Contrast of Colour

Standing out from the pack

There's many different ways to create colour contrast, production design, costumes, lighting, location and many more. These all play a part in creating colour contrast in your film. 

What is colour contrast though? How does it look on screen?  It's about having the viewer look in a certain spot or pay more attention to a particular item or person on screen. It's used a lot more than you think. Most of the time it's used in a subtle way, to catch your eye without you knowing it.

Immortals, extreme contrast

Deep blacks help to highlight the characters eyes and skin tones.

The red dress stands out thanks to the use of only darker colours in the scene.

Immortals, a film that's got some crazy colour contrast. I'm sure most of it was shot on a green screen, but it still looks pretty amazing. Above, you have an example of colour contrast being used to stand out, telling the viewer what to notice. The deep blacks play contrast to the striking red of the woman's dress. What does the image tell you about the scene?

A few things, it shows that the man is willing to get dirty and risk his life for her, he comes from a lower class, his covered in black oil, she is perfectly clean. She is considered someone of high importance in the world, there's not a mark on her, the red makes her seem wealthy and highlights her importance in the world. She stands out because she needs to be noticed in the world, he does not because at this stage of the film his role is to be a helper and not a leader. 


Another scene from the film where colour contrast is used in the forefront. Here the gods descend from heaven(?) and interact with the human's below. The humans blend into the background whilst the god's stand out with their gold clothes and there bronze skin (very blingy)

By using gold as their colour they stand out as someone who should be worshipped and feared. It makes them appear grandiose and too powerful to be apart of the human world. Gold is currency, so having them in gold really drives home the point of their value in the world. It looks amazing and fantastically stylised.  


Less is more and skin tones

Not every film use's colour contrast in such an extreme way that Immortals does, other's use it in a more subtle way to direct the viewers eye. In the two stills below they are using skin tones for their contrast in colour. 

On the left still you have a shot from the film Prometheus. As you can see her skin is quite orange, the background is a desaturated green and breaking up the scene is a blue monitor on the right. Our focus is on her in this scene, she's just came out of surgery, our eyes should only be on her and how she is dealing with the situation. The use of the blue monitor helps to give the scene more depth by breaking up the foreground and background colours.

On the right we have a shot from, King Kong Skull Island. Similar to the other shot but using red to break it up. His face stands out (he looks quite upset), his uniform blends into the colour of the chopper, but the blood in his mouth, the red badge on the helicopter and the red drum give the scene a sense of danger whilst also creating depth. Greens are highly desaturated with a yellow tinge to them. Both of these films look amazing and are both shot by incredible cinematographers.

Her orange skin stands out from the background (the face my girlfriend gives me when we are out of coffee)

Here in King Kong, there are only three main colours in the scene. 


Shades of light

The interesting thing about the below shot is how they used the different brightness of colour to create contrast (looks like he just got to the shops and forgot his wallet) The colour isn't all exactly the same but it's mostly made up of blue, whites and a bit of red. The brightness of his skin colour helps to make him stand out from the rest of the image. You have a lighter blue for the mid ground, darker blue  for the near background and a mix of dark and light blue for the sky. Even with the same colour you can create contrast using brightness of a colour. 

An undiscovered meme

There lots of different ways to create colour contrast,  keeping it simple and using colours that naturally contrast to each other is an easy place to start. 

Whats next?

I forgot what I wrote last blog so I'll just write something new. I've got a music video to prep for and a shoot for a web commercial in the next week to plan. Good times, had by all.