Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kodak 1922 Kodachrome Film Test

This is the 1922 Kodachrome Motion Picture Test No. III made at Paragon Studios in Fort Lee, New Jersey. It’s stunningly beautiful in its simplified color and tenebrist style with illuminated subjects and black background. It is one of the earliest color film examples existing.

The test footage includes actresses Mae Murray and Hope Hampton, with the latter modeling costumes from the movie The Light in the Dark (1922), which contained the first commercial use of Two-Color Kodachrome in a feature film. Ziegfeld Follies actress Mary Eaton and an unidentified woman and child also appear.

The Two-Color Kodachrome Process was an attempt to give natural lifelike colors to film using a subtractive color system. The subtractive part is done by using a dual-lens camera with color filters to record images on black/white negative stock. The negatives would show not just light and dark, but with color filters, show where the unfiltered color existed (or didn’t exist depending on your perspective). Through a complicated process of treating the negatives and dyeing one side of the finished film stock (that had double sided emulsion) with green/blue and red on the other, a range of colors could be produced.

A full three color process was used in a full length feature film for the first time 13 years later, in 1935.

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