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Anthony Wells -17176- August 2015

The Use of Colour in Cinematography: Storytelling and Genre
The Use of Colour in
Cinematography:
Storytelling and Genre

SAE Institute Oxford Dissertation

Word Count 9,915 (main body)

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Abstract

Colour has always been an intriguing aspect of cinematography. For this dissertation I have chosen to focus on its role in aiding storytelling and genre depiction. Colour is a part of everyday life and it impinges upon almost every facet of our lives, influencing us whether emotionally, physically or intellectually in any number of different and unpredictable ways.

Three attributes, physical, physiological and psychological play an important role in the perception of and response to colour. The use of colour within films has evolved through artistic vision and technical innovation. Technicolor dominated the industry for nearly three decades. Their leading colour consultant, Natalie Kalmus, had a distinct style and

a particular idea of what colour on the screen should look like: Some believe she played

a major role in the development of colour palettes to aid storytelling.

However, when first used colour was considered a diversion and reserved almost exclusively for some musicals and fantasy films. The ‘Elements of Color in Professional Motion Pictures’ (1957) – produced by the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers stipulated that colour should be subordinate to the narrative and, in no circumstances, constitute ‘a separate entity to compete with or detract from the dramatic content of the picture’. Despite the conservative tone of manuals and guidelines on the use of colour a few directors experimented.

Today the use of colour in cinematography is considered a vital part of creating a movie. Colour can communicate time and place, define characters, and establish emotion, mood, atmosphere, and a psychological sensibility. A single consistent colour in a story can be used to depict associations whereas; a change in colour shows transition. Due to the importance of being able to discern between genres and the visual cues in form of genre specific colour grading, standardised colour palettes for different genres have appeared and are almost expected. To fulfil the practical element of this dissertation I have filmed short clips and exposed them to colour correction templates to demonstrate how specific genres can be produced with little more than a laptop with a discussion on what this means for colour in the film industry.

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Table of Contents

Abstract

 

i

List

of

Figures

iv

List

of

Tables

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Introduction

1

What is Colour?

1

Physical Properties of Colour

2

What is light?

3

Physiological Mechanism: How the Eye Sees Colour

5

Structure of the human eye

5

Psychological Processes

6

How do we Perceive colour?

7

Effects of Colour on Emotion

8

History of Colour in Cinema

10

Late 1800’s to Early 1900’s

10

 

1920s-1950’s

12

Technicolor

13

Modern Day and Digital

17

The Role of Colour in Film

20

Early thoughts on the use of colour in film

20

Expanding the Use of Colour in Film

21

The Use of Colour to Aid Storytelling

25

Associative Colours in Storytelling

25

Transitional Colours in Storytelling

27

General Use of Colour for Audience Benefit

30

The Use of Colour in Genre Distinction

33

What is Genre?

33

Genre Specific Colour Grading

33

Horror

34

Romance/Comedy

37

Post-apocalyptic / War

38

Science Fiction

41

Western

42

Action, Drama and Thriller

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Criticisms of Genre specific Colouration

45

Practical Application of Genre Specific Colour

49

Methodology

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Results

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Conclusion

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Bibliography

54

Webography

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Filmography

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APPENDIX I

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List of Figures

Figure 1 Three factors which can affect colour perception

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Figure 2 The wavelength (nm) for different visible colours

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Figure 3 How the reflection/absorption of light alters the appearance of an object

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Figure 4 Isaac Newton’s Colour Wheel

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Figure 5 Diagram of the human eye and its main

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Figure 6 Lightsabers from Star Wars 1977

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Figure 7 Hand coloured film - The Infernal Cauldron

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Figure 8 - Flowers and Trees

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Figure 9 On With the Show 1929

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Figure 10 Gold Diggers of Broadway 1929

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Figure 11 Example of Natalie Kalmus colour palette from It’s a Pleasure

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Figure 12 The Adventures of Robin Hood

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Figure 13 The Wizard of Oz 1939

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Figure 14 Gone with the Wind

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Figure 15 - Up, 2009

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Figure 16 Subdued palette used in True Grit 2010

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Figure 17 Isolated colour (red) used to add contrast in Sin City 2005

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Figure 18 Screen shot demonstrates the red and green used throughout Amélie

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Figure 19 Subtle colours depict reality in Slumdog Millionaire 2008

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Figure 20 A more realistic colour palette in Apocalypse Now 1979

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Figure 21 Image showing sallow yellow-green colouration in Seven 1995

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Figure 22 Contract between blue and gold in Eyes Wide Shut 1999

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Figure 23 Surreal colouring used in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

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Figure 24 The use of red throughout Raise The Red Lantern 1991

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Figure 25 The colour red appears regularly in We Need to Talk About Kevin 2011

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Figure 26 The use of orange throughout The Godfather 1972

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Figure 27 The use of three colours to depict different areas in Traffic 2000

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Figure 28 Green associated with Madeline in Vertigo 1958

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Figure 29 Images showing the colour transition throughout The Last Emperor 198728

Figure 30 Colour Wheel

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Figure 31 Walter revealing a deeper shade of red below his shirt in Breaking Bad

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Figure 32 - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920

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Figure 33 The Wizard of Oz 1938

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Figure 34 Paranormal Activity 2007

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Figure 35 A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984

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Figure 36 Saw 2004

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Figure 37 Poltergeist 2015

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Figure 38 The Cabin in the Woods 2012

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Figure 39 Amélie

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Figure 40 Titanic 1997

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Figure 41 Love Actually

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Figure 42 Book of Eli 2010

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Figure 43 Children of Men

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Figure 44 Death Race 2008

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Figure 45 Terminator: Salvation

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Figure 46 The Road 2009

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Figure 47 American Sniper 2014

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Figure 48 Saving Private Ryan 1998

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Figure 49 The Matrix 1999

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Figure 50 Fight Club 1999

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Figure 51 Blade Runner 1982

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Figure 52 Tron: Legacy 2010

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Figure 53 Once Upon a Time in the West

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Figure 54 The Quick and the Dead

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Figure 55 Django Unchained 2012

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Figure 56 - Die Hard 5 2013

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Figure 57 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

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Figure 58 The Fighter

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Figure 59 Image showing retrograde colouring in O’ Brother Where Art Thou 2000

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Figure 60 Orange & Blue Movie Posters

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Figure 61 Drive 2011

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Figure 62 GI Joe Retaliation 2013

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Figure 63 Battleship 2012

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Figure 64 Transformers 2007

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Figure 66 The overuse of green altered the appearance Black Hawk Down 2001

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Figure 67 Screenshot of Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks

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Figure 68 Closer view of the preset options in Red Giant

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List of Tables

Table 1 - Results from the practical element of the project, showing screen shots from the three clips subjected to colour correction

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Table 2 - Major changes and theories that contributed to modern colour correction techniques

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Colour, as we all know, is one of the most important features of cinema. Apart from the invention of sound in cinema colour is another factor that is significant to add to the aesthetics of a film. Colour holds a powerful position among the elements of film structure as it speaks a universal language (quite like music). Colour can be utilitarian and aesthetic, vivifies mood, delineates characters, and enhances the meaning of a scene.

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Pamela Cook 1999

The Use of Colour in Cinematography: Storytelling and Genre

Introduction

Colour is an extremely hard concept to describe without seeing it. If someone were to ask you What is colour?What would you say? How would you explain what magenta looks like or how turquoise feels? One way of describing colour is:

It’s our psychological reaction to different wavelengths of visible light; it’s how we visually perceive our reality(Criswell, 2015).

But a descriptive answer is very difficult to give. Colour and its role in storytelling has always been an intriguing aspect of cinematography. There are numerous aspects, relating to the effect colour has on a films aesthetic, that I could have researched for my dissertation; but I have chosen to focus on its role in aiding storytelling and genre depiction. This project will give a brief overview of colour and its qualities, both physical and psychological; it will then consider how the film industry has applied these different aspects over the last century. I then look at how the introduction of colour grading techniques have allowed the manipulation of colour in film and the role it plays with regards to story and genre. The practical element of the dissertation will be achieved through the production of short film clips that are colour graded according to the rules depicted within the literature review; thus demonstrating the principles behind the use of colour in film.

What is Colour?

Colour is a part of everyday life, we are surrounded by colour, and it impinges upon almost every facet of our lives, influencing us whether emotionally, physically or intellectually in any number of different and unpredictable ways (Byrne and Hilbert 1997; Everett, 2007). Consequently, humans have evolved with a certain understanding of colour, partly because the survival of our ancestors depended on it with regard to what to consume and avoid: for example the colour of berries (Ambroseand Harris, 2005; Mather, 2006; Fagerholm, 2009).

