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Old December 29th, 2010, 07:35 AM   #1
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lighting like the movies

Hello,
i remember hearing that in the usual blockbuster films the way they light to achieve the common look is to put orange gels on the lights lighting the subject and blue gels on the lights lighting the background. Can anyone expand on this as this is a technique that looks like its commonly used but never spoken of?
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Old December 29th, 2010, 08:22 AM   #2
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It's rather more complex than that and much depends on the story being told. Some films do have cooler backgrounds and on the other hand others don't, there's no catch all rule, it's just a style decision by the DP & director..

There are a range of gels that you can use to warm your lights called CTO or Colour Temperature Orange and another set to cool (or blue) your lights called CTB. Light CTO (eg 1/4) is commonly used to warm flesh tones. You can find out the values of these lighting filters from the manufacturers like Rosco or Lee.

http://www.rosco.com/includes/techno...terFacts09.pdf

There are other colours available.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 08:49 AM   #3
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Thank you for this, very informative. would it ever be applicable to use cto to warm fleshtones when shooting outdoors in daytime with the sunlight being a strong natural backlight? or would one be forced to use ctb to match the color temp.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 09:39 AM   #4
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You've got a little mixed up with this. Film stock is bought in a single colour temperature, selected on order, so if you want white to be white, then you need to use filters on your sources to make them the same. Where you might have got mixed up is when different kinds of light source are used, so you could have a key light from an HMI (discharge lamp) source - which has a high colour temperature and is quite blue. Your background could be from halogen lamped sources which are rather yellowy/red. So if you want even colour rendition and NOT effect colour, you put CT Blue in the halogens and CT orange on the HMIs.

With video, the actual colour isn't too important as you can correct in the camera, and/or in post. If your character is intended to look 'real' then getting colour balance even is important. The TV people have been doing grading for years, which involves colour, contrast plus more clever tricks. Now that movie production involves more and more electronics, they're in on the tricks too.

Try not to view these gels as colouring the light, more as corrective filters to cope with light sources that have colour temperatures below 3000K and above 6000K! (it's measured in a temperature scale called Kelvin - which you can Google if you really want to understand it)
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Old December 29th, 2010, 10:06 AM   #5
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Negative film stocks have an extremely good colour grading range and actually have a larger colour space than video. You can colour correct tungsten (3200) stocks that have been shot in daylight without a correction filter. This even possible using a purely photochemical workflow.

You need full CTB to colour correct tungsten lights to daylight, other lights may have a daylight colour temperature (as mentioned they may need to be matched).

You can use a gold reflector to warm the flesh tones when the sun is a back light or you could gel a daylight light. However, you do need a powerful light if you want to fill a face backlit by the sun.

This is a creative decision depending if you want correct flesh tones or warmer or cooler flesh tones. It's something you should test to see the effect of the various grades of CTO & CTB. You can also use colour effect filters if you want something not quite as "pure".
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Old December 29th, 2010, 10:37 AM   #6
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very informative, i cant wait to give these methods a try
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Old December 29th, 2010, 04:37 PM   #7
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I think what the OP was referring to is the trend over the last decade of colorists doing post work that ends with orange faces and teal backgrounds. That's all done in post and its the subject or several negative articles online:

Here is one: Into The Abyss: Teal and Orange - Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness

I personally can't stand it. It looks like everybody are munchkins hailing from the Wizard of Oz, but it is the trendy look for blockbusters. That also means that, in a few years, it will no longer be trendy and the film will be unwatchable. So if you do try to achieve that look, my suggestion is to do it in post, rather than on set with gels, as you can undo the post color correction much easier than you can neutralize orange and blue gelled lighting in post.
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Old December 30th, 2010, 03:58 AM   #8
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Yes, playing with the colours in post works as well, although it can be easier if you plan to go that way helping it along with your initial lighting,

Here are a few more visual style clichés.

5 Annoying Trends That Make Every Movie Look the Same | Cracked.com
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Old December 31st, 2010, 02:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Panfeld View Post
I think what the OP was referring to is the trend over the last decade of colorists doing post work that ends with orange faces and teal backgrounds. That's all done in post and its the subject or several negative articles online:

Here is one: Into The Abyss: Teal and Orange - Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness

.

Oh man, that was a great read. I didn't realize this until this thread. This board is so awesome!
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Old January 4th, 2011, 02:01 PM   #10
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Alicia, think of your original question this way - How(and why) would you seperate your talent(or other foregound elements) from the background? The why is usually because you want your actors to stand out. You can do this with color as you originally mentioned, luminance; silghting your talent brighter than the background, also using backlights to 'rim' the talents' head & shoulders. Using depth of field, making your background soft, blurry while keeping your actors in sharp focus.

The use of blue/orange that you referred to brings up one more point. How do you use your background to create not only location but also mood or style. In some genres, a bluish background is shorthand for either 'dark, scary' or sometimes 'techno'. Green works well as techno and weird/off kilter etc. If they are present throughout a movie, these are more 'styles' than mood.

If you get a chance to see Vittorio Storaro's interviews on his color theory ideas, it's worth catching. And compare his "The Last Emperor" to "One From the Heart" films for some very interesting uses of color.
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