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A Brief History for Colorists
Last Update January 27, 2014
Click here to jump to: most recent events: 2012 : 1997 : 1950 : 1900
Date
Event
Comments
 
1826 Joseph Niepce takes the world's first photograph of some farm buildings and the sky. It has an exposure time of 8 hours. Niépce calls the first ever photograph a 'heloigraph' or sun-drawing. He uses a pewter plate and Bitumen of Judea to create a positive image, without the negative stage used today.The bitumen hardened in the sun, and Niepce removed the softer "unexposed" bitumen with a mixture of oil of lavender and white petroleum. Today this 'heliograph' is kept sealed in an air tight case within an inert atmosphere at the University of Texas.
Niepce
1838 Charles Wheatstone is  the first to describe Stereopsis and explain binocular 3D vision. He created stereo drawings and the first Stereoscope to view them with.
1861 Maxwell demonstrates to the Royal Society of London. He shows that any color can be produced by mixing light from a red, a green and a blue lantern. In the demonstration he projected the first color photograph, a tartan by Thomas Sutton. The theory is the basis of color displays even today.

 

1877

Eadweard Muybridge uses trip wires to photograph a horse in motion and settle a bet. These are regarded as the first photographic motion pictures.

Muybridge
1879 Muybridge invents the Zoopraxiscope to display his image series

1880

Frenchman Maurice LeBlanc describes a mechanical scanning system using mirrors for telegraphic transfer of an image.
1882 Parisian Etienne-Jules Marey constructs a camera (or "photographic gun") that could take 12 photographs per second of moving animals or humans and calls it Chronophotography or serial photography. The gun like appearance might be the source for the expression "to shoot a film"
photogun
1884 German engineer Paul Nipkow discloses details of his spinning disc that contained small
holes around the perimeter, which could scan a still picture on to a light sensitive
cell as a series of lines. Nipkow was the first person to realise that moving pictures might one day be scanned line by line, fast enough to take advantage of the persistence
of vision.
1888

George Eastman makes up a name. Kodak. The name has no meaning in any language and became the most recognizable brand name in the world.

The first Kodak camera goes on sale with the slogan: "You press the button, we do the rest." It cost $25 and took 100 pictures.

George Eastman

1892-1896     

 

Edison's Kinetoscope, the first modern cinematic machine to employ film arranged images in a loop. The earliest Edison motion pictures were filmed at the "Black Maria", which was a film studio built in 1893.

The first public demonstration of a Kinetoscope was at the Brooklyn Institute on May 9, 1893 and the first Kinetoscope parlor opened in midtown Manhattan on April 14, 1894.

Edison
1894 British William Friese-Greene files a patent for a 3-D movie process using two films projected side by side on screen while the viewer looks through a stereoscope to converge the two images.
1895 Auguste and Louis Lumiere are credited with the first public film screening on December 28th. The ten films last about 20 minutes and were shown by Cinematograph.
I guess this must be the birth of Cinematography!
1895 Edison produces the first hand tinted film "Annabelle Serpentine Dance". The veils of Annabelle Moore change color as she dances.
Hand painting
1895 The Pocket Kodak is launched, costing $5 and is indeed small enough to fit in a pocket
1900 Kodak launch the box Brownie camera, costing just $1 and using 2 1/4 inch square negatives. Photography becomes accessible to everyone.
1903 The Great Train Robbery is the first story told on film. It lasts 11 minutes and must have been a surprise for Louis Lumiere who is supposed to have said "The cinema is an invention without a future". Some prints had a few hand colored scenes.
GTR
1904 The Lumiere brothers patent the first commercially successful color photography process. Their Autochrome plates are coated with a filter layer consisting of red, green and blue starch grains. The process is called "Lumiere Cinecolor", and is used in motion pictures in the 1920's
1915 Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation founded to improve colorized pictures. Technicolor Process Number One processes is an additive method for combining two strips of panchromatic film in a special camera using a prism to create red and green “records"
1917 The Gulf Between is the first Technicolor two-color production, which pasted two negatives together
1921 Kodak introduce pre tinted stocks in lavendar, red, green, blue, pink, light amber, dark amber, yellow and orange
1921 Technicolor Process Number Two uses a two strip subtractive technique to capture color  
1922 The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) founded.  
1922 The Power of Love shown in Los Angeles and is the first 3-D movie shown to a commercial audience.
1926 Technicolor Process Number Three uses a two strip dye transfer technique to capture color  
1927 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is founded. The first Academy Awards are announced in February 1929
1927 Harry Nyquist, a Swedish immigrant working at AT&T shows that analog signals must be sampled at twice the resolution of the highest frequency to create an adequate representation in digital form. His theory is equally true of images.
1927 The Jazz Singer is the first film with synchronized sound
1927 Baird Television Ltd is founded. The company eventually becomes Cintel. Baird patents the worlds first ever Video Recording, on a 78rpm, 10 inch shellac gramophone record.
1928 John Logie Baird and the German Post Office, commence a series of regular television broadcasts using a flying spot system that he had invented. The black and white images had a resolution of 30 lines and were transmitted at 5 frames per second.
1932 George Eastman, founder of Kodak, took his own life on March 14, 1932. He was in poor health and suffered from a heart condition, diabetes, arthritis and adegenerative spinal disease. He left a short suicide note "To my friends, My work is done, why wait? GE"
1932 Technicolor Process Number Four is a three strip color system. First three strip Technicolor production is a cartoon by Walt Disney, "Flowers and Trees" which won Disney his first Oscar (Best Short Film Cartoon)
1933 John Logie Baird first descriobes his flying spot system in the BBC Annual Report
Baird

