Sunday, June 24, 2018

How Color Can Tell a Story

As filmmakers, they must use mood-boards who   showcase color palette ideas  maximize emotional and visual effect using color sense. Cinematography is such an important part of the filmmaking process. Filmmakers have an even bigger challenge because  cameras move,  the colors in backgrounds and foregrounds will always be changing.Color in film can build harmony or tension within a scene. When telling a story, colors can; Color is often an extremely powerful tool communicate emotional ideas to the audience. Color can affect audience emotionally, psychologically and even physically.  

  1. Elicit psychological reactions with the audience
  2. Draw focus to significant details
  3. Set the tone of the movie
  4. Represent character traits and more
  5. Show changes or arcs in the story
Filmmakers are both artists and craftsmen, who  explains the power of color and how successful filmmakers use it to give meaning and impact to their stories. and use as a device to tell the story.

Film makes better use of color as a storytelling tool than even Gladiator. Cinema storytelling that we should never neglect it.  

Neither Color Strategy Is Correct Over The Other, But It Is Easy To Both See And Feel That The Response From The Viewer Will Be Much Different When They Look At Each Image.

film color

Analogous Colors Are Colors That Are Next To Each Other On The Color Wheel. These Colors, When They Appear Together, Provide A Smooth And Continuous Tone. Colors That Are Located Opposite To One Another On The Color Wheel Are Complementary Colors. When Complementary Colors Appear Next To Each Other They Provide More Of A Dramatic And High Contrast Look.

Yellow Dick Tracy
Yellow is the colour of caution, it brings power, energy and anxiety. Dick Tracy wears a bright yellow coat and hat, the screen becomes energised whenever Tracy enters. The color is brash, daring, it is the color of obsession , there is a reason poisonous reptiles have yellow skin. Tracy is the obsessive detective caught up in his case . 

 Blue Shawshank Redemption
Blue can be a tranquil pond or a soft blanket of sadness. Throughout Shawshank the film is surrounded by the color of blue. A smog of grey blue surrounds the film. Shawshank is a film of sadness, and is this emotion that cinematographer Roger Deakins wanted the audience to feel throughout the film. That we are amongst the prisons. When Andy escapes the prison he finds his friend Red on an island, with vibrant green land – the first time vivid colours have been used throughout the film.  

Orange The Godfather

Orange is the welcoming color, warm sunsets and Halloween pumpkins.  In the opening scene of The Godfather the Don’s office is lit with an amber and orange light. The film is lit romantically with pastel orange shades. Throughout the film the orange shades turn more red as more is revealed within the crime underworld. 

 Green Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Green can signal health, danger or decay. It is the colour of fresh vegetables and spoiled meat. In Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon Jen and her master Li Mu Bai are about to have a fight in a green vibrant bamboo forest. The fight is non-violent Jen’s master is afraid that Jen is turning evil, he chases her through the forest, she disappears diving into a green lake. The oppositional nature of green plays a significant part in the story. 

6. Purple Chicago

Purple the colour of mystery, the paranormal and death.In Chicago purple is used to show both death and delusion. Roxy stands on stage she looks out into the crowd purple light covers her and the piano player. Roxy is imagining that she is a famous singer, the story is about the glamorization of criminals. Purple is consistent throughout the deaths that take place in the film.
Color psychology, is defined as the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior.
Colors evoke emotion in our brains. It’s been proven time and time again that hues of blue are most often associated with cool, calm feelings, while stronger colors like red stir up strong, aggressive emotions.
It’s these underlying perceptions that help photographers and cinematographers alike bring about a certain feel and aesthetic to a particular image, be it still or motion.

In the four-minute montage, Mtz-Seara explores  innocence, passion, insecurity, sociability, madness, eroticism, and more as the colorful video transitions from one masterful scene to another.
From David Fincher’s Fight Club to Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, the video shows how clever use of colors and composition subconsciously evoke emotions as the respective directors and cinematographers create and capture the scenes of a film. 

Color Pschology in Identity and Branding

The fascination with the concept of color draws its origins from the Classical Greece time period, when scientist and philosopher Aristotle developed the first known color theory scheme. He was also among the first to compare colors to music, in order to produce definitions for conceptual logic and believed that they were sent from the heavens as rays: “in a sense, light makes potential colors into actual colors”. He identified four colors as corresponding to the basic natural elements: earth, air, water and fire.

Since then, numerous other scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton and Johann Goethe have shown significant interest in the subject. Goethe, although mainly recognized for his literary masterpiece Faust, regarded his 1810 Theory of Colors (Farbenlehre) as his greatest achievement.
We will discuss today practical applications of the existing color theories in the identity branch of graphic design: logos and branding. In 1855, Hermann Helmholtz pointed out masterfully that “We never perceive the objects of the external world directly. On the contrary, we only perceive the effects of these objects on our own nervous apparatuses, and it has always been like that from the first moment of our life”. The particular effects that colors have on our psyche and how designers make use of them in their projects is the essence of this branding introspection.

