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World's oldest color film footage discovered in museum archive (video)

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
September 13, 2012
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Cached away for over a century, the world's first color moving pictures have been shown for the first time yesterday, according to the National Media Museum in the UK. The celluloid, shot by inventor Edward Raymond Turner in 1899, was actually in black and white and it was only through a curator's research that its colorful significance was also unearthed.

When the footage was first shot, each frame was run consecutively through red, green or blue gels, and the process needed to be reversed during projection to reveal the color. Fortunately, a blueprint by the inventor of how to do just that was also found, allowing the institution's team to replicate the process digitally to produce the final footage.

This type of color gel processing didn't take off in the early 20th century due to the mechanical complexity, and it would have been inferior to a chemical process since each frame carried only one-third of the full color information. Still, it required a clever mind to dream it up, with an equally big brain to uncover it and finally give Turner his due. See the video below the break for the stunning un-retouched, non-hand-colored results.

[Image Credit: National Media Museum]

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