The World’s Oldest Color Movie Dates to 1901 | Smart News | Smithsonian

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The World’s Oldest Color Movie Dates to 1901

A goldfish, a macaw, and some happy children were captured in color video from the early 1900s

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In 1899, British inventory Edward Turner developed a technology to film and display color movies. Turner’s invention, financially supported by Frederick Lee, was originally considered a flop by many in the film community, says The Hollywood Reporter, but the work of archivists and film experts at the National Media Museum in Bradford, England, have breathed life back into the old rolls of film that were captured by in the early days of the 20th century.

According to the museum, Turner’s technique to produce his color movies was quite complicated.

t involved photographing successive frames of black-and-white film through blue, green and red filters. Using a special projector (which you can see in the gallery) these were combined on a screen to produce full-colour images.

The Hollywood Reporter:

Using a camera and projector made by Brighton-based engineer Alfred Darling, Turner developed the process sufficiently to take various test films of colourful subjects such as a macaw, a goldfish in a bowl against a brightly striped background and his children playing with sunflowers, before his death in 1903 aged just 29.

Following Turner’s death, the technology was abandoned. But, those initial test strips have now been restored and are on display in full at the museum, just in case you happen to be in the north of England.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Behind the Lost Hitchcock Film
Thinking About the End of Film

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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