Jump to content
Jana Slamova

Was the camera negative always orange? Back in 50s or 60s.

Recommended Posts

I know that todays developed camera negative have orangish terracotta like coloring, orange is perforation and also the image itself. But was the negative always orange? Is it possible that in 1960 and sooner they have used B&W negatives, that was without any coloring, clear and transparent?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much, great link! So every color film ever made (with exception of the very first Kodacolor) have that orange masks to eliminate unwanted exposition of the individual color layers, right?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Color reversal film doesn't use a color mask.


The first color negative film was Agfacolor in Germany in 1939; I believe after the war, it became the basis of Sovcolor. This stock originally had no color mask and was designed for printing for motion picture projection. Kodak invented color negative for printing onto paper around 1942 (Kodacolor), then Eastmancolor film for movies was released it in 1950. Some people believe that they also copied elements from Agfacolor, others say that Kodak developed the technology independently. Both companies were working with an idea about color dye couplers (chromogenic film) that dated back to 1912 by a German scientist named Rudolf Fischer.


But one of Kodak's big improvements was the invention of that orange color mask, which improved color reproduction of positive prints made from the negative. That's important to remember, the color mask is there to help the colors in a print made off of the negative. The color mask wasn't in the original Kodacolor, it may have first been used in Eastmancolor motion picture negative.


There was a discussion here about this in 2004:


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The masks come from coloured couplers in two of the layers. The coupler that produces the cyan dye is coloured magenta and the layer that produces the magenta dye is coloured yellow. Together they make the orange colour. The layer that produces the yellow dye is colourless. The masks correct for unwanted transmissions in the dyes. There isn't an appropriately coloure coupler for the yellow dye and also the yellow dye does not have any great unwanted absorptions.

If you are interested I have a page on my website with some film samples that show the individual layers with and without masking.


These pictures were made at the Kodak research laboratory in Harrow on specially coated samples as there ia no other way to see the individual layers.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for all the replies, but mostly I want to say thank you to Dave Mullen!! Your explanation is great and full of useful informations, as always!! I can't belive there is someone who have so huge knowledge about film stock stuff like you... You are human encyclopedia! I hope some day I will have at least 5% of your knowledge.


Many thanks for sharing the knowledge here on Cinematography.com!!

Edited by Jana Slamova

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Glidecam

    Gamma Ray Digital Inc

    FJS International

    New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment

    Wooden Camera

    Broadcast Solutions Inc

    Abel Cine

    Ritter Battery

    Rig Wheels Passport

    G-Force Grips

    Paralinx LLC

    Just Cinema Gear


    Serious Gear

    Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

    Visual Products

    Tai Audio

    Metropolis Post

  • Create New...