Aggressive Color

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      Hi Sir Roger Deakins (and others),

      My coworker and I were having a debate after watching an interview/breakdown for the cinematography from the new show Beef shot by Larkin Seiple. Below is a still from a timelapse process shot done near the end of the show. You can find the full shot here as well. There’s just a hodgepodge of colors all over, which honestly is pretty on style for the show, which doesn’t shy away from mixing color temps, or even just using multiple aggressive colors to light the subjects. We also thought of another shot (put below) from Marcell Rev’s Euphoria. That show also has plenty of insane color or camera moves throughout, but the still below we thought was actually a really good use of red. It’s still very prominent, but still toned down with the cool white light surrounding it.

      It’s easy to point at flashy colors and say, “Hey that doesn’t serve the story it doesn’t work!” But you can also have something that does serve the story, but it’s still too much. From the other threads and what I’ve read I know you are much more restrained in your use of color, and even find it a nuisance. But color, and aggressive use at that, can have its place. If this line of what’s considered distracting is different for everyone is it just something you need to make a personal decision on as an artist? How do you look at your work with a fresh eye and make sure your work is all in service of the story? If the lighting or camerawork is “intense” is that always a bad thing? There have been entire painting movements based around shifting the focus to technique or style or color over the story attached to the piece. Or is that not a fair comparison?

      I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts! Thank you so much for your time!


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    • #214592

        As you said the shot on Beef goes inline with what was previously shown. Also this exact moment on the show it’s like a dream. But still in doesn’t feel off because during few hours they have kept playing with the colors in lots of occasions.
        To me the lesson here is: if you put the audience in your world and keep a consistency on what you do, then you can get away with anything.
        As someone wise said. If it happens once it’s a mistake, if it happens twice it’s a coincidence but if it happens 3 times it’s a motif.


          From the top of my head I mostly remember aggressive use of color being done in films that can be described as ‘visceral’. So less story and plot and more focus on mood and experience.


            Roger has used strong colored lighting on occasion, there was the blue-lit face of Daniel Craig in the car in Shanghai (Skyfall), the orange light of Las Vegas and the magenta light when K sees the large hologram advertisement of Joi (Blade Runner 2049), etc.

            It comes down to story (the color is emotionally or symbolically motivated, or plot-driven), whether the colored light is naturally motivated (it would be odd if someone was right next to a red neon sign and not have red light on them), and taste.

            Sometimes an image is very strong visually because the filmmaker wants to mark that moment in the viewer’s mind.


            James Parsons

              Cinematography in narrative filmmaking is always (sure, nothing is “always” or “never”) about the story, the characters, the setting, and serving the director’s intentions in bringing those elements to the audience. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a situation in which “aggressive color” or a muted palate is a must or is forbidden. You could tell a modern western noir lit in pulsing neon or in sunbaked sepia. You could tell a mind trip fantasia in swirling pastels or in black and white. It all depends on how the team of creators from writers to production designers to actors to the director and cinematographer agree they want to approach it.

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