Designing Colour in Film

The control of colour as a collaborative process By Pedro Moura

Designing Colour in Film - The control of colour as a collaborative process

Contents 1.Intoduction 2.The Filmmaking Team a.Production Design b.Cinematographer c.Director d.Digital Post-Production 3.Film Colour Theory a.Light b.The Colour Systems c.The Basic Components of Colour d.Contrast And Affinity e.Colour Schemes 4. Film Study a. Hotel 66 by Anthony Chen (2009) b. Le Fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulin by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2001) c. Trois couleurs: Bleu by Krzysztof Kieslowski (1993) 5. Conclusion 6. Bibliography

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Designing Colour in Film - The control of colour as a collaborative process

1.Introduction In this dissertation I will make an investigative study of own to design colour in the filmmaking process. This study will revolve mainly around production design, cinematography and digital post-production. I want to explore the process that dictates the colour in the finished film. Early concept ideas, paints used on the set, the chosen film stock and ultimately the digital colour grade; I am interested in exploring all this and the process that goes between the major creative players in the filmmaking team. I’ll start with a general description of which the key players are, their responsibilities and resources. After I’ll state the principles of colour theory. Even though this will be a rather technical part of this dissertation, it is paramount for the discussion and understanding of the control of colour in film. With this acquired knowledge, a review of different films will be made. These films are all different in the way they manipulate colour. They shouldn’t stand out by only one technique and I’ll try to demonstrate how the different areas (design, cinematography and digital post) have collaborated on manipulating colours to create the wanted film. The first reviewed film is my own project at the NFTS; it was the first year film called Hotel 66 (2008), and I believe it was an exceptional collaboration between directing, cinematography and production design. Even tough for now we haven’t colour graded, the final result was spot on what we wanted to achieve. I will try to make a report on all the process and collaboration that we went trough to make this film. The second review is Le Fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2001). This was and exceptional film, especially by its control of colour in the digi post. I’ll do research on this subject and find out how and why they chose that particular look. The third and final review is one of the Three Colours Trilogy by Krzysztof Kieslowski. The first film on this trilogy Blue, uses the symbolism of the colours that compose the French flag to express different themes: liberty, equality and fraternity, in
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Designing Colour in Film - The control of colour as a collaborative process

this case liberty. Even though the references to the French ideals are quite tenuous, I want to understand why and how this masterpiece was created. How does the colour symbolism pass through to the story and why these specific colours were chosen? My goal is at the end of this dissertation is to have a better understanding on how to control colour in the filmmaking process to achieve a specific purpose and look for a film.

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have some knowledge of history and a sense of the appropriate. the special effects director and the location manager report and take the production designers vision to establish a unified visual appearance to the film. for respect to the amazing work of William Cameron Menzies.Designing Colour in Film . carpenters. In the art department the production designer guides concept artists. Also the costume designer. the best and first way to do it is to control the Page 5of 40 . models and storyboards to plan every shot of the film. Imagination. David O. Production Designers are responsible for the selection. They are artistically responsible to the director. Production designers use sketches. Production Design is one of the key creative roles when creating an overall “look” of a film. The responsibilities of this job are to select the setting and the style to visually communicate the story. In terms of the control of colour. and model makers. line. to include the responsibility for visualizing a motion picture. They are fiscally responsible to the producer for the design and construction of sets. illustrations. form. on the film Gone with the Wind by Victor Fleming (1939). locations and environments for a movie. collaboration inside and outside the art department is paramount. To achieve the visual feel and the aesthetics wanted. technique. illusion and reality are cornerstones of the job. framing and composition for each shot. draughtsmen. Even though it’s mostly considered to be only an artistic job.The Filmmaking Team a. thought about camera movements. the key hair and make-up stylists. Eventually he also leads painters. and construction of the sets. Menzies expanded the function of the art director beyond the creation of sets and scenery. there’s a lot of finance and planning involved. through storyboards and blueprints he structured each scene. composition and perspective. Its main requirements are the ability to share ideas by sketches. photographs. plasterers and set dressers. creation. music videos or adverts. have an understanding of colour. a Tv programme. Selznick(Producer) recognized that Menzies did much more that just set design.The control of colour as a collaborative process 2.Production Design The term “Production Design” was defined in 1939 when.

