Welcome to The queue – Your daily distraction from curated video content from across the web. Today we’re going to watch a video essay on why most movies prefer two colors.
You can date a movie by using black and white footage. You can date a movie based on the use of Technicolor. And mark my words, the orange and teal contrast will be inseparable from the early 21st century.
Has this phenomenon got past you? Here’s the gist: in the past decade, orange and teal color grading has become hugely popular. It’s in our movie posters. And it’s on our screens. Heck, the trend is even a joke in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. And yet, despite the anger the color combination has accumulated in recent years, its spread and purpose is more than just Hollywood laziness or a passing visual trend.
Why is the onscreen use of orange and teal so persistent? In part because of color theory. Colors from opposite sides of the color wheel are indeed harmonious. They accentuate themselves in a way that looks visually striking. Contrast, after all, is the great boon of black and white photography, and designing the “look” of a film around colors from opposite ends of the color wheel serves a similar technical purpose. It adds definition, depth and in one word: drama.
As the video essay below explains, this type of color coordination runs deeper than the shame of orange and teal. Because two-tone art design is ultimately not only technically advantageous. In the right hands, how films tell their color story plays an important role.
Clock “Why are films made in two colors?“:
Who did that?
Wolf crow is an online film school. Her YouTube channel is dedicated to educating the public about the specifics of cinematography. You can subscribe to them here on YouTube. And you can check out their website here.