Sunday, March 14, 2010

Teal and Orange - Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness

Those of you who watch a lot of Hollywood movies may have noticed a certain trend that has consumed the industry in the last few years.  It is one of the most insidious and heinous practices that has ever overwhelmed the industry.  Am I talking about the lack of good scripts?  Do I speak of the dependency of a few mega-blockbuster hits to save the studios each year, or of the endless sequels and television retreads?  No, I am talking about something much more dangerous, much deadlier to the health of cinema.

I speak of course, of THE COLOR GRADING VIRUS THAT IS TEAL & ORANGE!!!



This is the insidious practice of color-grading every movie with a simplified, distilled palette of teal and orange like this:

Or this:


Or this:


So how did we get here, you may ask. Well, it's a sad and sordid tale my friend, the combination of new digital technology and a good idea gone bad.






The Cohen brothers ushered in the new era of digital color grading with their excellent 2000 film, "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou." This was the first feature film to be entirely scanned into a computer, a process known as "Digital Intermediary", or DI.  Once inside the computer, the colorist now had unheard of control over every element of the image.  Imagine tweaking an entire movie with the tools and precision that one has with their still images using Photoshop, and you get some idea of what power was unleashed.

But was that power used for good...  Nooooooooooooooo, or course it wasn't!

Some unnamed yahoo decided that the only acceptable look for a movie these days is this:


This screenshot from the excellent color theory and exploration site, kuler, shows what happens when you apply complementary color theory to flesh tones.  You see, flesh tones exist mostly in the orange range and when you look to the opposite end of the color wheel from that, where does one land?  Why looky here, we have our old friend Mr. Teal.  And anyone who has ever taken color theory 101 knows that if you take two complementary colors and put them next to each other, they will "pop", and sometimes even vibrate.  So, since people (flesh-tones) exist in almost every frame of every movie ever made, what could be better than applying complementary color theory to make people seem to "pop" from the background.  I mean, people are really important, aren't they?

(By the way, filmmaker and tech guru Stu Maschwitz does a great job of explaining the nuts and bolts of how this is done on his blog, ProLost.)

From this seemingly innocuous supposition was unleashed a monstrosity that would eventually lead to one of the worst films ever, and one of the worst examples of unchecked teal and orange stupidity:


Yes, Transformers 2.

This movie took this color-look to extremes that only Michael Bay could vomit up.  Behold!

 This last shot especially concerns me.  I mean look at how orange Shia's face here is.  He should really have that looked at by a professional.  I mean, is it just me, or does he look like one of these unfortunate souls:



Take a look at a few trailers of current and upcoming movies and you can see that the look is now firmly entrenched:

Let's see, summer blockbuster movie Iron Man 2:


Yup.   How about recent horror flick - Wolfman:



Check.  Now, Wolfman at least has the respectability to be a little more subtle in its palette, but it is still there nonetheless.  Also, sometimes it will trade off and do one shot all orange (or gold) and one shot all teal (or blue):


How about upcoming retread flick Tron?  Now this movie can look any way it wants - it's set inside a computer for cripes-sake!  Imagine the limitless possibilities of fantastic color design:


Oh crap!  Well, what about the characters, what do they look like?


Oh hell, I give up!


This infection would be ok if it was limited to only mindless summer action flicks but I'm afraid that's not the case.  How about the fun new "Hot Tub Time Machine"?

Oh dang!  Well, surely in the 1980's we will be free of this Teal and Orange universe... right?



Wow, I sure don't remember 1980 looking like that.  In fact, nothing ever has looked like that because it's physically impossible.  You see, in order to get flesh tones to look that warm and orangey, the entire image would look warm and orangey - like golden hour, just before sunset. And in order to get teals to look that blue and tealey, the entire image would look cold and blue - like at night.  Never in real-life shall the two meet - at least not in this exaggerated way:


Geez Chevy, what have they DONE TO YOUR FACE!!

Please people, spread the word and fight.  Fight against this horrible visual injustice.  If nothing is done, we will never see our friends green, or purple, or even red again.  Imagine a world without red people!  It could be right around the corner.  Our whole world will look like this:


AAAAAHHHHHHHH  I can't take it any more!

Seriously, I weep for cinema of this dark age.  I think twenty years from now people will look at films of this era and say "My God - what were they smoking??!?"

I leave you with this last horrible thought.  What would art history look like if this virus had infected mankind hundreds of years ago?





UPDATE 4.6.10

I couldn't help but notice this trailer for the new Nightmare on Elm Street:

It seems trailers really push this to extreme levels.

Oh and check out who the producer is...



312 comments:

  1. You mean to tell me you're not a fan of this look! http://www.flickr.com/photos/romanmphotography/4430898117/

    Nah but great post man, really enjoyed the read. I was introduced to this concept by Stu Maschwitz and couldn't believe how wide spread it was.

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  2. Great article Todd! I just linked to it on Twitter, so you might find yourself with some new readers.

    If folks are interested in the specific places on ProLost where I mention this look (and how to create it, sorry!), here's a link:

    http://prolost.com/blockbuster

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  3. Who is the driving force behind all this? I've sat in sessions with Stefan Sonnenfeld and other colorists, and I can't imagine them saying "let me just take the easy way out, set this one look, and we'll take the rest of the day off". Directors? Studios? Favreau is on Twitter - maybe we could get his attention and ask his opinion?

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  4. Awesome observation.

    Although with Tron, at least from the stills you're using, there's a consistency of color usage from the first movie (made in the 80s).

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  5. Nice post. Although cant say i've noticed it before until you pointed it out. Would be good to see examples of how it should be graded for comparison.

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  6. Thanks Stu & Roman!

    You know, it's not so much that it's a horrible look in and of itself when used subtly - like the Wolfman. It's more that when every single movie looks the same, it is really limiting the creative possibilities inherent to color grading. It would be as if every single song was written in C Major - or had the same drum beat. When something gets synthesized down to that level of simplicity and sameness, you wind up with Disco music - bleh!

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  7. i'm not sure i'm buying it. and bumble bee is not orange, he is yellow, and his color was taken from the original cartoon from the 80's. and how orange or teal something looks can be how the color is set on a tv or monitor (to some degree)

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  8. This was fantastic. I am one of the many who came here through Stu's Twitter link - and posted a link to the post on my site. The way you back up your thoughts with screengrabs - thank you so much for that. I hadn't really noticed this color palette until you brought it up (and the images at the end really drive the point home - especially Sunday in the Park with George - hysterical!)


    Thanks - I'll be back.

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  9. THIS was a great read! THANK YOU!

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  10. Excellent post and I cannot agree more. It must be very frustrating to cinematographers and set/custom designers these days. No matter how carefully you do your job to control the color that enters the lens, it always gets mushed this duo tone color scheme.

