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This has always boggled my mind


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#1 Kevin Fischer

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 11:41 AM

Hi all.

 

I've noticed that I am sucker for separation of color to create depth in a scene, therefore I have always wanted to understand it. The most common example being blue / warm separation (Yes, this can be over-used).

 

Take for example the short "Modern Love" (DP David Lanzenberg)

 

Fl0vTsZ.png

RbnVBLa.png

 

This short has a distinct color palette that I find visually appealing. My gut tells me that the camera was balanced closer to tungsten and the scene was lit with a tungsten key for the talent, then daylight balanced lights in the background. But I also know this look can also be accomplished digitally by lighting a scene with the same color temperature bulbs, then isolating skin tones in post to affect surrounding elements in the frame.

 

I have a hard time distinguishing when one technique is used over another.

 

Another example being Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011 - DP Jeff Cronenweth)

 

78iovVM.png

 

With this scene, I have a strong feeling that it mostly altered in post to add greens to shadows / mids while not affecting skin tones. (disregarding the warm light motivated by a fire which is clearly a gelled source [probably])

 

 

TLDR: How is it possible to tell which technique a DP employs to create depth using separation of color in a scene, and what influences a DP to do so?

 

Regards,

Kevin


Edited by Kevin Fischer, 21 January 2015 - 11:45 AM.

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#2 Kevin Fischer

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 11:59 AM

Another Example:

Hanna (DP Alwin Kuchler)

KCpNJT2.png


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#3 Kevin Fischer

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 12:09 PM

One last one:

Cloud Atlas (DP John Toll)

RiHuTbp.png


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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 12:20 PM

You're not going to find many films these days with any form of budget that aren't a synthesis between in camera and post. That said, there are some tutorials on accomplishing this look in resolve (called the blockbuster look) which will give you an idea of how some scenes may have looked originally.

The best work, such as in the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, is going to be a really close relationship between a skilled DoP and a Skilled Colorist and a skilled Production Designer (same for cloud atlas) /hannah) though in an overall "cool" scene, isolating skintones isn't all that difficult, nor is warming them up if they happen to be the main thing in that color range in the scene (look at all your primarily blue shots for example). Then in a more mixed scene, such as the DT one, you'll notice it's lit "warmly," and"warmly designed," and then they are kissed with some blue light, which is obviously done on the day .


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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 12:53 PM

Managing to do this with just the lights and gels is part of the fun. In the end, usually it's a mix of production design, lighting and these days, the colourist. 


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#6 Kevin Fischer

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 02:22 PM

These are very good points Adrian and Brian. I suppose I'm looking at it with the point of view of the DoP in mind, knowing that he/she must have made a conscious choice before the shoot on how to achieve that color contrast either through in camera or in post


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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 05:22 PM

You would generally either have made tests or already have an understanding of how it works (or a team with whom you've worked before) to know what it is you're doing. Also, if you're in digital, you have LUTs to help you out.

It is of course a choice, though not always the DoPs as the the color/contrast and how it's best achieved. Sometimes, and ideally it's camera and post, but often, reality will get in the way of that on both sides.


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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 05:41 PM

Most of that look is done on set and in camera, just enhanced in post correction.  That shot of the girl on the bed for example -- there is some blue light coming through the window but there is a white key on the girl and the bed, you can tell because the white sheets of the bed are white, not blue -- you only get the sense of blue because the pillows are blue. And there is a blue lampshade in the background.  So that two-tone effect you see is mostly in the production design, enhanced a little by having some blue light coming through the windows.

 

In "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" shot, the actors are keyed with a half-cool light (probably Kinos) and the color-contrast comes from the tungsten practicals in the background, plus the orange edge light.

 

In the "Hanna" shot, it just looks like the soft key on Blanchett is probably slightly warmed compared to the light coming through the windows in the background. Same for the "Cloud Atlas" shot, the background seems to be lit with a cooler source than the key in the foreground.

 

Post color-correction may have sweetened this a little but it didn't create the color difference from whole cloth from a neutral frame.


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#9 Kevin Fischer

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 01:43 AM

Thank you for your insight! I'm going to take this advice and do some personal tests for an upcoming short and see how close I can get to results like this. 


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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 02:53 AM

You can easily test this using a video camera and a monitor. Mixing colour temperatures is an interesting effect and it often doesn't cost much to do. Some practical lights add colour of their own, at one location I was filming in they added a bit of magenta.


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