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There are three main processes that contribute to how we see and perceive colour, as shown in Figure 1.

to how we see and perceive colour, as shown in Figure 1. Figure 1 – Three

Figure 1 Three factors which can affect colour perception (Yurek, 2013)

Each of the three attributes, Physical, Physiological and Psychological plays an important role in the perception of and response to colour within film. These three areas are discussed in more detail in the following sections.

Physical Properties of Colour

The study of colour from the view of a physicist is one of refracting and reflecting light components and how these are interpreted by the human eye. This concept was first theorised in 1666. At this time a young Isaac Newton, experimenting with optics, concluded that colour is a property intrinsic to light (Whittaker, 1910), which in turn can stimulate the eye and evoke a visual sensation (Mather, 2006).

The next section looks at what light is and how it contributes to our visualisation of colour.

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What is light?

Light is a form of radiant energy made up of varying wavelengths (Figure 2).

of radiant energy made up of varying wavelengths (Figure 2). Figure 2 – The wavelength (nm)

Figure 2 The wavelength (nm) for different visible colours (Source: Barolet 2008)

These different wavelengths result in objects being seen as different colours, dependent

on which colours of the spectrum they absorb and reflect (as shown in Figure 3). A red

object, for instance, reflects the red light on the spectrum and absorbs most of the other

colours (Mather, 2006).

and absorbs most of the other colours (Mather, 2006). Figure 3 – How the reflection/absorption of

Figure 3 How the reflection/absorption of light alters the appearance of an object (Source:

Darling, 1991)

Newton (1706) was the first in establishing a colour wheel and describing a

prismatic spectrum of seven colours linked in a circular arrangement, as he did not

consider any one colour to be more important than the others. The colours are listed

below along with a diagram showing the circle designed by Newton (Figure 4).

Red,

Violet

Indigo

Blue

Green

Yellow

Orange

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Figure 4 – Isaac Newton’s Colour Wheel (Gunadjaja , 2012) This circular arrangement has remained

Figure 4 – Isaac Newton’s Colour Wheel (Gunadjaja, 2012)

This circular arrangement has remained standard in the colour theory until today, despite other colour order systems of Ostwald and Munsell. However, it is now understood that there are three primary colours (red, blue, green), mixtures of these primary colours can produce all the other colours in the spectrum, and when added together, they produce white. Conversely, when any one of the three primaries is subtracted from white, the result is a light composed of the other two. Colour can thus be produced by the subtraction as well as the addition of the three primary components of white light (Moser, 2003; Aslam, 2006).

Whilst wavelength is a primary factor in the colour that is seen by the human eye, it is also argued that the interaction of their three basic attributes (hue, intensity and saturation) that produces various colours and play a far more important role in colour perception (Crozier 1996; Hupka et al,. 1997; Aslam, 2006).

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Physiological Mechanism: How the Eye Sees Colour

Despite the fact that light bouncing off objects and being either reflected or absorbed, provides the physical foundation of colour perception, there must also be an instrument to receive and aid the translation of this information.

The human eye is much like a camera. It has a lens, a light-sensitive layer called a retina, and an eyelid that acts as a shutter. Although we don't know everything about how the eye sees colour, we do know that human vision relates to three colours:

we do know that human vision relates to three colours: Research indicates that the brain translates

Research indicates that the brain translates wavelengths of light into colour sensation through the use of nerve connections and of the brain (Kodak, 2007).

Structure of the human eye

Humans have a pair of roughly spherical single chambered, light-tight eyes; the inside surfaces of which are lined with a layer of photoreceptors. The eyes function is to catch light and direct it onto photoreceptors to allow the brain to process the information (Mather, 2006).

Incoming light first passes through the cornea (see Figure 5), and then enters an aperture known as the pupil which funnels the light into the lens. Light is focused by the lens onto the retina where it stimulates the photoreceptors (rods and cones) that respond to different bands of wavelength. The retina of each eye contains over 100 million photoreceptor cells, responsible for converting light energy into neural activity. Visual information is then transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve (Riley, 1995; Everett, 2007).

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Figure 5 – Diagram of the human eye and its main components (Fuensanta and Doble,

Figure 5 Diagram of the human eye and its main components (Fuensanta and Doble, 2012).

Whilst the eye is responsible for effectively gathering the light and converting it into electrical impulses, it does not determine how we perceive colour. That is done neurologically in the brain and is where perception of a colour starts to have greatest meaning.

Psychological Processes

Colours play an important role in affecting our perceptions. They form an omnipresent part of our daily lives, influencing our interactions with other individuals and with inanimate objects (Bagchi and Cheema, 2013). Above we have mentioned the mechanical side to colour vision and the physiology of the human eye that allow colour to be processed within the brain. However, seeing colour is just the first step in a multitude of processes that allow us to interpret the meaning and context of colours we see in everyday life. In fact, the physical world has no colours. There are only light waves of different wavelengths. It is left to the retinal cones of the human eye (shown in Figure 5) to distinguish among such bands of light and make this world a rainbow for us (Madden et al., 2000).

So is colour created in the brain to act as a perceptual tool for our visual-cognitive and - affective functions? In 1623, Galileo remarked that colour represented secondary qualities of matter that were perceiver-dependent, dispositional, laid in the minds of the

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observers and were not really a property of the object (Galileo, 1989; Aslam, 2006), initiating the debate on the psychological effects of colour and its relation with emotions. Whilst this project cannot delve into the debate on psychological impact of colour it can give a brief overview of how the perception of colour may be used to enhance a viewer’s experience of a film.

How do we Perceive colour?

If thinking about colour purely in terms of the biological processes, it is very basically, the mental or psychological result of the physical action of different light waves on our eyes and optical nervous system (Neale 1985). When we perceive an object as being of a particular colour, this perception is the result of two distinct processes.

1. The biological response - modification of light by the object itself, which, in accordance with its own physical properties, will reflect some elements of the spectrum of light that strikes it and absorbs others (Neale, 1985; Berens, 2014).

2. Colour memories - The physical and psychological (learned and cultural) characteristics of the perceiving subject and its optical apparatus (Neale 1985; Berens, 2014).

Kosslyn and Thompson (2003) have argued that as well as the two above-mentioned processes, visual imagery and perception arises from activity in the brain. This neural activity combined with long-term memory stores can generate images based on prior knowledge, social learning and associations (Aslam, 2006). Hence a person’s psychological experiences and processes have a role to play in their perception of colour. It’s how we know just by the colour of the Lightsabers in Star Wars (1977), who’s good and who’s evil (Figure 6).

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Figure 6 – Lightsabers from Star Wars 1977 (Source: Jeffryn, 2009). Knowing that colour perception

Figure 6 Lightsabers from Star Wars 1977 (Source: Jeffryn, 2009).

Knowing that colour perception is a psychological process and that applying it can create certain atmospheres: creating a scheme around that colour can then emphasise that atmosphere (Creswell 2015).

The usual reaction of a colour upon a normal person has been determined that they fall into two groups; warm and cool.

Warm/Advanced: Red, orange and yellow and can be associated with sensations of excitement, activity and heat.

Cool/Retiring: Green, blue and violet and can be associated with rest, coolness and ease (Vacche and Price, 2006).

The psychological response of an audience to a particular colour can then in turn have an effect on the emotion they feel when watching a film or scene. According to Bordwell and Thompson (1990), the essential features which contribute towards the enjoyment of a film are the emotional responses of the audience towards the image they are confronted with, their subjective evaluation of its aesthetic characteristics, and their recognition of the meaning that the relevant film carries (Maszerowska, 2012). Some of these ideas are discussed in the following section.

Effects of Colour on Emotion

Colours can covey and have an effect on emotions in a very subtle way, but also in an uncontrolled or significant manner. Colours are undoubtedly an important aesthetic component in any artistic creation (Magrin-Chagnolleau, 2013). Hemphill (1996) shows

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that brighter colours (e.g., white, pink, red, blue) elicit more positive reactions (e.g., happy, excited) than do darker colours (e.g., brown, black). Red induces aggression and excitation, while green induces withdrawal, and black, anxiety (Bagchi and Cheema,

2013).

Much of the emotional impact of colour results from its multiple and rich associations, but since such associations vary according to historical period, cultural contexts, and individual experiences, yet again no definite emotional categories can be established (Riley 1995; Everett, 2007). One of the reasons that colour can have such an impact on emotion is it is often associated with memories. Henry et al., (2008) explain that we have three types of colour memory: two types of long-term recall and one type of short- term storage:

“Long-term colour memory seems to have a cognitive component in terms of users’ preferred colours and is also influenced by an individual’s precision of matching.

