Color Desaturation in todays movies, Pro or Con?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Norm, Dec 25, 2002.

  1. Norm

    Norm Cinematographer

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    I thought it was alright with Saving Private Ryan, but now with Minority Report, as I sit here watching the DVD. I feel everything seems too blue, and I'd rather see everything in the correct bright colors. It seems to be the current trend, like in the Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson seems to use it a alot. I hope Spielberg drops the technique. But I guess its a way to get a black & white like feel without using the forbidden plain B & W!

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

    Who was the first to start using this technique in the modern age?
     
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The use of color is just as important as other parts of a movie.

    Desaturation adds to the dead-cold feeling of SPR...most films using this benifit. In Payback, the lack of color gives a desolate mood which matches the film content.

    After all, what fun would cinematography be if all films had the same look?
     
  3. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    Patrick, that's a good point. However, I found this to be the most difficult aspect of watching ten hours of BAND OF BROTHERS. I wish they'd done the whole thing in black and white. Spielberg fell in love with desatured in SPR and now he seems to be going a bit overboard with it, in my opinion. It's grown old. Does it work? For some, but not for me, even for mood.
     
  4. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    The color for Minority Report isn't really desaturated. The contrast is blown way out of proportion, and a blue filter was applied. Hell, it probably would have been easier for you if it were just desaturated... the color dial on the television can compensate for such creative quirks.

    Personally, I thought it met the film's noir feel very well.
     
  5. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    For me it all depends on what effect the director was going for and what emotion he/she is trying to instill in me. In the case Minority Report, as Adam stated, Spielberg was going for a film noir look in the 21st century to add to the detective thriller style of the film and IMO works extremely well.
    Having said that, if I start to feel that a film has a color palette that is not suiting that particular film, then I have a problem with it, that rarely happens with me though. From the bright vivid color scheme of Moulin Rough to the faded scheme of Road to Perdition, they were telling a story with the colors and I wouldn't change a thing about either film.
     
  6. Mark Turetsky

    Mark Turetsky Supporting Actor

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    For an interesting example of color palette tweaking, have a look at the trailer for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. It looks like parts of the movie are made to appear like early color television (ie very little color contrast or contrast, but with saturated colors) and other parts are desaturated (looks like bleach bypass), probably to differentiate between the two halves of his life. Neat stuff.
     
  7. Jeff Kohn

    Jeff Kohn Supporting Actor

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  8. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    consider also the "greenish tint" to The Matrix, and no doubt its sequels. and the "washed out" look of Seven. all integral to the movies.

    for a different example, Pitch Black uses three different "colour schemes" to convey different settings, which IMHO is rather effective.

    and in contrast, in that other Vin Diesel vehicle The Fast & The Furious, the bright, even garish, colours of the cars were played up.

    just some random thoughts about the issue.

    I would say generally, the use of colour, or non-use, does often effectively enhance the experience. I think the main complaint is everyone does the "desaturated" thing now, making it a bit cliche. but how different is that from any other movie-making cliche we've become familiar with? e.g. Sixth Sense's major "twist" was (somewhat) fresh, but since then every other (OK, maybe every fourth or fifth) movie is sold with a major plot twist.

    and use of colour can't save a crap movie. consider Dick Tracy's deliberate use of only primary colours to convey the comic-book feel. who cares?
     
  9. Agee Bassett

    Agee Bassett Supporting Actor

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  10. Mike Graham

    Mike Graham Supporting Actor

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    Looking over my DVD collection and thinking about the recent films I've caught in the theater, I'm really surprised how many films in the last 5 years have been heavily influenced by their cinematography:
    the desaturated looks of:
    Saving Private Ryan
    Band Of Brothers
    Se7en
    the high contrast of:
    Minority Report
    Ocean's 11
    And don't forget the different color palettes of Three Kings, Traffic and the upcoming Confessions of A Dangerous Mind. Plus, Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can was shot very softly, reminiscent of the film's era. Overall, I think these visual styles served to enhance these films, and there's certainly nothing wrong with making your film stand out from the rest [​IMG]
     
  11. Talal

    Talal Stunt Coordinator

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    if you want to see the magic of color on the screen, watch kurosawa's films that were shot in color. Do'Desu'Ka'Den is nothing short of visual poetry.
     
  12. Scott Calvert

    Scott Calvert Supporting Actor

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    There's a good documentary I own on dvd called Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography. On it, Nestor Alemendros has this to say about fog filters:

    "Whenever I go to a movie and I see fog filters used, I stay ten minutes and I leave. I hate that kind of thing...because it's so easy."

    I agree with him, but I'd take it a step farther and say I'm not fond of filters period. Any wanna-be DP can throw a filter on the camera and have a film look like an SUV commercial.
     
  13. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Don't throw the filter out with the bath water there, Scott. There is probably not a single film shot that isn't filtered in some way, either with actual filters or through "timing" in reproduction. When it is done well, it can be quite effective, but it also can be a crutch. Every single frame of Fiddler on the Roof is "filtered" with a silk stocking, and it is quite subtle and effective.

    I think I do agree with you, and Agee as well that there is so much heavy handed manipulation these days. Of course, it's not surprising because is keeps getting accolades. As nice as the effect could have been in Private Ryan, it still was excessive, as far as I'm concerned. As far as Minority Report goes, Jordan Cronenweth got, as far as I'm concerned, a much more effective result in Blade Runner without the use of such gimmicky techniques.
     
  14. Tim Ke

    Tim Ke Stunt Coordinator

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    I believe two others that used this technique were Traffic and Swordfish...
     
  15. Dean DeMass

    Dean DeMass Screenwriter

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    Out of Sight used different coler palettes for its different time frames and locations. I felt it worked very well. Personally, I don't have a problem with techniques as long as works for the film, which it usually does. I loved the almost Black and White use in Minority Report, until the end of the film when
    Anderton goes into his dream state and the film is then saturated properly.


    -Dean-
     
  16. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Sorry to sidetrack this thread briefly, but:
     
  17. Norm

    Norm Cinematographer

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    After finishing the Minority Report DVD, the look of the film made my eyes tired! I think I would rather it be B&W than blue.
     
  18. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    The reference to camera filters in regards to this topic is almost certainly misplaced. The look of the films mentioned is much more likely a result of steps taken in post-production, either in processing (like skip bleach) or in color timing.

    Scott, the far more common use of filters in relation to color is for color corrrection. If any of these titles first achieved their cooler look (as in blue) in camera, it was probably by not using a filter where one would have been employed to achieve normal colors - for example exposing tungsten balanced film in daylight (or under HMIs) without an 85 filter.
     
  19. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    Btw, Three Kings utilized reversal stock at times. It has little lattitude and high contrast, and very saturated colors.
     
  20. Jeff Kohn

    Jeff Kohn Supporting Actor

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