clapper logo


BFI logo

HTW logo

old film photo
Image from Im Land der Morgenstille
(Germany / South Korea 1925) courtesy
of So Won Choi, HTW Berlin with kind
permission of Benedictine St. Ottilien
Archabbey, Landsberg, Germany.

murnau logo

MEETINGS FOR 2015-2016

In collaboration with British Film Institute
and Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft, Berlin

Wednesday and Thursday, 02 and 03 March 2016
National Film Theatre 3, BFI, Southbank, London
Friends House, 173 Euston Rd, London

Programme: (for Abstracts, see botom of page)
DAY ONE (02 March) - NFT3, BFI, South Bank
The organisers of the conference are pleased to announce that the English dramatist, composer and author Neil Brand will accompany the second and third screenings. He is a renowned expert and regular silent film accompanist at London's National Film Theatre. Brand has acted and written plays for the BBC and most recently has composed the scores for two newly restored films from the 1920s The Wrecker and Anthony Asquith's Underground. His book, Dramatic Notes, investigates the art of composing narrative music for the cinema, theatre, radio and television.

14:30 - 15:30 Registration BFI Southbank Foyer
During registration you will have chance to meet David Cleveland and Brian Prichard who will be signing copies of their book How Films were Made and Shown.
This examines the developments of motion picture film technology from a British perspective from 1895 to 2015.
15:30 - 15:40 Opening of the Conference Dr Elza Tantcheva-Burdge and Prof Ulrich Rűdel
15:40 Screenings.
There will be three screenings, each will be introduced by a 10-15 minute talk
15:40 - 16:00 1 Kieron Webb Introduction and screening
1. Steel (1945)
2. Moby Dick
3. Heroes of Telemark
16:00 - 16:10 2 Prof Ulrich Rűdel Introduction to the screening Das Raetsel von Bangalor (1918) a tinting restoration comparison
16:10 - 16:20 3 Anke Wilkening Introduction to the screening Nibelungen
16:20 - 16:40 4 Prof Barbara Flueckiger Introduction and screening
1. Der Märchenwald
2. Parures
3. Opfergang
16:40 – 17:40 KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Sarah Street University of Bristol, Leverhulme Trust research project, Colour in the 1920s: Cinema and Its Intermedial Contexts
British Cinema in Colour: Creativity, Culture and the Negotiation of Innovation
Choice of titles included in the talk: The glorious Adventure, This is Colour, Blithe Spirit, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, the Tales of Hoffman, Moulin Rouge as well as Ealing Studios Saraband for Dead Lovers and The Ladykillers.
17:40 - 18:00 Q&A
18:00 - 19:30 Reception the Blue Room, BFI South Bank

DAY TWO (03 March) - Small Meeting House, Friends House, 173 Euston Rd, London, NW1 2BJ

09:00 - 09:10 Opening and introduction to the first session Dr Elza Tantcheva-Burdge
  Session One
Histories of Colour in FilmChaired by Prof Ulrich Rűdel and Dr Elza Tantcheva-Burdge
09:10 - 10.00 KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Prof Barbara Flueckiger University of Zurich, Timeline of Historical Film Colours
Bridging the Gap between Analogue Film History and Digital Technology
10:00 - 10:20 COFFEE
10:20 - 11:10 Kieron Webb BFI National Archive, Film Conservation Manager
A Colour Box: conservation of colour films in the BFI National Archive
11:10 - 12:00 Prof Ulrich Rűdel HTW, Berlin, Conservation and Restoration of Modern Media and Bryony Dixon, BFI National Archive, Silent Film Curator
An Archaeometry of Colours
The presentation features La Vestale (Albert Capellani, France 1908)
12:00 - 12:30 Discussion
12:30 - 13:15 LUNCH
  Session Two
In the Eye of the BeholderChaired by Dr Elza Tantcheva-Burdge
13:15 - 14:00 Anke Wilkening F. W. Murnau Foundation
Lost and Forgotten Colours – Case studies of Fritz Lang`s DER MÜDE TOD and DIE NIBELUNGEN
14:00 - 14:30 Prof Mike Pointer Visiting Professor, University of Leeds, Secretary, CIE Division 1
Briefing on colour measurements
Prof. Andrew Stockman Steers Chair of Investigative Eye Research at the UCL's Institute of Ophthalmology, Honorary Consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital
Colour & Colour Vision
16:00 - 16:45 Round TableQ & A
Chaired by Dr Elza Tantcheva-Burdge
plus all the speakers from days one and two
16:45 - 16:55 Concluding remarks, introduction to the 2017 Conference
16:55 - 17:00 DEPARTURE