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  11. Wow. I'm just a regular..no art background at all, and I noticed that movies were "looking alike". I couldn't articulate it, but now, thanks to this post, I am validated!!

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  12. This has to do with the nature of light in photography. Lighting that is close to white is going to be either warm (yellow to orange) such as incandescent light bulbs or cool (green to blue) such as fluorescent lights. Photographer's lighting bags are usually filled with CTO (color temperature orange) gels and window green gels to adjust their flash color to fit a lighting situation - meaning to incandescent bulbs or fluorescent bulbs. Photographers often use the interplay of these complementary colors to create contrast and mood. That's where this color scheme originates.

    Having said that, I will admit that it can definitely be over used. It's kind of a safe go-to style for photographers and it can certainly be very limiting if photogs and cinematogs pull it out of the toolbox too much.

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  13. Great article, very informative. Might be good to see some examples of contemporary (or otherwise) films you felt were graded well but differently. Surely they exist somewhere!

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  14. Brilliant post man. It's gotten to the point when I see this palette in a movie poster it's a tip off to an unoriginal movie.

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  15. A well written POV, but I think it is an over reaction and it lacks an historical perspective. This is not a trend, it is just a major preference that has been in play since adoption of color film for motion pictures. The human eye is pleased by those colors, so the subjective eye, making the choice to correct the film often leans in the direction. But new because of digital, no way. Take a look at:

    http://blog.rhapsody.com/Chinatown.jpg

    http://www.hi-res.net/blog/images/bladerunner.jpg

    http://www.gonemovies.com/www/XsFilms/SnelPlaatjes/ActDouglasSpartacus.jpg

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  16. Great post! I HATE this trend, I've been calling it the Howard Johnson's school of color grading.
    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1351/846719857_1b8cc5f430.jpg

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  17. Yes, I saw a video about this trend. It's so stupid.

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  18. ...you have just blown my mind. I'm never trusting those colours again.

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  19. you may have also noticed all Hollywood comedies being advertised with big blocky red letters on a white background... like, ALL of them for the past 5-7 years.

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  20. Why you hold Iron Man 2 or Transformers 2 in such high regard as to complain about their color composition, I'll never know. It's like complaining that comic book villains wear too much purple. It's done because imitation is easier than original thought, and you really picked two of the most artistically devoid films to criticise.

    Other than that, the sepia and blue filter has existed for a long time, even before film. You come off as not very knowledgeable in this little rant. You are a filmmaker, aren't you?

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  21. Great stuff! I have seen the light!

    To those defending Tron, the original used teal and cherry red, not this orangey reddish crap.

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  22. The original Tron was Red vs. Blue, and while it really was red, sometimes it looks orange-ish.I'm sorry but you could find better examples of freedom to create a world than an established world like Tron.

    Otherwise, great points. Nothing like the over-saturated coloring gone wrong after the vibrant shire of LotR.

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  23. A prominent and particularly creative manifestation of this trend can be seen in Steven Soderbergh's 2000 drug war drama 'Traffic', where scenes filmed in the US were tinted in cold blue, while those filmed in Mexico appeared warm and yellow.

    I needed half an hour to realize they were messing with the viewers... every scene just jumped at you, instantly defining its position both in terms of location and storyline.

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  24. http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/11/27/orangeblue-contrast-in-movie-posters/

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  25. I'm thrilled with the gorgeous color you achieved on our feature THE COMMUNE. Thank Zeus I didn't have some hack follower insisting on making it look like everything else!

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  26. Wow - looks like I touched a nerve - I thought it was just my own pet peeve.

    Now, obviously I was exaggerating to make a point, and yes, I may have been able to find better examples than say, Tron, but the reality is I spent less than 10 minutes looking at trailers on Apple's Quicktime site to find these examples - I just barely scratched the surface.

    The real issue for me is not that these colors are used, but the super-exaggerated ways in which they dominate all other choices. Stu does a great job writing about "memory colors", and I understand that we have a picture in our minds of what flesh tone should look like, but in reality, flesh tone is completely dependent on the lighting conditions of each environment. It just doesn't look like bright orange at nighttime in a dark room! If the director/colorist had some aesthetic argument for making that choice (other than, "I wanted his face to pop"), I'd love to hear it. To me, the whole emotional language of color is being side-swiped by this trend. That to me is sad.

    Also, I have noticed that art directors and set designers have been sucked in as well - just notice how many clothes, sets and props are teal and orange.

    Greg - I love the example of "Traffic" - to me that is color grading used to enhance the themes and impact of the movie - not just to be a slave to fashion.

    Kid Sis - I'm so glad we stuck to our guns with our 70's bright and glowy look for The Commune. Imagine purples, greens, and reds! It definitely jumps out from the pack.

    I'd love to hear from other people about their favorite examples of effective, unique grading looks.

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  27. IMHO, it all started with Stephen Soderbergh. Get a copy of Out of Sight and watch the Director's Commentary cut.

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  28. Actually, having been a DI producer, I can attest that in almost all cases, the colorist does what the DP/Director requests and usually tries to do things incrementally, if he/she feels it's going too far in any direction, to try to curb colors disappearing into what most of them refer to as the "video" look. I only know of a couple of colorists who are in love with this sort of look and don't try to work the image into something less stylized. In some cases, the DP gives the show a look and then the director comes in and gives the show a completely different look, which you can bet makes no one except for the director happy. I think it's a mistake to blame the colorists for the look; most of the look is determined pre post and even if things are exaggerated in the DI process, I've seen plenty of DPs/Directors get into the suite and turn into kids in a candy store. They pay for the services of the colorist, and that's what they're given, but ultimately it's their show.

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  29. How could you forget the blue abomination that is the Twilight series? Or the yellow/orangey abomination that is Remember Me?

    I'm thinking we should just keep Robert Pattison out of movies, just to be safe.

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  30. oh god I watched the Hangover last night and everybody is wearing orange shirts and all the rooms are teal. I'm pretty sure I can't watch movies anymore.

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  31. The poster of the WIRE a few posts below has a strong teal and orange. Does that mean Simon's a Hollywood kool-aid drinker?

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  32. This is all the fault of CSI Miami, of course.

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  33. I honestly thought this stemmed from the intentional bad use of color temperature you see in detective shows. The idea being that in "Real life" situations people won't set the white balance and will end up with blue or orange tinge depending on lights. (Green in fluorescent.)
    Although I could see it seeping into color correction now that you mention it.

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  34. I have always wondered what it would be like to work in an office where the palette is dark blue, like in CSI.

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  35. Yes, the teal and orange is horrible! But what's with the white text on the black background, already?

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  36. Something that strikes me about your example colour palette is that it looks like something someone would produce when asked "what are the five most common colours in sub-Saharan Africa?"

