The Null Device

The orange and teal age of Hollywood

The latest fashion in mainstream Hollywood filmmaking seems to be colour-grading films to a uniform palette of teal and orange:
The orange and teal look is an artefact of technological possibility and creative laziness. About a decade ago, filmmakers started digitising film and electronically manipulating it, which gave them the ability to adjust colours for the whole film as easily as tweaking an image in Photoshop. While some of the more visionary filmmakers have used this as a creative tool (the Coens made use of it in Oh Brother Where Art Thou to give the film a sepia look, and Peter Jackson made extensive use of colour grading in the Lord Of The Rings films), those churning out action films, who typically have no time for such hoity-toity concerns as artistic vision, needed a quick and easy formula for how to make their films look more awesome. And they got one in complementary colour theory; human skin tones (especially when oversaturated for extra awesomeness) look orange, and stand out most strongly against bluish-green hues. Thus, grading films to an orange-on-teal palette is a cinematic equivalent of compressing the dynamic range of recorded music for extra kick-ass loudness; both add extra zing, producing a product that's superficially exciting, at the cost of subtlety. Though who goes to see Transformers for subtlety, right?

As artificial as it looks, it'll look quaint once they figure out how to shoot entire films in HDR.

There are 3 comments on "The orange and teal age of Hollywood":

Posted by: wholesale sublimation Tue Jun 8 17:44:14 2010

The aesthetics of film that used to be a critical part of films has gone out the door. Now its all about box office blowouts, special effects, and sex its pretty sad.

Posted by: I'm Orange Fri Mar 25 13:24:51 2011

Transformers was a box office success, that mean the people liked this movie... "Blowouts, Special effects, and sex" that's what people want so don't come out with your criticism! Hollywood = film INDUSTRY, remember this!

Posted by: acb Fri Mar 25 17:11:50 2011

An, the Lexus-and-the-olive-tree market-populist argument. Which essentially comes down to "eat shit: a million flies can't be wrong"