How black and white films are colored

The first painted film appeared long before the advent of computers — it was the painting “Battleship “Potemkin”, 1925. Sergey Eisenstein painted a red banner with his hands in the final scene of the film.

Today, the technology of painting black and white films has gone far ahead, although many works still remain monotone and are done by hand. In the 90s of the 20th century there were special programs – graphic editors, such as Photoshop, which significantly simplified the coloring technology.

The coloring process is as follows: the film is digitally translated and broken down into separate frames. If the picture is captured on film, it is scanned with special scanners, then restored: remove stains, repair damaged parts, align the picture. Some frames have to be created almost anew using a computer.

Divided into separate frames, the film is broken into scenes and starts picking colors. To ensure that the painting does not lose its personality, witnesses of filming, specialists in costumes, awards, interiors who can recall or recreate the real colors of costumes and scenery are invited. Find color photographs of the process of filming, real interiors, costumes, carry out historical examinations. Sometimes for the most accurate result create several color combinations and with the help of consultants choose the best.

From all scenes of the film, key frames are chosen, which are painted by experienced artists by hand, they will serve as samples for later works. Further actions can also be performed by less experienced artists, their work resembles work with children’s coloring. Each frame of the film (and 24 frames per second) is painted manually on the computer. Special programs make it somewhat easier to work, but most of the work is done using routine painting. That’s why color restoration works take so long — for example, it took more than 3 years for the film “Seventeen Moments of Spring”.

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