Wednesday, 02 March: National Film Theatre 3, BFI, Southbank, London
Thursday, 03 March: Friends House, 173 Euston Rd, (opposite Euston Mainline Station)

Wednesday, 02 March: 14:00 -19:30
Thursday, 03 March: 09:00-17:00

The ticket price covers tea and coffee but not lunch unless you already have purchased a lunch ticket
Otherwise lunch may be purchased at the in-house Bistro and Restaurant or in one of the many local cafes or pubs.

Tickets no longer available.

The organisers of the event reserve the right to cancel the event for any unforeseen circumstances, in which case you will be notified and your fee will be refunded to you in full. Apart from their responsibility to refund your fee the organisers will accept no liability for any other losses or expenses you may incur as a result of cancellation.


Kieron Webb
A Colour Box: Conservation of Colour Films in the BFI National Archive
Len Lye's A Colour Box was released in 1935 as part of a Post Office campaign for 'cheaper parcel post'. The prints were made using the Dufaycolor process, but Lye's original creation was in fact a hand-painted reel. He had painted the rhythmic colour patterning directly onto blank nitrate stock. When restoring the original, the BFI used contemporary Eastmancolor film and allowed modern audiences the chance of a different colour experience. Lye's colours have therefore been mediated twice through the Dufaycolor and Eastmancolor systems. In this way, A Colour Box appears as an analogy of colour film archiving in general: the attempt to replicate colour through a variety of film and, now, digital technologies.
Starting from this illuminative example, this presentation will consider a brief history of how different colour methods have been combined in production – from the multiple applied colours of silent era prints, to the use of Eastmancolor camera negatives and Technicolor dye-transfer release print in the sixties. Examples will be drawn from the BFI's ongoing conservation programme, and will include Women in Love (1969) and Changing Hues (1922).
Introduced screening – 2nd March
Introduction and excerpts from examples of the renowned Technicolor dye-transfer print process in 35mm screening.

Sarah Street
British Cinema in Colour: Creativity, Culture and the Negotiation of Innovation
Unlike the coming of sound, colour did not revolutionise the film industry overnight, and charting the British experience of colour offers fascinating insights into the complex network of issues that accompany the introduction of new technologies. This talk reveals how colour was a controversial topic, greeted by some as an exciting development with scope for developing a uniquely British aesthetic, while others feared its impact on audiences accustomed to seeing black-and-white films that were frequently praised as being superior. Yet many British inventors and filmmakers were captivated by the possibilities created by colour, exploiting different processes in films that demonstrated remarkable experimentation and quality. Examples include The Glorious Adventure, This Is Colour, Blithe Spirit, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, The Tales of Hoffmann and Moulin Rouge, as well as two distinguished colour films produced by Ealing Studios, with which Alexander Mackendrick was involved: Saraband for Dead Lovers and The Ladykillers. The talk demonstrates the unique contribution of the many British technicians and directors who negotiated their way through the various economic, technical and aesthetic challenges posed by colour in the first half of the twentieth century.

