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Haines, Richard W. The History of Dye Transfer Printing.


Jefferson, North Carolina : McFarland, on pp. These shorts helped Technicolor to make the all-important transition from cemented-prints to the imbibition dye-transfer method. The shorts also prompted Nicholas Schenck to advise Technicolor to try a feature-length film, which, he promised, MGM would distribute. Although the color, for its time, was good, the picture itself was an amateurish attempt to tell four stories simultaneously.

Warner, elated by his success with sound, decided to take up color, and Warners contracted with Technicolor for more than twenty features. Alan Crosland directed.

Great Films

Universal: The King of Jazz. During this boom Technicolor took on more work than it could handle satisfactorily, and producers closed in on Kalmus demanding service. Hundreds of new technicians were hastily hired and Technicolor cameras and laboratory facilities were operated day and night.

The inevitable result was public disenchantment. And the producers, hit by the Depression, cancelled contracts and demanded the return of money they had advanced. Technicolor had employed people before the bubble burst. The quality of its color rendition and image sharpness, and its total absence of grain, are still remarkable. Technicolor was still a two-color process, and the absence of the third primary color, blue, excluded the possibility of a true representation of color.

Make-up was extremely unnatural. But the biggest problem was lighting — an unbelievable amount of light was demanded. Behlmer, Rudy : Technicolor. In: Films in Review , 15,6, pp. Irregularities associated with cupping bending and curving of the film which interfered with proper focusing and emulsion scratching marred the process and motivated Technicolor to introduce a third core technology, the imbibition process covered in a notebook of the same name.

Imbibition IB , or dye transfer, aimed to unite two colour records on a single layer of emulsion in order to overcome the problems of the cemented positives. In this system, the matrices did not form the projection positive itself; instead, the gelatine relief images would be soaked in a dye solution and used as in a printing process to transfer the dye onto another piece of film.

With the three basic technologies beam splitter, matrix stock, and dye transfer thus introduced, one by one, in the course of Technicolor I—III, the company was in a position to improve the beam splitter and adapt the process towards a three-colour system, Technicolor IV. Meanwhile, sound was about to revolutionize film technology and needed to be considered within the system. In: Film History, Volume 21, Number 1, , pp.

Burton Westcott, in the s Technicolor swept aside all the competition to become the most commercially successful colour film company and process. Most often the name is associated with three-strip Technicolor — used for such key s colour films as Becky Sharp , Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz — which is officially known as Technicolor Process No. The name gives testament to the fact that the rapid success of Technicolor was in fact the result of years of painstaking trial and error in the area of research, coupled with an aggressive campaign of commercial exploitation.

The first Technicolor process, unveiled in , was an additive system which used a beam splitter in the camera to record two frames simultaneously through red and green filters.

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The two images were registered successively on the negative and processed into a positive. In projection the successive images were projected through the corresponding filters and through a prism which could be adjusted to bring the successive frames into precise register. The camera exposed the red and green images simultaneously through filters, but a new prism was included that exposed the green record upside down. The two relief images were cemented back to back and then dyed red-orange on the green side and green on the red side, making a subtractive print that was the normal thickness and could be used on any conventional projector.

The system was successful but had problems, notably that in time one of the two cemented images would frequently break away from the other, causing the print to go out of focus. In the processing was improved by virtue of a dye-transfer process, which became known as Technicolor Process No. The two relief images were produced as they had been in Process No.

Still in relief, and dyed with the correct colours, the matrices were then pressed using pressured rollers against a blank film coated with gelatine to which the dyed images were transferred by embossing the relief images onto the blank film with the dye, the dyes being locked by the use of a mordant. By this method multiple layers could be registered on a single film strip. Even as Process No. The dye-transfer process had effectively solved one of the problems of three-colour cinematography, which was that even by using double-sided film there was still the challenge of how to register the third colour on the print.

Imbibition allowed two or more colour images to be transferred via the matrices onto the print, provided that the images were in precise register. Kalmus therefore focused on producing a working three-colour camera. Initial experiments with a successive-frame system were abandoned in favour of a camera which used a beam splitter to split the light from the source through filters, the green record passing straight through a green filter onto a film strip, while the red and blue records were captured on a bipack film through a magenta filter.


The camera therefore produced three negatives, one red, one blue, one green. As with the two-colour process, gelatine relief matrices were made which were then dyed complementary subtractive colours and pressed one after the other against a blank film which absorbed the dye. The success of Technicolor has as much to do with the way in which Kalmus ran the business as the quality of the process itself.

