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Technicolor Cinematography


This essay does not in any way pretend to be a comprehensive coverage of the equipment, methods, and problems of the Technicolor cameraman at the present time, but is intended rather to present some of the items that might be of general interest. Inasmuch as the general technics of motion picture photography are well known and have been frequently discussed in the literature, there will here be presented some of those aspects that are peculiar to, or receive emphasis from, the fact that the camera is photographing in color.

These aspects arise in very large part before photography, and of all the preparation activities that take place before the actual start of photography, two that are very important to the Technicolor cameraman are color design of the sets and costume color selection. The importance of proper color design and costume color selection can not be overemphasized. The set colors should be chosen with care for hue, chroma, and value, and with a knowledge of the costumes to be used, the relative importance of the set, its cutting and physical relationship to the other sets, and the orientation of these factors with the script. While it is true that the cameraman can control the set effect to a large extent by his lighting of it, this color control work must be carefully handled or the screen result will not be optimum. Obviously the more adverse conditions the cameraman meets, the more the production is likely to suffer either in screen result or lost production time to correct those adverse conditions, or both. These two factors of set and costume color probably go farther than any other group of factors in representing the difference between a black-and-white production and a color production. The net result might be termed the "color score" of the picture. It might be compared to a musical score sometimes flashing and brilliant and at other times subdued. It follows that if the problem is ignored, discords usually occur.

Obviously, without sets and costumes in color, the only colors left are flesh tones. A very interesting color emphasis effect was demonstrated in the RKO picture, Irene, where an entire set was designed in neutral tones and the star wore the only color.

* Technicolor Motion Picture Corp., Hollywood, Calif.

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