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.

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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) View Quote

Eastman Kodak Company (1927): Tinting and Toning of Eastman Positive Motion Picture Film. Rochester, NY: Eastman Kodak, on pp. 7–8. View Quote

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. View Quote

Secondary Sources

Cleveland, David; Pritchard, Brian (2015): How Films were Made and Shown. Some Aspects of the Technical Side of Motion Picture Film 1895-2015. Manningtree, Essex: David Cleveland, on pp. 196–197. View Quote

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. View Quote

Layton, James; Pierce, David (2015): The Dawn of Technicolor. Rochester: George Eastman House, on p. 258. View Quote

Pierotti, Federico (2012): La seduzione dello spettro. Storia e cultura del colore nel cinema. Genova: Le Mani-Microart, on pp. 132–134. (in Italian) View Quote

Read, Paul (2009): ‘Unnatural Colours’. An Introduction to Colouring Techniques in Silent Era Movies. In: Film History, 21,1, p. 14 View Quote and pp. 21-24. View Quote

Ryan, Roderick T. (1977): A History of Motion Picture Color Technology. London: Focal Press, p. 17. View Quote

Street, Sarah; Yumibe, Joshua (2019): Chromatic Modernity. Color, Cinema, and Media of the 1920s. New York: Columbia University Press, on pp. 34–35. View Quote

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. View Quote

Yumibe, Joshua (2012): Moving Colors. Early Film, Mass Culture, Modernism. New Brunswick et al.: Rutgers University Press, on pp. 144-147. View Quote

Edge Codes and Identification


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. View Quote

Contemporary Reception

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. View Quote