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Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

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Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Old 03-09-13, 10:10 PM
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Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Color timing. Or Color Grading. Whichever you prefer, though one is more recognized for film and the other in digital production. But they get used for both. The process has been around for years but has been more noticeable in the digital era due to it's use of it. An excessiveness of it, I'd say. Though it had been done chemically as well.

What is it? Pretty much the manipulation of color in the image within the framing of the image. Think O Brother, Where Art Thou? or The Matrix films. OBWAT has that sepia look to it. Works out very damn well for it. The Matrix is obvious known for the green tones in The Matrix world. Note though that the current look of the first Matrix has been changed to fit the other films in it's colored tone, DVD/BD. It wasn't originally like that, I kind of like it for the most part but...it's original coloring had a good feel to it.

Anyway...there is always good and bad for it.

The two examples I mentioned I'd categorize in the former. Some films can be argued that they'd be fine w/ a natural look to them. While others benefit very well from the manipulation of the image. Films that could have benefitted from a natural look for me would The Expendables. Some scenes were way too dark, among other things.

What I kind of what to know from you guys is well, what films do you think benefit from it and what films didn't/don't?

Also...please try to keep it associated w/ the theatrical release of a film. Let's not head into the wonderful medium of home video...cuz that's an even bigger as fuck can of worms. Thank you, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, William Friedkin, and etc. Some filmmakers, man...they just...ugh...Fuck you, Friedkin. Especially you, Friedkin. You better not fuck up Sorcerer, you son of bitch.
Old 03-09-13, 10:35 PM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

McCabe and Mrs. Miller immediately comes to mind. I would really love to have that movie on Blu-ray.

Would that even count for what you are looking for since its look wasn't achieved in post?

Last edited by clckworang; 03-09-13 at 10:46 PM.
Old 03-09-13, 11:08 PM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Originally Posted by Solid Snake PAC View Post
Some filmmakers, man...they just...ugh...Fuck you, Friedkin. Especially you, Friedkin. You better not fuck up Sorcerer, you son of bitch.


The Exorcist looks great on BD staying pretty true to the original color grading. Cruising looked liked it had been fucked with quite a bit (still looked great though). I know about The French Connection and DP Owen Roizman blowing a fuse when he first saw the BD but was that specifically a color timing issue?

But yeah Sorcerer...get that shit right Friedkin (man I can't fucking wait!!!!).
Old 03-09-13, 11:23 PM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

I like my nice presentation. Widescreen. Good sound. Dark room. And the color grading aesthetic just doesn't work sometimes. But, unlike some of you guys, it doesn't really push my buttons when something is colored a little funny.

When it's noticeable, is when the movie just isn't good. It bothers me in those teen slasher and torture porn movies ... because those movies are usually already hard to get through. It doesn't bother me in Transformers or The Dark Knight, because the movie is a delight to watch.

So if writing, direction and cinematography is 99% of a good movie. What happens with the color timing just barely, barely matters to me.

If I were directing a movie, I prefer the tradition film look. Real colors. But it just doesn't bother me when critiquing.
Old 03-10-13, 12:11 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

I remember while watching the LOTR EE DVD special features that digital colour grading was used extensively on all the movies. It's how the Shire looked so green, etc.

I'm not up on all the technical aspects of it, but would a fair comparison to traditional cinematography be like using Photoshop on a picture vs. using glass/gel filters attached to a camera?
Old 03-10-13, 12:21 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Yes. I'd say so.

The latter are photografic elements manipulating the control of focus/light into the lens while photoshop is...well..Photoshop.

Color timing has been done photochemically, though I've very little knowledge of it's use. I know it very well through it's digital use.
Old 03-10-13, 12:26 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Originally Posted by troystiffler View Post
When it's noticeable, is when the movie just isn't good. It bothers me in those teen slasher and torture porn movies ... because those movies are usually already hard to get through. It doesn't bother me in Transformers or The Dark Knight, because the movie is a delight to watch.
I thought TDK looked fairly natural. Nolan doesn't seem to do it much, at least not to the extent of someone like David Fincher. For Fincher, I think it usually works pretty well because his films tend to be dark in tone anyway.
Old 03-10-13, 12:39 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

I'd agree that Fincher is a director that I'm totoally fine w/ the color timing used. Add in that the cinematography in his films lend very well to it too.
Old 03-10-13, 05:48 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

The first film to pop into my mind is Soderbergh's Traffic. He used orange colors for the Mexico scenes to relay the feeling of heat and he used icy blues in the Washington D.C. scenes for a cooler, more sterile feeling.

I also enjoyed Fincher's use of sepia tones for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Much preferred over his use of greens which usually give me a seasick feeling (ie. Panic Room, Fight Club, Se7en).
Old 03-10-13, 07:20 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

I actually personally hate the blues used in Traffic. It doesn't affect the quality of the film for me...I just hate how harsh it is at times.
Old 03-10-13, 07:42 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

I hate when this is done. Can't think of a single case where I've liked it. Although, who knows, there may have been a case where I liked the look of a film but didn't know it had been manipulated in post.

I remember when SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW came out and the initial trailers showed what a dank, ugly-looking film it was, so I opted not to go. But then new trailers came out with bright colors in them, so I went to see the film, intrigued by this look, only to learn I'd been rooked. The colors were added to the trailer only and not the actual film. We've never heard from that filmmaker again, have we? (Kerry Conran, IIRC) I hope we never do.
Old 03-10-13, 08:05 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Not sure if it was on all copies but the collector's edition of Se7en had a nice extra showing how they change the grading to give the film a certain feel.
Old 03-10-13, 09:23 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Aren't both versions of The Exorcist available on DVD? Is the theatrical cut of the DVD altered in terms of the color or something? What offenses have Jackson and Cameron committed?

