Background/Antecedents

In 1912, Kalmus, Comstock, and Wescott initially “functioned as an industrial research and development council for scientific problem solving.”3 Herbert Kalmus and Daniel Comstock were chemists and W. Burton Wescott, as scholar Richard Haines put it, a “mechanical wizard.”4 These men worked together to help companies work out the technological process. This prevented them from infringing on the patent rights of other companies. The firm soon had enough money to branch onto another subject, color motion film. These men joined their efforts to produce film that was not black and white, but color.

Prior to motion pictures, people were attending theatrical plays. The invention of cameras gave the public a chance to experience still photography. Motion pictures began with silent black and white films with no sound. Gradually a soundtrack was added to the film. Even with a soundtrack dialogue was quite rare.

Motion pictures grew in popularity with the addition of sound and color. Prior to Technicolor film, black and white film had been tinted and hand painted to give it color. Le Voyage รก Travers I’impossible was produced in 1904 and had “four hues in at least ten shades and tints simultaneously on screen.”5

Hand painting and tinting each frame was a tedious project and gave motion pictures a fake look. The promenant colors in the film above are oranges, blues, reds and greens. The public soon wanted to watch film in “natural” color once they grew tired of the unreal look of hand painted motion pictures.

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