50s Technicolor Trade Secrets
I think it is time to invest time to the best colorful color system of 1950s Technicolor.
As Everyone remembers , this era films were excellent and ended at 1970s and started at 1930s. An Autochrome thread follower will find to easier to understand the concept and thinking out of box is easy.
There are many technicolor films even today but I am talking about recording three different R , G and B strips on to bw films and than imbibition these films at the lab to CMYK single print.
Now the big question , is it possible to do it today without running three different strips but may be taking 3 different shots with these filters and than seperate them to CMYK ? It is a slow photography but faraway cheaper and more successful than reinventing color screens .
Or digital postprocessing the RGB films and order a film print with laser ?
I think all was not about film but lighting the interior.
Lets talk about details , filters , their difference with todays products , their selection for better result , imbibition , spectrometry of that era cmyk films and everything.
Mustafa Umut Sarac
I learned that Technicolor was using three dimensional gelatin films to filled with metallic dyes and printed on film also.
I think this is no different than the techniques of other APUGers described at other threads.
Lets learn what was the formulas of these metallic dyes and the gelatin sensitometry.
They say at Wizard of Oz movie , players had suffered from permanent eye injuries due to high luminosity.
From Cooke Site :
The year 1931 marked a further achievement. During the development of the Technicolor colour process, it became evident that the provision of a beam-splitting prism behind the objective in the Technicolor 3-strip camera made it impossible to use the wide angle objectives generally available at that time. The problem then, was to provide a lens of short focal length and wide relative aperture having the long back focal distance necessary to clear the prism whilst maintaining the high standard of definition expected from a Cooke lens.
Horace W. Lee's 1931 design (British patent 355.452) for the inverted telephoto lens did more than was demanded from it,: its unusually high correction for chromatic aberrations and remarkable vignetting characteristcis rendered it suitable for colour photography and contributed to the success of the Technicolor process.
"The most notable feature of these lenses, however, is the inclusion in the 30mm design of what might be called the inverse telephoto principle, whereby the back focal length is considerably longer than the equivalent focal length." (The Technicolor Process of Three-color Cinematography, by J.A. Ball, vice president and technical director, Technicolor Motion Picture Corp., Journal of Motion Picture Engineers, Vol. XXV, August 1935, No. 2, pp. 127-138.)
Walt Disney gained exclusive rights to the Technicolor technology for animation for the next three years, taking the opportunity to win two Academy Awards for short films: Flowers and Trees (1932) and The Three Little Pigs (1933).
Virtually all Technicolor pictures were made with specially
modified Cooke Speed Panchros until the early 1950s.
Cooke Speed Panchros
July 1930, from an article in The British Journal of Photography: "It deserves to be better realized in the photographic world to what extent Taylor-Hobson lenses have come into favour in the sound-film and silent-film studios in England and in Hollywood. The Cooke lenses of very large aperture have been establishing themselves increasingly in film production for several years past, and are now in use to an extent which is very gratifying to those knowing the merits of British products. In the same way Taylor-Hobson projection lenses have secured something like a monopoly among the ‘super cinemas’ in this country for projecting these same films. Frequenters of the movies may reckon therefore that most of the pictures which they see are both produced and projected by means of lenses made in the Leicester factories."
By 1935 the Cooke Speed Panchros for cinematography were supplied in 8 focal lengths working at f/2.0: 24, 28, 32, 35, 40, 50, 75 and 108mm. They were designed to cover standard format 0.631 x 0.868 inch. (Brit. Pat. 377,537. U.S. Pat. 1,955,591 - 1931)
The First Zoom Lens for Cinematography
The first non-telescopic complex zoom lens for cinematography was the Bell & Howell Cooke Varo 40-120mm Lens (British patent 398,307, Arthur Warmisham) for 35mm format. The lens was manufactured and sold by Bell & Howell.
The lens came equipped with a special saddle that attached to a standard tripod plate. The saddle held the Varo lens and the camera ensuring correct alignment. The definition is critical at all parts of the zoom, at a standard much higher than previously attained with other contemporary zooms. The lens had adjustable stops and the focal length of the Varo lens was changed by rotating a crank.
