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Colorizing Images

The modern system of computerized colorization was invented by a fellow named Wilson Markle, who probably didn’t realize the controversy for which he would be responsible. The process was first used in 1970 to colorize some Apollo moon landing footage (Neil Armstrong forgot to pack the color film), and was seen as having great promise in creating “new” television series from old black-and-white shows that couldn’t be syndicated easily in their present form. The idea apparently fizzled, because the only series it was seriously applied to turned out to be McHale’s Navy.

Ted Turner began the waves of controversy by colorizing some of his library of old black-and-white films, which included classics from MGM Studios and RKO. Movie critics screamed their heads off when Casablanca was colorized, spurring the establishment of the National Film Registry, which was created by Congress to select films that couldn’t be colorized without being accompanied by a disclaimer. By 1995, the interest in colorization seemed to have vanished, along with the controversy.


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