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The Executive Board of the Costume Designers Guild protests your planned coloring of black and white films from the 30's and 40's, many of which are classics.
Costumes used in those films were designed specifically for the
It is in these latter situations where harm is done, not only to
When the film was colored the dresses were redone in pastels and the mood of that scene changed completely. Numerous other examples can be cited but additional examples are unnecessary for the purpose of this letter.
Under the circumstances we urge that you not go forward with your
Senator LEAHY. I understand you have one other exhibit.
Mr. SILVERSTEIN. We have available for your examination an original print of Ansel Adams. As you know, he is one of the greatest American black-and-white photographers, a man who is truly part of the history of black-and-white photography in this country. This piece which—
Senator LEAHY. I know this one well.
We asked a former employee of Color Systems Technology to make what, in his opinion, would be what he was asked to do to a black-and-white film and no worse nor no better. He has worked not on a Color Systems Technology machine because he couldn't do that, but he came as close as he could, and I have the results for your inspection now.
Senator LEAHY. Bring that one up here too.
Mr. SILVERSTEIN. I know as a photographer, Senator, you will be quick to note the substantial differences between the two, the attention that Mr. Adams gave to the depth of field and the kind of fuzzy outline that you see in the other, plus other differences.
Senator LEAHY. As I say, this looks like more the kind of work I end up doing than the work that a real artist does. I had the misfortune of being born blind in one eye so I took up photography for a hobby because I see everything two-dimensionally. Some of my political opponents say that explains everything, but I have seen things two-dimensionally for the 47 years of my lifetime. I have taken up a great deal of photography as the one sport I can do, and I have always enjoyed it very much. And I might say, for whatever it is worth, that there are certain things you can photograph only in black and white. There are certain things you can photograph only in color. But it is very, very rare that a great color photograph looks as good when reproduced in black and white and vice versa.
I think of one particular black-and-white photography by Karsh-the one of Winston Churchill taken just after a cigar was snatched out of his hand, staring belligerently at the camera. The photograph highlighted perfectly
the pugnacious look in his face. If that picture were to be reproduced in color, it would become just another picture of various British statesmen. It would become completely different.
And, at the same time, the tragic, awful pictures we saw of the Challenger explosion, would those have been the same in black and white?
Ms. Rogers and gentlemen, I thank you very, very much for taking this time.
We will take a 5-minute break and then go to the next panel. [A short recess was taken.]
Senator LEAHY. I should note for the record that the last panel took with them the Ansel Adams print. I do not want anybody to think it has been somehow confiscated by the Judiciary Committee or any member of the Judiciary Committee.
Our next_panel will be composed of Roger Mayer, the president of Turner Entertainment Co., Rob Word, senior vice president for Creative Affairs, Hal Roach Studios; and Buddy Young president of Color Systems Technology, Inc.
In the order I have the testimony, it is Mr. Mayer, Mr. Word, and Mr. Young. Obviously, if the panel would wish to do it in any different order, you are most welcome to.
STATEMENTS OF A PANEL CONSISTING OF ROGER L. MAYER, PRESIDENT, TURNER ENTERTAINMENT
ENTERTAINMENT CO.; ROB WORD, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR CREATIVE AFFAIRS, HAL ROACH STUDIOS; AND BUDDY YOUNG, PRESIDENT, COLOR SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, INC. Mr. YOUNG. I would like to go first.
Senator LEAHY. Mr. Young would like to go first. If we could have order.
I appreciate very, very much the three of you being here. I know you have spent some time with my staff, Mr. Berman has with me, and also with the staff, and I know that you have, each one of you, rearranged a number of things to be here, and I want you to know I appreciate it very, very much.
Mr. Young, if you will start, sir.
STATEMENT OF BUDDY YOUNG Mr. YOUNG. Mr. Chairman, my name is Buddy Young, and I am President of Color Systems Technology. I appreciate the opportunity to be here this morning along with my colleagues, Roger Mayer, president of Turner Entertainment Co., and Rob Word, senior vice president for Creative Affairs for Hal Roach Studios.
We ask that the written testimony submitted to the committee be printed in the record, and for the purpose of brevity, we are summarizing our statements this morning.
Senator LEAHY. Yes. Mr. YOUNG. The company I represent is less than 5 years old. In 1985, we had 40 employees. Today, nearly 200 persons work at Color Systems Technology. Like all new businesses in the United States, we represent entrepreneurial spirit. We have put our personal assets at risk in this new venture. Some of us risked virtually everything we own to form our companies, with the hope of providing ourselves and our shareholders a good return on our investment while, at the same time, providing entertainment that the American public wants, accepts and enjoys.
Mr. Chairman, in the ongoing debate over the coloring of films, our critics have attacked our work, questioned our motives, and demeaned not only our artistic taste but also that of the people who enjoy watching our product. A great many false claims have been made and misconceptions fostered.