The colours people tend to remember and perceive are often very common amongst groups and there are expectations of what commonly perceived colours should look like. However, Hurkman (2011) points out that memory colours are not the same colours we see in reality and are more saturated than “actual measured saturation of the original subjects” (Berens, 2014). In 1946, Bodrogi and Tarczali presented their results of an Investigation of Human Colour Memory. This showed that a brick appeared to be remembered as redder than the object, sand as more yellow, grass as greener, dry grass as more yellow and pine trees as greener (Hurkman, 2011). This raises the question; if what we expect to see is different from reality, should cinematographers and colourists aim to reproduce these memory colours? Boust et al. (2004) have shown that viewers prefer images that use memory colours over those that use original colours (Berens, 2014). This is probably due to the fact that these memory based colours hold a more personal emotional response that the ‘real’ colours.

So if colour can affect us in such an intrinsic and emotional level, surely it can be used to add improved visual context to the image (Marshall, 2015). Since the days of black and white film, before we could even place sound into films, we’ve been obsessed with the use of colour and how it can change the emotion of a film. The expressive use of colour in film has evolved through artistic vision and technical innovation from hand tinting to Technicolor experiments to faster stocks and digital processing. In the following

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sections I consider some of the key aspects in the history of cinema that led to the technological advances we see in colour today.

History of Colour in Cinema

Film has always been about the visual and the primordial age of cinema displays the lengths people were willing to go too just to capture its essence. Before filters, colour film and cameras existed, innovators like Thomas Edison and George Méliès would hand tint their films (Yumibe, 2013). They would literally paint onto their film stock to enhance their images (the earliest form of colour correction), so they could become all the more wondrous. Colour was initially used to show the dreamlike quality of cinema and the fictional visual medium was considered the pinnacle of escapism (Criswell,

2015).

Colour correction is a process where the colour of the original negative or master video tape can be corrected for hue, tone, intensity, and value to achieve the original intent of the director of photography, or altered to achieve special, specific colour effects that create, mood, and atmosphere. Historically, colour correction was done at a film laboratory where a colour timer would time each individual shot and correct flesh tones and the overall colour feel, be it warm or cool. A new film print was then struck from the negative using the corrections. As the medium developed film negatives could be transferred to video and the colour correction done on a video console that provided more opportunities in altering the colours on film. Now, digital tools are revolutionising colour correction. Many non-linear editing platforms, such as Final Cut Pro and Avid, provide the ability to correct and alter the colour of images digitally. Sophisticated digital colour correction consoles allow the moviemaker to make major changes to the colour palette of projects shot originally on film or video. This role of colour correction has gone from a generalised application, to the ability to literally paint the image at will (LoBrutto,

2012).

Late 1800’s to Early 1900’s

Colour has been a common element of cinema from the very beginning, starting with hand colouring of black-and-white film stock in the 1890s, a technique originally derived from colouring magic lantern slides. One example of a film that used these techniques was ‘The Infernal Cauldron/Le Chaudran Infernal’, 1903 (Figure 7).

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Figure 7 – Hand coloured film - The Infernal Cauldron 1903 (Source: Yumibe, 2013). As

Figure 7 Hand coloured film - The Infernal Cauldron 1903 (Source: Yumibe, 2013).

As films increased in length, and the number of prints soared, hand-colouring became increasingly less practicable. New methods were being developed to mechanise colouring and improve the practice of tinting and toning. As a solution, Pathe Freres patented Pathecolor, a semi-automated device for stencilling prints according to simple colour correspondences (Cook, 2008).

In America, less expensive tinting and toning processes converted black-and-white images to colour chemically. However, as soon as the sound-on-disc devicewas replaced by the recording of sound directly on film, the practice of tinting and toning was threatened because it became evident that the process affected the quality of the optical soundtrack.

To combat this problem, Kodak immediately introduced a range of 17 ‘Sonochrome Positivestocks whose soundtrack areas were not affected by the dyeing process. In spite of this, however, it was eventually decided that post-production conversion of black-and- white images to colour was less sensible than actually filming with colour stock (Cook,

2008).

Other processes such as ‘Kinimacolor’ (which had been patented in 1906), first began to appear in public films in 1909. This method employed a standard Bioscope projector fitted with a shutter of red and green filters rotating at 32 frames per second, and was

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considered a commercial success. Nevertheless such ‘additive’ colour processes had several drawbacks, and were soon superseded by other two-colour methods such as Kodachrome (introduced for stills photography in 1913, and adopted for movies in 1916), a ‘subtractive’ process in which colour images were formed directly on the celluloid rather than indirectly on the screen (Cook, 2008).

1920s-1950’s

Between the 1920’s and 1940’s there was an increased interest in the development of colour in film, as companies realised the power that colour could have when telling a story and inferring emotions. Early silent films created an impression of colour film by hand-tinting each frame but because of the time and labour involved this never became a widespread phenomenon. When Walt Disney released Flowers and Trees (1932) (Figure 8), part of the Silly Symphonies series of short subjects, its full colour visuals, compliments of the new three-strip Technicolor process, were a sensation (Corrigan and White, 2012).

process, were a sensation (Corrigan and White, 2012). Figure 8 - Flowers and Trees 1932 (Source:

Figure 8 - Flowers and Trees 1932 (Source: AlwaysDisney, 2014).

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Technicolor

In the mid-1920’s Technicolor developed a two-colour process, in which two filmstrips one red and the other green biased were pasted together to produce a composite print, but the limited effects and the various technical limitations, including the double thickness of the filmstrip and the high light levels required during filming to obtain a bright enough final image, hardly justified their expense (Cook, 2008).

Finally, in 1929, Warner Bros. released two ‘all-colour, all talking’ features – On with the Show (Figure 9) and Gold Diggers of Broadway (Figure 10), the first results of a 20- feature contract Jack Warner had signed with Technicolor.

feature contract Jack Warner had signed with Technicolor. Figure 9 – On With the Show 1929

Figure 9 On With the Show 1929 (Source: Zhytovoyi, 2015).

9 – On With the Show 1929 (Source: Zhytovoyi, 2015). Figure 10 – Gold Diggers of

Figure 10 Gold Diggers of Broadway 1929 (Source: Mubi, n.d.).

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At the beginning of the new decade, when the industry began to feel the effects of The Depression, the major studios, unable to withdraw from their commitment to sound, chose instead to reduce their interest in colour cinematography, and the musical the genre with which colour had been most closely associated was briefly considered to be ‘box-office poison’.

Undaunted, Technicolor invested a further $180,000 in their three colour process, and instead of entering the market themselves, offered exclusive contracts to two independent production companies Walt Disney and Pioneer Films. Disney acquired exclusive rights for colour cartoons and released a series of ‘Silly Symphonies’ that won critical acclaim, Academy Awards and massive box-office returns.

It wasn’t until 1932 that the “three color” process was perfected. This was a complicated process that used three strips of black and white negative, filtered so that each would capture one of the traditional primary yellow, green, and cyan colours. The negatives were then literally printed onto the positive in ways that allowed dyes, corresponding to the colours filtered on the negative, to be transferred to the film. The process was expensive, the equipment huge, and the lighting demands enormous. Also, Technicolor was a proprietary process so that each studio had to lease equipment and adhere to protocols (Kolker, 2005; Frisvold Hanssen, 2006).

To ensure control of the colour achieved with their product, Technicolor introduced “colour consultants”, who planned the colour schemes and compositions. The leading colour consultant during the 1930s and 1940s was Natalie Kalmus, who understood the cinema of sound and colour in terms of an “ultimate” art form. The principal task of the colour consultant was to prepare a colour chart or colour “score” for the entire production; and compare the preparation of such a chart to the writing of the film’s musical score (Frisvold Hanssen, 2006). Natalie Kalmus had a distinct style and a particular idea of what colour on the screen should look like: bright, with a tendency to vibrant pastels (Figure 11) (Kolker, 2005; Cook, 2008).

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Figure 11 – Example of Natalie Kalmus colour palette from It’s a Pleasure 1945 (Source:

Figure 11 Example of Natalie Kalmus colour palette from It’s a Pleasure 1945 (Source:

TheBlondeattheFilm, 2014).

Following Technicolor’s eventual collaborations with Walt Disney and the Oscars for the best animation shorts at the Academy Awards in 1932 that resulted, the use of colour began to flourish with The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938 (Figure 12), The Wizard of Oz (Figure 13) in 1939 and Gone with the Wind also in 1939 (Figure 14).

in 1939 and Gone with the Wind also in 1939 (Figure 14). Figure 12 – The

Figure 12 The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938 (Source: INCspot, 2013).

