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1912 – let there be colour!
2 hours - Gaumont Collection

To achieve colour film, the first technique consisted of manually colouring shots frame-by-frame. The Chronochrome process developed by Société des Etablissements Gaumont represented a major step forward for cinema, but the complicated procedure prevented the process from becoming widely applied .

Patented in 1911 and presented to the general public in 1912, the process used a special camera with three superimposed lenses, each fitted with a different colour filter: green, red and blue. A projector fitted with similar filters was used to reproduce the colour "record" on screen. The central lens was fixed in place while the other two were adjustable, applying additive colour synthesis to the three separate images .

The films produced using this technique were regularly screened during 1913 and 1914 at a specially equipped cinema, theGaumont Color, at 8 Faubourg Montmartre, Paris. After the war, the technique was revived at the Gaumont Palace. The most successful example of the process involved a documentary on the victory parade of 1919. More short programmes followed before the Chronochrome process was abandoned for good two years later. The technique was far from flawless: the equipment was complicated, cumbersome and required careful adjustment; lots of light was needed both during filming and projections; and it was difficult to perfectly converge the images from three separate lenses .

The preserved materials, which form an exceptional collection, date from 1912