Importante hallazgo en el mundo del cine

Encontraron la primera filmación a color conocida. Fue grabada en 1902.

Es un hallazgo increíble y sorprendente para el mundo de la cinematografía el de los científicos del Museo de los Medios de Comunicación y Tecnologías de Bradford (Inglaterra), que encontraron entre los archivos la primera filmación a color conocida tras permanecer adentro de una lata por más de 110 años.

Hasta este descubrimiento, que se dio el mes pasado, se creía que la primera producción a color había sido la del proceso Kinemacolor en el año 1909, pero resultó que esta tecnología fue patentada diez años antes, en 1899, por el fotógrafo Edward Raymond Turner.

En concreto, la cinta hallada adentro de una lata tapada de polvo revela imágenes de los hijos de Turner jugando en el jardín de su casa en Londres, en el año 1902.

Según la tecnología de Turner, cada color se rodaba con el uso de un filtro de luz especial, de color rojo, verde y azul. Así cada episodio fue grabado a tres cintas que luego se combinaban en un vídeo en colores.

Por desgracia, el mecanismo de la proyección no fue acabado y Turner murió sin ver el material que grabó.

“Este hallazgo rompe el mito de que las antiguas películas eran todas en blanco y negro, porque el 80% de las cintas entre los años de 1890 y 1920 eran deliberadamente coloreadas”, comentó Bryony Dixon, investigadora de las películas mudas de los Archivos Nacionales del Instituto Británico de Cinematografía.

Mark Brown, corresponsal de cultura del diario The Guardian el pasado 12 de septiembre publicó el siguiente artículo sobre el descubrimiento:

Colour film of 1901, judged world’s earliest ever, found at media museum

British cinematographer’s footage of his children, Brighton beach and Hyde Park, pre-date Edwardians’ Kinemacolor

A still from Edward Turner’s colour film of circa 1902 showing his children, Alfred Raymond, Agnes May and Wilfred Sidney, with their goldfish and sunflowers.

There is not much of a plot – goldfish in bowl – but the scene and others from the same rolls of film were revealed on Wednesday as the earliest colour moving images ever made in a discovery that does nothing less than “rewrite film history”.

The National Media Museum in Bradford said it had found what it contends are truly historic films from 1901/02, pre-dating what had been thought to be the first successful colour process – Kinemacolor – by eight years.

“We believe this will literally rewrite film history,” said the museum’s head of collections, Paul Goodman. “I don’t think it is an overstatement. These are the world’s first colour moving images.”

The films were made by a young British photographer and inventor called Edward Turner, a pioneer who can now lay claim to being the father of moving colour film, well before the pioneers of Technicolor.

Turner worked for the American colour photography pioneer Frederic Eugene Ives, which inspired him to begin thinking about colour and moving pictures. It was an expensive business and Turner was backed financially by an entrepreneur called Frederick Lee.

The footage includes a goldfish in a bowl, Turner’s three young children with sunflowers, Turner’s heavily bonneted daughter on a swing, a scarlet macaw, a panning shot of Brighton beach and pier, soldiers marching in Hyde Park and what is thought to be the very first shot, traffic on London’s Knightsbridge looking up to Hyde Park Corner. While film historians have known about the Lee and Turner colour process, it has always been regarded as a noble failure and more of a stepping stone to Kinemacolor in 1909.

The films were in the collection of Charles Urban, an American businessman who settled in London and was a hugely important cinema pioneer who took over backing Turner when Lee began to lose confidence. Urban donated his archive to the Science Museum in 1937 and the films were discovered when the collection was relocated from London to Bradford about three years ago.

The museum’s curator of cinematography, Michael Harvey, recalls recognising straight away that they were Lee and Turner films because they were 38mm with two perforations in the frames. “We didn’t know they were in the collection,” he said.

With “a mixture of excitement and trepidation” he then led the team on the complicated job of seeing whether the films could be reconstructed into colour footage following the precise method that Lee and Turner had patented in 1899. “I did think ‘am I being mad?’ in trying to do this at one stage,” said Harvey. The lengthy project involved a range of people including the film archive experts Brian Pritchard and David Cleveland, and the BFI National Archive with funding from Yorkshire Film Archive and Screen Yorkshire.

Collectively, they managed to prove that the Lee and Turner colour process did work. Harvey recalled sitting entranced in an editing suite watching the footage. “The image of the goldfish was stunning,” he said. “Its colours were so lifelike and subtle. Then there was a macaw with brilliantly coloured plumage … I realised we had a significant find on our hands.”

The next step was to date the films. Harvey said the footage of the Turner’s three children was crucial since they knew when the youngsters had been born. The story was, ultimately, a tragic one though because Turner died at the age of 29, in March 1903.

Urban had turned to George Albert Smith to continue the research but Smith decided the process was unworkable and instead developed Kinemacolor.

Goodman said the discovery highlighted the untapped potential of the museum’s collection which contained many wonderful things including the earliest surviving photographic negative and the earliest television broadcasting apparatus.

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