The Making of Marco Polo
By Derek Handley


Part 2 - Colouring Decisions








Bruce's original recon had used a mixture of colour and black and white pictures. However, his new version was to be all black and white because many people found the continual switching between the two formats distracting. I also agreed with this argument and originally wanted to do the LC version in just black and white for the same reason, but Dean was in favour of leaving the colour pictures as they were, believing that the added dimension of the colour pictures helps to compensate for the lack of movement. In addition Dean felt that it would be a real pity for the viewers to not see the splendour of the colourful sets and costumes.

I compiled an argument of why the reconstruction could not be made as a mix of colour and black and white and put this forward to Dean and Rick. I still felt that the main problems were the mixing of black and white and colour and the limitations that this imposed on composites. As a joke I roughly coloured in a few B&W photos and e-mailed them to Dean and Rick with a note saying 'only another 198 to go'. I got a reply back saying that the rough colourings were actually "not too bad". As with most of our reconstructions the three of us discuss these types of major decisions and after some discussion we usually arrive at a consensus.

That night Dean experimented further with colourising photos in PhotoShop and sent through a newly coloured picture of Tegana pouring his water gourd onto the desert floor. This looked amazing. This was really the turning point for the reconstruction as we could see that although this entailed a vast amount of work we could potentially colour all of the black and white photos. Suddenly a colour reconstruction of Marco Polo now seemed a real possibility. We both spent the next few months colouring every black and white photo. Luckily, there were enough authentic colour photos from the story to give us accurate colour references for almost everything. Most of the photos coloured extremely well. We found that black and white photos with a good greyscale definition were the best candidates for colourisation. However, we decided to colour all of the available photos so that they were readily available for inclusion if required.