Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Digital Grading: The downside

In the course of my travels I came across these interesting pieces on digital color grading in Motion Pictures, and while they aren't exactly timely, they are interesting and worth reading.

Back in March, Todd Miro put together a blog post documenting examples of the teal and orange world that Hollywood seems to have descended into, and gives a little history lesson starting with the - arguably - first film digitally color graded: "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" it's worth looking at for the examples:
Kuler, shows what happens when you apply complementary color theory to flesh tones. You see, flesh tones exist mostly in the orange range and when you look to the opposite end of the color wheel from that, where does one land? Why looky here, we have our old friend Mr. Teal.
Into The Abyss: Teal and Orange - Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness

This lead Phil Hoad to look into it, and wonder if there's a conspiracy:
It's no conspiracy, though, says Stefan Sonnenfeld, a leading Hollywood colourist who worked on the Transformers films (Miro counts them among the main offenders). "There's no specific colour decision-making process where we sit in a room and say, 'We're only going to use complementary colours to try and move the audience in a particular direction – and only use those combinations,'"
The Guardian: Hollywood's new colour craze

Meanwhile, Phelim O'Neill at the Guardian, decries the orange-faced consistency of modern films, preferring instead the aesthetics of bad transfers and YouTube videos:
There are a lot of different looks films can have and it's a shame more directors don't exploit this more. Really though, no matter what the quality or format, it's all preferable to having the orange-faced likes of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz gurning at you from an 80ft screen.
The Guardian: Why I'd rather watch a scratchy old film print than an orange-faced Tom Cruise

An interesting article about the history and current practices of Digital Grading in Motion Pictures can be found at the CGSociety: The Colorists

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