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dye transfer books?


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#1 Filip Plesha

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 07:41 PM

Hi

I have long had an interest in technicolor 3-strip process and dye transfer printing, and have recently bought the book "technicolor movies: the history of dye transfer printing", which was a huge disappointment. Not because it is bad, but because my expectations were wrong.
As the title states, it's a book about history, with just the most basic tech info aimed for the general reader.
Are there any books out there that explain more the technical sides of the dye transfer technicolor process? The only thing I could find on amazon is this book:
Glorious Technicolor: The Movies' Magic Rainbow.
How does it compare? Anyone opened that one?

What I'm looking for is something that would go more into detail of the process, for example, specs for the stocks used for the 3-strip process, changes in dyes over the years, explanation of various methods of control etc.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 08:51 PM

I'm not aware of any better books. Someone might have written a PhD paper on 3-strip based on interviews with Dr. Goldberg, who knows. I've saw one sitting on a shelf at UCLA once, but it didn't seem much more technical than Haines' book.
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#3 Filip Plesha

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 07:07 AM

Well, perhaps I should search on various patent sites. Something might come up

Here is something I couldn't find an answer to.
In the Haines book, it is mentioned that the "washback" step usually enhanced the color saturation, but it is not really explained how so. Since this was a process that affected only one matrix at a time, any change would only be done to one color channel, which is how one increases contrast and density, but saturation is something that involves inter-channel reactions (exclusion of channels), so I can't really understand what exactly increased the saturation. Contrast yes (which also increased saturation), but
that's not an increase in saturation in regular photoshop jargon, which means increasing color contrast without affecting neutral contrast (or in other words simulating interimage effects)

So,my question would be, was there really a method of increasing color saturation in dye transfer printing. Or did you simply have a saturated start, and could only reduce from there by using wider bandwidth filters on separations (in case of printing from color negs)
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 11:57 AM

My impression was that the matrices were normally flashed to reduce contrast, so one could reduce the flashing, or eliminate it, for more saturation. I suppose altering the gamma would also increase contrast & saturation.

Otherwise, you'd think the saturation of a pure color would be limited by the dye itself being used.

Other than the low-con, low-saturation experiments by using broad rather than narrow cut filters, I don't think this was how they handled saturation normally. You could only reduce saturation with this method anyway, not increase it.

The elimination of the silver key pass did increase saturation somewhat. I'm sure the dyes themselves were varied over the years. But I think the flash level used on the b&w matrices, and maybe their gamma in processing, was the main way of controlling contrast and thus saturation.
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#5 Brian Rose

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 02:11 PM

Filip,
If you're looking for real nuts and bolts, technical stuff, I highly recommend R.T. Ryan's "A History of Motion Picture Color Technology." He has a thorough description of the process Technicolor used, both the early two-color system, and the more complex three color process. He details the process of capturing the image using beampslitters, through the process of developing, including chemicals. He even breaks down the chemical compositions of the dyes used for both processes.

Additionally, he covers just about every other color process (that I've heard of, at least), additive and subtractive, bipack and monopack, and even the obscure processes like Brewster color and Gaspar color.

If you want to know more about dye transfer specifically, you might read up on the Handschiegl process, which was a post-production color process used mainly during the silent era (notably on the original, lost cut of Greed, where all the gold object were to appear colored). Technicolor's dye transfer method was basically an adaptation of that earlier process...I believe Herbert Kalmus may have even bought the rights to it. There are also a number of still photographers who use dye transfer to make their prints, so you might do a google search.

And David, you are right about the flashing. Additionally, by reducing contrast, Technicolor was also able to reduce the apparent grain of the print, since otherwise, it could be rather excessive, considering it was three layers.

Hope my info helps!
Best,
BR
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#6 Christian Appelt

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 03:22 PM

CORNWELL-CLYNE, ADRIAN, COLOUR CINEMATOGRAPHY.
1951. 2. CORNWELL-CLYNE, Adrian. COLOUR CINEMATOGRAPHY. London: Chapman and Hall, 1951. 3rd edition. 780 pp

that book even has technical drawings of a dye transfer machine. of course it does not cover the later 1950s processes and modifications!
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#7 Filip Plesha

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 02:16 PM

Thanks for all the advice. I did manage to find a patent (patented by Technicolor) on a free patents web-site, which explains the printing stage (though not the creation of matrices) quite well.
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#8 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 03:42 PM

Other than the low-con, low-saturation experiments by using broad rather than narrow cut filters, I don't think this was how they handled saturation normally. You could only reduce saturation with this method anyway, not increase it.

The elimination of the silver key pass did increase saturation somewhat. I'm sure the dyes themselves were varied over the years. But I think the flash level used on the b&w matrices, and maybe their gamma in processing, was the main way of controlling contrast and thus saturation.


There was anSMPTE Journal article in the late 60s about altering color saturation on Technicolor matrices. the Examples they discussed were 'Reflections in a Golden Eye' and 'The Taming of the Shrew'.

'Relections...' was desaturated by splitting te matrice exposure between the OCN and a B/W dupe neg.
That became the usual method for non matrix printing.

Fot 'Shrew' the matrices were altered to obtain a golden look, but cannot recall how thqt was accomplished.
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#9 J. Lamar King

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 04:05 PM

It's not very technical but interesting, there is a new book out called "Harnessing the Technicolor Rainbow" by Higgins. I'm halfway through it and so far it's been eye opening as to color theory in Technicolor movies of the thirties.
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