    Perhaps the Hollywood colorists have been taking evolutionary psychology to unwanted extremes. They should throw some green in there.

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  37. I can't believe this phenomenon has never occurred to me. I mean, the skins tones are obviously unnatural.

    But I guess our generation is used to accepting otherwise unnatural things. I don't even know what a "natural blond" is supposed to look like anymore.

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  38. as always, things trend, and they usually trend in the most unimaginative ways possible. Once someone innovates it usually goes downhill from there.

    nice post!

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  39. great article! ...good observation skills!
    thanks for posting!

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  40. Thank you. I noticed "O Brother" had no green. Appropriate for a dust-bowl era flick. However, as you point out, not flippin' everywhere!

    I have heard the fashionistas have deigned to plan to bring back green this year. Perhaps I will be able to find a green shirt soon.

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  41. AMEN! Have you looked at an episode of CSI lately? It looks like a hot dog stand. Teal backgrounds and oompa loompa's for characters.

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  42. http://x17online.com/celebrities/cameron_diaz/first_look_at_cameron_and_justin_in_bad_teacher-03162010.php

    Now I'm seeing it everywhere. YIKES!

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  43. The same in France : http://filmgeek.fr/2010/01/29/une-decennie-daffiches-francaises-originales/

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  44. you have a keen eye on this one, love your post, this needs to be RT'ed

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  45. you ain't kiddin - just watched "Up In The Air" the other night and now that I read this, I noticed the same thing. Check out the production stills - http://www.theupintheairmovie.com/

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  46. You know what's hysterical is I've heard you discuss this coloring trend so many times over the years, I thought it was a "known" problem. But look at you, teaching Stu of all people!!! I love it!!! Maybe Eric will name a new Magic Bullet Mojo setting for you. :) Yessss...I'm going to go email him right now. Give him some teal/orange guff.

    So congrats Mr. Producer/Editor of THE COMMUNE...we were featured on the front page of IndieFlix today as a new feature of note! As a COMEDY. Hmmmm. Guess they listed our categories alphabetically. Hope those new viewers appreciate a "black as a pit of despair" comedy...

    But I kid you not: the two colors of the website Indieflix.com website are TEAL AND ORANGE. It's everywhere aaaaaahhhH!!!!!!

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  47. "What would art history look like if this virus had infected mankind hundreds of years ago?"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Starry_Night

    What indeed.

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  48. Kid Sis,

    Actually Magic Bullet Mojo was created specifically to create this look, which is why I thought it was funny that Stu liked this post.

    The Commune as a comedy eh? Now that's a lawsuit waiting to happen!

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  49. haha very funny article! I really never noticed the teal-and-orange combination, but I have notices some movies look very blue or gray

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  50. And, to complete the aesthetic atrocity: an entirely AutoTuned soundtrack. :p

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  51. When I look at these comments and see the orange Blogger logo next to the blue of the names I really believe the foxes have invaded the hen house. Great post, though.

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  52. Look at the movie The Island from Michael Bay, its orange and teal the whole movie, all shots, none spared by the plague... quite funny now that you talked about it !

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  53. Saw the REPO MEN trailer today, and it is exclusively teal and orange...

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  54. Great great article, really interesting. I never realized it before. But now i won't be able to normaly watch a hollywood prod no more :(

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  55. Remember the Kill Bill series... the fluorescent green and yellow.

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  56. Agreed. Except for the Tron part. Original movie from '82 was all blue/teal and red/orange while inside the computer. I think it makes sense to stick with that for the sequel. Gives it a cold, electric feel similar to the green flourescent feel of the Matrix movies, imho.

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  57. Its a fad, just like everything turned green after the Matrix just this one seems to have come from no one big movie. So most people don't notice, I personally think this is just a reaction to the last ten years of the de-sat look that started with band of brothers and died a horrible death with Sweeny Todd. Colour grading has been around since the 80's and before as colour timing in the film labs. Just like everything it has fashions and fads trick is to know whats next.

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  58. you should incorporate the opposite of the spectrum and see what Avatar did with BLUE people in ORANGE settings. If you did an inverse would it look normal?

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  59. But now I have a formula for a sure-fire blockbuster! Muhahahah. Now I just need Michael Bay to direct and Roberto Orci (or Joe Eszterhas for a throwback) to write. Who wants to finance me?

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  60. I like orange and teal as you can see from the collage I made. Since you failed to mention my blog or my post, let me introduce it for people who appreciate the effects of these complimentary colors http://athome.kimvallee.com/2008/08/orange-and-teal-party-theme/

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  61. God damn you, I'll never unsee.

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  62. Ian,

    That's how I've felt for the last couple of years. Now I'm not the only one suffering!

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  63. Makes you appreciate film making like this even more: http://images.allmoviephoto.com/2004_Collateral/2004_collateral_001.jpg

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  64. Soon we'll be able to date all movies the way we can kitchen appliances.

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  65. That's why I felt unconsciously or consciously tired from claustrophobia. The orange and teal color scheme really makes me realize what I am watching is the movie not the real life..

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  66. I've noticed the color trend of "one intense red element in a blue/gray/neutral space," which is an unforgivably predictable way to make color fulfill a symbolic purpose. See: American Beauty, Schindler's List, almost every horror movie made in the last 10 years. Now I'll have to look for this blue/orange trend, as well.

    Been writing all month about color in movies, so I'm feeling extra sensitive to this stuff, too: http://benefitofthedoubt.miksimum.com/

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  67. If you are looking for something other than teal and orange, try some red and green. See Amelie. It is visually stunning, and has some amazing score and even better sound design too.

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  68. I'm willing to bet you could find screen captures to make this same argument about any two colors. Not that I'm saying your argument isn't valid, the phenomenon real. I do know I'll be looking more closely for it.

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  69. You may indeed be right, however, watch this trailer from Brothers and you may feel differently...

    http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/lions_gate/brothers/

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  70. You're forgetting one thing... It's Hollywood where there's just one rule: If it works, it's in.

    A proven formula (be it plot or look) removes the decision making process from over-pressured, under-creative producers and since the Orange/Teal look works so well with human skin tones (and because so many major & SUCCESSFUL films have used it), why would they risk trying something new?

    Things will settle down again when the next creative tour-de-force has the cahoonas to come up with something new and it's a box office success.

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  71. I'm in my late seventies, so I have been brainwashed all my picture-going life watching films in black contrasted with white! It has left scars on my retina.

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  72. Thank gawd for Almodovar. Red and yellow all the way.

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  73. Excellent article. Now that I've read it, I'm seeing the teal and orange palette in a lot of places. Now I'll be much more informed when a colorist does something truly original. Thanks!