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Figure 13 – The Wizard of Oz 1939 (Source: Blu-ray, n.d.). Figure 14 – Gone

Figure 13 The Wizard of Oz 1939 (Source: Blu-ray, n.d.).

13 – The Wizard of Oz 1939 (Source: Blu-ray, n.d.). Figure 14 – Gone with the

Figure 14 Gone with the Wind 1939 (Source: Jones, 2014).

This time was seen as the golden time for both Hollywood and Technicolor, who continued to improve their processes into the 1950’s. However, by 1953 Eastman Color had replaced Technicolor as a negative source, because of the convenience of shooting a single negative in a smaller camera. From 1955, the name ‘Technicolor’ only referred to the laboratory process that produced three technically dyed negatives (Cook, 2007).

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Modern Day and Digital

I have already noted that colour featured in many of the earliest films as a way of attracting wider audiences and enhancing the aesthetic and dramatic impact of the narrative (Everett, 2007. Ever since the beginning of the colour film era, colour adjustment has been a permanent area of difficulty in the production of moving pictures (Roderick, 1976). The use of several cameras simultaneously, or at different times and under varying lighting conditions, results in varying colour rendering in the different captured shots. When these shots are edited together, the colours must be harmonised, requiring substantial manual adjustments and the use of colour filters and laboratory chemicals (Hardeberg et al., 2002).

The introduction of video technologies changed the methods of work, but colour corrections remained a tedious process, requiring expensive equipment for use in professional environments. The advent of digital technology in the 1990s has made possible the saturated visuals of animated films like Up (2009) (Figure , as well as the subdued palette of the western exteriors of the Coen brothers’ True Grit in 2010, which was shot on film and adjusted in post-production (Corrigan and White 2012).

was shot on film and adjusted in post-production (Corrigan and White 2012). Figure 15 - Up,

Figure 15 - Up, 2009 (Source: IMDB, 2009)

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Figure 16 – Subdued palette used in True Grit 2010 (Source: Gould, 2015). The transition

Figure 16 Subdued palette used in True Grit 2010 (Source: Gould, 2015).

The transition from analog to digital video now opens the possibilities for developing methods of video colour management. Digital video colour management can potentially be implemented using common computer platforms, and equipment which costs a fraction of today’s dedicated video editing and colour correction equipment. At the same time, the processes can be simplified and made less time-consuming (Hardeberg et al.,

2002).

Digital effects and colour grading have opened new possibilities to the use of colour in films. In Sin City (2005) it allowed colours to be selected and isolated against black and white backgrounds (Figure 17); producing striking symbolic and a unique film noir aesthetic.

striking symbolic and a unique film noir aesthetic. Figure 17 – Isolated colour (red) used to

Figure 17 Isolated colour (red) used to add contrast in Sin City 2005 (Source: MovieSpot, 2010).

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In Amélie, a film about pleasure, colour grading has allowed the film to be graded to such a degree that it is essentially composed of just two main colours, red and green which symbolise pleasure (Berens, 2014) (Figure 18).

green which symbolise pleasure (Berens, 2014) (Figure 18). Figure 18 – Screen shot demonstrates the red

Figure 18 Screen shot demonstrates the red and green used throughout Amélie 2001 (Source:

Miller, 2014).

However digital technology does not always change the way we use colour in films. In Slumdog Millionaire (a film showing more realism), colour usage is used more subtly (Figure 19) and realistically like in The Last Emperor and Apocalypse Now (Figure 20) (Berens, 2014).

Emperor and Apocalypse Now (Figure 20) (Berens, 2014). Figure 19 – Subtle colours depict reality in

Figure 19 Subtle colours depict reality in Slumdog Millionaire 2008 (Source: Screenmusings, n.d).

in Slumdog Millionaire 2008 (Source: Screenmusings, n.d). Figure 20 – A more realistic colour palette in

Figure 20 A more realistic colour palette in Apocalypse Now 1979 (Source: Slarek, n.d.).

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The Role of Colour in Film

Today, some of us consider black and white “unrealistic” and colour the opposite. From the 1930’s through the 1950’s, however, exactly the reverse was true. The use of colour was often considered a distraction and colour was reserved almost exclusively for some musicals and fantasy films (Kolker, 2005). In the following sections some of the early thoughts on the use of colour in film have been summarised.

Early thoughts on the use of colour in film

An example of how colour was thought of in the early days of film is to compare it to music. Although music in film has little to do with ‘realism’, the almost identical rules governing its use and that of colour serve to pinpoint characteristics that are perceived as common to both: their intense emotional power, and, alongside this their considerable disruptive potential. In other words, like music, colour is seen as an invaluable tool for strengthening both the dramatic and emotional mood of the film and for influencing the audience’s response (Johnston, 1992; Campbell, 1993; Harman, 1997; Everett, 2007).

But there were also several instances in reviews of early “colour talkers” where the colours, and the sequences (especially where Technicolor was displayed), were accused of distracting from other elements. One example is the musical, ‘Paris’ (1929), which included two lengthy Technicolor sequences. It was criticised for being “too generously padded with prismatic sequences’ and the sumptuous colours were accused of “halting the narrative” and “stealing laughs from the show” (New York Times 1929).

By the second half of the 1950’s, the majority if films were actually produced in colour, although opinions on its use were still very conservative. Both Andre Bazin and Rudolf Arnheim, for example, saw colour as a device with the potential to enhance filmic realism (Bazin 1958, Arnheim 1958). As a result clear rules had already been formulated to maximize its realistic function. Foremost amongst such rules was the stipulation that, outside a number of specific genres, including musicals, fantasies, and cartoons, colour should avoid drawing attention to itself, and instead, aim to remain unnoticed, even ‘invisible’.

So universal was this view on the conformist use of colour, that the industry produced manuals such as Elements of Color in Professional Motion Pictures(1957) produced by a specially constituted committee of the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers, under the chairmanship of Wilton R.Holm. The manual stipulated that

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colour should be subordinate to the narrative and, in no circumstances, constitute ‘a separate entity to compete with or detract from the dramatic content of the picture’ (SMPTE 1957). This text, and others like it, set the tone for both filmmakers and critics for some time to come, and was still regularly employed into the 1970’s.

In fact if you consider many films from the 70’s through to the 90’s the colour of films is very similar throughout genre and narrative. Colour was only rarely used ‘creatively’ in those genres whose rules of verisimilitude are not tied to conventions of realism in the way that other genres, like the war film and the documentary may be. Colour could be used ‘creatively’ in genres ‘designed to provide the eye with visual pleasure’ (Turner,

2002).

Whilst mainstream narrative sought to use colour for its realistic qualities, it still wanted to retain its expressive, dramatic potential; hence, the ‘rules’ we have already noted. Thus, for example, Guy Green a cinematographer working in the UK in the 1940s and 1950s accepted without question that, in its aim to create emotional impact, colour must ‘reflect the emotional content of the screen. It must help the audience forget that they are in the cinema at all. It must not be a glorious spectacle all on its own’ (Huntley, 1949). It is clear that colour was feared because it could easily become a distracting, self-conscious device. Indeed, it might directly oppose the intended narrative meanings: ‘[colour] often has certain associations for the spectator which may conflict entirely with the associations the producer wishes to establish in his films’ (Lindgren, 1963).The argument is that to keep such associations in check, they must function at a subconscious level, without the spectator becoming critically aware of the process (Everett, 2007).

Expanding the Use of Colour in Film

Despite the conservative tone of manuals and guidelines on the use of colour, and the demands for uniform shooting in colour, a few directors experimented. Sometimes they cooled the colours down; some “flashed” or otherwise pre-exposed their film stock so that the image would have uniform colour tone, such as the sallow yellow-green that is prevalent in David Fincher’s Seven (1995) (Figure 21).

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Figure 21 – Image showing sallow yellow-green colouration in Seven 1995 (Source: Thoret, 2010). Many

Figure 21 Image showing sallow yellow-green colouration in Seven 1995 (Source: Thoret, 2010).

Many directors subtly choose colour combinations that relate emotions and express their characters’ state of mind. For example Stanley Kubrick’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut (1999) (Figure 22), uses blue and goldyellow lighting throughout the film so that it renders and almost painterly coherence of colour (Kolker, 2005).

and almost painterly coherence of colour (Kolker, 2005). Figure 22 – Contract between blue and gold

Figure 22 Contract between blue and gold in Eyes Wide Shut 1999 (Source: Fantasmagorie,

2012).

