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Photon Management
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Old August 25th, 2003, 03:01 PM   #1
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Opinions on Lighting

In "Joy Ride" with Steve Zahn there's a scene where he and his character's brother are in a motel room listening to a murder being committed. The way they chose to lit that scene was with green gels to make it an extreme green (as opposed to the greenish hues of the Matrix and Amelie, this is more like Easter egg green).

So what's your opinion of that kind of unnatural "let's-throw-some-color-in-here-for-the-sake-of-it" lighting that's common in new films? Using colored gels in this scene bothered me because there didn't seem to be a need for it...and the only reason I can think of for them using was because someone decided that a typical motel room isn't that exciting to look at so they needed to jazz it up a bit.

Do most people prefer splashing color throughout films just for the sake of more color? Or do you prefer a more natural type of lighting?
John Locke
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Old August 25th, 2003, 05:20 PM   #2
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For what it's worth, I don't always understand why a commercial has to look like it's been dipped in queasy-green tones other than to stand apart from other commercials. Sometimes the color scheme is a distraction because I ask, "why?" rather than listening to the message. It seems like something more to impress the filmmakers than the audience. I don't even recall what these commercials were pitching. Thanks for bringing the topic up. ;)
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Old August 25th, 2003, 05:30 PM   #3
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Well, I've been called an 'aesthetic relativist' on this board before, basically meaning I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think that applies here as well.

I'd say that almost everything in filmmaking is contrived anyway - the way dialog plays out in these neat little 1.5hr stories that sum up all the characters' existence in a tidy little shell. I find it hard for me to argue against the lighting for the sake of lighting thing, though I agree, you really shouldn't do anything unless there's a point to it.

But sometimes in art, the artist does something that to them has a point, even if the point is simply to give something texture. There are, after all, a lot of people (myself included) who enjoy texture almost as much as the storyline itself, and sometimes more so.

I can't speak specifically to this scene in Joy Ride, but I can guess that the director or whoever had some sort of intention with the green. Maybe it really was just to dress up the set. But there's so much we do in filmmaking just to dress up something that otherwise isn't all that interesting. Color is just one of those techniques. We use make-up to hide blemishes, we use framing to hide height (or lack thereof), we use cuts to speed up or slow down things for added effect, and so on and so on.

So I guess I'm saying that films don't really exist in nature, so anything a director wishes to use is their legitimate choice as an artist showing his or her vision. It's so hard to argue art!
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