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  74. I recall the use of color grading in Soderbergh's version of Traffic to what, at the time, seemed a good use. Recall the use of warm/hot colors in some locales and scenes (California/Mexico) and the use of cool colors in others (Washington, D.C.). It wasn't so clichéd at the time.

    If you like green, think back to the Metro scenes in Amelie. Pushing that color worked expressionistically to give a glimpse of that skewed world that the character inhabited.

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  75. ARGH! That's really, really scary. And made me wonder whether the increasing orangeyness of skintones that appear to be required of actors (OK, anyone on TV and film), resulting in truly frightening extremes of fake tanning is somehow related. If we can make 'em pop, why not make them pop EVEN MORE! I mean, it doesn't even look like natural skin (albeit it tanned) anymore...

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  76. Great Post!! I have been to demos where Digital Intermediate guys show their process for color correction which I have always thought far too subjective and extremely bizarre but the practice has taken on a life of its own. It's as if eveyone might think it doesn't look like a movie without these unnatural color tweaks.

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  77. Amen. I was planning on doing a similar post on my blog but yours is much better than what I would have done. Experts post about how to make your film look like a Hollywood blockbuster and, what I think what you are reacting to, people start acting like it's the gospel. I find it disappointing that so many filmmakers are looking for formulaic answers. While the experts are serving a valuable educational purpose, they are also co-marketing software, cameras, books, etc.

    As to some of the negative comments, your post clearly is not intended to be the definitive statement on color grading films. I thought your post had a nice element of humor in it, especially the "porange" Scream.

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  78. "Superman Returns" was a variant of this, with more yellow than orange. I thought at the time that the film-maker was going for a "dawn" look, to emphasize Superman's rebirth/return, but now that I see it everywhere else, it does seem ridiculous.

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  79. You can now add Doctor Who to your list of offenders. Check out the new TARDIS!
    http://io9.com/5504881/first-images-of-doctor-whos-new-tardis-interior-its-glam/gallery/

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  80. We all have a little orange in us. LOL, great read.

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  81. Hey Todd - Great post, I followed a link a friend posted on Facebook. I also didn't notice this before, but now that it's been brought to my attention, I'm not sure I'll NOT see it.

    You hypothesized among the comments what it might be like if every song had the same drum beat. Have you ever heard of The Winstons? Yes you have...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SaFTm2bcac

    You may enjoy this...

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  82. It almost seems like the photoshop gurus in charge of cover and poster art have infected the world's film colorists. Just look at a random sample of big budget video game boxes to see this very dynamic at its most ubiquitous.

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  83. Wow, I feel like I've just seen the Annoying Blockbuster Movie Genome cracked before my eyes. I walk away informed and aware. Cheers!

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  84. wow. I now know why CSI:Miami was giving me a headache. It wasn't the cheesy scripts it was all that hyper-orange-and-teal coloration.

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  85. I don't see it.

    Of course, I'm colorblind...

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  86. >The Cohen brothers ushered in the new era of >digital color grading with their excellent >2000 film, "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou."

    Of course Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, always the pioneers tried this effect in the 1980s: http://www.flickr.com/photos/96381253@N00/4480391008/

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  87. Good post. Was it a joke that you are using the same colour scheme for your page (orange for the Blogger logo/blue for the clickable links) ;)

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  88. This makes me so thankful to be colorblind.

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  89. This explains why my brain is overjoyed whenever I see any film in technicolor on cable lately, even those corny MGM musicals. It's like my eyes have been starved for some of these colors.

    I blame The Annoying Orange, he's readily findable on YouTube.

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  90. Interesting phenomenon - I'd agree that this has been going on since color began though. Moreso lately, for sure - anybody remember that Gibson vehicle "Payback?" That thing was so blue that when I came out of my living room the real world was red-shifted...

    And did I read some hater trying to squeeze Avatar into this mold? Come on man, seriously - that movie was a collage of neon on a vast green backdrop. Pick on it for its legitimate weaknesses all you want, no need to make up bogus ones. ;)

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  91. I can't agree with you dislike to these colors because they are an upgrade on the s--- brown and grays of the "realisms" from video games now adays. I do think they could try other colors. Nice Article

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  92. Interesting article. But I disagree with the author. A film is a piece of art.. as with all art a color palette is added to the film. I happen to love the grainy and grittyness of a film stock. A blue tone will set a mood and warm tone will set another mood of something old and unique.. often sci fi movies will have a tinge of blue to echo space ... See Moreand time.. darkness and moodyness. How would a sci fi movie like transformers look with a nice warm tones when its about robots battling to the death. I am def. someone who is influenced by the film industries use of tonal variations for my own work.
    I think everything would be boring a bland if it was just the colors of reality.. Look at the Fauves, look at PIcasso and look at the impressionists..

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  93. Interesting hypothesis. But the argument holds true only for lighter skinned individuals. What about movies with a primarily dark skinned cast? What is the complementary color scheme then?

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  94. I'm blown away by the subject matter of the above post - I've been calling Hollywood films "blue" and/or "tan" films literally for YEARS (and here I thought it was just a me-ism)! I'm tickled to learn I'm apparently not alone in the ability to recognize one of the more subtle absurdities associated with modern Hollywood. Cheers.

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  95. This does definitely go back further than 2000 when it was done digitally. Check out Bad boys in the '90s (also Bay) or similar films. Mostly done with filters and lighting i think but the very same thing.

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  97. Not that it really matters to make your point...but the first feature film to be entirely scanned into a computer for a DI that could be color controlled was NOT "Oh Brother Where Art Thou." It is Pleasantville who holds that distinction. Pleasantville, led by producers Bob Degus, Jon Kilik invented the concept of the Digital Intermediate as it had never been done before to an entire feature film at that point...only individual visual effect shots here and there.

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  98. The first film I remember with such a strong blue and orange palette was the excellent 1977 "Seven percent solution" directed by Herb Ross and written by Nicholas Meyer.

    This film had SUCH a vivid palette of either blue or orange that it made a vivid impression on me. It was pre-digital. The heavily stylistic look didn't catch on widely at the time, but it clearly made an impression on later filmmakers.

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  99. I actually like this color palette. You point out it's ubiquity, but at least it's colors that I like.

