Part of the device of cinema is extending the mise-en-scene outward and upward to the representational devices (projection, development and treatment).
Part of the study of film is tracing how the use of technique defines generations of film makers. Often, technology serves as an impetus for a style (i.e., Robert Altman and the use of multi-track audio on Nashville precipitated very "talky" films from the 70's/80's), or the developments in computer motion controlled rigs.
Or lets not forget: lens flares.
Color grading (ie, the orange/blue compliments in this article) are also defined by outward influences like magazine photography, trends in CGI, etc.
Anyhow, in a few years a new dominate "look" will pervade cinema and we'll all have something new to complain about.
Thanks for the informative posts.
You start noticing color gradients, lighting techniques, camera angles, and many other technical details, and spend mental effort categorizing and critiquing them instead of being immersed in the experience, like, perhaps, you were before.
As computer geeks notice bogus computer terminals in the movies, and it is somewhat irritating and frustrating "no, dammit, that is not what a mainframe terminal looks like!" film geeks do the same with movies.
Dissecting a movies cuts is always fascinating though. One of the Film Studies 101 exercises is to story-board the gas station explosion in The Birds. I like doing cut analysis on animated films, because they have to be so deliberate. Films are edited in a winnowing approach, but animation (because of the cost per frame) is edited first, then filled in second.
When I was doing a lot of editing in school my approach was to use markers first to set a beat for the mood of the piece (sometimes relating to music, a presence track or even just a bpm/heartbeat), and edit to that.
If you want to read about editing:
The original experiment:
A case study in editing:
The Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potempkin - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps-v-kZzfec
The Birds gas station scene:
Andrey Tarkovsky's films are awesome that way. A part of brain will keep track of the length - perhaps the same way as a music aficionado keeps track of the the current note and the starting note of a melody (or the way jvm keeps track of a stack trace).
A dissection of the Copacabana shot from Goodfellas - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBMKyNJvNV8
And one of the most brutal long-takes I've ever seen: the Death of Little Bill, Boogie Nights (NSFW): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znwh41szei4
Ironically enough, the first thought I had when I visited his blog was "oh god no not another white text on black background site!". But I'm not going to write an article about the trend of light text on dark background, which would actually be a more valid complaint because it objectively reduces readability, while the orange+blue palette is just taste.
Would love to get some pointers for good reads on this. I've always felt the opposite.
To be fair, that is not white on black, it's very-light-grey on dark grey. Personally I find white #FFFFFF on black #000000 hard to read too, but very few sites use such colors.
Light grey on black, which this blog uses, seems perfectly fine for me.
Might there be differences of opinion because of differences in monitors? I'm using Eizo S-PVA, so I might have it better than those with cheaper LCD monitors.
I would love to see a peer-reviewed study saying this.
However, there's a huge issue that has practically stopped me from watching the recent films, or nearly anything made in the 2000's.
It's how cutting the film and camera tracking have changed. It used to be more about long takes and cinemaesque dolly shots that also give time to get immersed in the film. But there's a newer trend that started in the late 90's and developed fully a few years later: extremely short and rapidly changing cuts and excess hand-held filming with the camera shooting from within the scene, rapidly turning and changing positions. To me, it feels like watching a strobo light: I literally have no idea what's happening in the film. It just all flashes in front of my eyes.
The problem is that it's not just action-packed scifi films or anything: many films in all genres have become more fast-paced. You can barely find a romantic comedy or a drama without several scenes that enable this ADHD limbo. To make it worse, even European films have begun to adopt this style in the last decade.
I watched some old action films such as Rambo or Terminator recently and I must say that even they were more moderate in tempo than the last few, and not necessarily action, films I've seen in the cinema in the last five or so years. This is just terrible and I hope cinematography will recover soon or that these tricks will move on to the 3D videos.
Similarly to reading books, a good film gives you the essentials of the plot, characters, and the visual scene only and leaves the rest to your imagination. And giving space to this imagination is crucial to make a good film.
A good film must not give you everything because it can never be as good as if you had imagined it yourself. In opposition, these youtube flicks with 50M budget are only trying to make a first impression on you.
Vonnegut would disagree that books need to be as spare as you imagine. As would Tolkien and William S. Burroughs. You have a rather narrow view of the art to leave out those authors.
Films are a bit different because they inevitably offer some visual scene that is much more pre-set than a book can ever offer. But there comes the art of cinematography which, like any art, is about showing pointers to what can't be seen. This approach has become more rare yet it would be very useful especially in dramatizing these action and horror films that, these days,diverge from it most.