Barbara Flueckiger
Bridging the Gap between Analogue Film History and Digital Technology
Funded by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), the Swiss research project DIASTOR has been an applied interdisciplinary project. It combines film-historical knowledge and restoration ethics with advanced research in IT provided by Disney Research Zurich and the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and connects it to the technological expertise of Swiss service providers and engineering companies. The goal is to offer custom-tailored solutions that bridge the gap between analogue film history and digital technology.
Based on insights from previous research projects and basic research published on the Timeline of Historical Film Colors, DIASTOR developed non-destructive, scalable solutions for a variety of film materials in different conditions and for diverse colour processes. It set a special focus on improving the scanning and rendition of film colours such as early applied colours, Technicolor, Dufaycolor, Agfacolor—and faded chromogenic colours in general, as well as early applied colours such as tinting and toning. DIASTOR created and applied a variety of interdisciplinary approaches not only to establish scientifically based work-flows, but also to investigate a wide range of methods for colour analysis and documentation. These will be presented at the 1st INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE COLOUR IN FILM.
Very recently, Barbara Flueckiger has received the highly prestigious "Advanced Grant" from the European Research Council for further research on film colours, including their digitization and restoration. This project aims at a systematic investigation of the relationship between the technology and aesthetics of film colours. She will give an insight into the research activities that will be used in determining that relationship.

Ulrich Rűdel
An Archaeometry of Colours
Although the art and preservation of analogue moving images are themselves rooted in an applied science, that of photographic chemistry, the powerful tools of conservation science have rarely been applied to a considerable extent in this field, the youngest of restoration disciplines. This materials-scientific study, demonstrates how so-called X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) proves very powerful in investigating the "unnatural, applied" toning colours of early silent era cinema, helping – in conjunction with historic research documentation – to elucidate the chemical history of early color.
A number of historic motion picture samples from the DAVIDE TURCONI COLLECTION at George Eastman Museum (a collection of 1905 - 1912 cellulose nitrate frame) were selected to study toning chemistries employed by famous French film manufacturer, Pathé, in comparison with historic written sources on the chemical procedures. The results confirm the range of colour toning chemistries, including both metal and dye toning, common in the silent era before the emergence of "natural" colour motion pictures, and demonstrate the power of analytical-chemical methods applied to the study of early film colour.

Anke Wilkening
Lost and Forgotten Colours – Case studies of Fritz Lang`s DER MÜDE TOD and DIE NIBELUNGEN
DER MÜDE TOD and DIE NIBELUNGEN are considered Fritz Lang`s masterpieces of the first half of the 1920s. Both were long known in black-and-white. The exotic episodes and bursting fire as dramatic climax in DER MÜDE TOD seem to have always asked for colour. Not a single vintage print seems to have survived. For the 2016 restoration the colours were simulated on base of other films from the Decla production company.
In contrast, the epic DIE NIBELUNGEN always appeared to be appropriately represented in heavy black-and-white contrasts. Just in this case, several dyed vintage prints from different countries exist, most of them in a single colour. The 2010 analogue restoration of DIE NIBELUNGEN presents the film in the tinting technique of the 1920s in order to emulate a less acknowledged aspect of the technical rather than aesthetic function of tinting.
The talk demonstrates how prints from different periods and different export markets were evaluated by both restoration projects. It discusses in how far vintage prints contradict Fritz Lang`s statement that he rejected the dyeing of his films and the role of the author in relation to post-production.
View this Youtube link :

Andrew Stockman
Colour and Colour Vision
Although we perceive a seemingly enormous variety of hues, the first stage of human colour vision is relatively simple. The nature of phototransduction within each of the three types of cone photoreceptor means that human colour vision is a three-variable, trichromatic system, such that colour matches can be defined by just three numbers. We are able to perceive colour by comparing the outputs of the three cone types: the long-wavelength, middle-wavelength and short-wavelength sensitive cones. Yet, despite the simplicity of the underlying cone signals, the colours that we actually perceive depend on many other factors, including individual differences, chromatic adaptation, colour constancy, the influence of surround colours, the influence of preceding colours and even on higher-level cognitive factors.

Michael Pointer
The Practical Measurement of Colour
This lecture will review why objects can appear to be coloured, will discuss the components required to formulate a system to measure these colours, and then describe the CIE Colorimetric System. Extensive use will be made of examples, both of practical measurements and the equipment used to obtain them. Specific examples, pertinent to those attending the presentation, can be considered in discussion after the lecture.

DATE 10 March 2106