Technicolor Process Number II

After filming in Florida, for the movie The Gulf Between, the men at Technicolor traveled back to Boston to work on a better way to view colored motion film. The second Technicolor process was known as the two-strip cemented positive process.10 It was a subtractive color system, which means that instead of adding color through filters on projectors, the colors would originate on the film. This process eliminated the use of special projectors by “layering some combination of cyan…yellow, and magenta (hues that create color when they are filtered or subtracted from white light) on a single piece of stock.”11

With the change in where the color is originated, came a change in the camera that was recording the material along with the film it was being recorded on. The new camera had the ability to expose both red and green filters onto the black and white negative.12 The green would be exposed upside down, in relation to the red. The film was developed onto a special film stock known as a matrix. “A matrix was a black and white positive stock that contained silver halides…and a gelatin that hardened during development.”13 The matrix stock was half the thickness of 35mm film and so that made it easier to transpose the two colored stocks on top of each other creating one colored film.

Above is an example of the two-strip cemented positive process. Film strip A is the black and white negative. Film strip B is the black and white silver record of the red layer. Film strip C is the black and white silver record of the green layer.  The two colored records are exposed onto two matrix stock films. This produces film strip D and film strip E. Seeing as the matrix film stock is half the thickness of 35mm film, the two matrix film stocks are cemented together from the base forming film strip F. 14

Now that the color process had improved, Technicolor started working on a film with Joseph Schenck to supervise the first film made with the new color process.15 The movie was Toll of the Sea, which had a successful premier in New York on November 26, 1922.16 Below is a clip from the first successful Technicolor motion picture.

Producing films in Technicolor was quite expensive and so many films had special colored sequences. Colored sequences developed in the film industry due to the high costs of filming in color. The 1926 movie Ben Hur is an example of a movie that used special colored sequences. Around the 1 minute mark in the clip comes the colored sequence in Ben Hur.

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