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article imageWatch Kodachrome 1922 film test, one of first color motion pics

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 11, 2013 in Technology
The video shows a four-and-a-half minute movie Kodak produced in 1922, one of the earliest color motion pictures in history. The movie was shot as a test of Kodachrome color motion picture film seven years before the first Academy Award ceremony.
The first full length color feature film appeared 13 years after this movie was shot.
According to the website A Thousand Words, the film was shot at the Paragon Studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey and features actresses Mae Murray appearing "almost translucent, her flesh a pale white that is reminiscent of perfectly sculpted marble, enhanced with touches of color to her lips, eyes, and hair." The other actress is Hope Hampton who models costumes from The Light in the Dark (1922), which featured the first commercial use in a feature film of the Two-Color Kodachrome Process which was first tested in 1914 in the effort to bring "natural lifelike colors to the screen." The third actress in the movie is Ziegfeld Follies actress Mary Eaton. The movie also features an unidentified woman and a child.
The film was obtained from the the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. Thomas Hoehn, Director at Worldwide Interactive Mktg, who found the film at the Eastman House, said: "Watching this little film clip was like time travel for me! I thought that it would be interesting to share during Oscar week. In order to share we had to scan the original piece of film to create the version you will see below."
According to Hoehn, the flicker effect observed as the movie is viewed comes from the fact that cameras were still hand cranked to feed the film through in 1922. The manual operation results in variations in speed. Also, because the film is very old, there could be uneven densities in it. Hoehn explains: "There are digital enhancements that can be made to address this but we thought it better to keep this in its original form."
MSN Now notes the exaggerated mannerisms of the actresses in the era of silent film, which may seem to us rather unnatural in the 21st century of digital media technology.
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