In The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) (Figure 23), colour is used to emphasise or distinguish with the characters themselves rather than just the spaces of the restaurant. It neutralises the environments, adding a surreal quality to the scenes (Asm architecture, 2010).

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Figure 23 – Surreal colouring used in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her

Figure 23 Surreal colouring used in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover 1989 (Source:

Kafka, n.d.).

Raise The Red Lantern (1991) is about sexual enslavement between four concubines living in a neutrally toned compound. The internal rooms however, are bathed in rich bold colours passionately and predominant in bright red (Figure 24), particularly the lofty red lanterns which is a symbol of passion and power (Classic art films, 2015).

is a symbol of passion and power (Classic art films, 2015). Figure 24 – The use

Figure 24 The use of red throughout Raise The Red Lantern 1991 (Source: Reddit, 2013).

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From those early days of colour in movies it was realised that colour not only had a scientific place but that:

‘Colour can have political, religious and cultural connotations, represent gender and as believed by Kandisnky, have emotional and physical effects on us. Colour can also improve our memory, influence buying decisions, indicate meaning and tell stories (Mills, 2015).’

Today the use of colour in cinematography is considered a vital part of creating a movie and the story it wants to tell. Colour is not only used to achieve verisimilitude in the images; colour can communicate time and place, define characters, and establish emotion, mood, atmosphere, and a psychological sensibility (LoBrutto, 2012). As a result colour palettes for different genres have appeared to become standardised and almost expected. However, the unusual use of colour can still grab the attention of an audience and make a film more visually striking.

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The Use of Colour to Aid Storytelling

“Films use light and colour to tell a story in a special narrative way, which

delivers a strong emotional and intellectual impact on the viewer.”

Martin Scorsese

Long gone are the days of struggling to achieve colour within a film by using multiple

cameras and tinting techniques. These days the use of digital media makes colour an

easily accessible tool to enhance the narrative of a film. Colour has become a vital aspect

of storytelling, playing an important role in affecting the audiences’ emotional response

to a scene.

Colour is a regular feature in the majority of modern narrative films. As such, it is easy

to overlook its appearance, take it for granted, or wait for the moment when it

announces its significance. Some films colour their worlds without involved, provocative,

or profound arrangements, painting-by-numbers as it were. Others strongly assert the

importance of certain colours at particular points of the story or for specific purposes. In

its ability to emphasise moods or specific meanings, in its symbolic and dramatic impact,

colour in film often makes direct statements or glosses key points (Peacock, 2010).

When considering how colour is used in storytelling, it can be separated into two

categories:

Associative Colours

Transitional Colours

These two contrasting concepts will be discussed in the following sections to help show

how a films narrative can be enhanced, thus helping the audience follow the story.

Associative Colours in Storytelling

Whether it be the primary hue of a reoccurring colour scheme or the repetition of

specific colours throughout a film, single consistent colours in a story are used as

associations, all this means is that we associate that colour to a certain subject or an

idea, so let’s say your character is associated with the colour purple, if we proceed to see

purple in the future we will know that scene in some way is referencing the subject.

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We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) is a film with very violent scenes that features almost zero violence, however, the constant appearance of the colour red (Figure 25) acts as a reminder to the audience that violence is the under-currant to the entire story.

that violence is the under-currant to the entire story. Figure 25 – The colour red appears

Figure 25 The colour red appears regularly in We Need to Talk About Kevin 2011 (Source:

Harrison, 2012).

All associations don’t have to follow the same social constraints of a colour, for instance in The Godfather orange is associated with death (Figure 26). This shows repetition of a single colour in a scheme, shows some kind of inter-relation to an idea (Criswell, 2015).

some kind of inter-relation to an idea (Criswell, 2015). Figure 26 – The use of orange

Figure 26 The use of orange throughout The Godfather 1972 (Source: Gonzalez, 2014).

In Traffic (2000), colours mark different narrative strands and indicate spatial differences along with the mood and atmosphere of the place. Thus we have grainy, washed-out yellow for Mexico; a solemn blue palette for Cincinnati; and sun-drenched full colour for San Diego (Cook, 1999), as shown in figure 27.

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Figure 27 – The use of three colours to depict different areas in Traffic 2000

Figure 27 The use of three colours to depict different areas in Traffic 2000 (Source: Gwilliam, 2014; Mills, 2015; McLeod, n.d. respectively).

Vertigo (1958) uses another example of this, however instead of just one colour it uses both red and green to its advantage, Scotty’s passion is represented by red and Madeleine is associated with the colour green (Figure 28). Scotty first see’s Madeleine wearing a green dress surrounded by red the reds intensity implies that’s Scotty’s fantasy is dangerous and throughout Vertigo red is noticeable in scenes that are perilous as Scotty pursues his obsession everything relating to Madeleine is green from the clothes she wears to the car she drives, later in the film Scotty meets Judy who he can’t help but imagine as Madeleine so as he wants Judy to become more like her green begins to re-enter the colour scheme until finally the green from outside the hotel room fully engulfs Judy in its ominous glow (Criswell, 2015).

fully engulfs Judy in its ominous glow (Criswell, 2015). Figure 28 – Green associated with Madeline

Figure 28 Green associated with Madeline in Vertigo 1958 (Source: Hamer, 2012)

Transitional Colours in Storytelling

So if associative colours represent consistency, then a change in colour shows transition. If a colour has been associated with a character or subject and that shifts it signifies a change in something (Criswell, 2015). Transitions can be something as simple as a location or be something more complex, such as a characters state of mind.

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In The Last Emperor1987, as the character discovers more about the world around him the colour palette shifts. The world of tradition in the characters naïve years is displayed by the colour red, however as the character begins to learn more, the colour goes from red, to orange, to yellow and finally when he becomes appreciative of his surroundings he’s bound to green (Figure 29).

of his surroundings he’s bound to green (Figure 29). Figure 29 – Four images showing the

Figure 29 Four images showing the colour transition throughout The Last Emperor 1987 (Source: The Last Emperor film, 2015).

This effective system of colour transition becomes even more unique when it’s examined on the colour wheel (Figure 30). Red, orange, yellow and green are consecutive to go from red to green shows that both the character and the wheel have turned 180 degrees.

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Figure 30 – Colour Wheel (Source: Goss, D, n.d.). When you use transitional colour with

Figure 30 Colour Wheel (Source: Goss, D, n.d.).

When you use transitional colour with a character, by altering the colour scheme associated with them, it can be use to show a change within the character. In Breaking Bad transitional colour was used to convey the change in moral standing of the main character, Walter White. Having transgressed into a more villainous state our main character wears red, a much more nefarious colour. Then just before he travels further down his own dark path he removes his shirt to reveal a darker one (Figure 31). This visual presence represents his character arc, something dark lies beneath the surface of Walt.

arc, something dark lies beneath the surface of Walt. Figure 31 – Walter revealing a deeper

Figure 31 Walter revealing a deeper shade of red below his shirt in Breaking Bad (Source:

Breaking Bad, 2012)

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General Use of Colour for Audience Benefit

As discussed in earlier sections, during the early days, pictures were a mere mechanical process of imprinting light upon film and projecting that result upon the screen. Then came the perfection of detail more accurate sets and costumes more perfect photography. The advent of sound brought increased realism through the auditory sense. The last step, colour, with the addition of visual sensations, completed the process. Now films are able to duplicate all the auditory and visual sensations. This enhanced realism enables us to portray life and nature as it really is, and in this respect we have made definite strides forward. However, a film will merely be an accurate record of events unless we guide realism into the realms of art (Kalmus, 1935). Kalmus believed that:

To accomplish this it becomes necessary to augment the mechanical processes with the inspirational work of the artist. It is not enough that we put a perfect record on screen. That record must be moulded according to the basic principles of art. Colour is ‘fitted’ to the scene. It ‘augments’ its ‘dramatic value’. Like the use of tinting and toning, colour is determined by the ‘dominant mood or emotion”’.

When used to aid storytelling the colours used can aid the association of characters and subjects. Films don’t only use colour for multiple stories, they can apply them to set the overall atmosphere for that particular story. This technique was used as far back as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), colour was used to define the feel of a whole film, as shown in Figure 32.

to define the feel of a whole film, as shown in Figure 32. Figure 32 -

Figure 32 - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920 (Source: Unaffiliatedcritic, 2013).

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This is still relevant in the digital age whether the tone is cold and hopeless or gritty and dangerous the colour serves a purpose, humans will always have certain psychological reactions to certain colours. Consequently, particular colours are used to achieve certain reactions. For example red seems to be the colour we have the strongest reaction to but where one may use it as a depiction of hate and cruelty another may use

it to show passion and love. The same with green, a luscious green field gives us hope

and shows fertility, but green locations show the mundane and lifeless and the green on

a person tells who the monster is (Criswell, 2015). An example of this is the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz, as depicted in Figure 33.

