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What's happening to the colours??!!

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What's happening to the colours??!!

Old 09-12-07, 08:59 PM
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What's happening to the colours??!!

So I'm watching Wind Chill (2007), a new rental with Emily Blunt which looks like it might develop into an OK thriller. I'm 20 minutes into the movie when I am totally distracted by the absence of TRUE COLOUR. Everything is too blue and too cold. There is no true red or yellow anywhere. I know the film is set in winter on a Delaware highway and that the colour (or absence of it) is supposed to add (or substract) to (from) the atmosphere. But I have this terrible sense of déjà vu. I am reminded how all the recent Spielberg movies I hated are gradually being drained of all colour, how Peter Jackson's King Kong was a two-strip colour atrocity - mango and aquamarine - and even Lord of the Rings was at times altogether too icy blue and depressing. Too much Mordor and not enough Shire, for my taste.

And then there are the new DVD transfers of old movies that are all over the place colour-wise, but usually (it's the fashion right now, it'll pass) with way too much golden yellow and done in a way to move as far away as possible from the original Technicolor cheeriness.

Besides recommending I have my eyes checked, has anybody else noticed this and is there a name for it? Is digital film blueish just like cheap Eastmancolor used to be brownish? Do we just have to live with this or what?
Old 09-12-07, 09:09 PM
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You should blame James Cameron for making any and every nighttime shot freakishly blue. I think in Blade 2, Del Toro actually talks in the commentary about choosing to make his nighttime shots very orange instead of the standard blue.

As for these extreme palettes themselves, I think it is just a choice that the director makes with his creative crew (DP, Production Designer, etc). I personally don't have a problem with it, unless it purposely attracts too much attention to itself.
Old 09-12-07, 09:44 PM
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I'm actually 45 minutes into the film now and I understand that the colour choices were probably in great part conscious: the film describes the sun going down on a snowy, overcast Dec. 23 in Delaware and the gradual coming of nightfall. As for the greenish-blue waxy complexions of the charcaters, I'm afraid there's also a good explanation for that. Maybe I chose a bad film to base my rant on. (The film is really very, very atmospheric and believable.) But I still say there is way too much greenish-blue on our screens right now.
Old 09-12-07, 10:17 PM
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I haven't really understood why people complain about colors. I read reviews for the HD discs of Jarhead and 300 and in both they got below average reviews because of the color palette. If you're going to complain about color you might as well complain about casting or the script. This isn't directed at you baracine, I was just ranting about bad reviews in the PQ department based on artistic choices.
Old 09-12-07, 10:33 PM
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The first time this struck me was during the Fellowship of the Ring's spectacular panorama of the mountain caps on the giant screen. I understood intellectually that this was supposed to be grand but my eyes were telling me it looked like a washed out postcard that had been left in the sun in a store window for 15 summers in a row. When the DVD came out, it was the same colours, only I could tweak them a little on my set.

I wonder if the DVD transfers of old movies are overdoing the yellow because the DVD authors are personally sick and tired of the modern blue movies.
Old 09-12-07, 10:49 PM
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There's a guy on imdb and rottentomatoes that has about 50 posts, and each is on a different movie complaining about the use of "Blue and White" film (and not in the Snake of June sense), and adds "What, they couldn't afford color?" to each one.

It is generally a stylistic choice, I agree it's a little overdone these days but will be a good identifier of the times. I haven't had issue with most films shot in that manner.
Old 09-12-07, 10:54 PM
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Didn't Carpenter make the night scenes in Halloween very blue? It's definitely a stylistic choice.

P.S. Baracine: If this sort of thing bothers you, do not, I repeat, do not watch Traffic.
Old 09-12-07, 11:02 PM
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RichC2 wrote:
There's a guy on imdb and rottentomatoes that has about 50 posts, and each is on a different movie complaining about the use of "Blue and White" film (and not in the Snake of June sense), and adds "What, they couldn't afford color?" to each one.

It is generally a stylistic choice, I agree it's a little overdone these days but will be a good identifier of the times. I haven't had issue with most films shot in that manner.
Interesting. It's good to know I'm not the only one. I really hate to bitch about this but there's also a lot of this "blue and white" all over the place, even in all the Potter films, which are absolutely brilliant in every other department. For some reason, we live in a cynical age where brilliant colours only denote "phoniness" and Disney and anything spiffy is suspicious.

Back to Wind Chill... It turns out to be a pretty cool post-Shamalayan chillfest that really captures the essential creepyness of a winter night spent in a scrapped car on a deserted road surrounded by what may or may not be ghosts. And a few scenes towards the end (a car on fire and the scenes in the early morning sun) prove that the colour scheme can be altered back to a certain kind of normalcy at the push of a button

Ironically, the same DVD has a preview for the Blu(!)-Ray DVD of Luc Besson's Angel-A, a director who has the courage to use black and white instead of boring his public with "blue and white", when the mood strikes him.

Last edited by baracine; 09-13-07 at 07:15 AM.
Old 09-12-07, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by baracine
boring his public with "blue and white"
You don't speak for everyone, Benoit; I quite like stylistic color choice, as long as it is meaningful.
Old 09-12-07, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Suprmallet
Didn't Carpenter make the night scenes in Halloween very blue? It's definitely a stylistic choice.
Well, Halloween was made on a shoestring but the night scenes were sometimes blue and sometimes not blue enough, i.e. showing the hideous colours of the house interiors which would be considered old fashioned nowadays. But whatever it was, it worked, and the only times I think about the colours of that film is to reflect how anyone could live with a yellow and orange couch in their living room.

