RG color models

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Gamut of a RG color model

An RG color model is a dichromatic color model represented by red and green primary colors. The name of the pair of models comes from the initials of the two primary colors: red and green. The model may be either additive or subtractive. The primaries are added together in varying proportions to reproduce a linear gamut of colors, which can reproduce only a fraction of the colors possible with a trichromatic color space, such as for human color vision.

The appearance of the color gamut changes depending on the primary colors chosen. When the primaries are complementary colors (e.g. red and cyan), then an equal mixture of the primaries will yield a neutral color (gray or white). However, since red and green are not complementary colors, an equal mixture of these primaries will yield yellow, and a neutral color cannot be reproduced by the color space.

Despite its shortcomings in color reproduction, these models were used in early color processes for films.[1][2]

Additive RG[edit]

The additive RG color model uses red and green primaries. It was used in several processes during the early innovations of color photography, including Kinemacolor,[3] Prizma, Technicolor I,[4][5][6][7] and Raycol.[8]

Until recently, its primary use was in low-cost LED displays in which red and green LEDs were more common and cheaper than the still nascent blue LED technology. However, this preference no longer applies to modern devices.[citation needed] In modern applications, the red and green primaries are equal to the primaries used in typical RGB color spaces, so are not complementary. In this case, the RG color model can be achieved by disabling the blue light source.

Subtractive RG[edit]

The subtractive RG color model uses red and green filters for film exposure, but complementary cyan-green (for red) and orange-red (for green) for the developed prints. This allows the generation of white, although the color model cannot achieve black, regardless of the primaries chosen. It was used in several processes during the early innovations of color photography, including on Brewster Color I,[9][10][11][12] Kodachrome I,[13][14][15] Prizma II,[16] and Technicolor II.[17][18][19]

A similar color model, called RGK adds a black channel, which allows for the reproduction of black and other dark shades.[20] However, it does not allow the reproduction of neutral colors (gray/white) because the primaries are not complementary.

Outside of a few low-cost high-volume applications, such as packaging and labelling, RG and RGK are no longer in use because devices providing larger gamuts such as CMYK are in widespread use.

Anaglyph 3D[edit]

Red-green anaglyph glasses

In 1858, in France, Joseph D'Almeida [fr] delivered a report to l'Académie des sciences describing how to project three-dimensional magic lantern slide shows using red and green filters to an audience wearing red and green goggles.[21] Subsequently he was chronicled as being responsible for the first realisation of 3D images using anaglyphs.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Corporation, Bonnier (February 13, 1923). "Popular Science". Bonnier Corporation – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Thomas, Elway (1923). "First Successful Color Movie". Popular Science (Feb 1923): 59.
  3. ^ "Kinemacolor".
  4. ^ Trenholm, Richard. "The first Technicolor film was a total disaster a century ago". CNET.
  5. ^ Cinematographic Multiplex Projection, &c. U.S. Patent No. 1,391,029, filed February 20, 1917.
  6. ^ "Moving Pictures in Color", The New York Times, February 22, 1917, p. 9.
  7. ^ "The first Technicolor film was a total disaster a century ago". CNET. September 9, 2017. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
  8. ^ "Raycol".
  9. ^ Cherchi Usai, Paolo (2000). Silent Cinema. British Film Institute. p. 35.
  10. ^ Nowotny, Robert Allen (January 1, 1983). The Way of All Flesh Tones: A History of Color Motion Picture Processes, 1895-1929. pp. 127–129. ISBN 9780824051099. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  11. ^ "Patent 1,145,968 - Photographic Film" (PDF). United States Patent Office. July 13, 1915. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  12. ^ "Brewster".
  13. ^ Capstaff, a former portrait photographer and physics and engineering student had already worked on colour photography before he joined C.K. Mees and other former Wratten and Wainright employees in their move to Rochester in 1912–1913 after Eastman had bought that company to persuade Mees to come and work for him.
  14. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Library of Congress. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  15. ^ "2012 National Film Registry Picks in A League of Their Own". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  16. ^ "Prizma II".
  17. ^ Trenholm, Richard. "The first Technicolor film was a total disaster a century ago". CNET. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  18. ^ "The First Successful Color Movie", Popular Science, Feb. 1923, p. 59.
  19. ^ "Kalmus, Herbert. "Technicolor Adventures in Cinemaland", Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, December 1938"
  20. ^ "Application filed by Germann & Gsell Ag".
  21. ^ D'Almeida, Joseph Charles (1858). "Nouvel appareil stéréoscopique" [A New Stereoscopic Device] (image). Gallica (Lecture) (in French). p. 61.
  22. ^ Picard, Emile (December 14, 1931). "La Vie et L'œuvre de Gabriel Lippmann (membre de la section de physique générale)" [The Life and Work of Gabriel Lippmann] (PDF). academie-sciences.fr (Public Lecture) (in French). Institut de France. Académie des Sciences. p. 3.

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