The Dawn of Technicolor: 1915–1935

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9780935398281: The Dawn of Technicolor: 1915–1935
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Published to coincide with Technicolor's centennial in 2015, The Dawn of Technicolor recounts the beginnings of one of the most widely recognized names in the American film industry, reconstructing the company's early years from a wealth of previously unavailable internal documentation, studio production files, contemporary accounts and unpublished interviews. Following its incorporation in 1915, Technicolor developed a series of two-color processes as necessary steps toward full-color photography and printing. Despite success in the laboratory and in small-scale production, the company was plagued by repeated disappointments. With the support of patient investors and the visionary leadership of Herbert T. Kalmus, Technicolor eventually prevailed against daunting odds to create the only commercially viable color process for motion pictures. The Dawn of Technicolor investigates these vital make-or-break years, as the firm grew from a small team of exceptional engineers into a multimillion-dollar corporation. The authors chart the making of pivotal films in the process, from the troubled productions of Ben-Hur (1925) and The Mysterious Island (1926-29), to the early short films in Technicolor's groundbreaking three-color process: Walt Disney's animated Flowers and Trees (1932) and the live-action La Cucaracha (1934). The book spotlights the talented engineers and filmmakers associated with Technicolor and the remarkable technical innovations that finally made color films practical, changing the film industry forever. Lavishly illustrated with more than 400 reproductions, it includes a comprehensive annotated filmography of all two-color Technicolor titles produced between 1917 and 1937.

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About the Author:

James Layton is Manager of the Museum of Modern Art's Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center. Prior to this he worked at George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, where he curated two gallery exhibitions and the website Technicolor 100. Layton has also acted as Cataloguer and Workflow Coordinator at the East Anglian Film Archive in Norwich, UK, and is co-author of the Image Permanence Institute's informational poster Knowing and Protecting Motion Picture Film (2009).

David Pierce is an independent film historian and archivist. He was formerly the Head of Preservation and Curator of the National Film and Television Archive at the British Film Institute. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, and his report on the survival of American silent feature films was published by the Library of Congress in 2013. In 2011 he founded the Media History Digital Library, providing free online access to millions of pages of motion picture magazines and books.

Review:

"The book is carefully laced with a variety of photographs, film strips, diagrams, and images of archival texts and diaries, giving a beautifully textured visual history ... It takes you through the complex and multifaceted aspects of the company's development, giving a great sense of the personal and professional aspirations, challenges, set-backs, and triumphs." (Rosie Taylor, Silent London)

The Dawn of Technicolor "is one of the most thorough and informative books on the cinematic process that can be had ... Authors James Layton and David Pierce carefully investigate and examine the process of Technicolor, from its primitive beginnings in the silent era to its growth into the early days of talking pictures. The challenges in filming and processing, the impact, and the evolution of the technology as film itself continued to grow, are all covered with complete and fascinating information." (James L. Neibaur, Examiner.com)

"The Dawn of Technicolor is, in fact, essentially a business history, with modern-day echoes in the story of Pixar's decades-long effort to bring computer technology to old-school animation. The end result is a reference book with immense value for historians of both business and film--a thorough account of the technology that made Tinseltown glow." (Farran Smith Nehme, The Wall Street Journal)

"There are illustrations to delight a cinephile, including reproductions of actual frames of nitrate film. Chapters begin with full-page photos, rare and often stunning. The final section is a complete filmography of all 371 films made using the two-color Technicolor process. Each entry includes extensive production data and, sadly, "survival status." Most of these early color films are lost or exist only in a fragment. In some cases, the frames pictured in the book constitute nearly all of what is left of the film." (Farran Smith Nehme, The Wall Street Journal)

There have been previous publications on the subject, ... but this is an achievement on another scale. ... Pierce and Layton have set the bar very high. (Sonia Genaitay, Sight & Sound)

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