We have additional videotape which presents a fair example of our work and addresses a number of questions regarding our business.
And can we please roll that?
Were the interviews in your tape filmed in color and then shown in black-and-white? Or were they originally filmed in black and white?
Mr. YOUNG. The interviews were filmed in color. It was shown on a black-and-white monitor.
Mr. Chairman, I think you could see from the foregoing how good our work is capable of being, certainly far better than such innovations as sound or even the early Technicolor were at this early stage of their development.
Many parents would prefer that their children watch the older less violent cartoons than those that we see today. We will color Abbott and Costello shows, the Laurel and Hardy films, and a number of family-oriented black-and-white television programs that were serialized during the days when color programming was not available to the general public.
You saw from the earlier videotape that sneers about "computer coloring by number” are entirely unmerited. Human beings, professionally trained artists, expert in the psychology and application of color, make all the creative decisions. No computer ever has nor will it ever color a movie on its own. It colors what it is told to do by an art director or a colorist, just as a word processor does the will of an author.
Further, the members of this committee know, as do our critics, that colorization of black-and-white films does absolutely nothing to destroy, damage, or alter the original films. They are untouched, intact and preserved in their original form. The original versions of some of these films are being shown throughout the United States in art theaters, film institutes, and on television. As a matter of fact, since the telecast of the colored versions of “Miracle on 34th Street" and "It's A Wonderful Life," the original black-and-white versions have had increased exposure via telecasts and home video sales and rentals.
These are peripheral issues, designed to obscure the purely emotional argument over an author's creative rights-rights which were unheard of at studios when the films we are coloring were made.
I do not wish to diminish or demean the work of the directors. Many are truly gifted and have been handsomely rewarded. I merely want to underline the historic fact that, from the beginning, filmmaking has been a collaborative effort relying on the creative contribution of many talented people. As Ronald Haver, curator of film for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, recently said, “Most of the films that we are talking about, the period under consideration, they were not directors' films, they were studio films. If anything, they were writer films.”
But whether their attacks are motivated financially, since these earlier works are not subject to residual payments, or by wounded pride, we urge the committee to look beyond the rhetoric designed to capture headlines or a minute on the nightly news and concentrate instead on the substantive issues involved, from both an artistic and an economic vantage point.
We believe that the real issue revolves around the rights of a person to his own property and the public's right to choose a new marketplace. The hidden agenda is of an elitism, the intellectual intent of a few to impose their own views and tastes on millions and millions of Americans who have already expressed their own indisputable preference for color as measured by polls, television ratings, and video sales.
Senator LEAHY. Can I interrupt at this point?
Is this really the issue? Just going simply by the polls? I tend to think that one of the big problems of this country is too many people in elective office make decisions simply according to the polls, according to what is momentarily popular. If we simply go by the polls, might we get terrible government?
By the same token, what kind of decisions should be made according to polls? If one conducts a poll and finds that some of these films, even classic films, are not popular because the dialog or music seem dated, should the film be altered? Could this lead to a situation where Rick asks Sam to sing something more contemporary than “As Time Goes By," and a more contemporary song is dubbed in?
Mr. YOUNG. Mr. Chairman, I mention not only polls, but I mention television ratings and video cassette sales. Those are three things that indicate that the marketplace and the general public want the new version, the completely new versions that we colorize. We are not basing it on a poll of a hundred people or a thousand people and taking action on that basis, nor are we doing it without the permission of the owners of these films.
Senator LEAHY. But would it be logical to assume that in some of these cases we might also end up changing the dialog or music to make films more contemporary and make them more popular? What about the suggestion made earlier that we change the music of "Gone With The Wind" for something more contemporary, more popular? Should that be considered?
Mr. YOUNG. I think it should be considered by the owner of that film. I think they have the right to do that. I personally do not think the marketplace would buy it if it was done.
Senator LEAHY. Your answer then is that when the rights to a film, for example, "Casablanca," are bought, the owner has the right to change the dialog if he wants? Mr. YOUNG. I believe they have the right to create a new version.
When they bought the rights to “Casablanca,” they did not buy the black-and-white rights. They bought the film rights to make it either in black and white, to make it either in color, to use any music they so choose to use. They have that right.
At the time that those rights were sold to the purchaser, that is the time to have negotiated whatever they wanted to preclude, as Woody Allen does today.
Senator LEAHY. So “As Time Goes By” could be changed to something more contemporary?
Mr. YOUNG. I agree they have that privilege to do so. I don't think
Senator LEAHY. What you are saying is that while they would have the right, that decision is one that
would ultimately be dictated by the marketplace?
Mr. YOUNG. That is correct, Mr. Chairman.