Witch from The Wizard of Oz , as depicted in Figure 33. Figure 33 – The

Figure 33 The Wizard of Oz 1938 (Source: Wicked, 2013)

Hullfish (2008) argues that colour is part of the storytelling tools and as such you need to know the story so you can utilise the correct colours to create the appropriate mood. Boust et al.’s (2004) study agrees with this and argues that an image can tell two different stories depending on the colour scheme and gives an example with serious moments being less saturated. He further comments that serious moments do not have to be in low saturation but he finds that it help to convey a message to the viewer (Lind- Valdan, 2013).

Whilst colour can be used in specific ways to indicate a specific subject, they can also offer a mood/style/look/theme to an entire movie. Bordwell and Thompson (2010) discuss colour as being a variable in genre classification and state that movies are grouped into genres by similar plot patterns, thematic implications, filmic techniques, and recognisable iconography.’ Even further support of colour grading being a genre specific

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is seen in cinematographer Diogo Martins’ (2011) blog where he states that different genres have had different colour schemes for the audience to discern between, for many years. Also Brown et al. (2013) supports this phenomenon about displaying genre- appropriate colour schemes for classification.

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The Use of Colour in Genre Distinction

What is Genre?

The word genre has French origin and means kind or type and when talking about movie genres we mean certain types of movies such as action, comedy, horror, documentary, etc (Lind-Valdan, 2013). The problem with genres occurs when having to define what a specific genre is. Casetti (1999) put forward that -

“Genre is a collection of shared rules that allows the filmmaker to use established communicative formulas and the viewer to organise his own system of expectations”

Genre – or “type” – is a core concept in both film production and the history of film. Genres play a key role in how movie goers perceive films and are a familiar concept to viewers seeking to choose which film they wish to see, describe a film, identify, characterise, and distinguish groups of films that have common traits.

Genre Specific Colour Grading

Genre films are often mass-produced according to a standard generic template (Altman, 1999). A genre film whether a Western or a musical, a screwball comedy or a gangster film involves familiar, essentially one dimensional characters acting out a predictable story pattern in a familiar setting. During the reign of the major studio system, genre films comprised the vast majority of the most popular and profitable productions, and this trend has continued even after its death. In contrast, non-genre films tended to attract greater critical attention during the studio era, between 1920s and 1960s (Schatz, 1981), when the ‘major’ studios dominated the production and distribution of films.

Yet research shows that when watching TV viewers are able to determine the contents’ genres within seconds based on audiovisual cues: is it a comedy, a nonfiction production or something different (Visch and Tan, 2008). This ability to differ between genres is important because the different genres may affect how the viewers process the content showed e.g. a person bumping into another may be considered harmless in a comedy but in a drama it might be considered significantly different (Visch and Tan, 2008). Some research shows that, over the past many years, one of the cues to aid the viewers’ classification of films has been genre specific colour grading, meaning that different

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genres have had different colour schemes to be easily distinguished between (Martins,

2011; Lind-Valdan, 2013). Due to the importance of being able to discern between

genres and the visual cues in form of genre specific colour grading having led the

viewers to expect something familiar from the genres, however, they also do demand

some variations (Bordwell and Thompson, 2010).

Not everybody thinks this is a good thing; in fact many think that the use of standard

templates for colour grading genre type films has become predictable and overused.

“Everything became the same …if a Sci-fi doesn’t look like a genre

film, everyone is afraid no one will see it. The same goes to any

other genre that garners to a niche audience. Mainstream movies

all tend to look the same, everyone afraid to break the mold of a

standardised colour correction, manipulation” (Martins, 2011).

So what are some of these standard genre specific templates and why are they used. In

the following sections we will considered the most common colour correction options

used to depict films from the following genres:

Horror;

Romance/Comedies;

War/Post-Apocalyptic;

Science Fiction;

Western;

Action, Drama and Thriller.

Horror

Horror movies tend to have hard, cold blue borderline purple colours, high contrast,

white skin tones, and dark red, borderline black blood (Seitz, 2010; Martins, 2011;

Singh, 2011; Rozier, 2011). This is because there are often negative emotions associated

with these colours. They also fit the criteria for creating tension, isolation and mystery

which is often key to this genre:

Black - Mystery, Death, Evil, Fear, Power, Elegance.

Blue - Cold, Depression, Isolation, Calming, Passive, Unstable.

Examples of movies that fit into this genre include; Paranormal Activity (2007), A

Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Saw (2004), Poltergeist (2015) and The Cabin in the

Woods (2012) (Figures 34 - 38) respectively.

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Figure 34 – Paranormal Activity 2007 (Source: Sacks, 2009). Figure 35 – A Nightmare on

Figure 34 Paranormal Activity 2007 (Source: Sacks, 2009).

34 – Paranormal Activity 2007 (Source: Sacks, 2009). Figure 35 – A Nightmare on Elm Street

Figure 35 A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 (Source: Davis, 2015).

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Figure 36 – Saw 2004 (Source: Horrorfanzine, 2009). Figure 37 – Poltergeist 2015 (Source: Roberts,

Figure 36 Saw 2004 (Source: Horrorfanzine, 2009).

Figure 36 – Saw 2004 (Source: Horrorfanzine, 2009). Figure 37 – Poltergeist 2015 (Source: Roberts, 2015).

Figure 37 Poltergeist 2015 (Source: Roberts, 2015).

Figure 37 – Poltergeist 2015 (Source: Roberts, 2015). Figure 38 – The Cabin in the Woods

Figure 38 The Cabin in the Woods 2012 (Source: Leavengood, 2015).

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Romance/Comedy

These films can vary from bright saturated colours, to have a softer palette using pastels, although they usually consist of warmer colours in general as we associate them with:

Red Love, Passion, Excitement, Aroused, Thrilled, Insecure, Power.

Orange Humour, Emotional, Moods, Daring, Energy, Happy, Warmth.

Yellow Mixed emotions, Friendliness, Intellect, Caution, Joy.

Examples are Amélie (2001), Titanic (1997) and Love Actually, as depicted in Figures 53 to 55 respectively.

Actually, as depicted in Figures 53 to 55 respectively. Figure 39 – Amélie 2001 (Source: TimeOutFilm,

Figure 39 Amélie 2001 (Source: TimeOutFilm, 2015).

Figure 39 – Amélie 2001 (Source: TimeOutFilm, 2015). Figure 40 – Titanic 1997 (Source: Harris, 2015).

Figure 40 Titanic 1997 (Source: Harris, 2015).

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Figure 41 – Love Actually 2003 (Source: Midori, 2015). Post-apocalyptic / War Post-apocalyptic movies tend

Figure 41 Love Actually 2003 (Source: Midori, 2015).

Post-apocalyptic / War

Post-apocalyptic movies tend to have desaturated and washed out gray/yellow/green (earth) colours (Seitz, 2010; Martins, 2011). This can give a softer, more personal feeling where life and its colours are abandoned for harsh reality. We perceive these as:

Grey Depression, Loss, Dull, Emotionless, Neutral, Lifeless, Detatched.

Yellow Challenging, Lacking compassion, Creativity, Complex.

Brown Reliable, Dull, Honest, Lack of humour, Strength, Predictable.

Examples of movies are The Book of Eli (2010), Children of Men (2006), Death Race (2008), Terminator: Salvation (2009) and The Road (2009) (Lind-Valdan, 2013). War movies also tend to be completely desaturated, if not completely, black and white (Martins, 2011). Examples are American Sniper (2014) and Saving Private Ryan (1998).

American Sniper (2014) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). Figure 42 – Book of Eli 2010 (Source:

Figure 42 Book of Eli 2010 (Source: Fansshare, n.d.).

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Figure 43 – Children of Men 2006 (Source: Bri-utiful, 2011). Figure 44 – Death Race

Figure 43 Children of Men 2006 (Source: Bri-utiful, 2011).

43 – Children of Men 2006 (Source: Bri-utiful, 2011). Figure 44 – Death Race 2008 (Source:

Figure 44 Death Race 2008 (Source: Sauriol, 2010).

Figure 44 – Death Race 2008 (Source: Sauriol, 2010). Figure 45 – Terminator: Salvation 2009 (Source:

Figure 45 Terminator: Salvation 2009 (Source: Couture, 2009).

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Figure 46 – The Road 2009 (Source: Dashora, n.d.). Figure 47 – American Sniper 2014

Figure 46 The Road 2009 (Source: Dashora, n.d.).

