Excerpt from Technicolor Annual Report, February, 1955
Thanks to Ray Osborne for providing this information.
Described here is an improvement in Technicolor's production of release prints that was generally motivated by the advent of CinemaScope, with its double expansion onto very large theatre screens and the use of "flat" widescreen systems that used a much smaller portion of the film frame on ever increasing screen sizes.
================================================ IMPROVEMENT IN MANUFACTURING TECHNIQUES
IN THE DYE TRANSFER (IMBIBITION) PROCESS.
[Technicolor's] dye transfer (imbibition) printing process is essentially the transferring of dye from special kinds of positive stock called matrices to another special kind of positive stock called a release print blank. A release print blank has been transferred to it from the matrices three separate dye images and after receiving the sound track becomes the release print which is shipped to the theatres of the world.
[Technicolor's] technical and research departments (in cooperation with our raw stock manufacturers) have improved the characteristics of the matrix raw stock and the blank raw stock and their processing. New matrix stocks have been introduced in recent months which have resulted in substantial improvements in print quality. Also savings in time and money have been brought about by improvements in the matrix processing procedure. Good progress has been made on the problems of improving screen sharpness, reducing grain and matrix manufacturing costs but much remains to be done.
One of the big problems in the imbibition printing process has always been the control of the spread or wandering of dye during the transfer from the matrices to the release print blank. Such control is of even greater importance now, with the advent of the larger theatre screens requiring greater magnification in the theatre projector.
The problem is to preserve the sharpness of the images which exist in the matrix by having dye and a blank of such characteristics that there will be very little diffusion of the dye during its transfer or imbibition. This is accomplished partly through the introduction of chemicals called mordants in the blank.
These dye mordants are sometimes incorporated in the raw stock emulsion by the blank manufacturer and sometimes they are added during the Technicolor processing and sometimes both. As a result a significant improvement in sharpness or visibility has been obtained. This whole procedure and the resulting release print are being thoroughly tested under practical manufacturing conditions and by distribution of prints to the theatres. We are greatly encouraged by the process thus far. But further commercial tests will be made before we announce the general adoption of these new materials and processes. Also the raw stock manufacturers will need time to produce the quantities we shall require.
Annual Report of Technicolor, Inc.
February 21, 1955