Lighting 101: Contrasting with Color

Lighting 101: Contrasting with Color

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Contrast is one of the main components of great cinematography. Contrast usually refers to the difference between the dark parts of your frame and the bright parts of your frame. But did you know that you can also create contrast with color as well as brightness? These differences in light and color will help guide your audience’s eye and make the image more visually interesting. Today on 4 Minute Film School, we are going to explore color contrast by shooting two scenes, looking at two different types of color contrast.

In this video, Matt from the A-Team walks us through how to approach color contrast in your scene. First, he looks at what he has to work with in the scene. Sometimes the color of a light that already exists in your scene will influence what color contrast you use, whether it be sunlight or a green neon sign. Second, he identifies what color contrast would make the most sense in the scene. Even if two colors look good together, they won’t always make sense with the situation the scene takes place in. Lastly, he modifies the light to produce the colors that he wants for the scene. This is done either by gelling lights or using lights with different colors built in.

The main techniques used in this video are mixing colors, color temperature, and color combination. Mixing colors is the basis of color contrast. Having more than one color of light in your shot will help guide the viewer’s eyes to different parts of the image. This can also add dimension to the frame. Color temperature is a way of measuring colors of lights. Depending on your camera settings, color temperature will have a big impact on how your lights appear on screen. Color combinations are the creative choices associated with color contrast. There are certain color combinations that look better to the human eye than others, but you can experiment with different combinations to find what you like best.

Color contrast is a very simple way to make your images more interesting. Often times you don’t have to try too hard to get color contrast, because there’s color contrast all around in everyday life. And sometimes all you have to do your lighting setup is throw some gels on your light. Ultimately, creating color contrast is a very simple way to take your lighting setups to the next level. Now, as you go about your day and as you watch movies, take note of the color contrast in the lighting. You might be inspired to add color contrast to your own shots!

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