Autochrome film / Cinécolor


Several attempts were made to apply the Autochrome process invented by the Lumière brothers to motion pictures.

Transparent potato starch grains with a diameter of 15–20 micrometer were colored in the additive primaries red, green and blue. The spaces between the grains were blackened by carbon particles. This process created a colored mosaic screen through which the emulsion was exposed. By a reversal process a positive print of the film was created. As in Pointillism the color impression was formed in the eye of the viewer.

Several problems prevented the successful exploitation of the process. The starch grains tended to form clusters of the same color thus leading to an uneven formation of the pattern. When set in motion this randomized but uneven pattern became highly visible and obtrusive due to the notable changes between individual frames. Like with all the screen processes the small filters lowered the speed of the stock considerably.

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Secondary Sources

Alt, Dirk (2011): “Der Farbfilm marschiert!” Frühe Farbfilmverfahren und NS-Propaganda 1933-1945. München: Belleville, on p. 39. (in German) View Quote

Anonymous (1934): Der Lumicolor-Film. In: Die Kinotechnik, 16,1, p. 9. (in German) View Quote




Cinécolor, mosaic screen, ca. 1929. Credit: Gert Koshofer Collection. Sample No. 68. Photograph by Barbara Flueckiger.
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.