Is technicolor still used at all?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by DanielStone, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    Somehow, I don't think so.

    But I wanted to check none the less. I'm a nerd I guess, cause I stay after the movie's done just to see what the film was shot on, Fuji, Kodak, Panavision, etc....


    being that Technicolor is a color separation process, isn't the color *more accurate* than the current methods of shooting color neg film and then scanning, and re-outputting to reversal film for display?

    -Dan
     
  2. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    *more accurate* from a color at the time of capture, I meant.

    -Dan
     
  3. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    Technicolor isn't used anymore but I believe I saw a lawrence of arabia screening here a few years back projected in 3 strip technicolor. Of course, the lab Technicolor still exists.
     
  4. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I'm fairly sure it's the exact same thing. After all, color film is three layers of black and white film in one. Reversal film is less accurate because it isn't masked. I know that the technicolor printing process where they used dye transfer was restarted in the 90s because the look was popular. Toy Story was one of the movies that utilized it. The cameras are probably in museums or something. You can replicate technicolor for yourself using a panchromatic black and white film and three filters. By shooting three frames, one though a red, green and blue filter, and then combining those in photoshop or using screen printing or something like that, you can create a color image using just black and white film. I did it and it was pretty cool.
     
  5. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    To reproduce accurate color, the capture process needs to include some method of masking to correct for unwanted color absorptions of the dyes. No positive system, to my knowledge, uses one. IDK if Technicolor did.

    But, in addition to that, Pos-Pos reproduction is a "lossy" system that compresses data in the toe and shoulder during the print process. Neg-Pos processes are not and therefore survive multiple duplications without loss.

    So, in regard to the OP, the color is not more accurate, but rather less accurate from a color rendition and a tone scale standpoint.

    PE
     
  6. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    so,

    "back in the day", when "prints" were made, was it like we as still photographers make prints?

    I totally understand the difference in latitude and compression rates of a neg-->pos vs pos-->pos system for reproduction.

    but in the captions, when it mentions 'prints by deluxe', what does that mean exactly? surely they didn't enlarge EVERY negative, the hundreds of thousands, if not millions for a feature 90-120 minute film. but did they, or was it an automated process, with a machine?

    thanks for all the help so far everyone

    keep ideas coming, I'm enjoying this topic a lot!

    -Dan
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The master is a negative, and is on long roll stock which is the same size as the film that is projected at your local multiplex.

    The master is contact printed on to long roll print stock.

    This is done using an automated machine.

    Matt
     
  8. AgX

    AgX Member

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    PE,
    I don't understand your last point. Technicolor in its both versions (camera seperation films / camera three-layer film) is a Neg-Pos process.
     
  9. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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  10. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    If neither were masked, then rendition would be less accurate.

    PE
     
  11. Harry Lime

    Harry Lime Member

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    No, three strip Technicolor is long gone. Also the processing equipment that was used to make the prints was sold to China decades ago. Three strip Technicolor cameras still exist, but since the printing equipment is gone they are close to useless. You probably could scan all three strips digitally and assemble your color image that way, but the cost would be prohibitive.

    Technicolor still exists as a lab and provides all sorts of services to the movie industry. They process normal movie film these days.

    A few years ago Technicolor developed something called Technicolor IB. Basically they used a normal one strip negative to produce something that looked similar to the old Technicolor prints (which were made from 3-negative strips)

    I went to a test screening at the Technicolor lab and they showed us some very impressive IB prints. Deep blacks, reds that were really red. They made Technicolor IB prints for the restored Vertigo (stunning) and a few other movies. But it never really took off.

    Around the same time Kodak introduced their new line of Vision filmstocks for negative and prints. Vision and Vision2 were a huge leap forward in quality over the older materials. Rich blacks, punchy colors, finer grain etc.. That didn't help Technicolor IB.

    In the meanwhile digital projection has also matured and the whole concept of traditional prints is coming in to question.

    The good news is that a few people have developed ways to emulate the look of the Technicolor process digitally. Ironically it works best with digitally captured material.

    But the old Technicolor prints are a sight to behold. Films like "The Red Shoes" are simply jaw dropping in TC.
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, technically, a type of Technicolor may be the last color motion picture product standing at the end of the fight between digital and analog. Almost all film classics are being mastered as 3 color separations on B&W film. They are then stored that way due to the extreme life expectancy of B&W films. The 3 color separations would then, some day, be printed onto a color stock or digitally reproduced to present the original of some great classic motion pictures.

    PE
     
  13. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    PE,

    I remember hearing that disney did this will all their classics, Snow White, etc...

    but instead of b/w 35mm M/P stock, they made it on 8 or 9" roll film. yes, I definitely remember hearing 8 or 9" wide long roll film for b/w color separations.

    do you see this as possible?

    -Dan
     
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  15. AgX

    AgX Member

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    In a Thompson financial report from 2002 I found this:

    Thomson multimedia has decided to exit the Dye Transfer business acquired as part of
    Technicolor transaction. The net book value of the Dye Transfer equipment was written down to fair
    market value, determined to be zero. Under French GAAP, the indirect costs expected to be non-recurring
    if the activity ceased (i.e. utilities and rent) have been recorded under ‘‘Other income and
    expense’’. Under U.S GAAP, the Dye Transfer activity does not qualify as discontinued operations
    under APB 30 and the results during the period March 17, 2001 to December 31, 2001 should be
    reflected as gross in the income statement, leading to the reclassification of €2 million from ‘‘Other
    expenses’’ to ‘‘Operating expenses’’.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2009
  16. Aurum

    Aurum Member

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    Not sure about the 8 or 9", but the original negatives for a lot of the disney animations, beginning with Fantasia were shot on standard B&W stock, but as 3 frame sequential. Made for simpler kit, and as it was animation no issues with colour registration when shooting live action.