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  100. Todd,

    Your point duly noted. I think the mark that everyone is missing (with respect) yourself included is that colorists are creating contrast with the skin tones by pushing blues into the shadows. Of course you're like duh! I said that already. But let's look at the color wheel for a moment, but in a different way then what you are used to. Let's look at the color wheel as greyscale. What is the whitest/brightest color and what is the blackest/darkest color??? Yellow(orange) and blue (teal) respectively. Therefore the point is, these colors not only contrast chroma wise but tonal wise (brightest/darkest) as well, making them the best colors to create contrast or doubly accentuate the skin tones. Certainly can be overdone but contrast can not only be created in a shot but from scene to scene. So no need for it to be in every shot. You may or may not know this as well that this is the color palette of the "magic hour" sunset shot found in nature. Highlights or areas in the sun are yellow because of the direct sunlight, shadows or areas literally in the shadow areas are blue because the sky acts as a giant blue bounce card. Afraid to say but the eyes/brain like these colors the best because they can discern detail the best because of contrast in chroma and tonal range. Now I just sound like I'm ranting, I promise I'm not necessarily an advocate of this palette, using it all the time in every film will make bland because there won't be anything to contrast it to in and of itself, make sense? I just wanted to address the tonal aspect of it, ever try pushing cool colors in the highlights and warm colors in the shadows? Easy for it to look like crap :)

    Cheers,
    Denver Riddle

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  101. The movie Erin Brock did this to make the days look sunnier, they do all look sunny tho don't they? Ah hollywood, even in dark places the sun shines and gives you a cheetoh tan.

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  102. bitch and moan, bitch and moan, bitch and moan...

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  103. I've been experimenting more and more with different ways to approach color grading. I find myself outside shooting random things just to come back and grade them.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/romanmphotography/4472325475/in/set-72157623749017214/

    One film that comes to mind that's different from this apparent standard is The Dark Knight.

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  104. I'm just gonna rehash what a few others have said - Amelie. Not only is it red and green, but in a few scenes there will be like a single object that's a brilliant blue. Stunning!

    Now I'm trying to think of movies and tv shows that break away from this mold... Moulin Rouge? Sweeney Todd, or actually almost any Tim Burton movie, for that matter. Hmm.

    I don't mind the blue/orange when it's subtle (Wolfman) but Transformers 2 is just ridiculous all around.

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  105. That was a great post. :)

    Though, I wonder if you're correct about Oh Brother Where Art Thou being the originator of this technology.

    A year before OBWAT, we had the green landscapes of The Matrix, and two years before THAT, we had vibrant green fields being turned into a brown, barren wasteland in the final scene of Se7en. Both of these were done digitally, and I know for a fact that Se7en, at least, was very meticulously tweaked to change certain colors while others remained the same.

    Oh Brother may have been the first movie ENTIRELY scanned into a computer, but it would appear the other two got to the technology first.

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  106. Great post! I read an article on Filmtotaal (a Dutch website) about the same colours used in film posters.
    It's in Dutch, but you get the picture (hope the link works):
    http://www.filmtotaal.nl/artikel.php?id=15708

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  107. Awesome post bro!
    I've never noticed this before!

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  108. I know you said you were exaggerating to make a point...but come on. Perhaps one should keep in mind that "natural" light is very "blue/green." Or if you want to simplify, "teal." Light produced by electric, gas, or flame is genrally yellow/orange.

    Ok keep that in mind.

    Now, anyone who ever had a decent art teacher would have learned that when you draw or paint something, your giving a representation of that thing. So, say I paint a vase, it's not actually a vase, it's what I saw. My take on it. Even if it is photo real. It is still not a vase.

    So the lighting we see in real life, "Teal" for natural, "Orange" for artificial, is interpreted into a movie...a representation, no matter how "realistic" it's supposed to be...and guess what...those colors are still going to be there.

    Last time I watched Transformers, there was lots of Red and Blue, Greens, and plenty of other colors.

    I'm not saying it doesn't get exaggerated at times, but who would want to watch a movie like Transformers or just about anything else if it were in "video" or "docuemntary" style.

    I don't want to see what I can see at home or at work when I go to the movies. So my vote, keep up the Teal and Orange.

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  109. Just saw this:
    http://www.radiotimes.com/content/features/galleries/doctor-who-exclusive-look-inside-the-new-tardis/06/

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

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  110. Haha, this was really entertaining. Too bad I'm a Miami Dolphins fan. Dammit, we have the worst colours imaginable.

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  111. It's a really good point (and I'm definitely going to see it everywhere now), but thinking about it, other color schemes kind of put my back up unconsciously (like if it was a green or red filter instead).

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  112. Blog response @ http://www.digitalcinemafoundry.com/2010/04/02/why-the-so-called-blockbuster-look-color-grading-explained/

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  114. Star Wars episode IV! So much orange and teal! Not to mention Entourage!

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  115. Denver Riddle - thanks for the great link.
    http://www.digitalcinemafoundry.com/2010/04/02/why-the-so-called-blockbuster-look-color-grading-explained/

    It's a more in-depth examination as to why colorists lean on this look.

    To be honest, I'm somewhat shocked that a professional blog like Digital Cinema Foundry would feel the need to respond to my rather off-the-cuff rant about a personal distaste of mine.

    The main point of my post (which some people seem to miss) is not that there is anything inherently horrible in a teal/orange color scheme. Obviously, it works. The horrible thing is when it becomes so ubiquitous that it is used without question - without thought.

    Any element in a movie, whether it is costuming, lens choice, mise en scene, music, or yes, color grading, should be there to support the story, the major themes or the characters of the movie.

    Movies like "The Aviator", "Seven", "The Matrix" and "Traffic" all had very distinct looks that were in line with their stories.

    However, it seems to me that this popular look is now being used simply because it is currently popular. Hollywood, if anything, is a risk-averse community and this fear-centric approach even trickles down to color-grading choices - if someone else did it in their movie, then it must be good. And if a little is good, then a lot must be even better!

    As some have pointed out, this is very similar to what has been happening in the music industry with regards to exaggerated compression becoming the norm. What's missing in both the case of pinned audio levels and hyper-stylized orange/teal color grading is any sense of nuance - of subtlety.

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  116. Thanks for explaining why all these flicks today are looking like puke. I was wondering what the hell they were doing to the color--now I know.

    I especially loved your interpretation of Teal and Orange Mona Lisa!

    Great blog, man!

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  117. Todd,

    right on and I totally agree with your point. I was greatful to see this being recognized. In the spirit of breaking rules once you know them, I would suggest using this look only after understanding why and when it should be used :)

    cheers,
    Denver riddle

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  118. This is utterly brilliant... not only are most Hollywood movies of the last ten years or so bland as far as the storytelling goes, but they also look really drab and dreary photograhically. It's weird how every single filmmaker in a certain era (now) has to follow the same aesthetic -- but I guess that's true of any era of film. I miss vibrant IB-Technicolor, or any vibrant color, for that matter. Well done!

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  119. It's not "Tron", It's "Tron Legacy"!
    Not a Retread, A Sequel!
    Here's the differnece.
    "Clash Of The Titans" - Retread (A bad one at that.)
    "Nightmare On Elm St. - Retread (Destined to fail.)
    "The A-Team" - Retread (Good/Bad, time will tell.)
    "Tron Legacy" - Sequel (Continuing the storyline of the original film.)
    Any questions.

