China Girls

I had never heard of them, but a little subplot in Rachel Kushner’s novel The Flamethrowers was the introduction. Meet the China Girls.
China-Girls-Colour-testNowadays color grading is done digitally, but until the 1990s film technicians used gray scales and color strips as references. In order to create a uniform color balance and tonal density for each reel, they also used the color of the China Girl’s skin tones. These women, often lab workers themselves, made their appearance, for a few frames, during the countdown at the beginning of a film reel, often accompanied by color bars. These unseen women apparently were a big hit among movie projectionists. China-Girls-Colour-testChina-girls leader-ladies-Girls-Colour-testChina-Girls-Colour-Lawrence-of-Arabia-China-Girls-Colour-testChina-Girls-Colour-testChina-GirlsChina-Girls-Colour-test Many of these of stills come from the project Girls on Film by Julie Buck and Karin Segal. Want to learn more, check the Leader Ladies Project.

* Song to complement this post: David Bowie‘s China Girl