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IB Technicolor

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IB Technicolor, also called Dye-Transfer Technicolor, Imbibition Technicolor, or "IB Tech" is a now defunct color process known for nearly perfect color stability.

IB Technicolor prints are impossible to replace and should be handled with great care. Because their colors do not fade, IB Technicolor prints often represent exactly what audiences saw on a film's original release (though likely improved a bit through modern lenses).

An overview of the complex technology used to create IB Technicolor prints can be seen on the George Eastman Museum's website: https://www.eastman.org/technicolor/technology/dye-transfer-printing

Identification

IB Technicolor prints are identified by a grey soundtrack, although some early 16mm prints have a blue soundtrack. Blue Track Technicolor prints have a characteristic "vomit" smell and lower fidelity sound.

Not all films shot in Technicolor were printed in Technicolor, and not all films printed in Technicolor were printed exclusively in Technicolor. For example McCABE AND MRS. MILLER was filmed on Eastman Color Negative, and original release prints were either IB Technicolor or Eastman Color.

Years in use: 1926 - 1970s

IB Technicolor printing was in use in the United States from 1926 until the mid 70s. Some countries including Italy, England, and China kept producing IB Technicolor prints after production stopped in the US. Famously, STAR WARS (1977) was printed in IB Tech in the UK and now-faded Eastman Color in the US (AGFA and Fuji prints also exist).

Revival: 1996 - 2001

Technicolor's IB Technicolor equipment was revived for a brief period between 1996 and 2001, and the following prints were produced during this time.

Dye-Transfer prints struck at Technicolor 1996 - 2001

This list was supplied by Jeff Joseph:

This list was compiled from various sources. I am unaware of any shorts or trailers struck in the process. In most cases (unless otherwise noted), less than 100 prints were struck for each title. In addition, various tests were printed, including segments of Gone With the Wind (full frame aperture, Ballroom scene), Adventures of Robin Hood (MOS), and Vertigo (MOS).  Likely others were done as well. "Print Extant" = at least one dye transfer print is known to survive as of this date (2008).

Title Year Studio Notes Print run Print(s) extant?
Any Given Sunday 1999 Warner Dye-transfer prints were not ready on date of release; prints went out to theatres a week or so later
Apocalypse Now Redux 1979/2001 Miramax All Redux prints were dye-transfer; several hundred were struck Several hundred Yes
Apt Pupil 1998 Sony
Bandits 2001 MGM I’d heard that the director did not approve the dye-transfer prints, but I know that some got out anyway. I know of at least one theatre that had a dye-transfer print on this title.
Batman and Robin 1997 Warner Not many printed
Bulworth 1998 Fox Prints notorious for shedding in the gate, causing the prints to scratch easily. Yes
Family Man 2000 Universal Yes
Funny Girl 1968/2001 Sony Less than 20 prints struck 20 Yes
Giant 1956/1996 Warner First public screenings of the new dye-transfer process. Color was fine, but much of the negative was faded and huge chunks are opticals, including the first 10 minutes or so. Very grainy looking print.
Godzilla 1998 Sony Approximately 250 prints struck 250
Gone With the Wind 1939/1998 Warner Matrixes were made from a restored dupe neg. Optically converted to anamorphic, with frame bars on the sides, so this could be run at any theatre, not just theatres equipped with 1.37 projection. Print quality varied widely. More than 200 prints struck 200+ Yes
Meet the Deedles 1998 Disney
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil 1997 Warner Only 2 prints struck 2
Pearl Harbor 2001 Disney
Rear Window 1954/2000 USA Films/Universal Approximately 40 prints struck 40 Yes
The Thin Red Line 1998 Fox Only one dye-transfer print struck 1 Yes
The 13th Warrior 1999 Disney
Toy Story II 1999 Pixar/Disney After a few weeks in release, a new reel five was sent to theatres that contained bloopers while the credits rolled. These new reel fives were not dye-transfer.
12 Angry Men 1997 MGM/TV A single dye-transfer print was struck of this TV Movie, which was run at the Toronto Film Festival. 1
The Wedding Planner 2001 Sony
The Wizard of Oz 1939/1998 Warner Approximately 50 prints struck in full frame (1.37) dye-transfer. The balance of the prints were standard Eastman Color prints, struck in the pillar box format 50 Yes


Further reading

  • "IB, Therefore..." - essay on IB Tech history by Kyle Westphal, Chicago Film Society