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  120. God, thank you SO MUCH for posting about this. This look has been revolting me for years. Pray heaven that your post finally curbs its use, at least a little.

    The Digital Cinema Foundry "response" only served to prove your point, ironically, because in every case in their examples where the grading was applied, compared to the so-called "flat" originals, I MUCH preferred the look of the original images to the ugly graded images.

    This, I think, is where everything goes wrong. I'm quoting from their post:

    "Since we’re trying to emphasize the skin tone of the talent which is orange, it’s natural then that this color of teal is used to help the skin tones stand out against environment. "

    Orange? Where is skin tone "orange"? Oh, I know -- in Hollywood, California, I suppose, where everyone wants to look like George Hamilton, with fake-and-bake radioactive tans.

    But in the rest of America, in Canada, in Europe, etc., you actually have something called FAIR skin tones, where complexions are not ORANGE, but naturally white, and pink, and milk-coloured. You know -- *attractive* and *natural* skin tones.

    So the whole premise of their apology for grading is out the window, because:

    a) the so-called "flat" originals look far more pleasing to the eye than the ugly, unnatural graded ones.

    b) skin tones are not meant to be "orange" in the first place, and look hideous when they are (whether by grading or tanorexically tanning).

    Give us back natural images, free of the two-tone green/teal/blue & tan/orange grading, PLEASE.

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  121. Also goes some way to explaining this guy...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Dickinson

    (one for the British readers)

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  122. jesus christ,you're right!!!i can't believe i didn't notice that!!btw the tron bit was hilarious!

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  123. People who say that its crap, watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeXr50LNJfM and scroll to 1:25.

    This blue filter thing has gone ridiculous and its used EVERYWHERE now! After reading this article I rewatched the Dark Knight and the scene where Alfred reads Rachel's letter is a prime example. A blue filter is used, and then the orange juice sits there as a counter.

    Perhaps people are right that its been used since colour in film, but its used in a much more obvious and inorganic way now I think. That being said, I think things shot w/ a blue filter do look cool and crisp - which is their intended effect, but if its overdone its a bit ridic.

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  124. This isn't just frustrating to cinematographers-- it is DESTROYING THEIR JOBS. Nobody WANTS the cinematographer to do his work anymore. They just want a nice, even, consistent exposure with the details as intact as possible, with a neutral color range, nothing too saturated-- so they can overhaul the entire thing later, using DI guys that are right out of school and only barely know what they are doing since the field is so new. The technology is cool, but the situation is currently a nightmare.

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  125. There is nothing new about this at all.

    North by Northwest
    http://laraandthereelboy.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/mcdnoby_ec002_h.jpg

    The Graduate
    http://www.coffeecoffeeandmorecoffee.com/archives/The_Graduate.jpg
    http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews32/a%20the%20graduate%20dustin%20hoffman/the%20graduate%20PDVD_014.jpg

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    http://simplymagicalmovies.co.uk/__oneclick_uploads/2009/04/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly.jpg

    Planet of the Apes (1968)
    http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/04_02/ape2STOCK0704_468x313.jpg

    Kung Fu
    http://siamtradingpost.com/blog2/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/david_carradine-02.jpg

    The Brady Bunch
    http://trouble.room34.com/wp-content/uploads/trouble/2009/07/Brady-Bunch-from-Stuck-in-the-70s-702715.jpg

    The Wizard of Oz
    http://media.photobucket.com/image/yellow%20brick%20road/jimmy_b/YellowBrickRoad.jpg

    Looney Toons
    http://kara.allthingsd.com/files/2008/06/roadrunner.gif

    But how about some indoor or night scenes? This combination has always been popular in science fiction and fantasy. Blade Runner and the original Tron were already mentioned. How about:

    Star Trek (1979)
    http://fandomania.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/ksm4.jpg

    Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
    http://i.ytimg.com/vi/frCIQfpMOyo/0.jpg
    http://www.tvland.com/photogallery/photos/Star-Wars-The-Empire-Strikes-Back.jpg

    Terminator (1984)
    http://i31.tinypic.com/72y3p2.jpg

    Romeo and Juliet (1968)
    http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/90/84690-050-9A294C8B.jpg

    Forbidden Planet
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a0/Forbidden_Planet_Id_Monster1.JPG

    Fantasia
    http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n56/shannonhmt/My%20Art/KUPKA-NIGHT-ON-BALD-MOUNTAIN-I.jpg

    Cocktail
    http://www.johnmariani.com/archive/2006/060723/cocktail438ny.jpg

    Rollerball (1975)
    http://www.cheapimagehosting.com/images/kenchien/rollerball1.jpg

    The truth is it's just a potent and dramatic color combination. That's why it's the default for neon signs. Most of the iconic scenes in color film history probably utilized this technique to some degree. Naturally the scenes that stand out the most are the ones that are going to make it into the previews and the movie posters. If it's more visible than before that's only because technology has allowed DPs and directors to do what they've been trying to do since the invention of color film.

    ...Except for that time in the '70s when everything was glossy white. That was just weird.

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  126. Those are some really good frame grabs from movies from many eras, and yes, as I've mentioned this general look is nothing new.

    However, this particular recent look really pushes all blues towards a hyper-saturated blue-green. There is very little variance left for ranges of cobalt blue, cyan, or bluish-purple - everything is blue-green, and all the blacks have a blue-green tint as well.

    Trailers especially take this to absurd levels. Just look at the recently released trailer for Nightmare on Elm Street:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB8XYZDu5zs

    Oh yeah, and check out who produced it...

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  127. Yep. I started noticing it when Harry Potter came out.. Good Call!!

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  129. I've never been able to nail down what it was...I'd just been describing "this overly saturated color look" that just gets old. Thanks for the insight.

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  130. Thanks for doing the grunt work here, hunting down the example shots. Weird that they would apply the technique to a movie like "Hot Tub"--not exactly a good cinematographer's dream project.

    But maybe that's the point; quality artists have moved on, but now the scrubs imitate and caricature their work. They substitute extremes for nuance and color-screams for tint-whispers.

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  131. I'm kind of surprised no one has mentioned the movie "Hard Candy" as a film in which coloration was used -well- and with variance related to how each scene should be. There is, I think, an interview somewhere or maybe it was actual DVD commentary (I'll look it up and get back to this) where it's actually discussed how the coloring was used to differentiate between very tense scenes and very relaxed ones (at least, as relaxed as you can get with a movie that has a plot like "Hard Candy" does).

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  132. The movies that always stand out in my memory for coloration, other than O Brother, are the Lord of the Rings movies. I think every single shot was tinkered with, if my recollection of the commentaries served. And you get very different color themes for the different settings - gold and green for the Shire, cooler tones for Rivendell, greyed out and lifeless for the White City under Denethor. Not just teal and orange!

