The Oldest Color Movies Bring Sunflowers, Exotic Birds and Goldfish Back to Life (1902)

Long before Technicolor came along, the British photographer and inventor Edward Turner developed a three-color motion picture system in 1899. It was based on the mid-19th century discovery that all colors could be produced through combinations of the three primary colors — red, green and blue. And Turner’s genius was finding a way to bring this notion to moving pictures. Working with the financier Frederick Marshall Lee, Turner managed to shoot color films of children playing with sunflowers (above), a macaw perched in a cage, and goldfish swimming in a bowl. But then his films and projectors were lost … for a good century … and only recently did the National Media Museum in the UK recover the footage and then build a special projector capable of bringing the films back to the screen. To learn how they pulled it off, watch the video below. It’s pretty interesting:



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  1. Phillip E. Banks says . . . | September 20, 2012 / 10:03 am

    Green is not a primary color

  2. Kitty K says . . . | September 20, 2012 / 11:38 am

    Funny how time turns banal images haunting.

  3. Shané says . . . | September 20, 2012 / 2:39 pm

    I think they were referring to the primary colours of light. When you mix red and green light it makes yellow, etc.

  4. James R says . . . | September 20, 2012 / 7:54 pm

    “Green is not a primary color”

    But it *is* one of the three colours required to render an image in full colour.

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