How Are Old Black-and-White Movies Colorized?

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Zello Yello, Jan 25, 2007.

  1. Zello Yello

    Zello Yello Guest

    How Are Old Black-and-White Movies Colorized today?

    And Especially before there were computers...

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    Zello Yello, Jan 25, 2007
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  2. Zello Yello

    blackburst Guest

    Before computers, it was nearly impossible. There are some very early
    experiments with actually painting each frame.

    Somebody can go into more detail,but here's a quickie.

    The colorist digitizes the films footage into a nonlinerar editor and
    chops it up into scenes.

    The colorist probably first colors the non-moving areas: backgrounds,
    etc. In the early days, this was just one color per object, but today
    it can be done with more nuance and gradation.

    Then come the moving objects. The colorist defines the edges of the
    object and teaches the computer to track it across the screen. Then a
    color is assigned to it. Any anomalies in the tracking must be
    corrected manually.

    These processes are repeated for all objects in the scene. Then, on to
    the next scene.

    Ultimately, all these scenes are again rejoined by hundreds of edits.

    The quality of the source material is important. And it is helpful if
    the colorist has some color still pictures from the filming to help
    decide what color each object will be.

    Early colorizing was very disappointing. I have a VHS of a colorized "A
    Star Is Born", and it is just atrocious. Yet, I think the colorizing on
    the Black & White video of the Beatles "All You Need Is Love" (a
    5-minute clip, for which the colorist had many color reference stills)
    is astounding.

    Some people are viscerally opposed to colorization. In a case where a
    commercial decision is made to colorize a b/w film (or video), not in
    keeping with the intent of the original producers/directors, solely for
    the purpose of increasing marketability, I'm against it. But in a case
    when the b/w original was made that way due to budget constraints,
    where the producer/director would have loved to make it in color, I
    don't have a problem with it.

    Some classics shouldn't be touched. Citizen Kane is often mentioned.
    Last Picture Show. A Hard Day's Night. But I wouldn't mind seeing
    certain short fims or TV shows colorized: Three Stooges, classic 39
    Honeymooners, etc.
    blackburst, Jan 25, 2007
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  3. Zello Yello

    davesvideo Guest

    Computer programs to frame to frame track objects.
    I don't think there was any colorization before computers. Excapt in
    the very early days there were a few very short segments where the film
    was actually hand painted frame by frame.

    davesvideo, Jan 25, 2007
  4. Zello Yello

    Scott Dorsey Guest

    Very crudely. One frame at a time, in sweatshops.
    Before there were computers, movies weren't colorized. Well, I suppose
    there was the Pathe stencil process in the 1920s....
    Scott Dorsey, Jan 25, 2007
  5. Dusan Makajev selectively and badly hand-colored parts of some black and
    white images in "Innocence Unprotected." It was a funny and charming

    Randall Coleman
    Randall Coleman, Jan 25, 2007
  6. There's a little bit of info on
    Kimba W. Lion, Jan 25, 2007
  7. A lot of good info - here's one more tidbit. There are two dye
    processes for coloring B&W film (movies or stills) - tinting and
    toning. Tinting involves an ordinary dte that colors the clear (white)
    part of the image, toning replaces the silver (black) part of the image
    with color. Used individually, they can provide some interesting
    effects. Used together, like (say) a blue tone and a red tint, and you
    can get a B&W image of a sunset over the ocean that looks almost like
    it was shot in color. You can also get some really weird psychedlic

    I once saw a short film that was shot in color for the daylight scenes
    but where B&W was used for the night scenes. The B&W was toned with a
    very cold blue, and the look was really surprisingly good. All of the
    night stuff had been shot day for night but rather than underexposing
    by a stop, it was exposed normally (but with all of the other DfN rules
    followed) and then the whole thing got a blue tint.
    Steven J. Weller, Jan 26, 2007
  8. Zello Yello

    MG Guest

    One of the many reasons that colorized films look strange is that a lot of
    the colors used in the sets and costumes were selected for their tonal
    qualities on black and white film. They were never meant to be seen in
    their true colors.

    MG, Jan 27, 2007
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