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  133. When the Rusians in the 70s were shooting on their own SVEMA color film it had a color "problems" wich led to be call sovcolor (soviet color).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj0PDqNukPU&playnext_from=TL&videos=dQtrlu1mK8s&feature=sub
    Please see 1.32 min.
    I guess yesterday problems are todays effects.

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  134. great article! i had to put a link to it on my blog! thanks!

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  135. Fully agree. Boring. I noticed this trend years ago. Of course it's a side effect of the Daylight vs Tungsten lighting colour temperature situation. You have Tungsten (orange) lights and HMI (blue) lights, and to correct either of those back to the other there is CTO and CTB lighting gels, in variations of 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1/1 and so there you have the most common set up in the lighting scenario. An unfiltered HMI looks quite blue in a tungsten lit and balanced set up. And vice versa any tungsten lights look quite orange in a dfaylight balanced set-up.

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  136. You know, every now and then it pays to be dead frickin' color blind. Try as I might I just couldn't see anything weird in your pics, nor have I noticed anything in any movie. Finally, something goes to the color blind.

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  137. it's definitely Sonnenfeld's fault. Look at his list of credits on C03's website.

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  138. I can usually determine what date a movie was filmed in pretty closely, decades do have characteristic looks associated with them brought on by technology and filming trends so you can tell period pieces apart even if they depict the same historical era, no reason why this decade should be different

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  139. I've just seen the trailer for The Last Airbender. Worst offender I've ever seen, honestly! Is there no end in sight?

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  140. i remember some 'film major' house mate of mine pointing this out to me in the late nineties. his claim from the predigital days was that directors often use blue sets to create this on screen contrast with flesh tones.

    since that time i've seen too much blue every time i turn on the tv.

    check out tv series, telly movies etc, going back forever.

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  141. On the bright side, it's better than every horror movie in the 00's being color-balanced to flourescent-lamp green.

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  142. Watched "The Island" on tv the other day - that film is a prime example. I felt quite sorry for the characters - looked like they'd been force fed carrots for six months prior to shooting.
    I probably wouldn't have noticed though, if it hadn't been for this blog - I had gotten so used to those colours!

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  143. Looks like Eclipse has it real bad. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef013480825978970c-pi

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  144. Once you see this, you can't unsee it! Still some movies are guiltier than others. The Lovely Bones, directed by Peter Jackson, had an orange-blue thing happening in almost every single shot. Over the top!

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  145. Some other factors affecting Color and its on-screen theatrical presentation.

    The Director -
    Lighting Design -
    VFX Design -
    The Film Stock -
    The Print Stock -
    Shot digitally ? Lack of Color response -
    Production Design -
    Production Set Painters -
    The grips available gell Packs -
    Genre -
    Photochemical finish -
    Makeup -
    Wardrobe -
    Digital Finish -
    Colorist -

    Colorists dont put the color on the screen. They simply take what is there and make it work for a scene that needs to be balanced because it has been shot in varying conditions over a few days. Balancing requires shots are balanced in Density, Tone, Palette, Contrast and Color Temperature.

    Very early on in a film a Designer will draw up style guides and color palettes that every one locks in to. As colorists we also obey these rules laid down in pre production.
    Yes there is a Fad for this Look but there are thousands of looks out there and youve just noticed one. This one seems to have been chosen for the Lads. - Big Explosions, Sexy Ladies, Intensive VFX, and guaranteed Bums on seats.

    P.S. I have some Magic Lantern glass slides from the beginning of the century that also use this palette. The artist was as you say using complimentary colors. The are using more than 2 colors though.

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  146. Right on! I've been annoyed by this for years, but you nailed it beautifully, and with great examples (and that hilarious bit at the end with the classical art!). Well done. I hope your article spreads virally and Hollywood gets self-conscious about using teal/orange and stops doing it!

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  147. It does seem strange in a digital palette of millions of colours, that two so totally dominate to the exclusion of all others. Only orange and teal plates, and drinks, and shirts, and suits and walls. Maybe like the old guy said, we should go back to plain black and white, they really pop.

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  148. I'm surprised no one mentioned this Daybreakers trailer! It's the most blatant example of this that I've seen.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayYiMygqlfo

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  149. I've just watched Avatar again, and there are definitely some scenes in there that aim for the teal & orange look, especially when it gets all dramatic. As someone said, the funny thing is that it's the characters that are teal, with the background or other objects orange. But luckily there are plenty of other color schemes in there too. It's only because I've read this article before that those specific scenes caught my eye, so I wouldn't say at all that Avatar is yet another teal & orange movie.

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  150. Watched Doctor Who the other day (the Vampires of Venice), and the night scenes were all orange and teal. It didn't look atmospheric, just weird and artificial.

    Great article!

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  151. Spider,
    Well done, I graded that film. But NOT the trailer, that had been done by an LA trailer house which tend to grade the sequence for dramatic effect. It is then then compressed down to a 256 web palette. Some original stills can be found here. http://www.iris-digital.org/wordpress/?p=820 . You can see on the YouTube version a lot of subtle color nuances have ben lost or just graded differently.

    Yes, the Film is Cyan but it was made under the direction of the DOP and Directors.
    In this particular case there were many production factors that helped us arrive at this final palette. Some Below...
    1. The Vamps needed to look dead, bloodless. What do you do ? Add blue to the skin tones.
    2. Production design was very Cyan/Blue and Yellow/Gold.
    3. The DOP's reference Photoshop grades set the Look for the Film prior to the grade beginning.
    3. The film was shot digitally what naturally has a lot less Tonal separation than does film. We then have to apply what you call a Film Lookup table that translates digital colors to those that will be seen on the theatrical release print. Blue as it stands, depending on the production design and Gel combinations tends to appear more Cyan than true a full Blue. Digital acquisition with its reduced color capture abilities often looks more graded because we have to stretch the palette to place it into a theatrical context.

    Im not saying I, as a colorist, did not contribute to the final Look of the Film. I am saying though that there are many more factors that are predecided before we even see an image on screen.

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  152. Fantastic & hilarious!!! :) and a great post too, thank you :))

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  153. Thank you for pinning this down. I always felt it (unconsciously) since 15 years ago, but I really noticed it with MIB 2. In particular when Will Smith entered the machine to regain Tommy Lee Jones's memory back. They were flushed out of the head quarters and landed in the street. My first thoughts were how in hell could they make the water so blue and yet the New York cabs in the background are very orange. It's kinda of cool, shiny steel, blue and orange.