and there are a number of standard filters called gels Page 6of 40 . b.The control of colour as a collaborative process colours of the set and the props in the shot. The film stock and the laboratory processes have a great impact on the colour and the visual texture. he selects the film stock. or in Peggy Sue Got Married by Francis Ford Coppola(1986) where the art department painted grass with an unusually saturated green and also painted the sidewalks purple. In this case the DP is often called lighting cameramen. almost everywhere the most commonly used American system has been adopted. filters and lights to realize a scene in accordance with the intensions of the director. and movement. Usually in England the system of camera department hierarchy separates the duties of the DP from the camera operator. Production Designers can manipulate the hue. The designers have the ability to control colour to a great extent. The DP is responsible for achieving artistic and technical decisions related to the image. including fruits and vegetables on a cart. all the rest of the camera department is subordinated to the DP.Designing Colour in Film .Cinematographer To most. The cinematographer can use filters in front of the camera or in front of the light source. The DP is consulted for lighting and filtration. who. The domain of the cinematographer is the camera. brightness and saturation of an object’s colour from scene to scene or from sequence to sequence. and the camera operator for framing and lens choices. both methods are an effective way to control colour. along with the director has a final word on all decisions related to both lighting and framing. cinematographer and director of photography (DP) are interchangeable terms. The production designer has to be aware of the great impact the colours have on the mood of the audience. lens. was painted grey. Keeping the colour palette simple and limiting the colour choices will allow to give the film a more visual meaning to the audience. Nowadays. there are two ways of using them to control colour. light. and have a profound impact. The choices of lenses is abundant. composition. In terms of filters. Even though adding colour filters to the camera lens can be tricky. they define the frame and the perspective. Excellent examples are The Red Desert by Michelangelo Antonioni (1964) where everything on a street scene.

He must have a firm idea on how to translate the script cinematically. in a forest the reflective light will be more green. and set design. so the best way to predict is to test gels. The stock can look warmer or cooler. the light is more blue because the direct rays from the sun (which are more red than the skylight) are held back by the clouds. He decides on how the movie should look. or appear more contrasty. What we see with our eyes is not what the film will capture. They must have a strong previsualization ability. c. Taking all this is consideration. and work with all the departments to achieve this vision. motivation. noon is more blue. The stocks will differ hugely. more or less saturated. They coordinate Page 7of 40 . mainly on their ASA( sensitivity to light) and their manufacturer. and what an audience should gain from the cinematic experience. “Film directors are responsible for approving camera angles. and will often take part in hiring key crew members. light and film stock. There is also the called “magic hour”. When the weather is overcast. At the end of the day. but because there are so many there variables.Designing Colour in Film . when there is still light but the sun is below the horizon. The chosen location will also have an impact on the outdoor light colour. and sunset is more red. lens effects. testing is paramount. He makes decisions about the story. technical and aesthetic issues. where the light is very unusual and it has no shadows. For the control of colour in camera. The time of day and the whether condition will influence colour in a very particular way. the cinematographer has a lot in his power to chance the colour in a film. He is responsible for telling a story visually with a point of view. lighting. so sunrise will appear more lavender. when shooting near a read brick wall. directors make all the final decisions on design and photographic matters.The control of colour as a collaborative process that can be used and are a reliable way to change colours in specific ways. what tone it should have. have better shadow detail.Director A movie director is the central creative force. the overall colour of the light reflected will be more red than the light coming directly from the sky. the cinematographer can also use the time and the location. The chosen film stock and the method it is exposed will also have a profound impact on the colours.

Telecine is the process that converts film to digital. and finally the digital master was output to film again with a Kodak laser recorder to create a master internegative. Where Art Thou? by Joel Coen (2000) . With the advent of digital cameras. “Colour grading is often done to ensure that the recorded colours match those of the set design. and setting the mood of a scene through colour.The film was first telecined. Financial Times. tone down or even changing the colours of a film. The colour grade is the enhancement. including the final colour grade. and editing of a film. the process of colour grading can be done almost automatically. Traditionally.Designing Colour in Film . some colourists suggest the phrase "colour enhancement" over 1 Karl French. establishing stylized looks. 2006-08-27 Page 8of 40 . In Hollywood the first film to be completely digitally colour graded was O Brother. Features like secondary colour correction was originally used to establish colour continuity. "Seeing the director’s point of view". DPP receive the film footage and try to enhance it according to the directors’ vision. In music videos however.improving the aesthetics of an image.Digital Post-Production As defined by its name Digital Post Production (DPP) is only involved in the postproduction stage of a film. then digitally colour graded for several weeks. the goal may instead be to establish a stylized look. if film is used it has to be telecined first. Because of this trend. basically by projecting the film and recording it digitally.The control of colour as a collaborative process the actors' moves and also may be involved in the writing. colour grading was done towards technical goals. The trend today is increasingly moving towards creative goals.”1 The director is one of the few key players who oversee the film from pre-production to post. Their functions vary. but I’m interested especially in the colour grade. d. financing.

