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Removing / Adding Color Casts


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#1 Joseph Francis

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 12:13 AM

Sorry for the ignorant question but I have a question about color casts.

It seems that a lot of effort in photography (and I assume, cinematography) is often put into removing color casts. A scene may be too magenta. The cast is identified, and a green correction is applied.

Yet at least as often color casts are intentionally added to a film where none was before. The green look of The Matrix comes to mind.

What motivates the adding of a (say) green look? Is it just a creative decision?

What usually causes the colors? Interaction between stock and light source? Some sort of cross-processing of film in development? Digital Post-production?

Is there a vocabulary that describes these color decisions that I can look up for further reference? Are there certain 'go to' palettes that come up a lot?
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#2 Mei Lewis

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 06:27 AM

What motivates the adding of a (say) green look? Is it just a creative decision?


I think it's often that. It can be done to give the movie a certain feel, or evoke a time period or place.
It can also be useful for helping effects sit in with live action.
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#3 Joseph Francis

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 01:52 PM

I think it's often that. It can be done to give the movie a certain feel, or evoke a time period or place.
It can also be useful for helping effects sit in with live action.


Is it mainly done in a DI suite now? Or is a substantial amount of the work built in to the footage at shoot time through lighting and film stock selection and processing?
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#4 Joseph Francis

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Posted 17 December 2009 - 09:21 PM

What would be a good book or DVD to look at to learn more about how to use color creatively to create 'a look?'

I'm thinking of The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction (Paperback)

Any opinions on this book, or recommendations as to other learning material?

I'm not interested in learning this software or that. I'm interested in learning more about the thought process behind creative color correction.
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#5 Joseph Francis

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Posted 17 December 2009 - 09:50 PM

I'm interested in learning more about the thought process behind creative color correction.


Or more accurately, I guess, color grading.
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#6 Mei Lewis

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 10:28 AM

Others on here have recommended this book about the use of color in film generally to set a mood
http://www.amazon.co...e/dp/0240806883
I've just got it and started reading and it's a good book and would probably tell you something of what you want to know.


This video shows one way to get one of the really popular colour looks in big movies at the moment:

Creating a Summer Blockbuster Film Look
http://library.creat...eo-tutorial.php
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#7 Joseph Francis

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 12:50 PM

Others on here have recommended this book about the use of color in film generally to set a mood
http://www.amazon.co...e/dp/0240806883
I've just got it and started reading and it's a good book and would probably tell you something of what you want to know.


This video shows one way to get one of the really popular colour looks in big movies at the moment:

Creating a Summer Blockbuster Film Look
http://library.creat...eo-tutorial.php


interesting, thanks. I want to check out that book. :)

I made an image recently (photography over CG background) and played with the green pseudo cross-processing but mainly because 'everybody else is doing it these days.' I would like the motivation for that sort of thing to feel more organic to me.
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#8 Joseph Francis

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 01:19 PM

... and that video you linked to was exactly what I was hoping to find. Thank you.
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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 11:51 PM

As for color casts you add:

1) you set up production to look a certain way (say ashen, so you use muted colors to begin with)
2) you light a certain way (using smoke for example, lowering the contrast, or you use photographic techniques/makeup to tone down saturation, certain film stocks, development techniques)
3) clean up in post (di/color correction)

there are many reasons to do it; and sometimes it's "just because." I mean, I for one, like the look of uncorrected floro tubes, or a little warmer orangier tungsten balance on sources (1/8 CTO sometimes).
The colors you apply to a film can be pretty powerful, convey things "beyond the screen," like warmth or tenderness, isolation and coldness, otherworldly feelings etc. A lot of this will come out of your own personal experiences -- for example, I was recently walking home at night alone, and it was cold, and I was particularly feeling isolated at the moment (jack daniels effect) and I just notices the way the quality of the streetlight enhanced that (the sodium orange ones). Other things will come from other movies (the godfather's brassy yellow signifying nostalgia, for example, or The Matrix's green techno-world). A lot comes from other arts, painting photographer (the way old photographs have faded and how that influences how we imagine our own past-- pastel etc.)

In short:
What you choose is based on your own exposures and ow you feel you should tell a story
how it's done goes between production design, photographic execution, and final color correction in the cinematographic world.

What is and isn't in vogue comes and goes and in part is dependent upon technologies available (what can you do for the budget you have) as well as what that technology has allowed other contemporaries to create. For myself, I've been noticing a lot of cold blue-d overcast day casts recently-- but that might just give away what kind of movies I watch. Another look is "slick," crushed blacks, saturated colors clipped highlights, colored sunset looking back lights (think transformers). As for vocabulary, it depends on who you're talking to.
Often, with directors, the language is all about adjectives, warm, cold, lonely, angry, stoic, etc... and then working out what those terms mean visually. Such is a DPs job, often, a visual siphon, reducing down with the director and other heads how something which is a feeling or an idea should be represented visually. Other times, color casts you may choose to use will be based on a lot of research-- for example what colors exist in Senegal? How does the sun-light look for this scene you have to shoot in a morning in a room where a child first wakes up with his mother whom he's never met, and he's afraid? (were it me, I'd go warm browns for the room, but have the sunlight a morning gloaming look-- blued and diffused, for a little color contrast-- but the primary color wash/cast would be a warmed brown/orange with that blue contrast.)

Ok... I've ranted enough... keep your eyes open and you'll see how to and when to use color casts. Like a lot of film-making, it's part skill, part luck, and mostly, I think, intuition.
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#10 Joseph Francis

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 07:19 PM

Thank you very much.
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