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Wendy Sanders McDonlad

Technicolor Wikipedia? The Wild Bunch + Godfather II

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Color Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio 2.20 : 1 (70 mm prints)
2.35 : 1
Laboratory Technicolor, Hollywood (CA), USA
Film Length 4,005 m (35 mm, Sweden)
5,005 m (70 mm, Sweden)
Negative Format 35 mm (Eastman 50T 5251)
Cinematographic Process Panavision (anamorphic)
Printed Film Format 35 mm
70 mm (blow-up)

According to IMDB, which says it was filmed in Kodak, and Technicolor was only involved in Coloring process. So When a film is said to be colored by Technicolor but shot on Kodak, what does it mean? They dye transfer a Kodak stock into 3 color strips? What film stock was Kodak Dye transferred to? Technicolor's own stock? And then transferred to what stock for Printed format, Kodak or Technicolor print? 

But Wikipedia says, it (The Wild Bunch)

Quote

The screenplay was co-written by Peckinpah, Walon Green, and Roy N. Sickner. The Wild Bunch was filmed in Technicolor and Panavision, in Mexico, notably at the Hacienda Ciénaga del Carmen, deep in the desert between Torreón and Saltillo, Coahuila, and on the Rio Nazas.

So... did they use the old school 3 strip camera or not!?  Because Technicolor's wiki also says "Foxfire (1955), filmed in 1954 by Universal, starring Jane Russell and Jeff Chandler, was the last American-made feature photographed with a Technicolor three-strip camera. One of the last British films to be shot in Process 4 by Otto Heller was the popular Ealing comedy from 1955 The Ladykillers."

I read through Wikipedia more than once, and I'm still really confused. 

Both the Technicolor and The Godfather part II's wiki pages as well says it was the last major film used dye transfer, but IMDB tech page indicated it was printed in 

Laboratory Technicolor S.p.a., Roma, Italy
Technicolor, Hollywood (CA), USA (prints)
Film Length 177 m
4,803.8 m
1,069 m (8 mm)
4,810 m (Sweden)
Negative Format 35 mm (Eastman 100T 5254)
Cinematographic Process Digital Intermediate (4K) (2008 Restoration)
Spherical
Printed Film Format 35 mm (Technicolor dye transfer print)
70 mm (horizontal) (IMAX blow-up) (Kodak Vision 2383) (Blow-up, Japan)
70mm Blow-up (Japan)
Technicolor Dye Transfer prints
8 mm

So when I'm watch a remastered Bluray, how would I know if it was scanned from Technicolor dye transfer print or a 70mm blow up? Are there even documentations of both for people to do a comparison at all? 

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The last 3-strip Technicolor (the camera process involving three b&w negatives running through the camera) movie was shot in 1955, after which color movies were all shot on color negative (except for the few shot on color reversal).

The last Technicolor dye transfer prints were made in the mid-1970's, supposedly Technicolor Los Angeles shut down first, then Technicolor London, and then Technicolor Rome (maybe those two were reversed.) So "Godfather II" was the last major release in dye transfer prints but a few other movies got released in dye transfer, like "Suspiria".  "Star Wars" had one dye transfer print made in London that went into the Lucasfilm vault and was the only reference for how the colors were supposed to look when they restored "Star Wars" photochemically in the late 1990's.

Dye transfer was a 35mm print process, so any 70mm prints were on color print stock.

A projection print, Eastmancolor or dye transfer Technicolor, is not a good source for a video transfer because the contrast is so high, plus prints are made on continuous contact printers so they might not be as sharp as a step-contact printed film element like an interpositive. A video transfer tends to be made from either the camera negative (if they can deal with the splices and the fact that the image has no corrections, and can deal with an A-B roll cut if that was done), or an interpositive or internegative or a low-con print.  Some movies might be transferred from a CRI if those are still usable.  A few movies are stored as b&w separations though usually those are recombined into a color image onto film before transfer, but today you can transfer each b&w element and recombine them digitally.

Probably a 4K restoration would be done from the original negative if available and not fragile, if not, a new IP might be struck from the negative and then the IP would get scanned. Or an old IP if that is in good condition.  I believe the Christopher Nolan "restoration" of "2001" was made from a 30-year-old 65mm IP in a vault, from which an IN and then 70mm prints were struck. But I believe the 4K digital restoration was done by scanning the original 65mm negative (though I've heard that there are small sections in the original negative that got damaged and replaced by dupes.)

