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World’s first colored motion pictures film footage found

Published: 2012.10.08 - 12:48:10   /  /  Traslated by: Yurgen Enamorado Lardoeyt

World’s first colored motion pictures film footage foundThe film produced by the Londoner photographer and inventor Edward Raymond Turner underwent modern digital restoration in order to recover the original colour of the tape, which shows images of some children – possibly Edward’s - a bunch of sunflowers, a colourful fish, a red parrot and a group of soldiers marching through the London’s streets.

‘‘We believe it’ll rewrite the movies’ history’’, - said the head of the museum collections, Paul Goodman. ‘‘It doesn’t seem to be an overstatement. These are the first colored motion pictures in the world.’’

Although it was known already that Turner patented his method in 1899, , which consisted on recording stills in sequence to be projected afterwards by using red, green and blue overwritten filters, it was believed the invention had turned out to be a failure. The inventor, who had received finance from a little-know man named Frederick Lee, could never test it since he died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1903, at the age of twenty-nine.

The film archives were transfered from London to Bradford three years ago. The Science Museum of the British capital had acquired the collection of North American Charles Urban, a movies pioneer settled in London, who financed the Kinemacolor method. Among his legacy there were found two rolls of film produced by Turner, from which both the negatives and the positives were undamaged.

When Michael Harvey, the Superintendent of the museum cinematography, found the material, he decided to make contact with two experts from the National Archive of the British Cinematographic Institute to consider the possibility of turning the material into a colored film.

Both the positives and the negatives of Turner’s film had been produced in unique 38 millimeter format with two round perforations between each still, ´that couldn’t be watched using a modern projector. The group of experts copied each one of the stills in a 35 millimeters film and afterwards, they digitally turned it into a colored version.

‘‘The image of the fish was amazing, its colors were so vivid and delicate’’, - exclaimed Harvey. ‘‘And there was a shiny plumage- colourful- parrot, a brief image of some soldiers marching, and the most interesting, some children wearing their finest Edwardian clothes’’. Then, he affirms, ‘‘I realized we had an important discovery in our hands’’

To set a date for the film, experts’ opinion was based on the circumstances its recording was carried out, which had its premiere at Bradford museum. For instance, they know that the camera they used was from 1901, and they also know both the Turner’s children date of birth and his date of death, in 1903.

‘‘This wonderful rediscovery emphasizes on the potential this museum collection certainly has ’’, - concluded Goodman, ‘‘so now, Lee’s and Turner’s films may take the place they deserve’’

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