P.S. Baracine: If this sort of thing bothers you, do not, I repeat, do not watch Traffic.
Don't worry, I won't. It's about drug trafficking, isn't it? (glorification of crime)
Old 09-12-07, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by DonnachaOne
You don't speak for everyone, Benoit; I quite like stylistic color choice, as long as it is meaningful.
I understand that a director makes artistic choices. What bothers me is that so many directors happen to make the exact same choice towards blue and white. Thank God for the rebels... I really like the colour palette of the Jeepers Creepers movies which manage to make rich, vibrant, brilliant sunshine scenes and of course rich, vibrant night scenes look creepy, haunted and menacing, without resorting to washed-out blueish colours.

Last edited by baracine; 09-12-07 at 11:23 PM.
Old 09-12-07, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by baracine
Don't worry, I won't. It's about drug trafficking, isn't it? (glorification of crime)
It's about drug trafficking, but it is not a glorification of it.

And the reason I said not to see it is because it takes place in several different locations, and Soderbergh used a different color filter on each location, so each area is basically just one color.
Old 09-12-07, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by baracine
Don't worry, I won't. It's about drug trafficking, isn't it? (glorification of crime)
Is there something wrong about watching a movie that might glorify crime? I can't imagine what movies you might not be watching for this reason.
Old 09-12-07, 11:56 PM
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Don't even start, FinkPish. Baracine is known for having eccentric tastes.
Old 09-12-07, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Suprmallet
Don't even start, FinkPish. Baracine is known for having eccentric tastes.
Oh, believe me, I know he does. I'm just curious about the "why" for this one.
Old 09-13-07, 12:09 AM
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I've stopped digging into that mine, personally. Although I can't figure out why he'd admit to watching Jeepers Creepers, but that's just me.
Old 09-13-07, 12:33 AM
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He didn't say he liked it, just that it was, in part, brilliant.
Old 09-13-07, 12:35 AM
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I noticed that the 2004 editions of the Star Wars trilogy have colors that seem really off. Most of The Empire Strikes Back has a weird bluish tint to it. Especially the Hoth Scenes. The Bluish tint is also really noticeable in Jedi, during the final attack inside the Death Star.
Old 09-13-07, 02:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Suprmallet
Baracine is known for having eccentric tastes.
heh
Old 09-13-07, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Suprmallet
It's about drug trafficking, but it is not a glorification of it.

And the reason I said not to see it is because it takes place in several different locations, and Soderbergh used a different color filter on each location, so each area is basically just one color.
Soderbergh is one of the producers of Wind Chill, coincidentally. Ooo-OOO-ooo.

And there are lots of movies I simply skip, as you know, because if I see one more film about the personal problems of a hit man, I will simply burst at the seams and start poking my eyes out with a fork.

Last word on Wind Chill: It's really a very good film that gave me a chance to bond with Emily Blunt who was such a stand-out in The Devil Wears Prada and is definitely an actress to watch. She plays an American here with absolutely no trace of a British accent, which is something the British manage to do very well, God only knows how. The film is very atmospheric and truly scary without too many gory cheap effects. The icy-bluish colours really make you feel like you are gradually dying from exposure on a deserted winter country road. In this case, the colour choices are justified. But they made me think back on all the times I was in a theatre recently and the colours on-screen were so icy-blue that the management should have passed blankets and hand warmers around for the viewer's comfort if only to justify the price of the tickets

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Last edited by baracine; 09-13-07 at 08:30 AM.
Old 09-13-07, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by FinkPish
You should blame James Cameron for making any and every nighttime shot freakishly blue.
I blame James Cameron for a lot of things, especially the introduction of the now obligatory exposition scenes shouted under an incoming helicopter in every action movie, but at least his blue night scenes are a warm rich saturated blue that actually looks pretty.

Last edited by baracine; 09-13-07 at 07:45 AM.
Old 09-13-07, 10:04 AM
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should we go into the Peter Pan DVD debacle - I think not
Old 09-13-07, 10:42 AM
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Of course there's stylistic choice, but there's also abuse of digital grading, which is happening with increasing frequency.
Old 09-13-07, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by DealMan
Of course there's stylistic choice, but there's also abuse of digital grading, which is happening with increasing frequency.
From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_grading

Traditionally, color grading was done towards technical goals. Features like secondary color correction was originally used to establish color continuity. The trend today is increasingly moving towards creative goals- improving the aesthetics of an image, establishing stylized looks, and setting the mood of a scene through color. Because of this trend, some colorists suggest the phrase "color enhancement" over "color correction".
If that's true, then the "mood" is increasingly bleak.
Old 09-13-07, 11:57 AM
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I believe this particular look came about when cinematographers began shooting tungsten film stock in daylight settings. The daylight came out way too blue. And for years this was considered very wrong among technicians. Until someone said "What the hell," and used it for a stylistic look. Now it's way overused. Kind of like how 'pan and tilt' lenses were overused in 90's music videos.

Eventually people got sick of the look and moved on.

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