Monday, November 4, 2013

Color Palette in Hell on Wheels

              Hell on Wheels and particularly the pilot episode of the first season is a strong example of how the use of color palette can enhance the quality of your footage. As the show opens on some of the scenes from the first episode for any trained eye the color palette is evident, for the common viewer this may be a subtle effect on the subconscious (or anyone's subconscious for that matter).  It is no coincidence that these colors showed up on the screen and is rather a design scheme. The make up of the scenes below are essential to establish the overall essence/feeling of what the show is aiming to convey. As the show is set during the civil war these opening scenes are additionally establishing the class of these soldiers compared to the everyday soldier who might be constructing the transcontinental railroad in the mid to late 1800's. Additionally the depth of field shown in this screen shot below is a magnificent example that brings dimension into the establishing shots of not only the episode but the TV series as a whole.

             The main character is a former confederate soldier who journeys to the West in search of work with the construction of the transcontinental railroad. While also seeking vengeance against the Union soldiers which killed his wife and son he is to be depicted completely different then the elite running the war behind the scenes.  The beige colors integrated with the black coats on these characters significantly set apart the individual from the background ultimately highlighting the prominent class and their power in the war as opposed to the common man of those times. A small detail which I believe adds to this scene is the bright liquids in the glasses. This contrast with an exceptionally neutral color palette calls attention to the subject at the table adding to the impact of the interaction taking place on screen. Although color may be the last thing on your mind when getting caught up in the many other duties associated when producing a TV show, film, documentary etc... it is not something to dismiss. The color palette can be any range of colors and often defines the feeling of your film, unlike that of framing your shot correctly, lighting or incorporating props that will aid you in telling the story, color selection is a theme (maybe not true for all movies but usually). Lastly as I attended the lighting demo a few weeks ago I remember the presenter mentioning how to make the actors believe their actually in the environment they are depicting. Similar to his example of pouring liquor around the bar set (to recreate the feel of actually being in a bar environment) color palette can be just as sensitive of a selection with actors if not more crucial in the process. Overall the set design and color palette doesn't only benefit the audience when trying to tell the story but it also puts your cast in an environment that is essentially a catalyst for their actions and in turn may lead to better acting (especially in the case of a student productions). Just some food for thought as we endure the intricate process of creating our own films.

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