Step Right Up- See It Here: The World's Oldest Color Motion Picture!

Via I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for things like this. The National Media Museum in the UK has discovered and restored the world's oldest color movie, made by a one Edward Raymond Turner in 1902. I think the process (which Turner invented) is quite neat, even if it's a little complicated.

For the uninitiated: Color film or video relies on the combination of three primary colors that mix to form the various hues that we see. Those colors are red, green and blue [ref] This is different from mixing inks and paints, where the primary colors are red, blue and yellow, or more accurately, cyan, magenta, yellow (and black). Print stuff uses CMYK colors, video and film uses RGB colors. [/ref]. Later color processes like Technicolor would have a separate film strip for each color- a red one, a blue one, and a green one- that were layered on top of each other projected with a single lamp.

There's a brief animation in the video above that shows Turner tried a different idea: Instead of three strips of different colors, each "frame" of film is actually three frames, one of each primary color, adjacent to each other on the same strip. Three lamps illuminate the three frames simultaneously, projecting the single color image.

Turner's process also requires a filter during projection for each of the frames to separate out each of the primary colors. Apparently, as the film moves through the projector, the filters rotate as well, so a blue frame will always have a blue filter following it through the gate, just like the other colors.

This obviously would require a complicated projector with a lot of breakable parts, but I think it's a neat idea, and the colors that Turner captured look absolutely gorgeous.