Monday, July 28, 2014

Pepe and Lucas - Color and Lighting 01.

Color and Lighting 01

Doing color keys is one of my favorite parts of visual development. This is where you can really start to see a film come together for the first time. This is where you set the mood and enhance emotions. We set out with the goal of creating a comedy action short with scifi and romance elements. Action and comedy both create moments of extreme and abrupt emotions and so I was thinking of graphic punchy colors from the very start. On top of that, we were dealing with entertainment which has a natural theatrical element to it. As you saw in a lot of the visual development for the town square, there's a lot of competing colors in the building materials as well as in the sign lighting. To simplify this  and allow us to focus, we kept the buildings in cool shadows with strong warm lighting only on the first floor that casts out onto the street. This keeps things more dramatic and allows us to reveal the beautiful colors in the final scenes when the clown and mime have made amends and teamed up for a brighter future in showbiz. The other great thing about having multiple light sources is that it gives a natural spotlight effect and we can highlight certain characters and push others out of focus, or out of the spotlight, just like they might in a theater or circus.

In the early scenes, I really used cast light from doorways and windows to create paths of light to guide our eyes toward the action.

As the action heated up, I made sure to increase the length of the shadows so the characters and environments became more menacing. A lot of B horror film under lighting as the clownbots entered the story.

By the time the mime returns to earth in her invisible imagination mech, I started really punching up the color and I intended for it to change instantaneously like stage lighting. The mime at her angriest, would be bathed in red light while the clown, who we think is dead at the moment, is spotlighted by cool, heavenly light. I shifted the sky to much redder and more magenta colors so everything feels even heavier and less intense.

As soon as he reveals that he's fine (in this movie, characters have the ability to bounce back like your average Looney Tunes character), I planned to have the "light" switch back on and return to the original town square lighting. In our last scenes, our characters start fresh with renewed hope on a new day, a pretty standard movie trope, and we can see the world for all it's color and beauty. I should mention at this point that we set up the movie with high contrast colors at magic hour for a couple other reasons than I mentioned earlier. Just as my director and I wanted the lighting to match the emotional beats of the story, the overall time of day and weather were chosen to support the ensuing drama as well. If a new start in life is best demonstrated by a new day, then someone who's had enough, who's literally at the end of his wits would fit right in with a world that is at the end of it's day as well. We made it rainy just to make it a little worse. You'll notice that the bar and the outside world are lit much the same. Inside or out, it's the same. These higher contrast light situations certainly tipped things in a darker direction, but we were confident that the comedy and action would  prevent it from looking scary. Since the main characters' faces were developed with such a graphic look, the expressions didn't get lost on us in when they were largely in shadow.

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