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How our eyes see color

From: The Art of Color Correction: Color Grading for Locations and Times of Day

Video: How our eyes see color

The first thing to learn about how we perceive color, is that we can't trust our eyes. The way our eyes interpret color changes according to which colors we're looking at and which colors are placed next to each other. You can easily demonstrate this with a simple spreadsheet. I've created a spreadsheet here with two orange panels. And a blue panel in the middle. And it's a very light blue panel and the oranges are constant. They're not gradient, but the interesting thing is that they may appear to be a gradient because of the viewing angle, or that you're looking at the screen. Or your type of screen you're looking at.

How our eyes see color

The first thing to learn about how we perceive color, is that we can't trust our eyes. The way our eyes interpret color changes according to which colors we're looking at and which colors are placed next to each other. You can easily demonstrate this with a simple spreadsheet. I've created a spreadsheet here with two orange panels. And a blue panel in the middle. And it's a very light blue panel and the oranges are constant. They're not gradient, but the interesting thing is that they may appear to be a gradient because of the viewing angle, or that you're looking at the screen. Or your type of screen you're looking at.

And all these things combine to change the color on screen. The reason that you can see the central column as blue, and the panels as orange, is because they are complimentary colors, they are colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel. And on the digital color wheel that we work with on the computer, oranges are on the opposite side of blue. And so they compliment each other. And it means that when these color work together, we see the difference between them. And it's an esthetically pleasing effect. But what happens when these colors are from the same hue. So here's the original slide again.

And all of these slides the central colomn stays a light blue. If I change the panels on the left and the right to a lighter blue. Then the central column appears to be much less blue. It's much more desaturated, it's almost white. And then if we enhance the panels along the left and right to be an even darker blue, then the central column appears white, but actually it's the same blue as we saw in the very first slide here. So it's an important thing to think about when you're placing colors in a scene. What color are you placing the next two because the perceived color that we see changes according to the surrounding colors.

And we can demonstrate how colors can make a difference in a typical video scene. I'm in the color and story Premiere Pro project, and I'm using the Seeing color sequence here. And, this is one of the series of shots that we created especially for this course to demonstrate the sort of colors that turn up in standard video shoots, and the sort of things to look out for. So, in this shot, we've got a scene of two people choosing some material.

And if I just play it back, our focus is centered on them. And in a very similar setup we placed something orange in the background. And on this second clip, this orange clothing here. (LAUGH) Now you've seen it it's really difficult not to see it. It's because it's so dominant. The orange colors in a shot tend to project forward and they attract attention. It's interesting though, that when he picks up this material here. That is actually quite pleasing to look at this scence.

Because the orange is balancing nicely with the blue. They're complimentary colors. So a good practice when your'e setting up a scene, is to have a look at the colors in the background. This scene is much less distracting than this one just because we're not distracted by this orange color. And over the course of this chapter we go into techniques about how to target this particular color on this clip here, I've got a secondary color correction which desaturates the color of the shirt here.

So here's the untreated clip, and here's the desaturated one. And I'll show you how to target that one specific color. The other thing to think of though, is our interpretation of color at the subconscious level. Sometimes we observe things in our surroundings, and we don't know we're observing them. We are just used to seeing them. So for example in this shot of New York, I mean it's a great example of how the atmosphere of the earth filters light to create a bluish tint to items that are further away.

So you know I mentioned that orange tends to jump forward. And blue tends to recede. Well it's a practical way that our eyes work, but we're also used to seeing this effect in real life when you look at mountains in the distance and this is why they appear slightly blue. Because light is being filtered by the atmosphere turning it blue, so in a scene like this these buildings are the same color as the buildings in the foreground here. But because of the filtered light that's why they appear blue and a similar thing can be seen in a landscape shot. This is a view of North Wilcher near to where I live in the UK. And it's a good example of how the hills in the distance here are colored slightly blue because the atmosphere is filtering the light over a distance. You can use this to your advantage though.

And you can exaggerate the position of the building for example or some hills, by coloring them slightly blue. Selecting a specific area of the screen. And then grading that to suggest to the audience a greater distance. So it's something to be aware of as a natural phenomenon. But also something that you can use in your practical, day-to-day grading.

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This video is part of

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  1. 4m 45s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. Telling a story with color
      2m 10s
    3. Using the exercise files
      48s
  2. 38m 20s
    1. What different colors tell the audience
      1m 6s
    2. How our eyes see color
      5m 12s
    3. Making sure color is consistent across multiple clips in a sequence
      4m 54s
    4. Understanding the correct order to apply color correction adjustments
      7m 43s
    5. Working with Premiere Pro and the Colorista II plugin
      7m 55s
    6. Working with Premiere Pro and Magic Bullet Looks
      7m 21s
    7. Making contrast, lighting, and mood changes: A general rule of thumb
      4m 9s
  3. 25m 13s
    1. Understanding how cool color frames emotion
      7m 39s
    2. Stylizing a cold location with color grading
      3m 18s
    3. Understanding how warm color frames emotion
      3m 16s
    4. Stylizing a hot location with color grading
      4m 40s
    5. Isolating and adjusting skies
      6m 20s
  4. 28m 0s
    1. Changing the times of day with color
      50s
    2. Creating an early morning look
      5m 24s
    3. Creating a midday look
      2m 36s
    4. Creating an afternoon look
      3m 46s
    5. Creating an evening look
      2m 34s
    6. Composing a day-for-night shot
      7m 28s
    7. Creating a flashback look
      5m 22s
  5. 17m 17s
    1. Changing colors to match the mood of the story
      28s
    2. Stylizing an office scene
      2m 31s
    3. Creating a bedroom color style
      2m 20s
    4. Designing a hospital look
      3m 13s
    5. Stylizing a morgue shot
      2m 56s
    6. Coloring an interrogation scene
      5m 49s
  6. 9m 26s
    1. Separating characters from the background
      44s
    2. Creating fake depth of field in Magic Bullet Looks
      2m 51s
    3. Creating fake depth of field in Colorista II
      5m 51s
  7. 3m 6s
    1. Next steps
      3m 6s

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