Last week, in Kansas, USA, the last Kodachrome processing laboratory in the world developed its last roll of Kodachrome film, so ending a 75 year episode in the history of capturing colour on film. Manufacture of the film itself had ceased in 2009.
Kodachrome, although one of the most successful, was only one of the many avenues explored by early inventors in the search for practical colour film, and the whole fascinating story, much of which took place in Brighton & Hove, is explored in depth at the exhibition currently running at the Brighton Museum. It begins with laborious hand-tinting of a film, frame by frame, and ends with a comparison of images produced by modern digital cameras, clearly demonstrating how elusive and subjective is the answer to the question "What is realistic colour?"
The exhibition is full of exciting visual material, e.g. continually running examples of film produced by the early methods, and plenty of examples of the equipment used, one of the most impressive being a massive Technicolor movie camera of the type used to produce so many Hollywood blockbusters; its size clearly demonstrating why hand-held camera techniques, so beloved of modern movie-makers, had to wait until comparatively recently.
Capturing Colour is a collaboration between the Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and Screen Archive South East. It is funded by Renaissance South East, Screen South and UK Film Council’s Digital Film Archive Fund supported by the National Lottery, University of Brighton and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It runs until 20th March, and shouldn't be missed. Entrance is free. Allow at least 90 minutes or go for more than one visit!