    Of course in those days that would have been nitrate stock, and that can be a little *ahem* temperamental
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, IDK what size stock Disney used, but the originals are certainly on B&W stock. Although many of the old originals are on nitrate stock unfortunately, and are in rather poor condition because of that. George Eastman House has a huge collection of originnals stored in their vaults.

    PE
     
  18. Fredrik Sandstrom

    Fredrik Sandstrom Member

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    When people talk about Technicolor they usually mean Technicolor process 4 or 5. The earlier processes (1 through 3) were two-color processes, and thus did not record a full color spectrum.

    Process 4 is known as three-strip Technicolor. It was in use from 1932 until the mid 1950s. A big camera with a beam splitter and color filters recorded the scene on three separate B&W film strips. These separation negatives were contact printed onto so called matrix stock which was in turn used for making dye transfer prints. These prints are also known as IB prints, after the equipment used to make them, or dye imbibition prints. They are stunningly beautiful.

    Process 5 was used from the early 1950s until the mid 1970s in the USA and the late 1970s in the UK. A normal movie camera was used for principal photography, and it recorded onto Eastman color negative film. Matrices for dye transfer were made from the color negative, and then IB prints were manufactured just like before.

    When Technicolor abandoned dye transfer printing in the 1970s, the equipment was sold to China, where the process was used well into the 1990s. Not anymore, though.

    Technicolor briefly revived dye transfer printing in the late 1990s. The process was adapted for printing onto polyester stock instead of acetate, but there were problems with obtaining consistent quality, and it was again abandoned after a few short years.
     
  19. ajuk

    ajuk Member

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    I think Saving Private Ryan and Peal Harbour were shot in Technicolor.
     
  20. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    no, what I meant by 8 or 9" was when they copied the originals to make NEW master negatives, did they use larger film to make larger separation negatives in addition to the original nitate negs?


    great info coming out of all the holes here :D! keep it coming. I do remember hearing something about Pearl Harbor being shot or recorded on Technicolor. I'll have to read into that one a bit more. Not my favorite movie though, Saving Ryan's Privates(oops :D) was much better interpretation of WWII IMO, at least from a purely historical standpoint

    -Dan
     
  21. Fredrik Sandstrom

    Fredrik Sandstrom Member

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    They were shot on color negative film, just like any other production. Technicolor made dye transfer prints of Pearl Harbour (and possibly Saving Private Ryan, I'm not 100% sure), and this is probably what you're thinking of. It is not meaningful to talk of movies being "shot in Technicolor", unless you mean they were shot using the three-strip camera, but this has not been done since the 1950s.
     
  22. Terrence Brennan

    Terrence Brennan Member

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    I'll agree with that. "Pearl Harbor" was a terrible film, flawed with numerous technical and historical errors. Just about the only thing they got right was the insignia on the uniforms.

    A couple of quick examples: at the beginning of the film, just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jimmy Doolittle is commanding a fighter squadron. He never did that; in fact, I believe that he was in the U.S. Army Air Corps reserve, and was not on active duty.

    They have Navy nurses giving Army pilots physical exams. The Army had their own nurses, and during peacetime, didn't require help from the Navy!

    And, one of the Army pilots says he has trouble reading; if he was dyslexic, or illiterate, he wouldn't have been a pilot. Prewar Army pilots needed a minimum of two years college or university education, and the Navy required a university degree to be a pilot.

    A much better film about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and much more accurate, is the 1970 film, "Tora! Tora! Tora!"

    Here's a couple of links about Jimmy Doolittle:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Doolittle

    http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Explorers_Record_Setters_and_Daredevils/doolittle/EX18.htm
     
  23. Denis K

    Denis K Member

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    From what I can tell from the Technicolor Wiki page (which is very good), the Technicolor three strip process was really just two strips in the camera. The beam splitter formed two channels to illuminate the two strips. One of the strips was a sandwitch of two films with their emulsions facing each other. One of the beamsplitter channels was filtered for the green channel and illuminated one strip and the other illuminated the sandwitch which formed the Red+Blue channels. The Red and Blue sandwitch was latter stripped apart.

    *** Enter Conjecture ***

    Something tells me that Technicolor films are really more like automatically colorized black and white movies where the luminance information is taken mainly from the Green channel and the color is overlaid from all three channels in the dye transfer process. It would seem to me this would prevent the need to micro-register the luminance information in the two strips (three channels) separately formed by the beam splitter. Otherwise it is hard to believe they could keep the process tolarances tight enough to register all three channels without leading to a fuzzy print.

    Denis K
     
  24. Rhodes

    Rhodes Member

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  25. John Shriver

    John Shriver Member

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    I think the film in the three-strip Technicolor cameras was Super-XX. But as you see in the Technicolor page on Wikipedia, with all the light losses in filters and beam-splitters, the effective film speed of the camera was ASA 5. It took a lot of light.

    They could obviously make whatever masking they wanted to when making the matrices from the camera negative. They also controlled exposure, called "timing".

    There was a "colorist" on the set of three-strip Technicolor movies who made sure that the colors were "in gamut".

    As for contrast build-up problems, the folks who light movies control contrast ratios very carefully. Nothing is shot in natural light. So they can cope with film processes which have very high contrast by dialing down the lighting contrast ratio.
     
  26. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I don't remember the name of the process but it involves shooting alternate frames through red/green filters and then projecting them through their complimentary filters. You can see a flicker between the two colors and notice that when someone runs across the screen they blur into red and green people because the frames were not exposed simultaneously.

    edit: AHA! http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/oldcolor/kinemaco.htm