©2006 by Wíkipedia Page 9of 40 . This spectrum is conditioned by the type of light we shine trough it. 3. Where Art Thou? by Joel Coen (2000). green.The control of colour as a collaborative process "colour correction". or. If we take a glass prism and shine light trough it we obtain a rainbow. brightness and contrast of every frame of a film. the visible spectrum: red. Sin City by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez (2005) and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Tim Burton (2005) amongst others… The Digital Post Production can change the hue. blue and violet. we must first understand light. Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2001). orange. a candle is 2 Color grading from Wíkipedia. in another words. yellow. but all this incredible flexibility shouldn’t be used as an excuse to ignore colour control during production.Film Colour Theory a.Light To understand colour.Designing Colour in Film . 300 by Zack Snyder (2006). Colours we see are mere light reflecting on an object.”2 Some examples of films who took this stylized digital colour grading approach are: O Brother.

”3 b. and a daylight is very blue in comparison.The control of colour as a collaborative process different from a 60-watt bulb. If you shine two different colour lights into one common surface. 3 Bruce Block. Tv. so if we mix red and blue. Example: if you shine red and a blue spotlight on a subject. In the additive system colour wheel. green and blue. Seeing The Structure of Film. it will appear magenta. you’ll get a third colour. and New Media. The additive colour system is used in lighting. from the lights used on film sets.The Colour Systems There are 2 different colour systems we use: the additive and the subtractive system. New York: Focal Press.Designing Colour in Film . a 60watt bulb an orangish light. green and blue we’ll get cyan. In the graph below we can see that “a candle produces a reddish light. Combining two primary colour will result in one secondary colour. and red and green we’ll get yellow. 2001 Page 10of 40 . The Visual Story. If we mix all the primary colours we’ll get white. the primary colours are red. we’ll get magenta. from a sunset and from daylight.

The colour wheel looks similar to the additive wheel. lighting gels also work with the subtractive system. Hue very simply tells us the position of the colour in the colour wheel: red. Again. If we mix all the colours together we get black. brightness and saturation. Brightness is the addition of white or black to the hue.The control of colour as a collaborative process Colours that are opposite to another on the colour wheel are called complementary colours. cyan. thus. It’s basicly the position of the colour on the grey scale. The subtractive system is the most commonly used. The primary colours on the subtractive colour system are magenta. c. yellow. mixing the primary colours will gives us secondary colours.Designing Colour in Film . magenta and yellow makes red. in the additive system these colours are. mainly used in paints and dyes. green. cyan and red. green and magenta. yellow and cyan makes green. As with paints. but the primary colours are different. orange. and cyan and magenta makes blue. violet or magenta. and cyan. yellow.The Basic Components of Colour Colours can be classified by three components: hue. Page 11of 40 . and blue and yellow. blue.

For example. saturated colour possible. most vivid. we’ll end up without a trace of either hue. it begins to change. We will be left with grey. The Visual Story. and New Media. For example “ let’s take the hue of red as it appears on the colour wheel.Designing Colour in Film . the greyer the red will become. New York: Focal Press.The control of colour as a collaborative process Saturation is a bit more difficult to explain. The saturated red becomes less vivid. We can produce contrast or affinity by changing the hue. brightness and saturation of the 4 Bruce Block. The saturated red begins to turn grey. This is called desaturation.”4 d. Seeing The Structure of Film. 2001 Page 12of 40 . When a hue is extremely pure or vivid we call it saturated. We can make any colour desaturated by adding its complementary colour. When we mix equal amounts of red and cyan together. (…) This red is the purest. The more cyan we add.Contrast and Affinity Contrast and affinity is the best way to play with the control of colour in film. saturation refers to the degree of purity of the hue. A desaturated colour is a colour that has been contaminated by it’s complementary colour. Tv. a fully saturated red is a red that hasn’t been contaminated by any other hue. If we add a small amount of cyan (red’s complement) to the red hue.