Figure 46 – The Road 2009 (Source: Dashora, n.d.). Figure 47 – American Sniper 2014 (Source:

Figure 47 American Sniper 2014 (Source: Mund, 2015).

Figure 47 – American Sniper 2014 (Source: Mund, 2015). Figure 48 – Saving Private Ryan 1998

Figure 48 Saving Private Ryan 1998 (Source: McHugh, 2014).

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Science Fiction

In futuristic and sci-­fi movies the “reality” is usually displayed in “realistic” colours but when the reality is off we see a “sodium look” by a monochromatic tinge varying in blue or green colours (Martins, 2011; Seitz, 2010; Singh, 2011). This colour is usually used to question reality, if something is right or wrong.

Green - Nature, Materialistic, Reliable, Calm, Adaptable.

Examples of movies are The Matrix (1999), Fight Club (1999), Blade Runner (1982) and Tron: Legacy (2010) (Lind-Valdan, 2013).

(1982) and Tron: Legacy (2010) (Lind-Valdan, 2013). Figure 49 – The Matrix 1999 (Source: Second, n.d.)

Figure 49 The Matrix 1999 (Source: Second, n.d.)

Figure 49 – The Matrix 1999 (Source: Second, n.d.) Figure 50 – Fight Club 1999 (Source:

Figure 50 Fight Club 1999 (Source: Dianliwenmi, 2015).

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Figure 51 – Blade Runner 1982 (Source: BiomechanicalRhetoric, 2012). Figure 52 – Tron: Legacy 2010

Figure 51 Blade Runner 1982 (Source: BiomechanicalRhetoric, 2012).

Blade Runner 1982 (Source: BiomechanicalRhetoric, 2012). Figure 52 – Tron: Legacy 2010 (Source: Starcasm, 2009).

Figure 52 Tron: Legacy 2010 (Source: Starcasm, 2009).

Western

Being one of the oldest film genres, Westerns have had a very varied colour palette, ranging from Black and White, to the Spaghetti Westerns; in which washed out yellow/brown/green colours would be used, or saturated to emphasise the location (deserts) and weather (heat). Examples of this are Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), The Quick and the Dead (1998) and Django Unchained (2012) (As seen in Figures 53 to

55).

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Figure 53 – Once Upon a Time in the West 1968 (Source: Thesouloftheplot, 2013). Figure

Figure 53 Once Upon a Time in the West 1968 (Source: Thesouloftheplot, 2013).

a Time in the West 1968 (Source: Thesouloftheplot, 2013). Figure 54 – The Quick and the

Figure 54 The Quick and the Dead 1998 (Source: TheFilmGiant, 2015).

The Quick and the Dead 1998 (Source: TheFilmGiant, 2015). Figure 55 – Django Unchained 2012 (Source:

Figure 55 Django Unchained 2012 (Source: Schaefer, 2012).

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Action, Drama and Thriller

Action, Drama and Thriller movies in general have much the same colour grading with desaturated yellow and paste colours, high contrast and hard shadows (Hullfish, 2008; Martins, 2011; Rozier, 2011; Singh, 2011). These genres try to stay closer to our perception of reality, very much like a documentary. There are exceptions, but in general, are shown to be more neutral. Examples of the three types of movies are (action) Die Hard series, The Hunger Games, (drama) The Fighter, (thriller) Argo. (Lind- Valdan, 2013).

The Fighter , (thriller) Argo . (Lind- Valdan, 2013). Figure 56 - Die Hard 5 2013

Figure 56 - Die Hard 5 2013 (Source: Kublog, 2013).

2013). Figure 56 - Die Hard 5 2013 (Source: Kublog, 2013). Figure 57 – The Hunger

Figure 57 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 2008 (Source: Highfill, 2015).

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Figure 58 – The Fighter 2010 (Source: Filmfictioncine, 2011). Criticisms of Genre specific Colouration O’

Figure 58 The Fighter 2010 (Source: Filmfictioncine, 2011).

Criticisms of Genre specific Colouration

O’ Brother Where Art Thou (2000) was one of the first films to use digital colour grading. The Coen Brothers reportedly wanted it to look retrograde at the expense of realism, which is why it was graded so heavily: the entire movie is warm sepia (Priceonomics, 2015). This digital landmark in colour correction, kick-started genre colouring.

landmark in colour correction, kick-started genre colouring. Figure 59 – Image showing retrograde colouring in O’

Figure 59 Image showing retrograde colouring in O’ Brother Where Art Thou 2000 (Source:

Filmap, n.d.).

Since then, the trend has caught on, but the most common concern is the objection to genre specific colour grading. According to bloggers all movies are starting to look the same due to the “teal and orange” look (as seen in Figures 60 66) but they are also genre specifically colour graded, so all movies belonging to a specific genre look the same, but differs from other genres (Lind-Valdan, 2013).

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Hollywood movies usually try to use complimentary colours on the opposite side of the colour wheel. Examples are green and red (Figure 18), yellow and purple and blue (teal) and orange (Figure 30).

yellow and purple and blue (teal) and orange (Figure 30). Figure 60 – Orange & Blue

Figure 60 Orange & Blue Movie Posters (Source: Barackman, 2013).

– Orange & Blue Movie Posters (Source: Barackman, 2013). Figure 61 – Drive 2011 (Source: Proctor,

Figure 61 Drive 2011 (Source: Proctor, 2013).

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Figure 62 – GI Joe Retaliation 2013 (Source: Paprocki, 2013). Figure 63 – Battleship 2012

Figure 62 GI Joe Retaliation 2013 (Source: Paprocki, 2013).

62 – GI Joe Retaliation 2013 (Source: Paprocki, 2013). Figure 63 – Battleship 2012 (Source: Pandolfini,

Figure 63 Battleship 2012 (Source: Pandolfini, 2015).

Figure 63 – Battleship 2012 (Source: Pandolfini, 2015). Figure 64 – Transformers 2007 (Source: Tooze, 2008).

Figure 64 Transformers 2007 (Source: Tooze, 2008).

The present problem that is derived from bloggers’ statements, suggesting genre specific

colour grading in films, making every genre movie ‘look alike (Lind-Valdan, 2013)’, is

explained and verified by Lee:

“Common colours, like common foods, are monotonous: they may become tiresome” (Lee, 2005)

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As previously mentioned, audiences expect something familiar in genre films (Lind- Valdan, 2013), however the demand for something fresh seems to be present (Bordwell and Thompson, 2010). Some of the arguments as to why these bloggers get so distressed by the “teal and orange” look are that they think it becomes an unnatural (Seitz, 2010), fake, manipulated, and abused distortion (Martins, 2011) of something that does not need the visual colour aesthetic (Singh, 2011).

One example of a film that utilises a limited colour scheme is Black Hawk Down (2001). Predominant green and sand tone, the military is associated with green, with terrain in Somalia sand-coloured. So the colour scheme is consistent with the environment and characters. But Scott and his creative team go too far.

and characters. But Scott and his creative team go too far. Figure 65 – The overuse

Figure 65 The overuse of green altered the appearance Black Hawk Down 2001 (Source:

WallpaperUP, n.d.).

LoBrutto (202) states “it is so heavily green-toned that the colour extends to the sky and skin tones, it distracts from the characters and action, leaving the viewer wondering why this colour dominates; consciously looking for a metaphor or meaning that is never delivered. The film quickly begins to look more like a music video than a dramatic motion picture story.

Subtle use of a wider palette, at least in some locations and scenes, would have tempered this obvious exercise in style as style and not as storytelling.

As previously mentioned in an earlier chapter, the manual ‘Elements of Color in Professional Motion’ was produced in 1957. This stipulated that colour should be subordinate to the narrative and, in no circumstances, constitutes ‘a separate entity to compete with or detract from the dramatic content of the picture’ (SMPTE 1957).

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Practical Application of Genre Specific Colour

The use of digital technologies to create a standard colour template for a specific genre has become easily accessible with the improvement of colour grading software such as Red Giant and DaVinci Resolve.

The editing suite by Adobe - Premiere Pro can use a plugin called Red Giant – ‘Magic Bullet Looks 3’ (Figure 67) which provides the user with 198 colour grading presets

(some are shown in Figure 68). These are

associated genres. They can be applied and adjusted or started from new.

based on popular film and TV shows and their

from new. based on popular film and TV shows and their Figure 66 – Screenshot of

Figure 66 Screenshot of Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks 3 (Source: MBL1, 2015).

