I'm looking for information about the color effect used in the John Huston film, Reflections in a Golden Eye. How was the over-all golden color cast created with certain object like red roses retaining their color in 1967?
Reflections in a Golden Eye
Posted 18 November 2015 - 11:13 PM
There was an article on the desaturation technique used by Technicolor Italy in the December 1967 issue of "American Cinematographer", which I happen to own by luck (I have most of the 1970's issues but only four or five issues from the 1960's, but this is one of them.)
But a little historical context is needed, which is to explain how Ozzie Morris and John Huston desaturated some of the prints for "Moby Dick"(1956), which was also an Eastmancolor negative movie (unlike "Moulin Rouge" which was shot in 3-strip Technicolor.)
Morris was trying to figure out how to desaturate the movie when he was visiting Technicolor and saw some washed-out and pastel prints playing in a theater there and was told that these were "TV prints", low-contrast in order to transfer better in a film chain device. To make a low-contrast pastel print, when Technicolor made the b&w positive matrices from the single color negative, they didn't use narrow cut filters to separate red, green, and blue information, they used broad-cut filters, which meant that each b&w color record had a lot of crosstalk, they were "polluted" with information from the other two colors. So when the three b&w positives were recombined using the dye transfer printing process, the final image had washed-out colors. Probably the contrast was also modified by flashing the b&w matrices a little more heavily than normal.
Morris liked the pastel colors but didn't like the washed-out contrast, so Technicolor used one of their dye transfer printers that still had a fourth "silver key" printer step -- early Technicolor movies printed a black silver image over the dye image in order to get good blacks and allow an optical track to be printed, but later this step wasn't necessary. But for "Moby Dick", they used this older printer in order to print this silver image over the color image on the dye transfer prints.
So jump 11 years later... Ozzie Morris replaced Italian cinematographer Aldo Tonti after some weeks of production but wasn't involved in the printing, the desaturation was something Huston worked on with the lab himself (in Morris' book, he didn't think much of the prints for "Reflections in a Golden Eye"). Huston wanted a golden hue to a desaturated image with some colors remaining.
Since Technicolor had discontinued the fourth pass with the silver key printer, the approach used for "Moby Dick" couldn't be done, so basically when Technicolor made the three b&w positive matrices from the single color negative, they double-printed each matrices with a pass from a b&w dupe negative made from a color I.P. made from the color negative. They could control the degree of desaturation by the percentage that the positive used from either the color negative or the b&w dupe negative, and they could control the desaturation separately for the red, green, and blue information.
The golden tint was probably just a color timing technique, enhanced with the desaturation.
Posted 20 November 2015 - 01:04 AM
Thanks David! I appreciate the wealth of information in your reply.