We can use contrast or affinity within the shot. Again. a blue night sky. the control is the same. for example. from shot to shot and from sequence to sequence.The control of colour as a collaborative process colour or colours. Page 13of 40 . and the day is yellowish. a green field and a red car. and the other is cold. or we can chose by contrasting. We cannot achieve affinity because complementary really means opposite (in the colour wheel). contrast using very bright and very dark colours in a shot or sequence. and a actor wearing a blue top and dark blue pants. We can have colour contrast in the same shot. a blue sky. most filmmakers use an empiric. and the other cold. for example. or between shoots or sequences. and affinity by utilizing colours that are close in contrast levels. where an actor is favoured with warm colours. and the background cold . This is probably the most difficult resource to use. for example. for example.Designing Colour in Film . Two film examples of hue affinity are The Shinning by Stanley Kubrick (1980) and Cries and Whispers by Ingmar Bergman (1972). but the brightness and saturation can vary. The hue is the same. We’ll have affinity of hues when we have. With the hue. and thus giving the hole film a colour unity. one group can be warm. Colour contrast and affinity can also be achieved by using warm or cold colours. we can have contrast in a shot when we have. with saturation. and even tough its scientific. we can also create contrast or affinity. You can also use colour contrast and affinity to dramatise characters or locations. a blue car. We can use contrasting complementary hues to define. just saturated colours. alternating between saturated and desaturated shot sequences. rather than theoretical approach. affinity where there’s no distinction. we use affinity using. With the brightness of the colours. The last resource that contrast and affinity has to offer to the control of colour is extension. and. for example night and day scenes. one shoot is warm. Complementary colours are also a great way to achieve contrast. the night is bluish.

The control of colour as a collaborative process Extension deals with the brightness and size of the area a colour occupies in relations to other colours. and its complementary colour (ex. what matters here is the brightness. 2001 Page 14of 40 . In order to achieve affinity. the audience will be attracted firste to the yellow. if in a frame we put them together in similar sizes. you assign one colour (ex. A fully saturated yellow is brighter than a fully saturated blue. in this case. The brighter the colour. simply because it’s brightest. Reds by Warren Beatty(1981) and Cries and Whispers by Ingmar Bergman (1972) stand out for using just one hue of red. even tough colours have different hues and saturations. The second option is to have complementary hues. Having. we would need to reduce the area of yellow. complementary pair can be used.Colour Schemes A colour scheme is a plan from all the colours and its variables. extension. The colours can be saturated. The Visual Story. a scene will have low visual intensity. and New Media. bright. in many different ways. “ The key to understanding extension is to examine the colours brightness in relation to the size of the area that the colour occupies.”5 In this scenario we achieved contrast of e. or not having specific hues in a film is a good way to control the mood. so the larger area of blue could balance it. dark. The first option is to use just one hue in the entire production. Seeing The Structure of Film. So.Designing Colour in Film . The first and easiest way to start defining a colour scheme is the hues. so. the less area it needs to attract the viewer’s attention or balance other dark colours. In the colour wheel Any complementary colours are defined by being opposite to each other. or the tell a story in a dramatic way. for the production of a film. warm or cold. Cyan) for all the 5 Bruce Block. New York: Focal Press. Tv. desaturated. Taking the colour wheel as a starting point we can have five different ways of selecting hues. Red) for the all the foreground. Contrast of extension can be used to draw the viewer’s attention to a particular area of the screen or to give a scene balance (…) By creating affinity of extension.

This option is to have a four way spit. The fifth and last way to successfully make a colour scheme using the colour wheel. and the others its complementary colour. You can assign on hue to one group of characters. An example would be cyan and a split complementary of orange and red-magenta. This will mean that you’ll have three hues to work with. usually equidistant from each other. One of the best examples of the four way split is the animation Sleeping Beauty by Clyde Geronimi (1959) where magenta and green are assigned to the evil characthers. The forth way is called a three-way split. One group of characters or locations can be one colour. and orange and blue-cyan to the good characters. Or maybe two hues to a location and the third from another location. green. meaning choosing four different hues.Designing Colour in Film . is also probably also the most difficult to achieve. all equidistant in the colour wheel. So you could have. The third option is to split complementary hues. for example. You take a pair of complementary hues.. Page 15of 40 . and the third hue to the locations. It means basically choosing three different hues from the colour wheel. blue and red. another hue to the other group of characters.The control of colour as a collaborative process backgrounds. and split one of them into another pair of almost complementary colours.

the next step is the brightness and saturation. Because it’s easier to discuss hues than brightness and saturation. but instead of images. They can also illustrate all the colours of the entire film. Colour scripts can be specific to each act of the story. Page 16of 40 . This is like a storyboard. you’ll have different colours.Designing Colour in Film . it comes to a point where a physical colour script is needed.The control of colour as a collaborative process After deciding the hues.

The control of colour as a collaborative process And they can even be more complex and illustrate each sequence of the film in a colour panel. These allow studying complex changes in colour as a story unfolds. it will actually give a grey scale. where the tonal structure changes to contrast.Designing Colour in Film . They can be simpler and just focussed on one of the elements. ore more complex. Another powerful and yet somewhat simpler tool in the control of colour are graphics. The one below is only focused on the contrast or affinity of tone during the film. and then changes back to affinity during the stories resolution. Page 17of 40 . This specific graphic shows an affinity of middle greys until the climax. Instead of only being black or white. these give you an reference for the colours hue saturation and brightness throughout the film.

it begins with contrast of brightness that shifts to affinity for the climax and resolution. are more specific.Designing Colour in Film . because you can actually see the colours. brightness and saturation in relation to the story. and all the colours are desaturated throughout the film. but they should be only utilized as a general guide. Page 18of 40 . According to this one. the colours change from warm to cool at the climax. giving more emphasis to the colour scripts. Colour graphics are a great way to plan and control colour in a film. which.The control of colour as a collaborative process This next graph shows the hue.

