Tuesday, 14 May 2013

A brief muse on Colour Grading

Colour Grading is used to add richness or style to imagery. Creating a Colour Grade can enrich certain colours, wash-out others or deepen hues and shades depending on the mood of the work or particular entities within the mis-en-scéne you wish to draw attention to.

Colour Grading also allows you to emulate particular capturing formats such as Super 8 or BETA Video. Particular periods of history depending on the narrative may use Colour Grades to emote feelings about that world. For instance a movie set in The Dark Ages with a tragic story surround the heroism of Knights and the decline of Great Kings may be expressed using a Colour Grade that accentuates the browns and deep greys of that time, however a Medieval Festival may use a Colour Grade that highlights the richly dyed costumes of the period against the browns and greys featured in the surroundings.

Below is a grab I have taken from the Tom Stoppard film Rosencrantz & Guildenstein are Dead, featuring Tim Roth, Gary Oldman and Richard Dreyfuss.

You can see in this still how the browns and greens are coordinated in the costumes of the two actors. These characters spend most of the film together and so a delicate coordination of their dress is required. The Gradient used in this scene and indeed others shows a weathered look to the colours. The browns of the wooden staircase appear well used, the ornamental paisley printed panels on the front of the staircase are darkened so that when the light floods in on them they appear flat almost faded. The colours on the right panel are almost the same saturation of hue as Gary Oldman's doublet.

In this picture we are almost entirely seeing browns and greens. Giving the interior an almost forestry feel. Now if we look at the artwork that was being produced around the time of Shakespeare, we begin to see a correlation between the Art Direction and the Colour Grading.

Firstly a painting called Lockere Gesellschaft (1545-1550) by Flemish artist Jan Sanders van Hemessen. Observe the colours used to portray this tavern scene.

Next below is elder Pieter Bruegel's Peasant Wedding (1568).

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, a Flemish artist, was probably the most well known painter of his time. Have a look at the vividness of the whites in this scene. In the Tom Stoppard film there is a scene set in a steamy bathing room where bright white fabric is the dominant feature against darkened wet surfaces of tubs of wood and the stone floor.

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