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Thursday, March 12 • 10:00am - 10:50am
“We will be in the market for some color that is satisfactory”. Negotiating Color Film Technology at Fox

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Earl I. Sponable was Chief Engineer and Director of Research for Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation from 1926-1962. His extensive papers span over thirty years of film history and technological developments and document the ways in which the American film industry negotiated innovations. Furthermore, the materials allow us to take a closer look at the quest for ‘satisfactory color’ that preoccupied the film industry for decades.

At Fox, Sponable was keeping up to date with color film technology through his broad network of contacts within the industry and thanks to a series of people who made sure to collect information for him. There were different strategies in place to keep track of the competition and identify potentially satisfactory processes. However, the nature of ‘satisfactory color’ remains unclear. What were the criteria according to which color was evaluated? What needs and expectations was color in film supposed to address?

This case study of the Earl I. Sponable Papers held at Columbia University will reflect upon color film technology as a relational artefact in a large network of actors and needs and to address these questions. With a bottom-up approach to historical documents and historiography the talk will demonstrate how the critical analysis of archival materials challenges and completes current knowledge about the history of color film technology.

avatar for Noemi Daugaard

Noemi Daugaard

PhD Candidate, SNSF Film Colors
Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Linguistics, Film Studies and Art History (2013) and Master of Arts in Film Studies (2015). Since 2016 PhD candidate at the University of Zurich in the framework of the SNSF research project Film Colors. Technologies, Cultures, Institutions... Read More →

Thursday March 12, 2020 10:00am - 10:50am GMT
NFT3/ BFI Southbank

Attendees (6)