1935

First full length feature film photographed entirely on three-strip Technicolor is "Becky Sharp" by ASC member Ray Rennahan

1937 

John Logie Baird publicly demonstrates two color, 120 line television system

(British) Television Advisory Committee drop the Baird mechanical system in favour of the electronic Marconi-EMI system which broadcast 405 lines at 25 frames a second.

1938 John Logie Baird introduces the world’s first telecine to scan film for television broadcast. Amongst other things it used a Farnsworth Image Dissector and gears from a Mecanno set.
1939 Technicolor have a big year! Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind are released, both on Technicolor three-strip.
1940 Baird Television Ltd goes into receivership, but a new company Cinema Television Ltd is formed. The name eventually gets shortened to Cintel.
1946 Cinema Television produce the first 35mm Twin Lens Continuous Motion Flying Spot Telecine - the Mark 1. It runs at 25fps to avoid visual hum, and so cannot be sold in the USA. The twin lens is needed to scan each frame twice, to get 2 fields of video.
1950 The first flying spot telecine is installed at the BBC's Lime Grove studios
1956 April 14, 1956 Ampex demonstrate the first VTR, the VRX-1000. at the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters Convention. The VRX-1000 was renamed the Mark IV and sold briskly at $50,000. There is a 1958 version of the VRX-1000 on show in the reception of DR Byen, a television broadcaster in Copenhagen, Denmark.
vrx 1000
1958 Cinema Television Ltd becomes Rank Cintel Ltd
1964 Cintel Ltd produce a 16mm Telecine - The Mk II. 16mm was commonly used for news gathering.
1967 BBC begins the first color TV broadcasts in the UK on BBC2.
1969 BBC1 and ITV switch to color transmissions in the UK on 15 November.
1971 Sony U-matic vtr introduced

1975

 

1975

 

1975

George Lucas opens Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) to work on the effects for the Star Wars films

 

Rank Cintel Ltd launches Mk III flying spot telecine. Revolutionary benefits include 525 and 625 line operation and 16mm and 35mm film on the same continuous motion transport.

Kodak build the first digital camera. Engineer Steven Sasson created a camera that stored 0.01mp images on cassette tape and took 23 seconds to expose each image.

Star Wars
1978 Rank Cintel Ltd launch their Mark III telecine with Digiscan, probably the first digital image store. The two frame buffer could match almost any film frame rate to any video standard and made this telecine an instant success in NTSC markets of the USA and Japan.
1978 Rank Cintel Ltd introduces TOPSY, a remote control programming system the Mk III telecine.
1979 Bosche launches fdl 60 CCD line array telecine.
The telecine I trained on, back at Telecine Ltd. London.
1980 VTA develop the Wiz color corrector, which became da Vinci Classic
1983 Amigo, a highly sophisticated controller and pre-programmer for the Mk III is launched
1983 Sony Betacam vtr launched
1984 da Vinci Classic color corrector launched
... and my secoond color corrector
1985 Kodak invent OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) technology  
1986 Imax starts showing non fiction films in 3D
1987            Sony D1 uncompressed digital component vtr introduced
The begining of uncompressed digital!
1987 Avid Technology Inc formed by William J. Warner with an idea for non linear editing.
1987 Rank Cintel Ltd. launches Digiscan 4:2:2 to give digital outputs from the Mk III telecine.
     