Film Study a. Hotel 66 by Anthony Chen (2009) Hotel 66 was a first year fiction short film made at the NFTS. John Lee was the DP and I was the production designer.Designing Colour in Film . Anthony Chen was the writer/director. Page 19of 40 .The control of colour as a collaborative process 4.

Page 20of 40 . As such. the script.Designing Colour in Film . understood as one of the toughest 1st year films at the NFTS for a long time.The control of colour as a collaborative process I chose to include this film in this dissertation to further realize what we accomplished as a team. a big emphasis was put in the pre-production. so it’s treated as a character. It is a very subtle story. The hotel is almost their hiding place. This film was. One is a male prostitute and the other is a security guard. where everything happens under the surface of the characters. It was a story about two immigrant workers who met in a seedy hotel in London. from the start. we all had the same starting point. where they mostly never leave. They have a voyage through this magical space where they find themselves. most of it due to a very ambitious set build and to a very special story. and to share what I believe was a very good exercise of control of colour as a collaborative process.

and some films that Anthony had prepared for us. so I made six or seven design proposals. After careful consideration. The next step was to storyboard it. they stand out for their refrain but lush design.. and In The Mood For Love by Wong Kar Wai (2000). It was always clear that a seedy hotel in Soho would have to stand out more for its colour and texture than for its architecture.Designing Colour in Film . Caution by Ang Lee (2008). The three of us went through references I’d putted together in a mood board. but on the other hand you don’t want to distract the viewer. some more ambitious. some more compromise aware. and with the different designs. You don’t want the viewer to look at the wallpaper and the design instead of the action. original title Eros). on the one hand they are deeply “designer” movies. Its all about the colours and magnificent wallpapers. Lust. I started to put together a couple of different colour palettes. My intuition told me that dirty and toned down browns would be a good Page 21of 40 . I sat down with Anthony and we went through every shot. These films included: The Hand by Wong Kar Wai (2004) (segment. After making a rough budget. Of course we had a limited budget and compromises had to be made. It’s a hard compromise. we opted for one. At the end of it I had a clear idea on how to build a set that would accommodate the shots and the story we wanted to achieve. we came together and discussed it.The control of colour as a collaborative process After each of us had gone our separate ways and interpreted the script by ourselves. These films have all a particular aesthetics.

In terms of the colour change in relation to the story we wanted to achieve an Page 22of 40 . as he suggested that it was to close to the skin tone and that we risked “losing” the actors in the background. but he agreed that toned down browns was a good option. mainly reds/browns and green/blues. affinity of brightness and desaturated colours. The colour scheme we were trying to achieve was mainly a contrast of warm and cold hues.The control of colour as a collaborative process solution. but this was the time to experiment and to try different things. Anthony was a bit confused with all the choices. John was more wary. After putting together these colour palettes I took them to the director and the DP.Designing Colour in Film .

and it fitted the colour scheme that I’d envisioned.Designing Colour in Film . I found one item that I said: “ this is it!”.. It had everything I wanted: It was old.The control of colour as a collaborative process constant hue brightness and saturation throughout the entire film. very “funky” in the terms that it’s definitely a “designers” item. I showed this to both the director and the DP and they both agreed that it was a “Hotel 66” prop. Because we very had well planned a Page 23of 40 . trying to match as close as possible the set build with the chosen exterior locations. At this time I’d already started to search prop houses for possible props.

The control of colour as a collaborative process and prepared pre-production so far. We also experimented with different lights and lampshades. while Kodak seemed much more “smooth”. a colour pallet and some wallpaper. wallpaper. Page 24of 40 . We realized that there was no risk of loosing the actors in the toned down light brown. and that wallpaper with big patterns worked much better than small patterned ones. The next day we sat in the cinema and watched as all the colours changed. 200T. We also saw a great difference from Fuji to Kodak: the first one seemed too saturated. we had time to do something that we always wanted to do: experiment. So we had chosen the film stock. mainly because of film stock and lighting. light and film stock. I set up a couple of scenic flats on which we could experiment with different wallpapers and colours. there are always things that we were not able to foresee. but the results were excellent. the fight was long from being finished. This process took one entire afternoon. the result was a very colour controlled film that achieved exactly what was though in pre-production. so we experimented with Fuji and Kodak: 100T. a flat with different wallpapers in the middle ground and a flat with different colours in the background. John was changing his film stock.Designing Colour in Film . The set up was basically the following: a person in the foreground. especially in the reds and pinks. We opted for the last one. roughly the lighting method. Even though now we had all the confidence in the world that we were going to achieve what we wanted. Basically we tried to shoot every single different combination of paint. 500T.

