The First Colour Moving Pictures at the National Media Museum



Find out about the First Colour Moving Pictures on display at the National Media Museum.

for more information visit www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk

Lee and Turner’s invention has always been regarded by film historians as a practical failure but it has now been ‘unlocked’ through digital technology, revealing the images produced by the process for the first time in over a hundred years.

Turner developed his complex three-colour process with support, first from Lee and then from the American film entrepreneur, Charles Urban. Using a camera and projector made by Brighton-based engineer Alfred Darling, Turner developed the process sufficiently to take various test films of colourful subjects such as a macaw, a goldfish in a bowl against a brightly striped background and his children playing with sunflowers, before his death in 1903 aged just 29. Urban went on to develop the process further with the pioneer film-maker George Albert Smith which resulted in the commercially successful Kinemacolor system, patented in 1906 and first exhibited to the public in 1909. Sadly, Turner’s widow never received a penny from her husband’s invention.

On discovering the film, Michael Harvey, Curator of Cinematography at the National Media Museum, worked with film archive experts Brian Pritchard and David Cleveland to reconstruct the moving footage in colour following the precise method laid out in Lee and Turner’s 1899 patent. They turned to experts at the BFI National Archive who were able to undertake the delicate work of transforming the film material into digital files, and so the team were able to watch these vivid colour moving pictures for the first time, over one hundred years since they had been made.

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Fahad Hameed

Fahad Hashmi is one of the known Software Engineer and blogger likes to blog about design resources. He is passionate about collecting the awe-inspiring design tools, to help designers.He blogs only for Designers & Photographers.

40 thoughts on “The First Colour Moving Pictures at the National Media Museum

  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    Surely you could of just wound the tape through at a set speed and get the camera to take a photo at the time the frame is centered or record the film going through and use software to automatically/manually cut out any irrelevant parts. Unless this was done before the 1990's then I guess my point is mute.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    I assume that it is an chemical reactionof those foto diodes,once those pictures were recaptured for a modern projector, each foto was taken from the gate with it's corresponding color filter along with a light bulp,my idea is that this may also work with b&w images because each part of those images shut retain some color traces,so what if we shine a light bulp trough those images to force a chemical reaction in those foto diodes along with 3 rgb color filter one after another,then put those 3 filtered images together to get color,my voice say's that all b&w images,video's have traces of color information left.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    I guess that when a red filter was placed on the b&w camera, that it causes an chemical reaction on the film diodes,and the same thing with green and blue filters,and once those b&w filtered frames were taken out and scanned in another film at the standard order,with each frame filtered with it's corresponding filter with a light bulb,i guess that it again causes an chemical reaction on the foto diodes of the other film,and that even during digitizing,those shock signal pattern remain in tact,sothat once they were digitally applied with the right filter & combined together,that those colors magically appear to live after 110 years of waiting to be recovered ,but i think his projector could,ve work if he tweaked it in synch with the camera speed.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    Aaah so he placed a color spinning wheel in front of a b&w camera to capture each frame with a red, green and blue filter, HOWEVER any motion will cause rainbow artifacts because of the slow speed camera and color wheel, also projecting the images in real time in full color is NOT easy, because the color filter has to be lined up in sych with fhe same color filter from the  camera, sothat each frame will have it's matched color,but requires more tweaking the color projector in nano seconds to get the job done,some has to try it out.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    This is so wonderful, the combination of such an amazing find by and the knowledge and patience of Mr Pritchard and Mr Cleveland lead to a gift for the entire world.  🙂

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    Digital data exists in the real world, how else do you think it's stored? You're confusing "media" (that which data is stored on) and "encoding" (how it is represented). You could store digital files on *anything*: you could carve 1s and 0s on the side of a mountain and have it last millennia. And if the *media* it's stored on is approaching the end of it's life, you can easily make a perfect copy to store on something else. That's why conservationists digitize works — to preserve them better.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    You're totally missing the point. The point is that physical film – that exists in the real world – survives. Digital data is entirely too vulnerable. It's a very, very bad idea to have digital-only archives.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    That depends only on what the digital data is stored on. Archival DVDs are rated to over 100 years — longer if they're stored properly. Even without documentation of the file format, it would not be that hard to figure it out.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    All early colour films using an additive RGB process (even really early two colour RG films) suffer from colour fringing.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    Probably it had to be copied to 35mm first to be able to use a proper film scanner to digitalize it. Also, The color could be perfectly corrected, however, it would change the results from the original technology. The raw imperfect material is far more important than the content of the movie.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    You should read Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes. He discusses something called 'punctum', the overwhelming sense of mortality when looking at a photo or film. It's very moving!

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    Because in a few years' time, whatever digital format it is stored in will have been outdated and probably corrupted.
    The 35 mm copy – that you can't see the point of – will survive. And, kept in the right conditions, it could continue to survive for another ten centuries.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    …how did I end up on this part of youtube…
    nevertheless, its pretty interesting.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    Because in another 100 years the digital copy will have crashed and the film will still be around. Preservation is important.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    I think the same thing about everyone in old films, pictures, etc. What were they like? How did they live? Did they have a good life, or not? It's just too much to think that everyone there is dead and gone.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    Wow! How smart. 3 b/w photos through color filters to produce a color image.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    It's because the 35mm is an image of the actual image rather than information of what the image is in an accepted code. It makes the copy into a standard format that is still useable without substantial knowledge of computing (if you're starting from scratch). All you need is a light and a screen. It's like an lp being an actual physical imprint of the noise, if you just have the needle following the grove you can hear the sound when you put your ear near to it.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    Have you seen the posting on Youtube, "Panoramic View of the Morecambe Sea Front (1901)"? It's incredibly clear and vivid, and with its atmospheric music, and the fact that some of the women are in mourning dress for Queen Victoria who died that year, as well as the frolicking children – I confess I find it almost heartbreaking…

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    And did you notice that apparently the little girl died young, in her 25th year in 1920, according to the caption?

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    you sir, are awesome. it's very rare nowadays you find an even remotely philisophical or intelligent comment. (srry i cnt spl)

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    No, i believe that people are, for the most part, lazy pieces of shit who are doing everything they can to degrade human intelligence and societal values. The things I see people do and say on a daily basis make me embarrassed to call myself a human. If you make a spelling error on accident, all is well. But when you intentionally type errors (and it's not just typing – I've corrected college papers from Masters students who have these errors), you show your stupidity.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    Why do you care if someone correctly spells on youtube? you're right its them being lazy because any chump can use auto correct but thats because no one gives a fuck,its the internet.i think its retarded when i see something like medical reports have mistakes because it means something unlike comments on youtube.u jus n anal ass fgt

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    How about you learn to fucking spell these simple fucking words? Its NOT THAT DIFFICULT.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 11:31 am
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    I was thinking along similar lines. However, a lot of archiving is done on 35mm as it has been proven to be a stable format for many decades. In the 'digital era' a system can come in to play for a while and then be deemed obsolete in just a short while. Also, no one can say what the shelf life of a digital master will be. Therefore, studios still archive films, even those shot with digital cameras on 35mm negative for this reason.

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