As stated, Technicolor Process No. While not sharing the same problems in projection, three-strip Technicolor was expensive and involved the use of a large, cumbersome camera, making location shooting difficult. Similar issues had led to the demise of other processes, but despite the fact that for years the company lost money, Kalmus managed to keep finding investors to back his work and film directors willing to experiment. From the first feature using the original two-colour additive system — The Gulf Between — Technicolor in all its incarnations appeared in some of the biggest Hollywood films of the day, albeit often only in short sequences.

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Thus, after being used for the first time to make The Toll of the Sea , the cemented positive process was used for significant scenes in films including The Ten Commandments , The Phantom of the Opera and Ben Hur Also in the commercial exploitation of Technicolor received a boost when Douglas Fairbanks decided to make The Black Pirate entirely in Technicolor, but the success of the film only proved how unworkable the cemented positive system was as Technicolor struggled to cope with the large number of prints required and the increased number of problems which consequentially arose.

Technicolor was making losses and enjoying only very moderate success, yet Kalmus continued to develop his ideas even after the conversion to sound was followed by the Great Depression, which saw a shift in aesthetics in Hollywood towards black and white and away from colour. Three-strip Technicolor led to the company becoming the industry leader.

Shortly afterwards, in , the first live-action Technicolor short was released, La Cucaracha , followed by the first feature film, Becky Sharp It was the global success of this film which propelled three-strip Technicolor forward, and it was the impact of Becky Sharp in the UK, as well as the quality of the image, which first attracted Alexander Korda to the process and encouraged him to abandon his plans to use Hillman colour, thus bringing the Technicolor brand to the UK.

The first British film made using the process was Wings of the Morning , and Technicolor would ultimately be used for some of the most respected British films of the s, including Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes Basten, Fred E. Barnes and Co. Brown, Simon : Technical Appendix. The Negotiation of Innovation Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. The romantic story of a brilliant scientist, his Titian-haired wife, and the rise of Technicolored pictures. Herbert T. Kalmus stood his beautiful red-haired wife in a brightly lighted room and turned a new kind of movie camera on her.

And thus, with a mop of pretty red hair, began the romantic story of the Technicolor process of photographing motion pictures in natural color — a tale as thrilling as any that could be conjured up by the imagination of an inspired fictioneer. Did you know that by proper costuming and lighting the Technicolor camera can take off or put on twenty pounds in the case of any player it chooses?

What price grapefruit now? For instance: It is a well known scientific fact, proven by the Einstein and other theories, that Russians like their chorus ladies plump.

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So when Director Alan Crosland, making Song of the Flame , was faced with a whole chorus of slim American girls supposed to be Russian ladies, he was horrified, and near a stroke. But the witchery of Technicolor, by the proper use of color schemes, put no less than twenty pounds on each of these slender maidens, and in the picture they look as plump and buxom as any Muscovite could wish.

THE use of color has put rouge back in the dressing rooms of the studios. Black and white pictures called for flat and uninteresting makeup, but the rouge pot is called into play again. Facial makeup photographs, in Technicolor, just as the eye sees it — so a player can almost walk from the street to the color picture stage and pass inspection by the head man of the makeup department.

In one all-Technicolor subject a row of bronze statues lined the background of a scene. When the rushes hit the screen the figures were nothing but a row of smudges. But the color heroes were not daunted. They grabbed their trusty boxes and rushed to the rescue. A dab of rouge on the bronze cheeks, a dab of makeup here and there, and the next time the statues stood out nobly, in full view.

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Had you any idea that a pair of light blue eyes almost automatically barred their possessor form the black and white screen? They did, and many a blonde and blue-eyed Ziegfeld doll baby fell before the old time camera because of the pale orbs so fetching off screen. We refer you to Marilyn Miller in Sally. Dennis King, star of stage operetta, pouted at the thought of Technicolor when he went to Paramount to make The Vagabond King.

They coaxed him into making a test. When he saw the first rushes — which showed his blond coloring and blue eyes to perfection — he went overboard for the color idea with a splash, and is now happiest before the new camera. THE Technicolor camera plays weird tricks. Frank Fay has fiery red hair. It has a tendency to fly in the breeze, so somebody suggested he use a little brilliantine to make it lie down. He did and when the Technicolor rushes were run his hair was a brilliant green. Ten years ago Dr. Kalmus made his first Technicolor camera.

Today the learned doctor is president of a S35,, corporation that makes the cameras, rents them out, furnishes technical experts and develops the colored film — the slowest and trickiest process in the whole parade from raw stock to the picture on the screen. But the doctor and his work are only half the glamorous story. His devoted and handsome wife, the aforesaid Natalie M.

Now she is expert supreme on all technical questions of light and color in the astonishingly complex and varied art of photographing in color.

Natalie M. Kalmus works almost with ferocity. Sixteen hours a day is nothing to this amazing woman. She has developed the art of using color to express varieties of dramatic feeling to the highest point in its history.