This is a film about a strange and cute girl in a quest to do good and to find the meaning of life. She decides to track down the now middle-aged man whom the box of mementos belong. Her father always told her she suffered from a weak heart. When Amélie discovers a box of someones chieldhood keepsakes in her apartment. She grows up and moves to Paris where she works as a waitress in a Monmartre café staffed and frequented by dysfunctional individuals (a jealous man. her life takes a new direction. and an embittered former circus performer). a writer who can't get published. Le Fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulin by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2001) Amélie is a story about a girl who was a bit over protected while growing up. and seeing his joy at the return of his childhood. a hypochondriac cigar stand matron.Designing Colour in Film . Growing up in the suburbs of Paris. Amélie discoveres her purpose in life and begins secretly conspiring to make the people around her happy Page 25of 40 .The control of colour as a collaborative process b. Amelie was always a bit of an odd ball with a lot of imagination.

The control of colour as a collaborative process During her adventures as a self-appointed good samaritan. made an effort to do something different from his previous works (Delicatessen by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (1991) and The City of Lost Children by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (1995). In this film Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Nino. Jeunet observers Paris is nothing like what you see in the movie. The exuberant colour scheme is mainly a combination of two hues.Designing Colour in Film . red and green. all of them with somewhat of dark gothic design. Page 26of 40 . a young man who collects photographs of strangers discarded at public photo booths and eventually their strange relationship blossoms into love. In this film the aesthetics are cleaner and brighter than reality (in the disc's commentary. that "there's dog shit in the streets"). she comes across another lonely soul. with muted colours and low contrast.

making the brightest and lighter colours smaller in relation to the heavier and darker colours. apart Page 27of 40 . In this colourful and carefully mastered film.Designing Colour in Film . and just enough contrast.The control of colour as a collaborative process witch are not complementary in the colour wheel. It tries to give an exaggerated expression of reality by making everything look busy but perfect. The reason I decided to include this particular film in this dissertation is that. one of the best achievements is the affinity of extension. the size they occupy on the screen is very well balanced. It terms of hues. meaning that even tough it has very contrasting hues. brightness and saturation. The design is committed to this enhanced world with rich greens and reds with dark pastel colours. with mainly soft yellow highlights. the film excels by having an unified affinity throughout the shoots. The cinematography is also good. Its just spot on in the way that it makes you go in the journey of the film without questioning its audacity or veracity.

and while at times the saturation threatens to overwhelm.”6 “Amélie's colour scheme is vivid to say the least.Designing Colour in Film . It's beautifully executed and works hand-inhand with plot and tone. almost all of the control of colour is done in digital post production. Jeunet and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel (The Cat's Meow by Peter Bogdanovich (2001)) used digital technology to underpin the film's visceral and emotional impact. putting us in a warm world when appropriate. Started in 2001 Duboicolor was one of the first companies in Europe to design its own in-house digital grading system for motion pictures. da Vinci Renaissance 888 also call the GUI-Graphical User Interface. 10/17/05 Page 28of 40 . then shifting to a cooler look as the emotional emphasis shifts. brand new. compositors. The film presents their work beautifully in a 2. With this process “Jeunet used digital colour grading to achieve the rich visuals and added a green bias to most scenes. with little sign of 6 DVD Review of Amelie by Michael Mackenzie. matte painters and colourists.35:1 transfer that's been anamorphically enhanced. colour enhance & correction in the. in this case. back then. glowing in saturated reds and greens with accents of blue and yellow. and finally the result tranfered back to a 35mm film. Their process. Didier le Fouest is both credited as colourist and digital grader. this simply adds to the feeling of make-believe propagated the movie.The control of colour as a collaborative process from the design. consisted of digitalizing the 35mm negative. Jérôme Arthuis was the grading coordinator and he had in his team. The digital post production facility was the French Duboicolor.