1988             Digital Vision formed.
They revolutionizedreal-time noise reduction. Many of us believe they have always been the best.
1989 The all-digital Rank Cintel Ltd URSA telecine makes its first appearance, at Montreux, with simultaneous launches in New York and Los Angeles. Rank Cintel Ltd tried unsuccesfully to force customers to use their purpose built ARCAS grading system to control it. ARCAS was never popular and failed to rival the big two hardware telecine controlers from da Vinci and Pandora.
I moved to SVC Ltd. London to work on the second URSA to be delivered. This was truly a major advance in telecine technology. The Ursa was probably the first telecine that transferred negative and inter-positive films without difficulty.
1989 Avid introduce Media Composer, their first editing system.
1989   da Vinci introduces Kilovectors
This was a major feature set back then, everybody else was limited to 6 secondaries.
1990 The Rescuers Down Under – First complete feature-length film to be recorded to film from digital files; in this case animation assembled on computers.
1990 Photoshop 1.0 is released
1991             Apple launches Quicktime
1991 da Vinci launches 888 digital color corrector for SD video
Not the first digital color corrector in the world (that was Copernicus) but it was my first.
1991 Bosche launches fdl 90 CCD line array telecine.
fdl 90
1992 EFilm used their proprietary film recording technology on  Disney's Honey I Blew up the Kids
1992 da Vinci introduces Power Windows and Custom Curves
Soft edged windows! How on earth did we get by without them?
1992 Rob Lingelbach starts the Telecine Internet Group (TIG), a mailing list dedicated to active colorists and telecine engineers. The TIG is still probably the best resource available for colorists, those who wish to be colorists and those who want to be colorists
TIG
1993 Sony Digital Betacam vtr launched.
1993

Rank Cintel Ltd. introduces URSA Gold.

I worked on a proto type Ursa Gold with guru Paul Grace at Rushes, London
1993 Rank Cintel Mk III HD high definition telecine goes into service at Universal Studios in Hollywood.
1993 Kodak introduce Cineon for 2k and 4k digital intermediate work. The system includes a film scanner, workstation and film recorder.
1993  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – First film to be entirely scanned to digital files, manipulated, and recorded back to film. The restoration project was done entirely at 4K resolution and 10-bit color depth using the new Cineon system to digitally remove dirt and scratches and restore faded colors.
1993 ITU rec BT 709 first version approved for HDTV standard  
1993 Quantel launch Domino a complete digital film in, film out editing and effects system. It is criticized for being only 8 bits but is an affordable alternative to Kodaks Cineon.
1994 da Vinci wholly aquire Time Logic which make the best telecine to tape controler on the market. The product is known as the TLC (Time Logic Controller) and is integrated into the new DUI interface
1994             BTS, formerly Bosch, introduces flh 1000 HD a revolutionary new High Definition CCD telecine that will become the Spirit.
1995 da Vinci launches DUI interface for 888 color systems. The upgrade replaces the on board CPU with an SGI Indy computer. The Indy later became obsolete and was replaced by the SGI O2, which was affectionately known as the Toaster.
I was a beta tester for the DUI while at Online Video in Zurich.
1995 Pixar release Toy Story, the worlds first computer animated feature and is the highest grossing film of the year. Pixar also goes public and is the largest IPO of the year.
Toy story
1996 sRGB is created jointly by HP and Microsoft for use on monitors, printers and the internet. sRGB uses the ITU-R BT.709 primariesbut has a non linear gamma and therefore looks different from rec709.  
1996 Philips in collaboration with Kodak introduce the Spirit Datacine for SD, HD and data
Up until now Rank Cintel had monopolized commercial facilities. Spirit changed all that.
1997 Sony HDCam vtr launched.
1997 Rank Cintel Ltd. introduces URSA Diamond.
1997 Kodak discontinue Cineon. However the file format .cin and its derivative .dpx continue to be used as the most common format for digital intermediate systems
1998   Pleasantville – The first time the majority of a new feature film was scanned, processed, and recorded digitally. The black-and-white meets color world portrayed in the movie was filmed entirely in color and selectively desaturated and contrast adjusted digitally.
1998 Avid acquires Softimage Inc. from Microsoft Corporation. Avid also delivers Symphony, a nonlinear noncompressed editing system for Windows NT, priced at $150,000 for a basic turnkey system. Symphony was essentially a noncompressed version of Media Composer and included color correction.
1998 da Vinci introduces the 2Kcolor corrector for SD, HD and data.It is controlled by an SGI O2 computer.
1998 da Vinci Academy formed when I join them in Florida.
I had been doing da Vinci training for many years, and in 1998 they invited me to Florida to start up a dedicated colorist training facility.
1999 ILM develop OpenEXR, a multi channel 16 bit half float file format
1999 da Vinci announces Power Tiers for 2K systems
Read Layer It to learn more about Tiers, Channels and Layers
1999 Philips, formerly BTS, formerly Bosch, introduces Specter as the first virtual telecine
Hardware DI.
1999 Sony launch the Vialta Telecine. Multi format (16 mm, S16 mm, 35 mm, S 35 mm), multi standard (601 SDTV, HDTV and data) field array ccd device with internal primary color correction. Formerly known as FVS 1000. Ceased production around 2004.
2000 da Vinci adds Defocus options to 2K systems
2000 Philips announces voodoo VTR
2000 Quantel launch the IQ platform, a hardware system for editing, compositing and grading SD, HD and digital film.
2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou? – The first time a digital intermediate was used on the entirety of a first-run Hollywood film which otherwise had very few visual effects. The work was done in Los Angeles by Cinesite utilizing a Spirit Datacine for scanning at 2K resolution, a Pandora MegaDef to adjust the color and a Kodak Lightning II recorder to output to film.
o brother
2001 The year that DVD sales overtake VHS sales  
2001 da Vinci introduces PowerGrade (a memory library) and Gallery (a built in still store)
This was all my idea, and I later got a similar feature into Film Master
2001

