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Colour in Film


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#1 Steff Hunt

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 08:07 PM

Hi everyone!

After much umm-ing and ahh-ing I finally decided on a topic for my dissertation and I was wondering if you guys could give me your opinion or point me in the direction of any research that you know of, or anything at all that you think might be useful for me to look at.

The my topic is:
looking at colour in film and its symbolism, peoples reaction to colour and how filmmakers have harnessed the power of colour to create lasting images.

But what I want to know from YOU is:

How does colour play a practical part in your choices when designing? To you believe in the conventions of colour psychology and do you adhere to them?



Thanks, I appreciate any help at all

Steff
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 09:38 PM

Read the first couple of chapters of the new book "Harnassing the Technicolor Rainbow: Color Design in the 1930's" by Scott Higgins.

I consider classic color associations when planning the visual approach for a movie, sure. I don't adhere to them religiously -- not even Storaro does -- because the particular story has certain color demands. For example, you can't say "I'm going to eliminate the color green" if your story is set among army soldiers in the Vietnam jungle.

Also, other cultures have different assocations with colors, particularly in Asia, where red, green, white, etc. have very specific associations. For example, in Asia, white = death, funerals, ghosts etc. whereas in the West, it tends to mean purity and virtue. Red is used for weddings -- look at a movie like "Red Sorghum" for example. Or "Jou Dou".

This is an odd site that discusses this:
http://symbolism.wikia.com/wiki/White

There is an old saying that if it happens twice, it's a coincidence and if it happens three-times, it is a motif. You can establish any color as being symbolic or associated with a theme or person through repetition in a movie.

I tend to plan color arcs around three basic approaches, based on the three common types of story structures.

One is a journey from A to B. Character moves from one emotional state, place in life, philosophy, location, etc. to another one by the end. Movie might move from cold to warm, low-contrast to high-contrast, naturalism to Expressionism (as most horror films and thrillers do).

Second is a conflict between A and B. Two characters or themes in conflict or juxtaposition. Warm vs. cold, wide-angle vs. telephoto, etc. Back and forth.

Third is a constant state that never changes much, where there is a predominant look throughout that never changes, like when a character is trapped in a certain world. Maybe it's all warm or all cold, all wide-angle or all telephoto, etc.

Of course stories can have elements of all three structures -- it may juxtapose A and B but be moving towards some resolution, some new state by the end, maybe where A and B are combined. It may hover in one state for almost the entire movie and only change at the end.
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#3 Brian Rose

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 11:10 PM

Hi everyone!

The my topic is:
looking at colour in film and its symbolism, peoples reaction to colour and how filmmakers have harnessed the power of colour to create lasting images.

But what I want to know from YOU is:

How does colour play a practical part in your choices when designing? To you believe in the conventions of colour psychology and do you adhere to them?



Thanks, I appreciate any help at all

Steff


I highly recommend Jack Cardiff's autobio "Magic Hour. He's (imo) the greatest living cinematographer, and a bonafide master of color cinematography during the Technicolor heyday of the 1930s-early 1950s. He has a lot of fascinating opinions regarding the use of color and it's meaning symbolically. For example, in a scene in "Black Narcissus," for which he won the Academy Award, he discusses using red light of early dawn, with a subtle green of the interior of a chapel, to recall Van Gogh's "Night Cafe," and it's sense of looming tragedy. To that end, I also suggest consulting books on painting as a baseline. Cardiff credits his own success to study of impressionists, as well as the Dutch greats like Vermeer, Rembrandt and de Hooch. There are also some wonderful texts on Technicolor which go into a lot of the theory and art behind it. "Technicolor Movies," by Richard Haines, and "Glorious Technicolor," by Fred Basten are excellent primers. Hope this helps!
Best,
Brian Rose
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 01:59 AM

There's some info of color theory here:
http://www.colorsystem.com/
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#5 Steff Hunt

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 08:31 AM

Thank You!

I really appreciate you help with this and those links and your opinions have been really helpful in me beginning an argument.


Thanks
Steff
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#6 Dominic Case

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 08:40 PM

You MUST read "If it's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die" by Patti Bellatoni. It's so close to your topic that you'll be hard pressed to find anything else to say. It is published by Elsevier as a Focal Press book: ISBN number 978-0-240-80688-4
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#7 Steff Hunt

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Posted 29 November 2007 - 09:16 PM

You MUST read "If it's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die" by Patti Bellatoni. It's so close to your topic that you'll be hard pressed to find anything else to say. It is published by Elsevier as a Focal Press book: ISBN number 978-0-240-80688-4


Thanks!
I ordered it today, seems like its perfect for my topic, so thanks for the heads up!
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