4/22/03 Page 29of 40 .The control of colour as a collaborative process edge enhancement. Dvd Verdict. or source flaws. Trois couleurs: Bleu by Krzysztof Kieslowski (1993) 7 (DVD Review of Amelie by Dan Mancini. digital artefacts.”7 c.Designing Colour in Film .

for example. mainly blue. everything from people's clothes. like the two occasions in which we see someone free falling on a tv (symbolizing our heroine’s journey). The look of this film and its colour is done almost all in camera. In this film we are confronted by Julie (Juliette Binoche). we see more hues being used. the production designer Claude Lenoir also used props and sets to create a “bluish” mood. The colours of the French flag inspire the films. towards the climax. Blue represents liberty. white. As the title indicates. a woman who lost her husband and daughter to a terrible car crash. In relation to the story. The exceptional cinematography work by Slawomir Idziak. I want to concentrate purely on the use of colour. The meaning of "liberty" takes on a very different meaning for Julie in this film. the paint on walls and arches. the brightness and saturation stay the same during the entire film. She tries to gain liberty from her memories and her emotions only to find that it is an impossible task. when Julie goes to the strip club to help her friend. the colour of ink. there is a trace of it in practically every shot of the film. the tint of the street and the water. made use of filters to enhance and to light the sets. equality and red fraternity. or when she confronts her dead husband’s former mistress in the toilet.The control of colour as a collaborative process Blue is the first film of the colours trilogy by Krzysztof Kieslowski.Designing Colour in Film . etc. and even though the powerful blue hue is always present. Filled with amazing subtleties. All shoot on locarion. the colour blue is used extensively during the film. Page 30of 40 .

The control of colour as a collaborative process An affinity of blue hue is used throughout the film. blue. Page 31of 40 . but it all has a blue tone to it. in this case. In the first scene we see a child playing with a blue candy wrapper in a car. and it’s complementary. and in some small specific shots. a contrast of complementary hues is also used.Designing Colour in Film . yellow. The scene is of dubious meaning.

As later in the film a deadbeat flute player tells her: “we all have to hang on to something”. In the room there’s a prop used extensively throughout the film and in the last shot before the final montage: a pendant made with blue spheres.Designing Colour in Film . She decides to sell the house and get rid of all her possessions.The control of colour as a collaborative process When Julie comes back to the house after the accident we discover that her daughter’s room was all painted blue. the only thing she keeps is this pendant. Page 32of 40 .

Designing Colour in Film . 10/28/06 Page 33of 40 . even more accentuated by the blue lighting.”8 8 B446-DES379 DVD Review Of Blue Copyright © by Dan Schneider.The control of colour as a collaborative process The scenes with this blue pendant are exceptionally beautiful. including the tiles and the door off the pool. which provides the DP amazing shots where we see blue light coming from the spheres and softly hitting Julie’s delicate face. filling the screen in a very satisfying way. “The colour blue resonates for its associations with depression and coldness that are well demonstrated in the film. As a prop. The blue represents the emotion of sadness and also melancholy. the blue spheres are semi transparent. This is. its shape is exquisite and elegant. off course. But more. The scenes in the pool are some of most powerful moments in the film. the location is all blue.

The DP and the PD used their respective fields to bring the director’s vision to life. There are at least two references of the other two films of the trilogy: the first is Julie carrying a box which. Even though it is somewhat a “stylized” film in the sense that the colours presented are not “realistic”. The other two films on the trilogy. White by Krzysztof Kieslowski (1994) and Red by Krzysztof Kieslowski (1994). films are a form of storytelling that has no limits or boundaries. has prominently written across it the word "blanco". there’s no specific colour associated to them. as a close-up shows. the colours are just a resource that the film-makers have to tell a story. and she pauses in the street as a man in blue passes her on her left and a woman in red passes her on her right. and that the light is not completely explained. aren’t so colour orientated. this I consider to be an invalid point since all films are art. it’s a shame that these Page 34of 40 . The other reference is in the pool scene where children in red and white swim suits run out and jump in the water.Designing Colour in Film .The control of colour as a collaborative process I believe this film was well thought through by Kieslowski in the sense that he knew what he wanted in terms of colour. Even though they are great films. in the next shot we are looking at her from behind. in my view. Spanish for white. and. apart from cast and some plot. there’s no apparent connection between them. This is a masterpiece from a director in full grasp of his powers and from his team that coped with the challenge of collaborating in order to achieve a meaningful and truly colour oriented film.

