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British Industrial History

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Spicer-Dufay (British)

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of Sawston, Cambridgeshire

1908 Louis Dufay, in France, invented the Diopticolore Process for making colour photographs - the image was composed of a series of lines in complimentary colours, such as magenta and green, placed at right angles to a series of non-complimentary colours, such as cyan and yellow. This pattern was situated between the base and the emulsion; the photograph was exposed through the base.

1920 After Dufay's company, Versicolor, experienced difficulties, T. Thorne-Baker, a colour expert from Britain who was working with Dufay, was asked by Spicers to advise on the potential of the process.

1926 Spicers bought the process and set up Spicer-Dufay with Thorne-Baker leading secret research into making a cine film.

1931 Dufaycolor was presented at a Royal Society in March, and then at the British Kinematograph Society in September. The original process had been considerably improved, with a new mosaic pattern, called the reseau, of red and green lines overlaid at right angles with blue lines. The presentations were well received but the process still had significant problems, including dim images and poor sound volume and the need to retrain projectionists. Dufaycolor's advantage over Technicolor was that it was cheaper.

1932 Launch of a 35mm cine film; Ilford decided to invest in the company and the process.

1932 Colortone Holdings Ltd, a private company, was incorporated to acquire Colortone Ltd including interests in the the Spicer-Dufay processes[1]

1933 Spicer Dufay (British) Ltd was registered in February as a private company with a capital of £600,000. Ilford's main objective was the development of a 16mm colour cine film for the amateur market, and this was the direction taken by the company.

1934 The new 16mm colour film, and an improved 35mm film, was presented at the Savoy Hotel in April; the 16mm film was released in September to great success.

1935 Spicer-Dufay (British) Ltd struck a deal with British Movietone News to film the Silver Jubilee of King George V. Len Lye completed his abstract film The Colour Box, in Dufaycolor; it was acquired by John Grierson for the G. P. O. Film Unit as an advert for the sixpenny parcel post. The British feature film, Radio Parade of 1935 wa released, which featured two sequences in Dufaycolor.

1936 Dufay-Chromex was formed at the beginning of 1936 which incorporated Spicer-Dufay and other companies; it made a concerted effort to break into the shorts market.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Oct 11, 1932
  • History of Dufaycolor [1]