Handschiegl color process

Handschiegl color process

The Handschiegl color process (US patent|1303836, App: Nov 20, 1916, Iss: May 13, 1919) was a stencil color technique used on motion picture film to give the effect of real color. Using the process, aniline dyes are applied to a black and white print using gelatin imbibition matrices.

History of the process

The process was invented in 1916 for Cecil B. DeMille's production of "Joan the Woman" (1917) by engraver Max Handschiegl and partner Alvin W. Wyckoff, with assistance from Loren Taylor. All three were technicians at the studio where the film was shot, Famous Players-Lasky, later Paramount Studios. The system was originally advertised as the "Wyckoff" process, and later referred to in publicity as the "DeMille-Wyckoff" process.

For a time, the process was strictly used for Paramount releases, but when Handschiegl and Wyckoff left Famous Players-Lasky, the process became known as the Handschiegl Color Process. Aside from Pathé's stencil process Pathéchrome, the Handschiegl process was the most widely used form of hand-coloring in motion pictures of the 1920s.

Overview of how the process worked

Handschiegl described the invention as such: A separate, black and white print for each color to be applied was made. Using an opaque paint, portions of the image where color was to be applied were blocked out. A duplicate negative was made from the painted print, developed in a tanning developer which hardened the gelatine layer where it had been exposed and developed. Those areas corresponding to the blocked out areas on the print remained relatively soft, and capable of taking up dye. This dyed matrix film was brought into contact, in accurate register, with a positive print, to which the dye transferred in the appropriate areas. The print made several passes through the dye transfer machines, in contact with a separate matrix for each color. Usually, three colors were applied at the most.

Surviving examples of the process show that this technique was not always used-- in some examples, stencils or simple hand coloring were employed. The process used most likely depended on variables such as speed and budget.

Later years

The Handschiegl process was incorporated as part of Kelley Color in 1927 when Handschiegl and William Van Doren Kelley (inventor of Prizma) formed the company. In 1928, Kelley Color was, in turn, bought by Harriscolor. Also in 1928, Technicolor began using "dye-imbibition" in what later became known as Technicolor's "Process #3".

Known examples of Handschiegl color

*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0008150/ Joan the Woman] " (1917) - Red and yellow were used to give the scene of Joan of Arc burning at the stake a heightened dramatic effect.
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0013793/ Roman Candles] " ("Yankee Doodle, Jr.") (1920)
*"A Blind Bargain" (AKA "The Octave of Claudius") (1923) - A party sequence had soap bubbles imbibed with several prizmatic colors
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0014398/ Red Lights] " (1923)
*"The Ten Commandments" (1923) - The crossing of the red sea had a blue tone and red Handschiegel technique on the masses crossing it
*"The Big Parade" (1925) - A shot of an ambulance stuck in the mud had its red cross colored appropriately
*"Greed" (1925) - Erich Von Stroheim's original 4-hour cut of the film was to have all gold items colored a brilliant gold-yellow
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016023/ The Lights of Broadway] " (1925)
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016104/ The Merry Widow] " (1925)
*"The Phantom of the Opera" (1925) - The title character's flowing robes on the rooftop of the Opera House were dramatically colored red
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016333/ Seven Keys to Baldpate] " (1925)
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016386/ The Splendid Road] " (1925)
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016880/ The Flaming Forest] " (1926)
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016940/ The Greater Glory] " (1926)
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016999/ Irene] " (1926) - The fashion show sequence
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017148/ Mike] " (1926)
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017518/ Volcano] " (1926)
*" [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0020358/ Sally] " (1929)
*"Hell's Angels" (1930) - Hues of red and yellow heightened explosions during mid-air dogfights, including the explosion of a zeppelin

ee also

*Film colorization
*Film tinting
*Color film (motion picture)

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