Conclusion After all the different film reviews. I can conclude that it is. and between the films as a trilogy.Designing Colour in Film . and after careful examination on how the process of control of colour in modern filmmaking evolves. 5. a Page 35of 40 . in fact.The control of colour as a collaborative process which were Kieslowski’s last films didn’t maintain the colour connection between the film and it’s title.

com entry for Sin City. This opinion is. leaving a lot to post. You want a nuclear submarine. There are. debatable. and make sure all the shots transitions where smooth. Trivia notes Page 36of 40 . nowadays with all the control given by digital post production. it’s all a creative process where. but in nevertheless. not limiting his options on post. but cannot exist without each other. that combined. of course. he knows he can “get away” with a lot more. the cinematographer has to take into account the vision and the colours used by the designer on set. Nowadays. both the production designer and the cinematographer have to be prepared for this kind of shooting procedure. and that all the players involved have their own tools."9. having from the start the knowledge that the digital post production is going to be immense. he will try to get as much of work in camera as possible. there is a big temptation to do less work in camera. respectively production design. all the elements of control. shooting everything “flatter”. you make one out of thin air and put your characters into it. cinematography and digital post production have their own specific tools. they all have to work with each other. give the creative and technical control needed for the director. the cinematographer had to do almost all the work of control of colour in camera. you grab a light and put it over here. Also. there must be a clear vision on what is wanted to be achieved from the start. the fact is that before the digital post production as we know it. to give more opportunities in post. utilizing the telecine just to minimally “correct” the colours. One of the great questions that I was posed is if. The production design have to bear in mind the film stock and lights and gels the cinematographer is going to use. and that if exposed correctly. so. working with a good team. films like 300 by Zack Snyder (2006) or Sin City by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez (2005) are created. knows what it is expected. As Rodriguez's recalled during production of Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams: "This is the future! You don't wait six hours for a scene to be lighted. to achieve a common goal. and all the key players must submit to that 9 IMDB. and vice versa. the cinematographer was tempted to do less work in camera. and less for in camera work.The control of colour as a collaborative process process. where more emphasis is directed for post. of course exceptions to this. with all the exposure values as broad as possible. But a good cinematographer. The conclusion is that no mater what the film is. the options in post are immense. So yes. The answer is not as straightforward as it seams.Designing Colour in Film . You want a light over here.

. is a process of collaboration between different departments with different competences. and the control of colours in particular. Filmmaking in general. that if carefully mastered. and if properly directed to achieve a common goal.The control of colour as a collaborative process ideal. as colourful as they may be. Bibliography Books Page 37of 40 .Designing Colour in Film . allow us to put into reality our all our wildest dreams. and use their tools accordingly. 6.

Seeing The Structure of Film. Jay May. Hoboken: Wiley. 10/17/05 http://10kbullets. "From Film to Tape" American Cinematographer Magazine. 1999.php DVD Review of Amelie by Michael Mackenzie. The Art of Color: The Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color. Dorset: Blandford Press.htm DVD Review of Amelie by Dan Mancini. 1997.cosmoetica. Los Angeles: Silman-James Press. 2001. The Visual Story. Dvd Verdict. New York: Focal Press. 1994 Vincent LoBrutto.dvdverdict. 10/28/06 http://www.com/reviews/amelie. "Seeing the director’s point of view". 4/22/03 http://www. What an Art Director Does: An Introduction to Motion Picture Production Design. Theory and Use of Colour. Web Pages B446-DES379 DVD Review Of Blue Copyright © by Dan Schneider. Bruce Block. 1986. Johannes Itten. Ward Preston. Karl French.com/B446-DES379.com/reviews/amelie/ Page 38of 40 . Financial Times.Designing Colour in Film . Tv.The control of colour as a collaborative process Luigina De Grandis. Articles From Magazines Holben. 2006-08-27. The Filmmaker's Guide to Production Design. and New Media. 2002. New York: Allworth Press.

org/wiki/Color_motion_picture_film Sin City ©2009 by Wíkipedia http://en.imdb.com/title/tt0401792/trivia Filmography 300 by Zack Snyder (2006) Cries and Whispers by Ingmar Bergman (1972) Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Tim Burton (2005) Delicatessen by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (1991) Hotel 66 by Anthony Chen (2009) Le Fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulin by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2001) O Brother.wikipedia.wikipedia. Where Art Thou? by Joel Coen (2000) Sin City by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez (2005) Trois couleurs: Bleu by Krzysztof Kieslowski (1993) Page 39of 40 .wikipedia.com entry for Sin City.org/wiki/Sin_City IMDB. Trivia notes http://www.org/wiki/Color_grading Color motion picture film.The control of colour as a collaborative process Color grading from Wíkipedia. ©2006 by Wíkipedia http://en. ©2009 by Wíkipedia http://en.Designing Colour in Film .

Designing Colour in Film .The control of colour as a collaborative process Trois couleurs: Bialy by Krzysztof Kieslowski (1994) Trois couleurs: Rouge by Krzysztof Kieslowski (1994) The City of Lost Children by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (1995) The Shinning by Stanley Kubrick (1980) Page 40of 40 .

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