Are there guidelines for colors to use on walls (paint), clothing colors, house exterior colors, car colors, etc for supernatural thriller horror? I see certain color schemes in such movies-- grays, blacks, blues-- but I am uncertain how many of those colors are the actual colors of the clothing, paint, etc or are the end result of post production color grading. I am in pre-production mode and want to start thinking about colors desired on/in a house (location), wardrobe for actors, etc. Any tips greatly appreciated.
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04-27-2012 08:51 AM
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04-28-2012 11:26 PM
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- May 2005
As for specific colors for 'horror', or 'suspense'... I don't know... in the film "Hannah"(2011), there's a sequence in a 'gingerbread house' which looks like the set was really 'bright colors' and muted slightly in post. There are some number of color changes during the film, and dependent on the current mood being communicated.
There are 'psychological' effects of color that can be used to set a basic palette. Blues and so called 'cool' colors tend to be interpreted as cold, and would be more apropos for the 'thriller'... Horror, could be cool, then 'red hot' for certain scenes to accentuate the horror moment.
In the Black & White "Psycho"(1960), the 'blood' of the famous slasher shower scene was chocolate syrup, but some people have reported 'seeing' red... It's always read as 'dark grey/black' for me... but perhaps others would have a different experience...
There may be other reasons for going with a more 'bright' color, then muting in post, especially in consumer/prosumer lower end cameras. I've not experimented too much with 'muting', or major color shifts, but I think it would be better to shoot a little brighter, in the basic color scheme, then mute in post to the desired level.
Trying to increase saturation, or change hue significantly, tends to introduce artifacts and 'noise' effects that are not pleasing...
04-29-2012 11:18 AM
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- Mar 2011
Just to be on the safe side, make sure all the colors fit nicely together as they are - if you have some thoughts about raising, lowering saturation as a general rule etc.. sounds good. But (as a production designer / property master) never count on invidual elements being corrected in post to fit the overall palette. Color grading is expensive and often done in a hurry in low-medium budget productions, it's just not gonna happen. (yes i might be bitter )
Palette is an project-specific artistic decision, and it's hard to give any input on that. Very light colors tend to diffuse light and make it hard to make low key or hard directional lighs, which is popular in horror. Skin color is the most important, so it's a good idea to build your palette around that - like blue goes well with white (orangish) skin, which might be a reason the orange-blue palette is overly popular regardless of genre. Actors (skin & clothing) are probably the thing people look at, and everything relates to that. If the backdrop is too close to skin color, its likely to look ugly, and if it's too close to clothes, its just weird - then again, that might be desired. It's really a good idea to physically compare each piece of clothing against the colors it's going to be against - it's already good to just get them side by side, but as much as possible, do test shoots with real lights and color grading (though you'll likely need to prioritize what you do on test shoots).
At least as important as the color (and brightness) are the other characteristics of each surface and how it reacts with light. Dirty/clean? Is it shiny? Perhaps wet? Opaque? Does it have texture? Is it solid or some kind of... structure? Those things can really help to make the look interesting and leave some room for improvisation with lights. I really liked the style in the first Alien, while not rich in color, it used interesting surfaces alongside lights that didn't reveal much of the scene. The sequels were visually just generic crap, but first Alien must be one of my all-time favourites in the production design - lights section.
EDIT: Now that I read your question again, I didn't exactly answer it.... oh well
Last edited by mörkö; 04-30-2012 at 03:32 AM.