Prizma I


“The color experiments were conducted in the basement of a house at 1586 E. Seventeenth St., Brooklyn, N. Y. During this time a double-coated stock and a bleach formula which had much to do with the success of the later Prizma process were perfected. From Brooklyn the Panchromotion Company moved to quarters in a vacant garage in Jersey City, N. J. By this time, a certain measure of success had attended Kelley’s endeavors, and Prizma Incorporated was formed with sufficient capital to undertake regular production.

Subsequently to 1916, Prizma sent cameramen with the Prizma filter-wheel cameras throughout the world to make travel and nature pictures. The negative films were returned and finished at the Prizma laboratory.

The first Prizma film was Our Navy, released in 1917 at the Forty-Fourth Street Theater in New York City, and also shown about the same time at the Strand Theater in that city. . .    The color was produced by an additive process, using a color-wheel on the projector.

Kelley was not satisfied, however; he believed that the color could be applied directly to the film by a subtractive system. In order to carry out this idea, he entered a partnership with Carroll H. Dunning and Wilson Saulsbury, and a laboratory was opened at 205 W. Fortieth Street in New York City under the name “Kesdacolor.””

(Theisen, W.E. (1935): William Van Doren Kelley (1876-1934). In: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 24, March 1935, pp. 275-277, on pp. 275-276.)

Original Technical Papers and Primary Sources

American Society of Cinematographers. (1917): The Prizma Process of Color Cinematography. In: Motion Picture News, Vol. 15, No. 12 (March 24, 1917), pp. 1890-1892.

Kelley, William Van Doren (1918): Natural Color Cinematography. In: Transactions of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 7, Nov. 1918, pp. 38–43, on pp. 41–42 View Quote, on p. 42 View Quote and on p. 42. View Quote

MacDonald, Margaret I. (1917): Prizma Color Demonstration. In: Moving Picture World, vol. 31, no. 8 (February 24, 1917), p. 1201.

Museum Notes. In: The American Museum Journal, Vol. 17 (1917), p. 150.

Secondary Sources

Alt, Dirk (2011): “Der Farbfilm marschiert!” Frühe Farbfilmverfahren und NS-Propaganda 1933-1945. München: Belleville, on p. 42. (in German) 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. 279-280. 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. 122. View Quote

Layton, James; Pierce, David (2015): The Dawn of Technicolor. Rochester: George Eastman House, on pp. 52–53 View Quote and on p. 63. View Quote

Phillips, Henry Albert (1923): The New Motion Pictures. III. Pictures in Natural Colors. In: Motion Picture Magazine, XXVI,3, Nov., p. 57 and pp. 95–97. View Link

Theisen, W.E. (1935): William Van Doren Kelley (1876-1934). In: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 24, March 1935, pp. 275-277, on pp. 275-276. View Quote

Theisen, Earl (1936): Notes on the History of Color Motion Pictures. In: The International Photogtapher, Vol. 8, No. 5, June 1936, pp. 8-9 and p. 24, on p. 8-9. View Quote