'50's TV Superman Goes To Color: The story of why it happened...

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Steve D., Jan 9, 2007.

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  1. Steve D.

    Steve D. Well-Known Member Thread Starter

  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    Re: '50's Superman goes to color

    Steve,

    That photo of Superman holding the "Lily" is just about one of the most amazing candid shots I've ever seen.

    First of all I didn't realize that they were still using the Lily that far into the 1950's. Second, I thought it was only for Technicolor. Third, well, it's just so totally cool.

    Thanks!

    (The "Lily" was held up in front of the camera at the beginning of each filmed take of a three strip Technicolor (or "monopack") movie... The Lily was white and helped when printing the film because if the lab could get the image of the Lily to remain white during neg/positive processing, everything else would (theoretically) fall in to place.)
     

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  3. EditDave

    EditDave New Member

    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    Re: '50's Superman goes to color

    What a great picture. I never knew about the "Lily." Thanks for sharing.
     
  4. acjetnut

    acjetnut Well-Known Member

    Location:
    USA
    Re: '50's Superman goes to color

    Side Note - you should all go check out Steve D.'s website on vintage colord TV's (in his signature). Cool stuff!
     
  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    Re: '50's Superman goes to color

    This Mechanics Illustrated cover from 1938 clearly shows the "LILY" in a Technicolor scene about to be shot. Note the exact similarity to the SUPERMAN Lily in the picture in my earlier post. Stuff like this is totally neat to me..
     

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  6. Wilkie

    Wilkie New Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA, USA
    I was told that in the days before they had fancy calibration cards, an actual lily was often used for the cameras to identify white in each particular lighting situation. As time went on, more sophisticated cards and charts took the place of the lily...but the name stuck.
     
  7. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    Location:
    NY
    When I looked at the cover of that Mechanix Illustrated, the placement of the lily almost makes it look like that area of her body was digitally scrambled!
     
  8. The Wanderer

    The Wanderer Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    Once we determine the actual origin of the Technicolor "Lily" (info seems obscure on this), we can move on to "chinagirl" and LAD (Laboratory Aim Density).
     
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    I have a few frames of the original Chinagirl in nitrate from around 1934...
     
  10. Chip TRG

    Chip TRG Forum Resident

    For those of us going "Huh?", fill us in, kind sir, if you'd please....
     
  11. Mister Kite

    Mister Kite Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Columbia, MO
    Here is a FASCINATING read called Superman Comes to Television. It deals almost exclusively with how the first season finally got on the air, but also sheds light on how and why the color episodes wound up the way they did. A word of warning... This is a LONG article and there is no easy way to read it except online. YMMV, but I think it is well worth the time investment. :edthumbs:

    Cheers,
     
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

  13. Chip TRG

    Chip TRG Forum Resident

  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    Sure. Old film geek stuff is neat.
     
  15. Chip TRG

    Chip TRG Forum Resident

    It is indeed......I've only handled/collected/projected film for about 12 years (35MM, mostly), and it never ceases to amaze me the cool stuff that there is to learn and see. I've been getting into vintage animation lately. Like I said....sooooooooooo much to learn!
     
  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    I was in AV in middle school and high school. I enjoyed running the films for classes, etc. In those days the color films were almost always true 16mm Technicolor reduction prints. They looked so beautiful. I actually used to "still frame" the weird stuff at the beginning of the reels. That is when I first noticed the Chinagirl, etc. and my teacher taught me how to read the "date codes" at the edge of the film frame. I could see exactly when each print was struck. Useless information then, but invaluable later on in my career when doing film restoration..
     
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host


    I read it all, thanks.
     
  18. John DeAngelis

    John DeAngelis Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY
    Wow! Great article on "The Adventures of Superman"! Thanks for posting the link.
     
  19. LaserKen

    LaserKen Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Avon, Indiana
    Steve,

    I work at a university and recently uncovered some incredible films from the 50's through the 70's in our archives. Do you know of any good film preservation outfits in the midwest (I'm in Indiana)? I'd like to get these color corrected, cleaned a bit and backed up to tape (HD and DV).

    Among the stuff-- a speech by Britain's Harold Macmillan (kinescope), an episode of "20 Questions" that featured our president at the time, and some classic pro-shot admission films that really take you back in time.

    Thanks for any advice you can provide. I spent 18 years in TV news but this is virgin territory for me and I wanna make sure I do it right.

    Ken
     
  20. Lance Hall

    Lance Hall Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I remember watching this as a kid in the late 70s early 80s.

    I hope the original film has held up.
     
  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    I don't but Gort Joel Cairo works in the field. Give him a PM and ask. Sounds neat..
     
  22. Steve D.

    Steve D. Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Shedding a little lite on the "lilly".

    Here's an excerpt from an online interview with cinematographer William A. Fraker:

    ICG: Did you ever shoot a Technicolor film?

    FRAKER: Technicolor was phasing out, but I remember one of my first jobs on a movie set was as a 'lilly boy' on a Technicolor picture called My Sister Eileen. I'd run out there and put the lilly up and then run back.

    ICG: What was the lily?

    FRAKER: It was like a gray scale, only it had the color scale. It had 12 principal colors with a gray scale underneath. It was about 3x4 foot. You'd hold it right in front of the star and then you'd run off until someone called for the lily boy again.

    -Steve D.
     
  23. Wilkie

    Wilkie New Member

    Location:
    Richmond, VA, USA
    Here's a 2-minute video clip about the Chinagirl produced by the Sundance Channel. John Pytlak from Kodak (as referenced by our host in his "Origins of Chinagirl" link) is one of the experts in this clip.

    CLICK HERE to watch





    ______________
     
  24. Drawer L

    Drawer L New Member

    Location:
    Long Island
    AAHHHHH!!!--So you were an A/V geek in school?!!-Pocket-Protector and all that stuff???:D
     
  25. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    No, but I liked running the movies! That's why I was there. Every time I walked into a classroom with the projector I had a certain POWER!:) Everyone knew that there was to be no lecture; just a movie. I was a HERO. Loved that, too!
     
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