May 5, 2021

There are four main color systems in the world of print and on-screen design: CMYK, Pantone, RGB, and RAL.

As the years have gone by, there have been various color systems. Each one has their own advantages and disadvantages, but they’re also capable of being used for stylistic means as well. Color is an incredibly important part of modern cinema and we will continue to see filmmakers experiment with it in unique ways.

  1. Glorious Technicolor

The fourth iteration of the most well-known color system, Glorious Technicolor survived through the golden age of Hollywood and has been a part of some of the most visually stunning works ever conceived. It’s far more vibrant than other systems, and is beloved for that very reason. It’s impossible to picture Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger’s masterpiece The Red Shoes using anything else. Truly a system that lives up to its name.

  1. Eastmancolor

Often considered to have replaced Glorious Technicolor, Eastmancolor was less vibrant yet also far more practical to use. It pioneered cinema in an era where the medium was transitioning to widescreen and made color negative film the norm. For 70mm film, this is considered to be the standard.

  1. Dufaycolor

Having emerged in 1933, Dufaycolor is known for its RGB similar to that of a modern computer monitor. It was used quite a lot in British cinema, and it often worked to great effect. Unfortunately, it only lasted a few decades due to it quickly having become outdated.

  1. Hand and stencil coloring

Easily the toughest color system to utilize. Although it can look quite beautiful, it requires using stencils to color each frame hand-by-hand. There’s a lot of opportunity with this method, although it does also require an insane amount of effort in comparison to the other systems. The other big downside is how artificial it looks most of the time due to a lack of natural coloring.

  1. Tinting and toning

At last we have arrived at the most primitive of color systems and what is by far the earliest created. Tinting and toning requires the entire film to be bathed in a single color dye, and it certainly doesn’t look as advanced or interesting as other color systems. Although completely inferior to what we have nowadays, it’s still interesting to see how bare-bones color systems originally were.


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