Monday, October 18, 2010

An Early "Preview" Of Colorization

                                                    Poster credit: Warner Bros. Studios                                        

                                           An Early "Preview" Of Colorization                             

                                                                                  Jay Agan
      Some time after the discovery of fire, a media mogul named Ted Turner promoted film restoration on a scale never before dreamed of. As part of his plans to reintroduce classic films to the world, he promoted colorization technology. I take it this was in an effort to instill an appreciation of older black & white films to the superficial, shallow, thrill seeking youth of this age. (Who know the price of everything & the value of nothing.) Youth is wasted on the young. They don't Know what to do with it. A co-worker used that statement in reference to young women being wasted on young men for the same reason. However, I digress.
      Before Mr. Turner crashed onto the national scene, two friends & I were heavily into the wargaming hobby. In the summer of '75 we attended a small regional convention at a college in Cinncinatti. It was there I experienced a most singular phenomenon.

      After a long Saturday of Afrika Korps, Stalingrad, & Angrief, we repaired to one of the dorms common rooms wherin resided a color TV set. They Died With Their Boots On, a late 30s black & white western with Errol Flynn, was being aired & we settled in to watch. Something slowly registered as we watched. It gradually dawned on me something about this movie wasn't quite the same as previous viewings. Then it hit, literally between the eyes.
      The film was in color! Sort of.
      TV reception wasn't as good as it should have, being from a local station & all. Maybe the antenna was slighty "off" or its connections were defective in some way (picture slightly fuzzy though still very watchable). Maybe the signal was interacting with the set in an odd way. What I do know is the film came across as color. Moderatly faint & fluctuating at times, but color nonetheless.
      And the colors were in the right places. Fleshtones nonexistant, but every thing else was there. Right down to the reds & blues on the feathers of the Indians war bonnets. Highlights in the actors eyes in some shots had a bizarre multicolor effect but this only added to the experience. Suffice to say, I enjoyed this new dimension for as long as this lucky accident lasted. Wich was right to THE END.
      Of course it doesn't compare to todays processes, but this odd set of circumstances had me enthralled that night in 1975. Until I heard about colorization a year or so after, I had often wondered if such a thing was possible to be done deliberatly. As it was, I felt fortunate to have experienced something that (at the time) I thought I would never see again.

                                                       Article copyright © Jay Agan


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