywood Has Now Gone Color-Conscious. In: Photoplay, 42,3, pp. 48–49 and p. 118, on page 48. View Quote


 

Red Hair (USA 1928, Clarence G. Badger):
Anonymous (1928): Technicolor Shows Clara Bow at State in “Red Hair.” In: Reading Eagle, 25. March 1928, p. 14. View Quote

Beaton, Donald (1928): As They Appeal to a Youth. In: The Film Spectator, 56, Mar., pp. 16–17. View Quote


 

Redskin (USA 1929, Victor Schertzinger):
Anonymous (1929): Watch Photoplay’s New Sound Reviews for the Latest Talkie Developments. In: Photoplay, XXXV,3, Feb., pp. 54–55, on p. 54. View Quote

Anonymous (1929): Mr. Dix’s Color Film. In: New York Times, 10 February 1929. View Quote

Anonymous (1929): Kicking That Red Man Around. In: Motion Picture Classic, XXIX,2, Apr., p. 55. View Quote

Anonymous (1929): Redskin (S). With Richard Dix. In: Harrison’s Reports, XI,6, Feb., p. 22. View Quote


 

Sally (USA 1929, John Francis Dillon):
Anonymous (1930): Cilly, die erste Farben-Tonfilmrevue. In: Die Kinotechnik, 12,8, Apr., p. 232. (in German) View Quote


 

The Viking (USA 1928, Roy William Neill):
Hall, Mordaunt (1928): A Picture in Colors. In: New York Times, November 29, 1928. View Quote


 

Whoopee! (USA 1930, Thornton Freeland; Busby Berkeley, Choreography):
Anonymous (1930): When Colour Means Better Sound. Whoopee Marks Big Technicolor Advance. In: The Bioscope, 1252,LXXXV, Oct., p. 23. View Quote

Selected Analyses

Cleopatra (USA 1928, Roy William Neill):
Flückiger, Barbara (2015): Zwischen Chromophobie und Farbrausch. Entwicklungslinien des frühen Technicolor. In: Connie Betz, Annike Schaefer and Rainer Rother (eds.): Glorious Technicolor. Berlin: Bertz und Fischer, pp. 21–47, on p. 36 View Quote and p. 41. (in German) View Quote


 

The King of Jazz (USA 1930, John Murray Anderson):
Pierotti, Federico (2012): La seduzione dello spettro. Storia e cultura del colore nel cinema. Genova: Le Mani-Microart, on pp. 130–131. (in Italian) View Quote

Layton, James; Pierce, David (2016): King of Jazz. Paul Whiteman’s Technicolor Revue. Severn, MD: Media History Press, 300 pp.

O’Brien, Charles (2013): Color as Image Schema. Technicolor Number 3 in King of Jazz. In: Simon Brown, Sarah Street, Liz Watkins (eds.): Color and the Moving Image. History, Theory, Aesthetics, Archive. New York, London: Routledge, pp. 37–46. View Quote

Street, Sarah; Yumibe, Joshua (2019): Chromatic Modernity. Color, Cinema, and Media of the 1920s. New York: Columbia University Press, on pp. 245–249. View Quote


 

Mystery of the Wax Museum (USA 1933, Michael Curtiz):
Layton, James; Pierce, David (2015): The Dawn of Technicolor. Rochester: George Eastman House, on pp. 263–264 View Quote and on p. 390. View Quote

Montesanti, Fausto (1954): Lineamenti di una storia del film a colori. In: Giuseppe Sala (ed.): Bianco e Nero. Il colore nel cinema. Rassegna mensile di studi cinematografici, XV,2-4, pp. 11–51, on pp. 31–32. (in Italian) View Quote


 

Fashion News (USA 1927):
Street, Sarah; Yumibe, Joshua (2019): Chromatic Modernity. Color, Cinema, and Media of the 1920s. New York: Columbia University Press, on pp. 87–88. View Quote