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Old December 11th, 2014, 06:02 AM   #1
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Colourising old film in the digital age


Just a hobbyist here... Film school graduate, been playing with digital media since purchasing a Mac Quadra 840av in 1997...

I'm interested in trying to add colour to b&w content.

What are the options for this dedicated task?

I gather it's basically either very expensive software, or frame-by-frame in photoshop?

But even then - what is the actual procedure in Photoshop (cos expensive software ain't an option).

I did come across a video promoting an Adobe product on the iPad... which basically involved having a colour layer "under" the b&w layer... Is that "all" it takes? Should you have multiple layers for each colour aspect?

If I'm colouring say, someone's face, and part of it is in shadow, will the existing b&w texture "shade" the colour appropriately, or so I need to effectively add different shades of the skin tones...??

Is there any good online sites/tutorials you would recommend?


Film School ++ Showreel

Last edited by Travis Wheaton; December 12th, 2014 at 02:50 AM.
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Old March 30th, 2015, 12:53 PM   #2
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Location: Perth, Australia
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Re: Colourising old film in the digital age

Months later...

I don't really know too much about this stuff specifically but, yes, generally speaking a black and white image should provide the tone channel for your newly coloured image.

One way to do this would be to add colours on a layer with a 'color' blend mode.
Picking what colour to put down in this process still isn't easy and is often counter intuitive, with the results potentially flattening things out more than you'd like. Then you can get a little help by layering the original image back over the top again as another contrast strengthening mode like 'overlay' or 'soft light'.
As ever, much depends on the exposure and focus of the original and the desired result.
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