Colors and Brain Processes

In Betty Edwards’ “Color: A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors”, we find an innovative idea meant to help art students better perceive colors: seeing them as values. Edwards addresses the incongruencies in the artistic educational process in schools and states that students should first learn how to draw, then some basic color theories and only then how to paint. She bases this allegation on a fragment from “The Complete Letters of Van Gogh”, vol. I: “I have attached great value to drawing and will continue to, because it is the backbone of painting, the skeleton that supports all the rest”.

What does Edwards mean exactly? Learning how to see and draw colors as shades of gray, in relation to a gray scale, which gradually passes from white to black. Students need to be able to associate colors with the existing shades in the scale, which is difficult since some colors are automatically perceived as pale or dark when that is not actually the case.

Why is this essential? An accurate perception of the value levels of colors enables artists to arrange shapes, spaces and contrasts – which purposefully creates a beautiful composition.
As an interesting piece of information, Renaissance painters developed a method called grisaille to avoid possible color mishaps in their art. The term comes from the French equivalent of “gray”, gris and designates a process preceding the actual oil painting. They created a monochrome underpainting, usually in shades of gray, that resembled drawings and allowed the artist to then mix hues and faithfully depict the lighted and shaded areas. Similarly, the brunaille (brown) and verdaille (green) techniques appeared.

How does this translate into graphic design? The grisaille method can also be successfully applied in logo design, as designer David Airey points out in his book “Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities”. He offers as an example 160over90, a design agency from Philadelphia, U.S. that handled the Woodmere Art Museum’s rebranding project. They made a habit out of pitching their top logo choices to their clients in black and white, since they found that colors made them biased. This is an excellent tip that can be applied both in personal projects and working for others.
Edwards also concludes that scientifically speaking, drawing makes use of the visual and perceptual functions belonging to the non-verbal right hemisphere of the brain, without interference from the verbal left-side brain. On the other hand though, the input of the left hemisphere of the brain is needed for mixing colors, and respectively painting. This causes a slight shift in consciousness – different from the brain’s usual state – which artists usually perceive as entering a creative and inspired “zone”.
“In fact, the field of colors is a territory with ragged borders located somewhere between the sciences and the arts, between physics and psychology, a land whose configuration constitutes a border between these two diverse cultures.” Manlio Brusatin, “A History of Colors”, 1991

Color Symbolism and How It Affects the Human Psyche

The symbolic meaning of colors is a disputed field since each color is an ambiguous territory; they’re supposed to have both positive and negative connotations, which does not sit well with the scientific community. In the following chapter, we will undertake a journey in the depths of basic color symbolism and the way it influences the human mind. Thus you, the designer, will better grasp the colors’ subtle nuances and know how to use them according to your clients wishes, but also their and their target audience’s nationality.
As a graphic designer working specifically on identity and branding projects, you make use of a limited number of colors and you must be able to convey a certain message and generate an emotional response from the clients and their audience through your logo design. So, more so than other designers that create complex vector illustration, patterns, textures and so on, one of the essential abilities you should hone is color know how. This translates not only into color harmonizing skills, but also in mastering basic color symbolism, because it permeates all the fields succeeding the final stage of the design process.
“In symbolism, the purity of a color corresponds to its symbolic purity: The primary colors to primary emotions, and secondary and mixed colors to symbolic complexity.” Verity, “Color Observed”
White traditionally represents purity and innocence in Western cultures (bridal and baptism dresses), while in Oriental and African cultures it is the color of death – once again a sign of the purity of the departed one’s soul. In the famous Chinese theatre masks, white also designates a frightful person, as opposed to the Occidental representation of cowardice – yellow.
Black specifically stands for death, evil, hell, damnation and general negative connotations. On the opposing end are the ancient Egyptians, for whom it represented life, fertility and growth, because it was the color of the Nile Delta soil. Due to the association with the night, black can also express mystery and the unknown, while it is the symbol of ultimate elegance and simplicity in the fashion world.
Red is usually associated with stimulation, passion, virility and danger. Out of all the other colors, it is the one that generates the most widespread agreement among researchers. In ancient Rome and Greece, it was the color associated with war, while in the Christian church it is found on the priests’ garments. In Russia, it is the color of freedom, because of the flags waved during the revolution against the czars. In China, red is a customary color for wedding dresses, while in other colors it’s traditionally worn at burials. In America, it symbolizes love, action, dynamism and power (the stripes on the national flag and Valentine’s Day, for example).
Yellow is considered by researchers to be the most ambiguous of colors. It symbolizes characteristics and feelings on opposing ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, it is a sign of happiness, intellect and enlightenment, while on the other hand it represents cowardice, envy, deceit and betrayal. Think about the fact that for almost 300 years, during the Chinese Ch’ing dynasty, only the emperor wore yellow; also, according to Christian beliefs, Judas wore a yellow garment when he betrayed Jesus Christ with a kiss.
Blue is the most mysterious of colors due to the fact that although it practically surrounds us, being the color of the sky and water, it is absent from the earliest writings such as the Bible and all of Homer’s works. Today, it generally represents sadness and melancholy (see Picasso’s “blue period”), but also authority (the typical dark blue suits of elected officials) and vast distances.
Green is generally agreed to represent youth, hope and new life; it also stands for action (“Green means go”) and eco-friendliness (“Think green”). Furthermore, in England it is associated with the heroic figure of Robin Hood and in Islam, it is the color of the Prophet Mohammad, which practically renders it sacred.
Orange contains curiously little hidden meaning. There are no expressions that tie it with feelings, as opposed to feeling blue, being in a black mood, being yellow or thinking green. It is usually associated with heat, warmth and energy and is recognized for being the color of the Buddhist monks’ robes.
Purple is the closest in value to black, due to the fact that it reflects so little light. It is generally associated with deep feelings in all artistic fields, royalty (because it was worn by the ruling class in times when purple dye was very expensive) and bravery (the honorary medal for courage is the “Purple Heart”).


