Faking 1922 Kodachrome.

This morning I was reminded of this wonderful piece of footage a test reel of Kodak’s Two Colour Kodachrome process.

Last year I did some experiments in trying to replicate that look and I thought I’d share my results. I’ll bypass any questions of why you’d want to do it & the ethics and practice of emulating dead formats and just get into the how:

Now this way of doing it is fairly simple and horribly unscientific but it should be a good jumping off point for anyone that wants to put a bit more thought into the details. The early Kodachrome Two-Colour process recorded filtered images to black and white film via a dual lens system. Now I wish I could remember which site I discovered some fantastic information about the finer details of old Kodachrome but what I recall pretty much comes down to two things.

  • One filter was red
  • The other was blue/green

So given that information the first step to faking the 1922 Kodachrome was to take an image. In this case a shot of the lovely Miss Lola the Vamp.

Lola the Vamp

First step is to create our red filter image: I do video so I used Sony Vegas for this but the trick can be emulated in any video/photo editing program. Open up whatever plugin / filter you use to manage colour channels / saturation, I did this using AAV ColorLab, and desaturate every colour except red. I also messed around with the contrast curve, though we all do and I shouldn’t be particularly ashamed of it. The following image resulted:

As you can see there is not much difference mostly because all of the colours present are on the red(ish) spectrum.

The next step is to create the blue/green filter image: This works the same as before. Take the raw footage and desaturate everything except for green and blue. What we end up with is this:

In this case we get a monochrome image as there is no significant green/blue elements.

The next step – smooshing them together: I layered the red filtered image on top of the blue/green fliter image and set the red image to ‘hard light’ or ‘overlay’ and got this:

From here it’s a matter of tweaking contrast and colour saettings until you get the look you want. There are things I attempted which aren’t present here such as adding glow, which may work with a darker background but in such an overexposed image tends to wipe out any background detail.

To further illustrate here is another example:

The raw image. 35mm scanned photo (taken through an old fungus-y lens)

The red image:

The blue / Green image

And the combined image:

It’s an interesting look, though adding the lovely pastel softness escaped me and I’d love to hear from anyone who figured it out.

About Otakudo

Things of Interest.
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