Last edited by hanshotfirst1138; 03-10-13 at 11:35 AM.
Old 03-10-13, 10:29 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Well a lot of directors do it or let it be done.

Jackson and Cameron, in the negative form, have altered their films on BD. FOTR for example is greener than ever, the blacks are blacker than ever (ha). It's different than the other films. Alien was altered, w/o Scott's attention (right?), to a colder palette. Aliens and Terminator have been really altered on BD, w/ the whole teal fad. Where soft and warmer colors were normal, now we've colder and harsher environments. Though Alien, Aliens, and T1 look real good visually on BD, it destroys the original intention of the film that was released back in it's time.

Though this isn't what I was looking for in this thread but there is your answer.
Old 03-10-13, 11:20 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Payback was the most blue movie I can think of. It was like "Traffic" blue, but for the whole movie.

Also for some reason; the more I look at the word "blue", the more strange and foreign it looks....

What a strange word.
Old 03-10-13, 11:22 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Originally Posted by andy434343 View Post
Payback was the most blue movie I can think of. It was like "Traffic blue" but for the whole movie.
That's what I think of the Underworld movies. I have yet to see one all the way through but just thinking about the Underworld series makes me think of the color blue!
Old 03-10-13, 11:57 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Underworld for sure really used the blue very well. I think that was the first film I saw in theaters that was manipulated so heavily. Especially into the blue.

The First Avenger: Captain America I'm still iffy on whether or not I would've liked this in a natural color palette or not. The bits after Cap is...well Cap...I like but I think the before moments of that is maybe a little bit too much into the sepia. The blues didn't bother me but the sepianess of it did.
Old 03-10-13, 01:47 PM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

I felt like I needed to replace my bulb in my DLP after watching Captain America. But then I realized that it was the movie, and that I also needed to replace my bulb in my DLP.

I am sick of new movies trying to make films look old based on the colors used. It's not like it was actually as dreary as the movies of today try to depict the times of the past. It seems like a lame tactic to me. Like as if grass was not green in the 40's, but instead it was more of a boring grayish slight green color. Fuck that shit.
Old 03-10-13, 04:05 PM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

1979 Dracula. Badham wanted to film in black and white and Universal wouldn't let him. What we got was a gorgeous technicolor film. Badham got his hands on the film for DVD and washed all the color out.
Old 03-10-13, 04:31 PM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

I had to watch Hall Pass for work the other day, and I noticed how everyone's skin tone was the color of a carrot. Even Jenna Fischer looked like she was slathering on orange food coloring before every take.
Old 03-10-13, 04:50 PM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

My favorite color timed film was always the Criterion Laserdisc of Se7en. They used a really cool photochemical silver retention process, which made the film look insane - as if you lived in that grimy world. It was a bit tedious, though, because it came with instructions on how to properly calibrate it for viewing in that mode, but if you didn't write down your calibration settings for changing it back to the way it was, you were fucked.
Old 03-10-13, 05:30 PM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

I always liked Scorsese's decision on The Aviator to match the look of the movie with the look of color in film during each era.
Old 03-10-13, 11:00 PM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

For "the bad," here's a thread from a few years ago complaining about the color grading trends in current films:
http://forum.dvdtalk.com/movie-talk/...g-colours.html


Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
We've never heard from that filmmaker again, have we? (Kerry Conran, IIRC) I hope we never do.
He was working on a John Carter of Mars film at Paramount for a while, but that went nowhere obviously.

He recently released a short film that appears to be viral marketing for a feature film based on the book Tik Tok, by John Sladek, a dark satire about a serial killer robot.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tik-Tok_(novel)

Here's the short film, named Gumdrop:

http://youtu.be/A7sjoI5QjBY


Here's his demo reel for John Carter of Mars:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdEas1NWusY
Old 03-11-13, 12:35 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

In the "good" column: in Pitch Black, the planet they are on is lit by three suns. The suns have different colors, and the color of the film reflects this. So when the blue sun is in the sky everything has a blue tint, and red/orange when the red sun is up.
Old 03-11-13, 12:53 AM
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Re: Color Grading/timing in film. The good and the bad.

Originally Posted by Solid Snake PAC View Post
Well a lot of directors do it or let it be done.

Jackson and Cameron, in the negative form, have altered their films on BD. FOTR for example is greener than ever, the blacks are blacker than ever (ha). It's different than the other films. Alien was altered, w/o Scott's attention (right?), to a colder palette. Aliens and Terminator have been really altered on BD, w/ the whole teal fad. Where soft and warmer colors were normal, now we've colder and harsher environments. Though Alien, Aliens, and T1 look real good visually on BD, it destroys the original intention of the film that was released back in it's time.

Though this isn't what I was looking for in this thread but there is your answer.
Oh, for the love of....and here I thought Lucas and Hill were the biggest offenders! Anyway, I believe Spielberg bleach-bypassed Saving Private Ryan and Minority Report to give them their particular washed out looks. If you want to know what difference it makes, get the US Ed of Transporter 2, the US version was an unfinished cut to get a PG-13 rating, and one of the deleted scenes is a full fight sequence, there's a brief shot in t that was deleted and never color-corrected, it's only a second of two, but Statham turns orange for a moment, it's jarring as hell. It's one of those day jobs in film that we need think about, but those guys must have their work cut out for them just trying to get things to match within a single scene, much less getting the whole film to look good. I'll pick up he French DVD one of these days.

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