Since an original 3-strip Technicolor movie has three b&w original negatives, modern restorations of those films try to scan the negatives or b&w fine grain copies. However, one problem is that 20th Century Fox destroyed all of their 3-strip Technicolor negatives, so modern blu-ray transfers of those titles have to be made from whatever has survived, sometimes just an old dye transfer print, sometimes a CRI or dupe negative, etc.  The high contrast of a Technicolor dye transfer prints makes for a rather harsh video transfer and dark scenes often suffer badly.

There was a brief revival of the dye transfer process in the mid-late 1990's but it was only used for limited print runs. Technicolor dismantled their prototype printer after that. There was one dye transfer print made of "The Thin Red Line" that got shown once at the American Cinematheque. "Apocalypse Now Redux" was released in dye transfer prints at that time too.

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I had a thread on the new 6K scan / 4K restoration of "Spartacus" on blu-ray, comparing it to the previous blu-ray made from the Robert Harris photochemical restoration of the Technirama negative (8-perf 35mm).

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According to IMDB, which says it was filmed in Kodak, and Technicolor was only involved in Coloring process. So When a film is said to be colored by Technicolor but shot on Kodak, what does it mean? They dye transfer a Kodak stock into 3 color strips? What film stock was Kodak Dye transferred to? Technicolor's own stock? And then transferred to what stock for Printed format, Kodak or Technicolor print?

It means that if the movie was shot on Kodak color negative and a dye transfer release print was planned, Technicolor would take the color negative and create, in an optical printer, the three b&w separation positives using filters to separate the color information. Either they would go "direct to matrix" meaning that the b&w positives were on the matrix stock and could be used to make the prints -- each matrix was run through a dye (yellow, cyan, or magenta) and then run into contact onto a blank stock, one color pass at a time to build up a full color image, hence dye transfer, also called imbibation printing (I.B.) -- or they would make b&w fine grain positives, then make b&w fine grain dupe negatives, and from those make the positive matrices.  

A Kodak print is a photographic process -- the print stock is like the color negative stocks, it has a silver emulsion with filters and color dye couplers to create color during processing.  A Technicolor dye transfer print is not a photographic process, it's more like printing color photos in a book where you press passes of a yellow, cyan, and magenta dye image onto a clear blank piece of film to build up a full color image.

You might want to spend some time going through the pages here:
http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/oldcolor/index.htm

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I once got to project a dye-transfer print of Funny Girl. It broke, and several feet were destroyed. Nothing I could have done, but I was mortified.

The opening has some very period-appropriate graphics clearly shot on an animation stand with paper cutouts, or something of that sort. The high saturation made it practically three-dimensional.

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10 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

I had a thread on the new 6K scan / 4K restoration of "Spartacus" on blu-ray, comparing it to the previous blu-ray made from the Robert Harris photochemical restoration of the Technirama negative (8-perf 35mm).

So Am I correct in saying that The Wild Bunch page on Wikipedia made a mistake by saying "It's shot on both Technicolor and Panavision"? Since Shot on, refers to the camera and film stock, but in this case, it wasn't shot on Technicolor's 3 strip camera. 

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10 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:



Dye transfer was a 35mm print process, so any 70mm prints were on color print stock.

Probably a 4K restoration would be done from the original negative if available and not fragile, if not, a new IP might be struck from the negative and then the IP would get scanned. Or an old IP if that is in good condition.  I believe the Christopher Nolan "restoration" of "2001" was made from a 30-year-old 65mm IP in a vault, from which an IN and then 70mm prints were struck. But I believe the 4K digital restoration was done by scanning the original 65mm negative (though I've heard that there are small sections in the original negative that got damaged and replaced by dupes.)

Since an original 3-strip Technicolor movie has three b&w original negatives, modern restorations of those films try to scan the negatives or b&w fine grain copies. However, one problem is that 20th Century Fox destroyed all of their 3-strip Technicolor negatives, so modern blu-ray transfers of those titles have to be made from whatever has survived, sometimes just an old dye transfer print, sometimes a CRI or dupe negative, etc.  The high contrast of a Technicolor dye transfer prints makes for a rather harsh video transfer and dark scenes often suffer badly.

