For tinting, the positive print is immersed into a variety of dye baths, scene by scene. To this end, the print has to be cut into the corresponding fragments and reassembled after the dyeing process. The dye homogeneously attaches over the entire image’s gelatin including the perforation area. Usually acid dyes were dissolved in a weak acid solution to form a chemical bond with the gelatin.
Tinting can be identified by the brighter image parts which are colored uniformly while the darker parts remain black. Often, however, the dyes are fading or producing complex color alterations due to their chemical nature, or tinting is combined with toning which makes identification more difficult.
While there were some conventional metaphorical associations such as blue tinting for night scenes or red tinting for fire, these associations were neither stable nor mandatory. Therefore it is necessary to analyze the color scheme in each individual film with regard to its narrative structure unfolding in space and time.
Credit: Copyright: Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Wiesbaden. Photograph by Barbara Flueckiger. Source: Archivo Nacional de la Imagen – Sodre, Montevideo/ Cineteca di Bologna. Film: Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (GER 1919, Robert Wiene).