Sunday, May 12, 2013

London in colour... in 1927

Pioneering British film maker Claude Frisse-Greene made a number of silent films showing life in the UK in the 1920s, one of which in London was filmed using the colour film he and his father William developed called the Friese-Greene Natural Colour process. Claude hoped the film could help publicise the process to Hollywood though in the end Technicolor won that battle. The British Film Institute have now released this film online, after performing computer enhancement to reduce flickering.

The Friese-Greene Natural Colour process grew out of William Frisse-Green's Biocolour. This was an additive colour film process. The subject was filmed using black and white film, the illusion of colour was created by exposing alternate frames of film through two colour filters. Each alternate frame is then stained red or green. Although this did give a passable illusion of true colour the films suffered from flickering and colour fringing especially if there was rapid motion. Additive colour films died out by the Second World War with subtractive colour processes like Kodachrome and Technicolor eventually becoming the norm.

The film shows a fascinating insight into normal everyday life in the capital. Buses, boats and lots of men in hats! The skyline of London is very different to today though at times the scene hardly seems to have changed that much at all.

London in 1927 from Tim Sparke on Vimeo.

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