 

Ok, more question follow up to this. 

1) Were films projected as 3 strip Technicolor at all prior to 1950 discontinuation? Or was it then printed on a color stock of some sort

Quote

4K restoration would be done from the original negative if available and not fragile, if not,

 2) Original Kodak color negative? If so, does that mean a lot of the restoration didn't go through the Technicolor process? And the coloration on the Bluray we would see is not the same as all as back then? I'm not talking about just the 4k restoration of 2001.

I want to know if some restoration go straight to the original negative( Kodak), or the final print( after colored by Technicolor) the projected on Kodak. If the former is the case, that just makes me sad, and disappointed that while watching all those films Titled: Colored by Technicolor, as a millennial we didn't even actually get to see any. And then blindly go on waving about the glories of "Movies back then". 

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39 minutes ago, Wendy Sanders McDonlad said:

So Am I correct in saying that The Wild Bunch page on Wikipedia made a mistake by saying "It's shot on both Technicolor and Panavision"? Since Shot on, refers to the camera and film stock, but in this case, it wasn't shot on Technicolor's 3 strip camera. 

That means that the film was shot using Panavision lenses and their 35mm cameras  and that Technicolor did the lab work including producing 35mm and 70mm prints using the dye transfer process,

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Brian Drysdale said:

That means that the film was shot using Panavision lenses and their 35mm cameras  and that Technicolor did the lab work including producing 35mm and 70mm prints using the dye transfer process,

So it is a mistake then. since you won't say a movie is shot on Cinelab, because they did the lab work for the developing, etc.. Also, as I mentioned this film the Wild Bunch was probably shot on Kodak film stock first. Technicolor only did dye transfer after. So it was not even shot straight on to Technicolor stock either. You won't say some film is shot on Kodak Intermediate either. 

Edited by Wendy Sanders McDonlad

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Prints would a single strip, as used in cinemas, not 3 strips. That was only used for shooting until stopped.

You don't want to do transfers  to video using projection contrast prints, the results tend to be contrasty. Going back to the original neg will give the best results, however, you do need to know what the original grade was like, otherwise it can vary from what the audiences saw in the cinema. 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Brian Drysdale said:

Prints would a single strip, as used in cinemas, not 3 strips. That was only used for shooting until stopped.

You don't want to do transfers  to video using projection contrast prints, the results tend to be contrasty. Going back to the original neg will give the best results, however, you do need to know what the original grade was like, otherwise it can vary from what the audiences saw in the cinema. 

So then, does it mean none of the Bluray restoration we see is the work of Technicolor at all? Instead, it's graded (when? and by who?) from the original negatives to get as close as it can be? 

But if a film has its original negatives, but no Technicolor processed prints are available, does that mean nobody would know what it looked like then? I wonder how would they go about restoring that then... Graded it as they will?

Edited by Wendy Sanders McDonlad

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5 minutes ago, Wendy Sanders McDonlad said:

So it is a mistake then. since you won't say a movie is shot on Cinelab, because they did the lab work for the developing, etc.. Also, as I mentioned this film the Wild Bunch was probably shot on Kodak film stock first. Technicolor only did dye transfer after. So it was not even shot straight on to Technicolor stock either. You won't say some film is shot on Kodak Intermediate either. 

Don't be confused by marketing. Labs used to say color by such and such lab in the credits of a film, even through the stocks were manufactured by Kodak. 

At least Technicolor had their unique dye transfer, until they went over to the standard photochemical workflow used by the other labs.

Credits aren't legal documents. they're part of the marketing. 

 

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1 hour ago, Wendy Sanders McDonlad said:

So Am I correct in saying that The Wild Bunch page on Wikipedia made a mistake by saying "It's shot on both Technicolor and Panavision"? Since Shot on, refers to the camera and film stock, but in this case, it wasn't shot on Technicolor's 3 strip camera. 

Correct though it is a common mistake, probably connected to an age-old issue of a studio making a deal with Technicolor to provide prints having to credit them in the main titles.

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There are companies that specialise in restorations, you need to check the end credits for who did the work. They may have a print available as a reference, but the restoration can vary in its grading compared to what the audiences saw back in the day. 

