After several months of complex web development, the new design of the Timeline of Historical Film Colors went online last week. While the look may not seem very different at first glance, the architecture of the web resource has changed considerably with the aim of organizing the immense and growing amount of information in a better and more accessible way.

This posting introduces the new features to guide you through the new architecture and to help you explore all the hidden secrets.


The slides in the header lead to the contributions provided by individual archives.

  • Redesign: The new design features a slide gallery on the starting page that leads you to the contributions of individual archives. [Edit: several users did not see the small arrow on the header slide, we will upgrade this to a bigger one, so please click on this small arrow to get to next slide.]The slides for the contributing archives honor and highlight the support given by athem, such as the Library of Congress, the Academy Film Archive, and the George Eastman Museum. Apart from the header, the starting page presents the usual classification system including the new bibliography section that contains selected bibliographies for certain topics, for instance on animation and color or the cultural history of color. It will be extended continually by input from our research projects ERC Advanced Grant FilmColors and Film Colors. Technologies, Cultures, Institutions.


  • The chronological overview consists of basic information, a short description and is one picture only per entry, thereby also helping visitors to understand the system more easily and reduce the overwhelming amount of visual information.

Gasparcolor detail page with different sections: Click in + to open.

  • Detail pages (for instance Gasparcolor as one example out of more than 250 entries) contain even more sections now. By collapsing them we aimed at easing the search for certain types of information. In case you still prefer to have an overview of all the photographs and illustrations you can still open all galleries by clicking on the corresponding link on the upper right hand side.
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The new lightbox allows you to zoom into the photographs.

  • A new lightbox displays the photographs in a more sophisticated way including a zoom function. More and more photographs will be uploaded in higher resolution to make available all the minute details that are captured by the 50megapixel camera Canon EOS 5Ds R. (Read more about the capturing process in this blog post on a typical research visit at the Library of Congress.)

Two different prints of La Cucaracha (USA 1934, Lloyd Corrigan) displayed with the compare function. Which one is more authentic?

  • Every photograph is captured with this standardized camera set-up. As shown above, the new compare function takes advantage of the highly informative comparison of various prints from different archives and periods or on a variety of film stocks. It includes all the metadata provided in the captions of the photographs. As you will discover, each individual film element can deviate considerably from other ones, either due to color fading or as a result of film development, processing and/or film stock. Just add the photos by clicking on the “add to compare” button on the light box. You will then have access to the compare function.

A tagging system (left) gives detailed access to photos, galleries, quotes and/or entries respectively.

  • The newly implemented tagging system organizes the whole database according to a complex hierarchical thesaurus of keywords, thereby allowing for a very detailed query of individual photographs, galleries, quotes, or complete entries. Please check the corresponding boxes on the lower left hand side.

Keywords organized in the tagging system’s thesaurus allow concise searching for all the elements contained in the database.

With the tagging system you can now search assisted by a current set of approximately 500 keywords that have been added to the thesaurus. Are you interested in animation? Do you like Alfred Hitchcock’s films? Would you like to investigate splices? Or are you fascinated with ships? In addition to search via tags there are general and detailed search tools also included in the upper part of the search page.

At present, all the 180 galleries are tagged with basic information. Around 200 quotes have been processed and labeled, but only a fraction of the more than 5,000 photographs have been tagged individually.

In ongoing work over the course of the next year, we will connect all the elements to the tagging system. In the next few months a group of student assistants will work on data management.

So please check back on a regular basis and follow this blog.

Please enjoy your navigation through the wealth of information and beauty on the Timeline of Historical Film Colors!


The new design has been funded by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation in the framework of the research project Film Colors. Technologies, Cultures, Institutions.

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