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Ernesto Zollinger was a Swiss engineer, based in Turin, who made cine cameras at the time of the First World War.[1] Zollinger held patents for a number of inventions relating to cinematography:

  • A method of reducing the size of the image frame on cine film in one dimension only, to reduce the amount of film used.[2] The process reduces the image by half along the length of the film, but leaves an unexposed space of equal size between each image and the next on the negative. The reduced images are then printed onto a positive film without leaving these gaps (i.e. the reduced usage of film is in making the positive copies).
  • An automated aerial camera, to be mounted on an aeroplane or dirigible balloon.[3] This camera takes regular photographs of the ground below, timed, through variable gearing, by an air-screw driven by the aircraft's motion through the air. The camera is equipped with an aneroid barometer (acting here as an altimeter) and a compass. The camera views these through a second lens, and each frame of film contains both the image of the ground below and that of the instruments (in one corner), giving the height and compass orientation of the aircraft for each photograph.
  • A colour filter system for colour cinematography by a colour screen process, patented by Zollinger with a partner, Simon Mischonsniky.[4] Monochromatic film is exposed through colour filters, alternate frames being filtered through complementary colours. According to the patent, the filters are mounted on a rotating disc in the camera. Separate colour filter panels of more than one colour might be used to make up each complementary filter. The film is then projected with a similar filter system in place, giving an approximation of true colour. Zollinger and Mischonsniky's was not the only such colour-screen cinematography process; Gaumont had a three-colour system at the same time. Zollinger, with a partner, Spanish cinematographer Segundo de Chomón, formed a company, Iride Film, in Turin and made at least one film, La Mimosa, to demonstrate the process.[5]


  1. Zollinger hand-cranked cine camera type B, serial no. 94, with Meyer 5.5 cm f/3.5 Primotar, made in 1915 and used by the Italian army during the First World War; offered at the 22nd Westlicht Photographica Auction, on 24 November 2012.
  2. US Patent 1032172, Process for reducing the size of pictures on kinematograph-films and of projecting such pictures to their normal proportions, filed 1910 and granted 1912 to Ernesto Zollinger; at Espacenet, the patent search facility of the European Patent Office.
  3. British Patent 19172 of 1914, Photographic apparatus for use in aerial-navigation (also corresponding French Patent 476467 and German Patent 328132) at Espacenet.
  4. US Patent 1203681, Motion picture color filter, filed 1912 and granted 1916 to Zollinger and Mischonsniky; at Espacenet.
  5. La Mimosa di Segundo de Chomón, a post on the blog sempre in penombra: archivio del cinema muto (forever in shadow: archive of silent cinema); text in Italian, with a poster for the film, quotation from a press report of a showing, and some bibliography.