Thursday, June 18, 2009

Color Theory for Cinematographers

Alright, all you DPs out there--check this blog out if you wanna learn the importance of utilizing your color palette on film.

A couple months back Isaac Botkin wrote an interesting blog examining the use of color as a "storytelling tool" onscreen. In "Color Theory for Cinematographers" Botkin provides an in-depth analysis of color in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down, illustrating how the film artfully conveys emotion through alterations in its color palette.

Botkin also provides a link to Brendan Dawes' fascinating "color charts." Dawes ran his favorite films through a Java program, which "sample[d] a movie every second and generate[d] an 8 x 6 pixel image of the frame at that moment in time." These "Cinema Reduxes", as he calls them, provide a "unique fingerprint" for each film, illustrating the changes in color and lighting that occur throughout the film. It's an interesting way to look at the entirety of a film in one image--and a great way to study its use of color, lighting, and rhythm.

While Dawes created only 8 Reduxes (two of which were featured in a MoMA exhibit), his work has inspired copycat work. For more Reduxes check out Matthew Merkovich's website here.

--Joanna Chlebus

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