It is necessary, before the cutting operation begins, to have a special examination of the film made to ensure that the perforations of the image of the two films tally to perfection. In all the above types of machine the cutting of the stencil is done image after image, the films being made to move one picture at the time, at the will of the worker, who can move both films at the same time by one turn of the handle commanding both films. Although we now think that cutting stencils is an easy operation, that is not exactly the case, and it is likely that any one who was to try his hand at this game of patience would find results far from satisfactory.
To become a skilled cutter weeks and weeks of learning are necessary. Even a skilled worker cannot cut more than three feet of stencils per hour. When direct cutting is undertaken the guiding point has to be passed over a very minute image; care must be taken not to get away from the line designed by the painter, and steadiness of hand and good sight is necessary to arrive at this accuracy of cutting.
All these qualifications make selection of the cutting staff a difficult question, and there are many rejections amongst the persons who would like to be employed in the department. If, for some reason or other, the section to be detached holds on to the body of the stencil, the worker has to complete the cutting by means of a sharp cutting point.
This operation is, so to speak, the touching-up of the stencil. The greatest care has to be taken, as a slip of the knife might ruin the whole section of the stencils. It can be realized at this stage what a lacy effect each stencil presents. We have pictures where the same colour has to be distributed into a great number of small spaces. In other cases, on the contrary, we sometimes have to cover in one colour only a large portion of the image. We find that portions of such a large size reduce greatly the strength of the stencil, and to avoid the same getting damaged we then have to space our holes every other picture.
The stencil is now a very costly possession, and has next to be cleaned of the gelatine remaining on the support. This has to be done with great care, and friction of any sort avoided which would be likely to scratch the celluloid.
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Special care must also be taken so that no alterations in the pitch of perforations or dimension of the film occurs, as it is essential that both perforations and image of the stencil should exactly coincide with the film to be coloured films, of course, not having to undergo the various washing and drying operations to which a stencil is subjected. Degelatinization is best obtained by using a suitable solution of hypochlorite.
The stencil is now made and ready for use. We have next to apply the colour on the copies required for exploitation. Formerly this operatic was done with a flat brush, but improved methods allow us to-day to do this more speedily.
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The stencil and the film are made to travel together and to come into very close contact over a drum ; at the moment that the stencil and the film are passing over the drum and held taut the colour is applied through the stencil holes on to the film. The machine consists of a drum of large diameter, fitted with teeth, the width of which can be automatically set. This setting allows us to obtain perfect register between the films to be coloured and the stencils.
The film and the stencil travel together in the same direction, whilst in the opposite direction an endless velvet ribbon moves, fed with liquid colour by means of a rotating brush, this brush picking up the coloured solution from a small endless metal ribbon. The metal ribbon dips into a small trough containing the colouring solution, and its speed can so be altered as to pick up the exact quantity of colouring matter required for the film ; this varies greatly, according to the size of the surface to be coloured.
The reel to be coloured is made up of all the positive sections that have to undergo the processes, all these being printed on the continuous system and on the same reel of positive stock. The stencil is placed on the machine in a continuous loop, so that, after passing over the drum it goes back to the top rollers, the number of which varies with the length of the stencil. The finished film falls into a basket or is passed through a drying cabinet I in order to hasten the drying operation.
To allow the machine to work in a continuous manner it is necessary that the length of each section of the positive print to be coloured be exactly the same as that of the stencil, now joined in a loop. To arrive at this we have sometimes to use spacing in the stencil to make up for the leads that are always to be found on positive copies. These leads on the positive print repeat themselves in exactly the same length, as the positive copies have also been printed on the continuous machine, and from the very same negative from which the stencil was obtained. The nature of the colouring solution implied by the velvet can easily be pressed.
As the body to be coloured is gelatine, we have to get an aqueous solution.
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The strength of this solution varies according to the depth of tint we wish to obtain. The colouring must be perfectly even. And as the solution is being applied by velvet it will be readily realized that this velvet has a tendency to become poorer on the very spaces covering the stencil holes, and richer everywhere else.
It is, therefore, necessary to spread the solution in a more even manner, and to get this result the worker should continuously rub the top of the velvet whilst it is passing over the film. This spreading operation will be noticed when the film showing you the working of the machine is projected. Having spoken of colouring matter, it is essential to add that these colours must be light-resisting and transparent.
With colours specially tested and proven to have these qualities the worker can obtain all the desired tints. Deciding on tints is not always an easy task. We soon found that with a slight alteration in the lighting of the room trouble occurred in matching colours. For reason we decided to install a permanent system of lighting, which is also, as near as possible, that of daylight.
To obtain this result, we had, as we did with the cutting machines, to use blue-tinted lamps. There mains the registering. We have seen that for the colouring operations the width of the teeth is adjustable, the drum being made of two half-sections, each carrying a line of teeth. These two sections being adjustable, it will be realized that the stencil and the positive print are always perfectly taut one over the other.