Red Giant – Magic Bullet Looks 3 (Source: MBL1, 2015). Figure 67 – Closer view of

Figure 67 Closer view of the preset options in Red Giant (Source: Toolfarm, n.d).

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Some examples:

Blockbuster (Action); Classic Epic, Frontage, Chronometer, Classic Tension.

Blockbuster Cool (Horror/Sci-fi); Classic Zombies, Pelham, Frost, Blockbuster Warm (Romantic/Western); Classic Warm and Fuzzy, Siam, Amberchrome,.

Mono Film Stock (Noir); Sepiatone, Halide, Kodak 5231 Push 2, Prolostia 2000.

Times and Places (Tints); Classic Sunny Delight, Beijing, Rio, Moscow.

The practical element of this project aims to take short, simple pieces of footage and

demonstrate how by applying colour correction, a specific genre can be recreated.

Methodology

In order to demonstrate how the colour of a film can alter the impression the audience

can have of a move, I used colour grading to recreate industry standard genre templates. I produced three video clips each were filmed according to the following criteria:

Neutral colouring;

Static camera;

Small amount of movement within the frame;

Natural light;

No modern objects;

No additional sound.

This was designed to give me a neutral image, with some movement to keep the viewer

stimulated and not distracted by anything other than the colours. Each 10 second clip

then had a colour treatment applied to the raw footage. This was done in Premiere Pro

CC with the aid of colour correction programs. The templates chosen were based on four

of those discussed in the sections above and are widely known genres. The basic colour

description applied for each is below:

Horror Blue hue with dark shadows;

Romantic Orange and yellow hue;

War/Post-Apocalyptic Grey, brown, green hue, heavily desaturated;

Western Black and white, yellow hue.

It should be noted that other effects were kept to a minimum in order to ensure the colour was the main factor altering the appearance of the video clip.

Results

The results of the practical application of colour grading can be seen on the memory

stick attached in Appendix 1. On the next page, Table 1 shows screen shots of the clips

with different colour grading applied.

50

Table 1 - Results from the practical element of the project, showing screen shots from the three clips subjected to colour correction

from the practical element of the project, showing screen shots from the three clips subjected to

51

Conclusion

The review of literature and practical application of colour correction confirms that

colour plays an important role in films. Like any three dimensional character, colour

often has complex and seemingly contradictory properties (Berens, 2014), even within a

certain cultural perspective, thus giving richness to cinema. Whether the goal is to

convey realism, to invoke certain emotions, or to use the diverse symbolic meanings of

colour, colour is a very important part of the visual integrity of motion pictures (Jørholt,

1998).

Since the introduction of colour into film, we have been programmed to associate colours

with particular cues and emotions, be it tension, anger, sadness or laughter.

Consequently, by learning more about colour science, cinematographers will gain

improved knowledge to aid the creation of ever more meaningful and more emotionally

powerful narratives (Berens, 2014).

As has been demonstrated throughout this project, the use of colour correction to

achieve a certain look has always been an option desired by film makers. Though no

definitive reasons, other than the initial conceptualisation of pioneering

directors/cinematographers, give a reason to why genres are depicted with certain

colours. The use of colour to enhance the storytelling quality and manipulate a films

audience has been influenced by several key changes in industry and theories (Table 2):

Table 2 - Major changes and theories that contributed to modern colour correction techniques

Industry Changes

Contributing Theories

Hand painting of prints showed people what was possible Méliès and Edison

Issac Newton determined that white light was made up seven colours

Development of Technicolor process

Natalie Kalmus set up rules with regards to applying colour to a story as a Technicolor consultant

Film stock that could record sound allowing the two to be combined

SMPTE set up a standard for the use of colour to prevent it distracting from the narrative

The introduction of digital technology

The Cohen Brothers break the mold and apply digital colour correction to the whole image

Use of computers in a home setting allows easy colour correction by anyone

Genre specific colour corrections become standard

52

As we discovered in previous sections, Natalie Kalmas had a large impact on the use of colour in film. She had creative control over how colour was depicted, when the studios used Technicolor. Since then it has often been asserted that genres give cinema an effective model for industrial production, because they provide a proven formula that precedes and determines what should be produced. By applying a tried and tested method, usually including a standard colour template, that will guarantee the success of a film to a new subject, producers minimise their risks and justify their production.

This is a significant problem as it suggests that commercial or popular cinema, along with cartoons, television, or popular fiction, are only capable of endlessly and mechanically reproducing prefabricated models. Furthermore this vision of mass culture is completely static: we now have a generation of films that all look the same. Artistic vision is far less common, as if it doesn’t fit into a typical genre model, it may be too risky to back financially.

This is especially true in Hollywood where criticism of the continual churning out of movie clones (in terms of colour) has led to some directors turning away accepted colour standards. European filmmakers seem to have more creative freedom in this respect, as their productions show, this system of rinse and repeat only serves to stifle creativity and would seem to imply a rather low opinion of popular culture (Morin 1962; Moine and Radner, 2008).

The overall goal of film makers is to make sure that the creative use of colour in the production of all types of moving pictures is not compromised because of technological limitations. However, the establishment of digital cinema now ensures the future of colour grading is one that will be more accessible to consumers, as work stations and software are becoming cheaper, easier to use and more accessible. This will help smaller production houses with limited resources, therefore increasing the possibilities for production and distribution (Hardeberg et al., 2002) and hopefully differentiation from the accepted norm. At present the ease of colour grading and the economic drive for genre films have essentially restricted the use of artistic colour and vision to a greater extent than the standards published by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers in 1957. It would appear conformity is preferential to imagination, which is a shame for an industry that brings dreams to life. There is also a worry that the skills once required to produce unique colour techniques - colouring for the camera instead of doing it all in post production - will be lost.

53

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Filmography

Film

Year

Director

A Nightmare on Elm Street

1985

Wes Craven

Amélie

2001

Jean-Pierre Jeunet

American Sniper

2014

Clint Eastwood

Apocalypse Now

1979

Francis Ford Coppola

Battleship

2012

Peter Berg

Black Hawk Down

2001

Ridley Scott

Blade Runner

1982

Ridley Scott

Book of Eli

2010

Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes

Breaking Bad

2013

Michelle MacLaren, Adam Bernstein, Vince Gilligan et al.

Children of Men

2006

Alfonso Cuarón

Death Race

2008

Paul W. S. Anderson

Die Hard 5

2013

John Moore

Django Unchained

2012

Quentin Tarantino

Drive

2011

Nicolas Winding Refn

Eyes Wide Shut

1999

Stanley Kubrick

Fight Club

1999

David Fincher

Flowers and Trees

1932

Burt Gillett

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

2013

Jon M. Chu

Gold Diggers of Broadway

1929

Roy Del Ruth

Gone with the Wind

1939

Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood

It’s A Pleasure

1945

William A. Seiter

Love Actually

2003

Richard Curtis

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

2011

Brad Bird

O' Brother Where Art Thou

2000

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

On with the Show

1929

Alan Crosland

Once Upon a Time in the West

1968

Sergio Leone

Paranormal Activity

2007

Oren Peli

Paris

1929

Clarence G. Badger

Poltergeist

2015

Gil Kenan

Raise the Red Lantern

1991

Yimou Zhang

64

Reboot

2012

Joe Kawasaki

Saving Private Ryan

1998

Steven Spielberg

Saw

2004

James Wan

Seven

1995

David Fincher

Sin City

2005

Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino

Slumdog Millionaire

2008

Danny Boyle

Star Wars

1977

George Lucas

Terminator: Salvation

2009

Joseph McGinty Nichol

The Adventures of Robin Hood

1938

Michael Curtiz, William Keighley

The Cabin in the Woods

2012

Drew Goddard

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

1920

Robert Wiene

The Cook, the thief, His Wife and Her Lover

1989

Peter Greenaway

The Fighter

2010

David O. Russell

The Godfather

1972

Francis Ford Coppola

The Hunger Games

2008

Gary Ross

The Infernal Cauldron

1903

George Méliès

The Last Emperor

1987

Bernardo Bertolucci

The Matrix

1999

Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

The Quick and the Dead

1998

Sam Raimi

The Ring

2002

Gore Verbinski

The Road

2009

John Hillcoat

The Wizard of Oz

1939

Victor Fleming

Titanic

1997

James Cameron

Traffic

2000

Steven Soderbergh

Transformers

2007

Michael Bay

Tron: Legacy

2010

Joseph Kosinski

True Grit

2010

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Up

2009

Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

Vertigo

1958

Alfred Hitchcock

We Need to Talk About Kevin

2011

Lynne Ramsay

65

APPENDIX I

Attached to the hardcopies of this document are memory sticks with the film clips for the practical element

66