We can certainly emit a recipe to cap with success the color choosing process in identity and branding: mix your client’s preferences with the subjective meaning of colors that we discussed above, your knowledge of color harmonizing(“complementary colors, varied by transforming the original colors and their complements to varied values and intensities”, Betty Edwards, “Color: A Course in Mastering the Art of mixing colors”) and your mastering of the appropriate responses from the brain in reaction to specific colors.


Brand Identity

Color is an important consideration in your brand identity system. Colors have a significant impact on people’s emotional state. They also have been shown to impact people’s ability to concentrate and learn. They have a wide variety of specific mental associations. In fact, the effects are physiological, psychological, and sociological. 
For instance:
  • Non-primary colors are more calming than primary colors.
  • Blue is the most calming of the primary colors, followed closely by a lighter red.
  • Test takers score higher and weight lifters lift more in blue rooms.
  • Blue text increases reading retention.
  • Yellow evokes cheerfulness. Houses with yellow trim or flower gardens sell faster.
  • Reds and oranges encourage diners to eat quickly and leave. Red also makes food more appealing and influences people to eat more.  (It is no coincidence that fast food restaurants almost always use these colors.)
  • Pink enhances appetites and has been shown to calm prison inmates.
  • Blue and black suppress appetites.
  • Children prefer primary colors. (Notice that children’s toys and books often use these colors.)
  • Forest green and burgundy appeals to the wealthiest 3 percent of Americans and often raises the perceived price of an item.
  • Orange is often used to make an expensive item seem less expensive.
  • Red clothing can convey power.
  • Red trim is used in bars and casinos because it can cause people to lose track of time.
  • White is typically associated with cool, clean and fresh.
  • Red is often associated with Christmas and orange with Halloween and Thanksgiving.
  • Red and black are often associated with sexy and seductive and are favored by porn sites.
  • Black clothes make people look thinner.
  • Black is also associated with elegance and sophistication. It also seems mysterious.
  • Black is the favorite color of Goths.
Colors also have a functional impact on readability, eye-strain, ability to attract attention, ability to be seen at night, etc. This is important in choosing colors for signing, website pages, prints ads, and other marketing media.
  • The most visible color is yellow.
  • The most legible of all color combinations are black on yellow and green on white followed by red on white.
  • It is no surprise that most traffic signs use these color combinations.
  • Black on white is the easiest to read, on paper, and on computer screens.
  • Hard colors (red, orange and yellow) are more visible and tend to make objects look larger and closer. They are easier to focus upon. They create excitement and cause people to over-estimate time.
  • Soft colors (violet, blue and green) are less visible and tend to make objects look smaller and further away. They aren’t as easy to focus upon. They have a calming effect, increase concentration, and cause people to under-estimate time.
Usually, it is advantageous for a brand to consistently “own” certain colors, which provide an additional recognition cue. The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, New York has taken a different, but equally effective approach. They intended to communicate that they are a fun and vibrant organization that features much more than artistic black and white photography. So, the “e” icon in their logo appears in a rainbow of colors.  Each business card features the logo with a different color. The name itself always only appears in black and white.
Obviously, colors are an important part of any brand identity system. Testing the affect of a new brand identity system’s colors is well advised.  It is important to consider that color associations will vary by individual, and especially culture, due to the cultural context and previous experiences with the colors.  All of the impacts of colors are equally true of music, scents and sounds.  For instance, studies have identified that music has an impact on supermarket sales, mental concentration, achievement on standardized tests, factory productivity, clerical performance and staff turnover, among other things.
Primary source: “Color Psychology: Meanings and Effects of Colors”
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Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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