5D launches Colossus software color correction licensed from Colorfront after it has been used to grade Lord of the Rings part 1, aka The Fellowship of the Ring

This was the first time hardware colorists realized that software was coming...
2001 Cintel, formerly Rank Cintel, launches OSCAR a revolutionary optical dust and scratch removal system for their telecines. The product is later renamed OLIVER after complaints from the OSCAR awards people.
2002 Thomson, formerly Philips, formerly BTS, formerly Bosch, launches Viper electronic camera with 4:4:4 log output
2002 da Vinci 2K Plus color corrector introduced.It is controlled by a Linux computer and has significantly better Primaries and secondaries.
da Vinci fix many of the flaws in the 2k. Now the best hardware color corrector that will ever be built
2002 da Vinci adds Colorist Toolbox for all 2K systems
2002 Cintel launches DSX - the worlds first 4K data-cine, which includes Oliver, formerly OSCAR optical dust and scratch removal. Cintel International acquires the assets of competitor Innovation TK including the Millennium data-cine
2002 Cintel acquires the assets of competitor Innovation TK including the Millennium data-cine
2002 The fifth Star Wars film Attack of the Clones, is the first major Hollywood film shot entirely on digital (video) cameras.
2002 5D ceases trading, Colorfront continue
2003 Sony HDCam SR vtr launched.
2003 Apple FCP introduces 3 way color tool
2003 Silicon Color formed to develop Final Touch, which later is bought by Apple and becomes Color in Final Cut Studio 2
2003 ILM release OpenEXR to the public
2003 Nucoda Data Conform used on Harry Potter
2003 Autodesk licenses Lustre (previously 5D Colossus) by colorfront
2003 Thomson launches Spirit 4k datacine
spirit 4k
2003 Cintel launches updated Millennium 2, a CRT based 4K data-cine
2003 Cintel launches GRACE, an internal Film Grain Reducer option for C-Reality and DSX machines
2003 da Vinci announces Resolve software color corrector
2003 Quantel announce QColor, an in context grading solution for the IQ platform
2004 The Aviator – Martin Scorcese forced to use DI to recreate the Technicolor process that was de-commissioned in 2002
2004 The Polar Express is released as IMAX 3D, which earns 14 times as much as the 2D version and causes renewed interest in producing 3D feature fims.
2004 Spider-Man 2 – The first digital intermediate on a new Hollywood film to be done entirely at 4K resolution
2004 50 leading technologists cooperate with the Science and Technology Councilof the Academy to begin work on an architecture and supporting tools for digital motion picture production, mastering and archiving. This is the begining of ACES
2004 Cintel launches dataMill fast data scanner based on Millennium 2 technology
2004 Cintel announces GRACE is now available as an external film grain reducer.
2005 Autodesk buys Lustre from Colorfront
2005 Digital Vision buys Nucoda, developers of Film Master. Digital Vision Optics (DVO) launched, providing software version of DVNR noise and dust tools.
Film Master
2005 Quantel launches Pablo DI grading system
2005 Cintel launches diTTo - a low cost 2K data scanner, with a 3K native sensor
Ditto scanner
2006 4 x dual core and 8 x dual core PCs available from Boxx and others
2007 2 x quad core PCs available
2007 Quantel show Pablo with stereoscopic 3D toolset
2007 Apple introduces Color (formerly Silicon Color Final Touch) as part of the Final Cut Studio 2.
2007 Color Transform Language (CTL) published as SMPTE RDD-15. CTL plays a crucial part in developing ACES.  
2008 da Vinci show new Impressario panels for Resolve
2008 Quantel show new panels for Pablo
2008 Digital Vision show stereoscopic 3D monitoring and Turbine, a background render booster that uses Blades, for Film Master.
They also augment Phoenix toolsets for restoration projects
2009 International Colorist Academy launched and the first system independent colorist courses happen.
2009 Black Magic Design buy da Vinci Systems, which was in danger of closing down.
2009 Avatar becomes the fastest film to take one billion dollars at the box office. It took just 17 days.
2010 Black Magic Design  announce DaVinci Resolve 7.0 for Mac OSX and a price of $995.Until now DaVinci Resolve systems cost from $200,000 to over $800,000.
2010 Digital Vision reveal the Precision control panels. The first color grading control surface to include touch panels and thumbsticks. They also introduce Clarity a new noise reducer that works as well on digital camera noise as film grain
I had been consulting on the new panel design for over 3 years. It was fantastic to see so many ideas make it to the final design.
2010 Autodesk release Flame Premium that bundles Flame, Smoke and Lustre all in one package.
2011 Black Magic Design  release DaVinci Resolve 8.0 with new curve tools and a multi track timeline. They also launch Resolve Lite, a free version with few limitations.
2011 Image Systems buys Digital Vision, and the new Precision panels are released.
precision
2011 Apple update Final Cut Studio to FCPX to the disappointmet of many professionals. Biggest shock is that Color is dropped from the package, and is no longer available.
2011 Encoreare the first to use the new IIF ACES workflow for the television series 2 of Justified
2011 THX buy cineSpace color management software. ICA becomes a training partner to THX.
  2011

