A Kinematic Interim

Discoveries about color reproduction were applied to the invention of the motion picture. The birth of cinema in 1895 coincided with the development of color photography and printing. The first films, from Edison, Melies and the Pathe Brothers in France were hand-colored as the stereocards that had preceeded them had been.

By 1915 the first two-color anaglyphic motion pictures had been presented by William Waddell and pioneer filmmaker Edwin S. Porter. Frederick E. Ives and Jacob Leventhal in 1923 released an anaglyph short titled Plastigrams as well as producing a series of four more anaglyphic films titled collectively Stereoscopics.

Color Anaglyph from Ive's Chromophotograph

Ives was a genuine pioneer in the world of color and 3-D. In 1894 he patented his Kromskop color stereo viewer. The views for the Kromskop were produced by his patented stereo chromophotograph process that used red, violet and green filters with black-and-white negative film separations. This was an additive color system using light primaries recorded on black and white film records. Though Ives worked with Leventhal in the production of two-color anaglyph motion pictures, it is not known if his work extended to polychromatic applications.

The Kinemacolor process for motion pictures, developed by G. Albert Smith and Charles Urban, achieved moderate success in the 1920s. Two color filters, one red and one green, were used in taking the black and white panchromatic negatives and projecting the positives on a single strip of movie film. The camera and projector ran at twice the normal speed (32 frames per second) and had a revolving wheel with the red and green filters in front of the lens. In the projector a red filter was opposite a green image of film and vice versa. And, according to one author (Jones, 1917), the combined effect upon the screen, was a picture reflecting not only red and green, but also their complementary or accidental colours intermixed with many other hues resultant from the blending of the red and green proper.

Oddly enough, Kinemacolor was also a 3-D system by default. When the subject or camera would laterally move (in the proper direction) an anaglyphic fringe would result. If this sequence were viewed with red/green glasses, a stereoscopic effect would become evident. Kinemacolor died out by the end of the 1920s when other color processes replaced it. Among them were the 2-strip and 3-strip Technicolor processes which also used black-and-white panchromatic color separations.

The Work of L.P. Dudley

It is to Leslie P. Dudley that we must credit the term polychromatic anaglyph as well as its first application in printing. In his pioneering book from 1951 titled Stereoptics, An Introduction, Dudley describes a device of his invention which is an optical attachment for use with an ordinary still or cinematograph camera. Colour stock, such as Kodachrome, is used, and the arrangement is such that stereoscopic pairs of images are superimposed on the film to form anaglyphs direct in natural colour. Dudley also notes that the problems involved in producing anaglyphs in natural colours have claimed the attention of many workers. Among them he cites Schestakoff (1910), Gurewitschu (1910), Wiener (1910), Lehmann (1917), Schallop (1934) and Lumiere (1934).

In the October 29, 1955 issue of Picture Post magazine Dudley published the first three-dimensional colour pictures ever to appear in any newspaper or magazine. The result of years of research, Dudley coined his color 3-D process Anachrome. A subsequent issue of Picture Post on November 5 also ran feature photos and advertisements in Anachrome.

L.P. Dudley's Anachrome (Blue lens-left eye)

The Dudley process utilized three-color photographic separations that were printed with a half-tone lithographic screen. They suffered some of the defects that E.F. Linssen, writing in his book Stereo-Photography in Practice, delimited: For its successful application everything would depend on whether colour can be properly divided, by means of suitable filters, into homologous images each of which would have to possess a series of wavelengths complementary to the others.

According to Linssen, color anaglyph films were not considered sufficiently satisfactory for showing at the Festival of Britain Exhibition of 3-D films in 1951. A black and white 3-D film Dudley produced, A Solid Explanation, however, was included for showing utilizing the polarizing process of image selection.

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