Lateral registering between the positive print to be coloured and the stencil openings will depend for mutual register on the perforations. This trouble is avoided, as we have already seen, by taking the precaution of printing from the same negative, not only the positive prints to be coloured, but also the films used as stencils. The diameter of the drum has been carefully calculated, so that three full images are always resting on the face of the drum ; thus each image is, therefore, coloured by several different sections of the velvet.
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In this way the tint is more regular. It must not be concluded that colouring operations are always perfect and never need touching up. This we have sometimes to do. A worker is always liable to make a mistake, and we can usually save the film and avoid reprints by merely washing the colour off. It only remains to add that this method of colouring—which you appreciate in England for the actual value of the work it represents—by stencil will always present the following interest.
It can be applied to any film whatsoever without its having been prepared for that purpose. Given a good negative, the colouring operation can be performed on any film. Ruot for the very lucid manner in which he had laid the subject before them and explained a very intricate mechanism. The vote of thanks having been heartily accorded, M. RUOT briefly expressed his appreciation of the kind remarks that had been made.
Ruot and L. A stencil is made from a celluloid strip, one strip for each color, on a pantograph device which has a vibrating, electrically driven needle that cuts the celluloid away completely in the stencil film. Stencil film is carried under the electric needle while a companion picture film is carried in synchronism with it and projected up to about lantern size, over which the long end of the pantograph swings.
Each picture in a series is done in this manner for each of the colors that are to be applied. The matrix film is then a series of openings through which a color is applied to the finished print. Celluloid to be cut for the stencil is a positive print from which the emulsion is later removed and the film cleaned. Show prints are on a registering printer in which the feeding pins, in a step movement, draw both the negative and positive forward one frame at a time.
About midway of the stroke, one of the feeding pins spreads sideways from the other, thus adjusting the films laterally. Prints are sometimes toned to produce one of the shades to be used. In both cases, each frame is worked by hand, for in the Handschiegl all parts not wanted are blocked out with color, by hand. Stencil and positive to be colored are brought into contact over a sprocket wheel while a velvet ribbon wipes a color through the stencil to the positive.
This color ribbon is a loop of about one foot in diameter. A series of brushes feeds the dye to the ribbon, so that it does not receive too of the colored liquid. Film passes through this machine at the rate of about 60 feet per minute, one strip for each color, on a pantograph device which has a vibrating, electrically driven needle that cuts the celluloid away completely in the stencil film. The stencil film is carried under the electric needle while a companion picture film is carried in synchronism with it and projected up to about lantern size, over which the long end of the pantograph arm swings.
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An object to be traced is followed over the enlarged picture and the needle at the opposite end cuts away the celluloid in the normal picture. The celluloid to be cut for the stencil is a positive print from which the emulsion is later removed and the film cleaned. The show prints are made on a registering printer in which the feeding pins, in a step movement, draw both the negative and positive forward one frame at a time.
The prints are sometimes toned to produce one of the shades to be used. Although tinting and toning were used more frequently throughout silent cinema, the process of stenciling was adapted for film in the early s and used through the late s; it garnered more attention by far, especially during the first decade of its use. With this technique, each color had its own stencil that was made by cutting out holes into a positive, black-and-white print of a film, frame by frame, in the spots where color was to be added to the film.
Once all these cuts were made in each frame of the film section to be colored, the emulsion was washed off, leaving a clear, perforated stencil that could be placed in alignment over the image of a new, positive print of the film. Typically between three and five separate stencils would be used on a film or segments of a film , and though the preparation of the stencils was laborious, once produced they provided an automated means of reproducing the colors on multiple prints.
Yumibe, Joshua : Moving Colors. Early Film, Mass Culture, Modernism. New Brunswick et al. The caterpillar dissolves into a white cocoon, out of which a multicolored butterfly wing then emerges directly toward the camera. There is a cut to the butterfly fully exposed, and its fluttering wings shimmer in various colors orange, greenish-blue, yellow.
Next, a physical transformation takes place in which the butterfly leans forward to reveal that it is actually a woman in a butterfly costume her full body now visible , and she continues to flutter and pirouette color plate The black background serves a dual purpose here: it both masks any fringing that may have occurred in the coloring process the dyes do not show on the dark surface , and it contrasts with the moving colors that seem to protrude from the screen. The coloring adds a sense of depth to the image, yet it does not construct a deep space that beckons one to enter.
Various articles from the period discuss color in relation to stereoscopy. This association was strong with natural color systems, which were in fact often marketed as being stereoscopic; however, even from the earliest reviews of applied color films, there was a sense in which colored bodies especially female ones in film seemed to leap from the screen. In the earliest years this was primarily to make the characters stand out against a monochrome background by tinting them in bright colors, i. The stereoscope creates a three-dimensional image that is in sunken relief. With this movement, it pulls into the emulsified image beneath it, bringing it sensually within reach.
From the early s to World War I, the company was the leading producer of colored films around the world. Five weeks later, on May 2, he reported again that experiments were still ongoing, and he was confident that the process could soon be adopted industrially for coloring films.