Sometimes the original DP or director is involved in the restoration. 

 

 

 

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I also find this term "restoration" misleading, if they are scanned straight from ungraded negatives and then graded from scratch based on existing color prints. Like I said, if no such final print exist to use as a benchmark, then it's more like recreating from a new aesthetic totally dependent on an entirely new perception of color at that point. 

For example, if 100 years from now, I found a copy of pulp fiction's original negative, and graded as Black and White, then it's not a "restoration"..

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54 minutes ago, Wendy Sanders McDonlad said:

1) Were films projected as 3 strip Technicolor at all prior to 1950 discontinuation? Or was it then printed on a color stock of some sort

 2) Original Kodak color negative? If so, does that mean a lot of the restoration didn't go through the Technicolor process? And the coloration on the Bluray we would see is not the same as all as back then? I'm not talking about just the 4k restoration of 2001.

I want to know if some restoration go straight to the original negative( Kodak), or the final print( after colored by Technicolor) the projected on Kodak. If the former is the case, that just makes me sad, and disappointed that while watching all those films Titled: Colored by Technicolor, as a millennial we didn't even actually get to see any. And then blindly go on waving about the glories of "Movies back then". 

"3-strip" was just the camera process of using three b&w negatives in the camera to record the colors.  It was never a projection process, that was Technicolor's dye transfer / imbibation printing system of transfering yellow, cyan, and magenta dye onto clear film, like printing color photos in a book or magazine.
I'm not sure what you are asking about a "Technicolor process" for restoration. Technicolor dye transfer prints were projection prints. Color in a digital master is, well, digital/electronic -- you can't "see" the colors of the print or negative directly on a TV monitor, it has to be transformed into a digital file and color-corrrected digitally even if you started out with a scan of a Technicolor print.  And as I said, prints are not good sources for any sort of transfer to video. Any sort of "Technicolor look" if you're watching a digital version on a TV screen or in a digital theater has to be electronically simulated, just like any other photochemical look. If you want to see what a Technicolor dye transfer print looks like, you have to go to an art house that specializes in finding and showing an archival print. They are rare enough that usually it will be listed in the announcement.  If you want to see what 3-strip Technicolor looked like, you can see modern versions made onto regular Kodak color print stock -- you won't get the full experience of both the camera and the printing process, but 3-strip photography is still unique-enough to show up in a Kodak print or in a digital version.

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Also, if Technicolor dye transfer process is truly unique, then restoration from original negatives to then later grade to match it ( I don't know chemical or digitally) is just not technicolor look, but at the point of 2020, I wonder if there is such material for comparison, to show how much discrepancies there are. 

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7 minutes ago, Wendy Sanders McDonlad said:

I also find this term "restoration" misleading, if they are scanned straight from ungraded negatives and then graded from scratch based on existing color prints. Like I said, if no such final print exist to use as a benchmark, then it's more like recreating from a new aesthetic totally dependent on an entirely new perception of color at that point. 

For example, if 100 years from now, I found a copy of pulp fiction's original negative, and graded as Black and White, then it's not a "restoration"..

Everything ages. "Restoration" usually means first cleaning up the original film elements (negatives, dupes, prints) for long-term storage, but also making new copies that attempt to get back to the quality of the original as closely as possible, and to create a new master from which new transfers or prints, etc. can be made, and hopefully do it well-enough that the fragile originals won't have to be touched anymore.  

First of all, any digital version or presentation by its very nature is a different thing than the original film and how it was shown. And there is no way to make dye transfer prints anymore. If you want to restore something as closely to it's original quality, you first begin by working with as close to the first generation negative as possible. But there are lots of reasons why this is not possible or is problematic. Damage, shrinkage, missing parts... the original may have been destroyed, etc. Color negatives and Kodak prints fade unevenly over time, etc. Restoration is very complex work but I don't understand your objection to scanning the original negative and color-correcting digitally, which is the optimal method for restoration if done at a high enough resolution. What would be your method of restoring, let's say, "2001"?

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I have no "objection" per se. but disappointed that from this point on, for my generation they would believe this is what the what the Technicolor looks like back in the day, when it clearly is a newly graded, albeit digitally to simulate it as close as possible. 

