The Introduction to Color in Digital Filmmaking

While watching my video, I learned about adding color schemes and changing the colors digitally in films. I discovered how important it is, as it adds emotion and a tone to a scene, changes seasons, and can make certain things stand out.

Examples of color palettes

In many films that are trying to replicate an era of time from the 70's there seems to be a lot of yellows and Browns, and other rich colors. In the Virgin Suicides, as shown below, brown tones are used to show the time period of the movie, which happened to be made in the late 90's.

Teal and Orange

Something I learned while researching my topic video, is that teal and orange is an extremely common and popular color palette to use. In many blockbuster movies and other films teal and orange is a go-to. Wondering why, I looked into it. I found that by looking at a color chart teal and orange are contrasting colors. Most movies are made about humans, who have orange or tan skin. Blue skies or any teal background makes the actor pop-out, therefore making a good visual for viewers.

Example Clip

An example of a film that digitally changed the color scheme would be Titanic. In the scene where the ship is sinking everyone appears to have a blue tint on them to show emotion and the time of day.

DaVinci Resolve 9

I learned from the video I watched that this is a good program to digitally change the color of a film. The free version for this that is most similar is called black magic. On the program you can isolate the part of the frame that you want the colors to pop, you can add what is called a window mask to it. It puts a box over the spot you want to edit, so you can edit it while the rest of the frame is staying the same. In certain ways the program is similar to Adobe Photoshop and I think it's very cool.


When scenes colors are decreased in saturation, it is often to depict a gloomy, aged scene. When thinking of films like Pursuit of Happiness, the movie is made with dull colors, like tans and grays. It shows the emotion and poverty throughout the film.


When the colors of a film are made saturated it can make certain things pop out. In Charlie and the Chocolate factory, when the families enter the room filled with Candy, the brightly colored background pops out as the pale, less colorful families stand in front of it. My guess is that they isolated the colors in the background to make them pop.

Analogous Colors

These are the colors that are next to each other on a color chart. In the film they provide a smooth, steady and continuous tone.  

Color Simplicity

You can simply limit the assortment of colors that make it into your footage which allows you to control both the mood and tone of the scene as well as provide color symbolism. To help enhance color simplicity play around with color balance and color highlights.

The Evolution

Although it may seem like digital movie color editing has been used for a while now to us, it is still pretty new. In the past tints were put over film, rotating color wheels were used, called temporal synthesis, and even stenciled coloring was used on film scenes in the past.

Why Digital Color in Film making is Important  

The emotion, tone, and atmosphere digital color can bring out is incredible. It's something that old films lacked. Although black and white films have something so classic about them, the color in film tells a story within itself. I think that with proper training with the equipment, Westlake students could truly benefit from this.

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