Adobe buy Iridas. The deal includes the rights to the Speedgrade family of products as well as the development team. Adobe Premiere grows in popularity as well as features.

  2011 The Dolby Professional Monitor, although expensive is accepted as the EBU reference display. Dolby Laboratories win an engineering Emmy for it in the 2012 awards
Dolby prm4200
  2011 Sony show 24 inch OLED professional monitors and announce the F65 camera
2012 Kodak commences voluntary Chapter 11, financed by Citigroup. The greatest pioneer of both film and digital imaging plans to sell 1100 of its patents to finance a new future. Kodak engineers were awarded 19,576 US patents between 1900 and 1999.
Kodak logo
  2012 4K and 8K UHDTV formats - Ultra High Definition Television - announced.May 2012 by ITU-R Working party 6C. They are constructed as multiples of 4 and 16 times the 1080p1920 format in ITU-R Rec. 709 and allow up to 120 pictures/second.
  2012 Peter Jackson shoots The Hobbit on Red (5k) cameras in stereo at 48fps. That's about 16 times the storage of a regular 2k production.
  2012 ACES workflows and transforms are ready for mainstream use. Nucoda Film Master and da Vinci Resolve amongst others introduce the necessary color transforms for ACES work. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wins an engineering Emmy in the same year.
  2012 Cintel International liquidated. BMD buy its IP and product range including scanners, telecines and noise reducers.  
  2013 Fuji Film announce on April 2nd, they have stopped production of most Motion Picture Film products. As a result b/w and color negative, positive and intermediate stocks are discontinued. Digital workflow products such as Recording film for Digital Separation [ETERNA-RDS] for long-term archiving will continue.  
  2013

Deluxe shut the last film lab in Australia in April. Park Road close their New Zealand Lab in June. There are no longer any labs in New Zealand or Australia. Kofic shut the last lab in Korea too. The nearest film lab to Australia is now Kantana in Thailand. All three labs in South Africa are closed. There are similar stories around the world this is truly the end of an era. Film R.I.P.

 

 
  2013

ACES version 0.2.2 is released and includes a revised RRT and updated ODTs as well as introducing ACESlog, ACESproxy and a way to reverse the ODT, RRT transforms

 
  2014 Paramount release The Wolf of Wall Street in digital format only. It is the first Hollywood Studio to leave film behind entirely. None of their future releases will be on film print.

Only eight per cent of US cinemas do not have digital projection kit.
 
  2014

NHK transmit 8K Super Hi Vision for the first time in an experiment. The 33 million pixels per frame broadcast is received succesfully 27 km away.

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© Kevin Shaw 2005-13

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