So if say, the benchmark print no longer exists, even with the original DP still alive and supervise the process, just so how reliable human memories are is dubious. Then the accuracy of such simulated grading is not a "restoration", but a new art that is solely dependent on our perception changes over art at that point, or what we think old movies SHOULD look like, but not was.

Am I getting my point across?  

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10 minutes ago, Wendy Sanders McDonlad said:

Also, if Technicolor dye transfer process is truly unique, then restoration from original negatives to then later grade to match it ( I don't know chemical or digitally) is just not technicolor look, but at the point of 2020, I wonder if there is such material for comparison, to show how much discrepancies there are. 

Color is highly subjective, in the end, it's a judgement call of whoever is doing the restoration. There's no way around this. It will never be perfect because rarely is there a perfect reference that hasn't aged.  The best is a pristine dye transfer print because those colors age the least.  But even in the case of dye transfer, look at "Gone with the Wind", shot in 3-strip Technicolor and re-released multiple times over the decades in both dye transfer prints and Kodak prints and now digitally as well.  Even the various re-releases in dye transfer don't match each other because Technicolor could vary the degree of contrast and saturation in the prints. So the original 1939 prints were a bit more muted than the prints made in the late 1940s and later.  People today "remember" the look of the movie as being very saturated and contrasty so if you don't deliver a new version in that look, people say it looks wrong but that's all based on memory.
It's not just old color movies, go to a blu-ray review site that compares all the version of "Blade Runner" on home video for example, every time it gets transferred to video, the colors change. And you can't really just use the colors of the original negative because you can't judge color of a negative, it's all reversed and has a brick-orange color mask over everything, because negatives were designed to shown as positive prints. Plus different layers of the negative have aged and faded over the decades, so even if you made a straight print today, you'd have to compensate for the shifting of the color layers.

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10 minutes ago, Wendy Sanders McDonlad said:

I have no "objection" per se. but disappointed that from this point on, for my generation they would believe this is what the what the Technicolor looks like back in the day, when it clearly is a newly graded, albeit digitally to simulate it as close as possible. 

So if say, the benchmark print no longer exists, even with the original DP still alive and supervise the process, just so how reliable human memories are is dubious. Then the accuracy of such simulated grading is not a "restoration", but a new art that is solely dependent on our perception changes over art at that point, or what we think old movies SHOULD look like, but not was.

Am I getting my point across?  

Now you're just arguing over how words like "restoration" are defined.  Which is fine, but language is a fluid thing and words basically mean what the majority of people think they mean. In most cases, "restoration" means generally creating a new master with as much quality of the original as technically possible given the state of the original. But if you want to use a different word, that's up to you as long as no one is confused.

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Just checking "The Godfather", the credit is "Color by Technicolor".

Even photochemical prints from an original negative, made over a number of months, can vary depending on how the processing was running on a particular day and other factors.  

 

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Thank you David, I learned so much over this thread. 

My eye opener is that restored films are not a form of documentation as far as visual images goes. In the sense, I didn't realize that it's not the same as original literature text preserved, or even an albumen photograph. Due to the color grading aspect, I believe it really is a new art on its own upon each time presented, and therefore not a documentation at all to record what it was presented back in the day. 

Well, I rest my case, at least it's better than live theatre performance which I won't even get a glimpse on what it was like. 🙂

I find myself actually rooting for the future of digital format for its preservation qualities. What I see in movies will be exactly what other will see 100 years from now. 

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Restoration will never be a perfect process.  Especially when you are talking about a film that exists in multiple states and is viewed in multiple ways, unlike viewing a painting directly. It is impossible to view a 1950 color movie as it was viewed by someone in 1950, assuming that audiences in 1950 even all saw the same thing in all theaters (which they didn't).

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There is an ongoing attempt by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to develop a way of digitally describing color values so that someone who pulls up the digital files 100 years from now knows how the original filmmaker wanted each color to appear, rather than deal with reinterpretation of an imperfect copy seen on new viewing technologies.

But of course, one can argue that unless you see a projected film print of something made before digital technology, you aren't seeing the movie "accurately", as it was "meant to be seen".  However, the printing processes of the past such as dye transfer or nitrate base stocks all don't exist anymore anyway.

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