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color to convey character


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#1 David Desio

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 10:00 AM

Hey all,

Not sure if this is in the right place but...

I am going to DP a music video here shortly and the story calls for a character arc by the end. Basically a down-trodden woman is empowered. She works in a dive bar to make ends meet and lives in a small house. In the end, she saves the money to buy out her creepy boss and the bar becomes hers. These are the only 2 locations.


So, I would like be succinct in the arc and stay away from cliched imagery(though I'm sure it will be there somewhere).

So I'm thinking of putting the woman in some darker, drab colors at first and gradually building towards lighter, softer colors and lighting in the end.

I was wondering what you all thought about the use of color and light to show character and welcome any suggestions on the matter.
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#2 Brian Rose

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 01:04 AM

I'm reminded of the use of color as you describe in "Black Narcissus," DP'd by Jack Cardiff. It told the story of nuns in the Himalayas. They are in this very exotic environment, yet they themselves are chaste and restrained. This is emphasized by their white habits and absence of makeup. But one nun grows infatuated with a British man she meets, and plans to leave the order. There is a striking scene where she confronts the Sister Superior about her plans. She has abandoned her white outfit and wears a dark red dress. To top off her symbolic abandonment of the faith, she puts on bright red lipstick (bearing in mind this was shot in three strip Tech, so the red was really RED).

It sounds like you need to consult with your costume designer and makeup artist, if there are any, because those will be important factors in determining the color palette. It would also be worthwhile to investigate some of the deeper meaning of the colors. Red, at least in western countries, is often seen as symbolic of lust, love and sexuality.

There is a plot detail that is important. What is her role, sexually? Does the creepy boss make her dress to please the male clientele? Or by empowerment do you want to convey someone who has discovered confidence, mind and body, etc? Depending on the plot of the piece, it could affect what clothes and colors she wears to begin with, and what she wears in the end. Could you tell more?

Best,
BR
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#3 David Desio

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 10:51 AM

I'm reminded of the use of color as you describe in "Black Narcissus," DP'd by Jack Cardiff. It told the story of nuns in the Himalayas. They are in this very exotic environment, yet they themselves are chaste and restrained. This is emphasized by their white habits and absence of makeup. But one nun grows infatuated with a British man she meets, and plans to leave the order. There is a striking scene where she confronts the Sister Superior about her plans. She has abandoned her white outfit and wears a dark red dress. To top off her symbolic abandonment of the faith, she puts on bright red lipstick (bearing in mind this was shot in three strip Tech, so the red was really RED).

It sounds like you need to consult with your costume designer and makeup artist, if there are any, because those will be important factors in determining the color palette. It would also be worthwhile to investigate some of the deeper meaning of the colors. Red, at least in western countries, is often seen as symbolic of lust, love and sexuality.

There is a plot detail that is important. What is her role, sexually? Does the creepy boss make her dress to please the male clientele? Or by empowerment do you want to convey someone who has discovered confidence, mind and body, etc? Depending on the plot of the piece, it could affect what clothes and colors she wears to begin with, and what she wears in the end. Could you tell more?

Best,
BR



I think I remember the film, was it a film school staple? Anyway I'll check it out and thanks for the input.

As for the arc in the plot of the video, she begins being objectified by the clientelle(sp?) and her boss so she will be wearing revealing clothing which should play nicely against her daughter as she gets ready to go to work. In the end she is empowered and dresses more conservatively/professionally. We have a little money in place for wardrobe and set design, really just the bare bones minimum so I was thinking of using the framing to suggest the change. She will never have the frame to herself around her boss/barflies until the end and will be framed smaller in the begining. I was thinking of using a strong edge on her to create a halo for most of her scenes.

More to come...have to go shoot :)

Thanks again,
Dave

Thanks again,
Dave
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#4 David Desio

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 10:48 AM

Okay, we're a bit closer to the look...I got with the wardrobe and set designer and we came up with the overall theme of pastels and earth-tones for the video.

So now I have a shot and I need some suggestions: We have the singer playing guitar on the sidewalk outside of a small cafe. The director wants to see him and the actress in the same frame...the actress will be waiting tables inside while he is playing and singing. Also the shot is to take place during the day.

So here's the set up: the cafe is facing a busy road and the sidewalk is about 10' wide from the door to the road. I don't have the means to shut down the road for any length of time...so?

Thanks in advance,
Dave
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#5 Daniel Madsen

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 01:26 PM

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#6 Daniel Madsen

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 01:29 PM

* go heavier or lighter depending on the desired relative brightness of your foreground and background subjects.
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#7 Daan Werdefroy

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 01:30 PM

Why the giant silk above his head?

To give a more even lighting on his head?
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#8 David Desio

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 02:11 PM

Yes...I think this could work after all. Will really have to pump up the cafe to cut down on reflections though, no?
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#9 Daniel Madsen

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 03:40 AM

I’d use the silk to soften the light and bring the foreground subject within a few stops of the background.

Good to consider the reflections. The camera and any gear would be backlit, so I’d either throw up a solid behind camera or shoot at an angle to the window and employ a polarizer.

The background subject will need something too and unless you’re renting a generator, I’d rely again on the sun redirected and modified with grip goodies.

My schematic assumes there will be direct sun and that you will be fighting contrast. You may be doing the opposite if it’s overcast.

Edited by Daniel Madsen, 16 December 2008 - 03:41 AM.

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#10 David Desio

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 09:58 AM

I appreciate the advice and the lovely drawing. I'll have a chat with my gaffer and see what we can rig. The shot may still be compromised due to the restraints we face with the major road but this puts me much closer to a solution. Thanks again,
Dave
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#11 Christopher Wedding

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 12:13 AM

I appreciate the advice and the lovely drawing. I'll have a chat with my gaffer and see what we can rig. The shot may still be compromised due to the restraints we face with the major road but this puts me much closer to a solution. Thanks again,
Dave


You would do well to cut across the window at an angle instead of shooting straight on. That way if you have a polarizer, it will be more effective.
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#12 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 07:32 AM

If you can't shut down traffic, can you go across the street, get up on a ladder and use a long lens to shoot just above traffic? Unless you get a simi or wannabe monster truck, you should be able to get close to the same shot as standing in the middle of the closed off road. , even if a simi does come by, it might be interesting. Plus if you're at a slight off set angle from the glass pane, you'll get much less direct reflections back into your lens. B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 20 December 2008 - 07:37 AM.

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