Discover why Max Factor’s panchromatic movie make-up was "horrifying."
Orthochromatic film sees limited colors; it is blue- (or green-) sensitive and is unable to capture reds. For example, on the screen, blue skies look white, blonde hair appears washed-out, and red lips look black. To combat these issues, industry pioneers used lens filters, location choices, lighting—and makeup.
Panchromatic film sees all colors and reproduces them closer to what we experience daily, albeit in shades of black, white, and gray. For differences between the two film types, look at Kodak's advertisements above (Movie Makers, 1930).
When panchromatic film became trendy in the late 1920s, makeup artist Max Factor—whose Chicago office sat at 444 W. Grand Avenue—was there to assist with the transition.
According to Max Factor: The Man Who Changed the Faces of the World, Factor toiled for months to create a new type of makeup "that reflected the correct degree of light required by [panchromatic] film." Factor succeeded and was even awarded a certificate by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize his contribution to “Incandescent Illumination Research.”
You can see in the 1929-1930 ads below from International Photographer that Max Factor's movie makeup is front and center. In some instances, his name and the words panchromatic make-up are as about as large as—or larger than!—the titles of the films being advertised.
Also, International Photographer informs its readers, presumably cinematographers, that these films use Max Factor’s makeup exclusively. Thus, for these professionals to work on a film NOT using this makeup would arguably be a step down in status.
By the 1930s, Max Factor’s panchromatic make-up—although reportedly "horrifying to look at" in daylight since it was designed for black-and-white movies and not everyday wear—became an industry standard.