It's often much more effective to not show what's happening than detailed takes of the action. A cliche is that the first time an alien or a fictional monster is shown on the screen, the film will falls flat because the unrealistic visual mock-up blatantly kills all chance for your imagination to do its job. Similarly a hectic fighting scene just gets lost in the action but the same could be filmed differently, showing something that all the fighting points to, instead of showing the fighting itself. With books, they say that a writer should describe what happens instead of writing his interpretation of it.
When coloring anything, you pretty much have to choose some variation of red/green, orange/blue, or violet/yellow. Anything else blurs into one of these three.
We'd all do better to criticize specific color choices, rather than stigmatizing one of the three possible general palettes. Otherwise it's like criticizing violins or oil paint for being overused.
EDIT: It was the 17th submission, 538 days ago, My god!
"To achieve a distinctive look for each different vignette in the story, Steven Soderbergh used three different film stocks (and post-production techniques), each with their own color treatment and grain for the print. The "Wakefield" story features a colder, bluer tone to match the sad, depressive emotion. The "Ayala" story is bright, shiny, and saturated in primary colors, especially red, to match the glitzy surface of Helena's life. The "Mexican" story appears grainy, rough, and hot to go with the rugged Mexican landscape and congested cities."
Blue = natural light (5000-8000K)
Yellow/Orange = artificial/tungsten light (2400-4500K)
Anyone who's shot actual film will know that if you shoot daylight film in tungsten, it comes out yellow, and vice versa. For you young folks who only ever knew digital cameras, that's the "white balance" function automatically correcting for you.
It's only natural for this set of color contrasts to show up in film (try shooting something lit by a tungsten lightbulb in front of a north-facing window).
The best example of this, to me, is the CSI franchise. LA was light blue, NY was straight up blue and Miami straight up yellow.
The eye is pretty good at dealing with these things, does the author get frightened and angry when the setting sun makes things appear orange?
Van Gogh was a big fan of these colors and it shows in his work.
Which turned out to not always be the case.
That link has several quotes on use of colour.
Van Gogh is notable in his symbolic use of colour.
Physician, heal thyself.
You are not making a valid argument, not in any way, shape or form. It’s pure, irrelevant bullshit.
It’s possible to be completely unable to color grade yet still notice trends and write that you think they are horrible.
But you are not even talking about the author’s ability to color grade, you are talking about fucking web design which is a tenuously related field at best. It just makes no sense at all.
Critics do not have to be good at what they criticize in order to be good critics. Would Roger Ebert be a good director?
It’s astonishing really, a complete non-sequitur.
It's not a "complete non-sequitur" to connect the color selection criticism skills of the author to his own color selections.
Colors, not "web design".
Are they the same? No. Are they wholly unrelated? No.
Inverted text is fine for any application in movies since there is so little of it. Inverted text becomes only a problem if the texts get longer. (And even then inverted text is certainly not a completely wrong but merely a debatable choice.)
You are making no sense.
I was also trying to make a larger point: Even if you think the author’s work sucks you can’t just dismiss everything that is said.
Yes. We can. Some ppl may not like it, but we certainly can.
P.S. I agree the author's web design isn't exactly "web 2.0" but it clearly does not diminish the author's credibility to comment on film colorization. They are completely separate.
Except that the original poster's comment was not a tu quoque fallacy. Note from your source:
This form of the argument is as follows:
A makes criticism P.
A is also guilty of P.
Therefore, P is dismissed.
Note further in your own citation:
The legitimate form of the argument is as follows:
A makes criticism P.
A is also guilty of P.
Therefore, A is dismissed (from his/her role as a model of the principle that motivates criticism P).
The difference from the illegitimate form is that the latter would try to dismiss P along with A. It is illegitimate to conflate the logically separate questions of whether P is a valid criticism and whether A is a good role model.
Nevertheless, it's a moot point because...
2. I believe the original poster's comment, "physician, heal thyself" is a reference to a person (in this case, the author), and not to a position.
Can I make this any plainer?
That would therefore be an incorrect assumption:
"The moral of the proverb is counsel to attend to one's own defects rather than criticizing defects in others, ..."
Or, in other words, before criticizing movie color defects, attend to his own web color defects.
> I am personally a web designer, and I have no basis or knowledge to comment on color grading in films.
Granted. But, would you say that your experience in web design and color selection would allow you sufficient knowledge to identify an absolutely awful movie color scheme? I would posit yes. The converse would also be true. Someone with movie color grading expertise should have sufficient knowledge of colors to at least make a reasonably passing effort at reasonable web color selection. I.e., the underlying basics apply and carry through in both arenas, even if the particular technical specifics differ.
If you are talking about web design you are making no sense whatsoever. No sense.