Bell & Howell Cooke Varo Zoom Lens.
Bell & Howell Eyemo Camera Lenses
George Noville, executive officer on board the S.S. Jacob Ruppert during Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s second Antarctic Expedition 1933 to 1935, with a Bell & Howell Eyemo camera fitted with a Cooke lens. Photo taken November 1934.
In 1935, the Director of Photography of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer studios said, "All of our productions are made with the Taylor-Hobson Cooke Lenses at least 50% of our productions are made with Speed Panchros. I will try to name a few pictures that were made with Speed Panchros: Rasputin, Reunion in Vienna, Viva Villa, Going Hollywood, Riptide, Treasure Island . . . and others too numerous to mention. As I said before all of our productions are made with Cooke Lenses as this Studio is practically 100% Cooke equipped." (Quoted from a 1935 Cooke advert.)
The extremely successful Bell & Howell 35mm Eyemo cine camera was sold exclusively with Cooke lenses. Used by all major film studios, the camera was especially suited to stunt shots and a variety of special effects. Charlie Chaplain, Hal Roach, Cecil B. DeMille and others used Cooke lenses and Eyemo cameras exclusively.
"In the United States, Paramount, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Warner Bros. used Cooke Speed Panchros almost exclusively. Fox, R.K.O., United Artists, Columbia, Universal, and other studios were using them increasingly. In England, all film producers, including British Gaumont, British & Dominion, London Films, and British International Pictures, used these lenses. In other countries, Cooke Speed Panchros were used by the Russian motion picture trust, in Australia by Cinesound and Australian Films, and by leading studios in Austria, France, Italy, Germany, India, Japan, and South America." (Quoted from a 1938 Bell & Howell brochure.)
Later, the equipment was standard issue for World War II Camera operators.
The final Three-Strip patent (1955) had all three colors with nearly
the same transmission factor.
After sputtering about eighteen layers of metal in microscopic
thicknesses, Technicolor techs got just about a square wave transfer
function centered on the three primary colors of interest, and about
the same amount of attenuation on all three colors.
However, by that time, Three-Strip already had an effective ASA
advantage over Eastmancolor, but so much product had been diverted to
'Scope (for which Three-Strip was impractical) and wide-gage, that it
was overdue to put Three-Strip out of its misery.
There were only 50 titles completed in Three-Strip in 1955, and that
was all she wrote.
One-half of the Three-Strip cameras were almost immediately divered to
For a process which lasted two decades and a half (1932 to 1955), that
was a pretty good run.
I reached many patents and many linked patents from Fuji to technicolor process. As everyone says Japan started by copying , thats prove this , there are tens of patens from 70s by Fuji which starting with the description of Technicolor.
I will copy and past per patents interesting claims.
Give me few hours or days. I am tired.
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Thankyou Mustafa Umut Sarac for the informitive read.
What do you want to talk about:
-) The making of separations ? (I guess this has been handled here before.)
-) The imbibition process? (Aside of Kodak's Dye Transfer there had been several imbibition processes, but Technicolor was the only one done in a mechanized, automatedd manner.) Is this about still or motion photography?
Last edited by AgX; 11-25-2010 at 12:15 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I am searching patents. Many interesting finds.
First is 2930691 , applied at 1955 and issued at 1960.
This invention relates to color pictures formed by dye absorption and more particularly to matrices used in printing pictures by imbibition , that is by transfer of dye from one or more dye soaked matrices to a dye absorptive layer of gelation or the like using three matrices representing the three colors of scene and containing cyan , yellow , magenta.
.... imbibition pictures have relief matrices have... shadows and highlights represented by hills and valleys
This patent covers FLAT matrices not RELIEF
Patent writes as well known acid dyes used at relief matrices , these flat matrices uses the same
There are many examples per chemistry
Bleach and Tone
I will continiue to short the patents.
AgX , Its about using movie film technology at photography. I will learn the details by myself and the people.
Second patent is 2583076 Filed at 1946.
Its about imbibition printing using Disazo dye.
Patent discusses the difficulty of finding yellow dye and present a chemical solution for yellow dye.
suited for motion film industry , highly transparent yellow