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Author Topic: Color labs of the 1960s
Lincoln Spector
Film Handler

Posts: 46
From: Albany, CA, USA
Registered: Mar 2012


 - posted 05-07-2019 07:48 PM      Profile for Lincoln Spector   Author's Homepage   Email Lincoln Spector   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When I was in junior high (now called middle school) in the late 60s, I noticed the brand name color of every movie I saw. Most movies were advertised as being in Technicolor, Metrocolor, Eastman Color, or Deluxe Color. And I had very clear views about what were best.

My favorite was Technicolor. At the time I didn't know why. Of course I now know about IB prints.

I think I understand why I hated Deluxe so much. Everything was kind of purple. The prints faded fast, and my parents preferred the cheaper theaters with the well-used prints.

But Metrocolor gave an orange tint to skin color (I should say Caucasian skin color, but that was most of the skin color in movies back then). Nothing else; just skin color. Anyone know why?

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Mitchell Dvoskin
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: West Milford, NJ, USA
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 - posted 05-09-2019 06:15 PM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
IB Technicolor was the gold standard back in the 1960's because it did not fade.

Metrocolor (MGM) and Deluxe (FOX) were studio owned labs that put their name on what was actually Eastman Color.

When Eastman prints were new they looked fine. However, they did not age well prior to approximately 1983 when Kodak switched the emulsion formulation to what they labeled "LPP", which seems to be much more stable.

Prior to Kodak introducing the "LPP" formulation, they attempted another low fade emulsion formulation that they labeled "SP". It failed, and those prints faded to a brownish orange before eventually fading to red.

In the 1960's, in addition to Kodak's Eastman Color, there was Agfa Color and Fuji Color which held their color much better, although they eventually faded (for prints struck prior to the early 1980's).

DuPont, 3M, and several European manufacturers also made 35mm film stock with different fading characteristics.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 05-09-2019 06:27 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Was dye fading on coupler emulsions a known issue as far back as the 1960s? All the standard histories of film archiving suggest awareness of the problem within the biz didn't become significant until the early to mid '70s, which was when Scorsese began his campaign to persuade Kodak to acknowledge the problem and do something about it.

The impression I had was that even the fastest and most severely fading stocks, stored in the most hostile atmosphere possible (warm and damp), would take a good 10-15 years for the dye fading to become clearly visible in projection (or duplication, in the case of camera and intermediate elements). So, like a bug that takes time to incubate, these stocks had been in use for a while before anyone realized that they are NFG for long term preservation.

1960s and '70s Agfa and Ferrania tended to fade to a weird greenish blue tint, as did Sovcolor elements from around the same time. Presumably the recipe for all three had a common origin, most likely Nazi Agfa.

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Stephan Shelley
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From: castro valley, CA, usa
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 - posted 05-09-2019 06:50 PM      Profile for Stephan Shelley   Email Stephan Shelley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think one of the worst was Ansco color. Not sure I spelled it correctly. they filmed Lust for Life in it because it handled the yellows of the paintings better. Unfortunately it fades badly including the negative. It will take digital restoration to save this important title. It is about Vincent Van Gogh played by Kirk Douglass from 1956.

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Marcel Birgelen
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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 05-09-2019 07:26 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ansco color was the American brand name of Agfacolor.

Agfacolor indeed has the tendency to get a blue/greenish hue, but is generally considered to be relatively stable emulsion otherwise.

Sovcolor is also Agfacolor in disguise. The Soviets simply confiscated so much of the Agfacolor stock that had been produced for German propaganda movies, they had supplies for years and years. They didn't have the means of producing it though.

Agfacolor stock has been produced until the late 1970s and was then replaced by the "Kodak process". Somewhere in the early 2000s they stopped film stock production entirely and Agfa film was merely rebranded Fuji film stock.

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Stephan Shelley
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From: castro valley, CA, usa
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 - posted 05-09-2019 07:45 PM      Profile for Stephan Shelley   Email Stephan Shelley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Seems to me that Ansco color was part of 3M.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 05-09-2019 09:31 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Marcel Birgelen
They didn't have the means of producing it though.
The stockpile of stock (sorry!) that the Russians helped themselves to from the Agfa Prague lab in 1945 must have been truly vast, if they never reverse engineered the emulsion production line, given that they must have had to figure out a way to process the stuff. Or maybe they just helped themselves to an equally vast supply of the chemistry.

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Marcel Birgelen
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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 05-10-2019 01:28 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well, it must have lasted until somewhere around 1970. The original Agfa plant, which ended up in East Germany later restarted operations with licenses and new machines and chemicals from Agfa Leverkusen in West-Germany. They sold their products, including "ORWOColor" under the ORWO (ORginal WOlfsen) brand, primarily to the Eastern block, but the stock produced at the plant was initially primarily used for consumer products. Unlike Agfa themselves, they never switched to the "Kodak process", but they kept producing film stock under the Agfa process until the wall came down.

If I remember correctly, Andrei Tarkovsky's Solyaris (1972) used ORWOColor film stock. I've ran one of those prints back in the 1990s and it did also have a slight blue/green tint...

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Gordon McLeod
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From: Toronto Ontario Canada
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 - posted 05-10-2019 10:06 AM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I always like the colour hue of Ansco colour as it was similar to the original Gevart colour pallet
3M markeded the Ferrania colour from italy that was slightly greenish and grainy
As to the question of Metro colour prints having a slight warmish tint I noticed that even on brand new prints so I suspect it has something to do with their printer light filterpaks That said i also found that they washed their prints better than the rest and they tended no to fade as quickly Movielab and Deluxe i found were the worst for poor wahsing back then

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Leo Enticknap
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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 05-10-2019 05:15 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Marcel Birgelen
...including "ORWOColor" under the ORWO (ORginal WOlfsen) brand, primarily to the Eastern block, but the stock produced at the plant was initially primarily used for consumer products.
I used OrWo consumer film a lot when I first became interested in photography as a teenager in the 1980s. Their E-6 film, OrWoChrome, was about half the price of Ektachrome or Fujichrome. The gotcha was that the color quality of the resulting slides was a total crap shoot, no matter how carefully you watched the strength, temperature, timing and agitation of the baths. Some rolls would come out looking almost indistinguishable from Kodak or Fuji, while others would look washed out and lifeless.

The OrWo b/w stock, though, was great. Again, around half the price of film made in the west, and to my eyes, indistinguishable from Ilford HP-5 or Kodak Tri-X Pan.

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 05-15-2019 01:01 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Color film stock, no matter what process, still is the stuff of magic. It's also a highly complex process and requires a lot of very specific skill, knowledge, dedication and the right equipment, especially to maintain consistent output.

Ever since the production of new color film stock by what remains of that unit of Kodak and Fujifilm has been on the edge, both a bunch of Chinese chemical companies and some small scale startups have tried to reliably produce film stock themselves, but never really made it work.

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