    But now it is annoying and overdone!!! Please stop it already! Others pointed out to other movies in far past that uses this color scheme too. Not true, because I think the missing element is steel, or diamonds or something reflecting and smooth. Jeezz, the New Star Trek movie is all about (almost every sci fi movie) is all about orange, teal and steel.

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  154. By the way I never seen eclipse, but those guys look freaky weird. It's like everybody is denying ever having a afro or mohawk back then, those actor in 20 years from now will fall to the ground from embarrassment of ever having to look like that. Bring back the grungy 90's style back!

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  155. I've been having a hard time understanding why all recent hollywood movies have looked unrealistic to me. I had originally blamed it on CGI backdrops but I think the misuse of colorization, in particular the teal/orange look is the real culprit.

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  156. GrAde, yes of course the look of any movie is a team effort of Art Director, DP and Colorist (among others) coming together to fulfill the vision of the Director. In the past the DP and Art Director had much more control over the look of a movie as many decisions had to be made in the sets or in the camera. However, with the arrival of an all-digital workflow the balance has shifted to delaying many color decisions until the final color grade is done. Many movies (especially those shot with RED cameras) are now being specifically shot "flat" in terms of contrast ratios in order to provide as much control as possible in post.

    The irony for me is that now, when the director has so much more freedom to explore innovative color ideas, they are tending more and more to rely on a limited, cliche'd look.

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  157. Ever since I read this, a month or so ago, it's all I noticed. While I appreciate the perspective, it's incredibly distracting! Make the teal and orange go away so that I can, once again, enjoy a movie without being distracted by the trendy color scheme!!!!

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  158. The Simpsons world? Well....

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  159. Take a look at the latest James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. The entire thing, from the beginning to the end, is orange and blue. In fact, the orange and blue is used symbolically-- orange associated with anger slowly taking over from blue until after the final climax with fire and desert (orange) at the end, blue (calm etc.) reasserts itself.

    Sort of ruined the film for me, it was so prevalent.

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  160. It's getting worse.
    Check out the trailer for the upcoming "Green Hornet", even poor Lady Columbia is now Peach and Teal.
    I can only hope that ungraded digital cuts of these movies exist so that in 2 or 3 decades when peach and teal is looked upon laughably like a Harvest Gold dishwasher, perhaps then saner heads can apply more than 2 colors to the prints.

    We have the highest imaging technology the world has ever seen available to us and the best the colorists can do is take us back to 1922's version of Technicolor.

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  161. First I was appealed that Teal and Orange dominate Hollywood. But then I looked around, and I found that the world is Teal and Orange. I was on the subway and the next hour or so I was looking around, thinking: fucking Hollywood! How could they do this to us! Everything around me was Teal and Orange: http://www.flickr.com/photos/temirov/sets/72157624291575495/

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  162. I'm watching 'Terminator 2' now, and I've never seen so much teal and orange. And this would have been before digital colour grading, I think.

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  163. A lot of the movies mentioned have a lot of special effects...I wonder how much of this color scheme is based on the lack of green to make it easier when chroma keying greenscreens (though they could of course use bluescreens as well).

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  164. OMG -- I read this today and went to see INCEPTION in IMAX later ibn the day and that movie is, quite literally 85% Orange-and-Teal!

    Literally, there are precisely two green images in the film: a patch of grass and a shag rug, both very muted. There were two brief passages with red in them and I almost creamed myself in releief.

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  165. we do this in theatre as well for example

    http://www.sltarchive.co.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Image:EL26.jpg

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  166. Didja know that you got linked in a Cracked article? Well done, sir. :)

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  167. Excellent article! Couldn't agree more, although it probably does work in some movies (although I can't point out which ones exactly)

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  168. thank you very much, you have just RUINED ALL MOVIES. Between you and tvtropes.com i have nothing left, i am off to spend my life staring at walls or reading

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  169. All these discussions about color makes me want to watch Suspiria XD

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  170. Can I be the voice of dissension here and say--you're deranged if you think this will ever change?

    Good read, but those two colours are pretty much the only 2 opposite pairs that look great together. Would you prefer if all the skin tones turned a jaundiced yellow, and purple was the backdrop of everything? Red/green? No other complementaries work with average flesh tone!

    And yes, if something is orange/teal the scene should look more golden warm/blue cool it's, but while everything's going to look all harmonious and comfortable and natural, nothing's going to pop. This will subconsciously confuse audiences, who will not know where to focus.

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  171. This is just one of the most basic rules of art, warm colors pop, cool colors recede (my fine art teachers always talk about it), even in movies, it's a basic lighting rule to make the film pop more.

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  172. Have you seen The Girl Who Played With Fire? It suffers from this big time.

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  173. Oh god, the recoloured art at the end was actually physically painful to look at. I searched each piece after reading to remind myself that other colours exist.

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  174. Just stopping in to related a color scheme that I liked. I really loved the colors in the first Matrix. The subtle green hue when you were "inside the matrix" and the cold blues when you were in the real world. Like it was mentioned above with Traffic, it subconciously told you where you were at. Another good look at lighting and color in general (even thought people may hate the film) is Dark City. They opted to use real street lights and other real lighting tones to drive the color of the film. This was used to make the film appear more real. Looking back on it it worked. The only thing that really lead you into a noirish feel were the muted colors and the heavily contrasting shadows. Just my .02

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  175. Oh and sorry about the typos... it's late and I didn't proof read... gah

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  176. Great post! The movie that came to my mind after reading this is The island. Image searched it and BAM!
    http://media.avclub.com/images/articles/article/26384/the-island_jpg_595x325_crop_upscale_q85.jpg

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  177. Please don't think this is racist, but ever since Obama got elected, an "Obama orange" flesh tone for whites has become very popular in the media.

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  178. Now I understand why John Boehner is a funny color. He's been digitally processed to pop!

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  179. dude. it's just orange and teal. GET OVER IT.

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  180. What an enlightening article - I'd hadn't noticed in so many words that it's this precise diagonal across the colour wheel that's being overused everywhere in modern movies, but there's been an unavoidable abundance of it for quite a while now...

    The problem is that most of the 'cool' (as in "whoa that's so gooood", as opposed to "cold") aspects of the world that filmmakers like to shoehorn into action/thriller movies in particular derive from these two parts of the spectrum: darkness/shadow/absence of sunlight, - i.e. mystery, lurking horrors and people loitering in shadow looking cool - is often bluish, while apart from skin tones (at least, Hollywood skin tones) you also find sunset, fire and explosions in the orange department. So inevitably there's going to be a lot of representation in these areas, which is then highlighted by the colour grading.

    I blame Michael Bay (well, it's always easiest, eh?) - someone whose work can be identified at a stroke because apparently it's always sunset so everything is irredeemably orange and teal... Just rewatched 'The Island' the other day, which as others have posted here is an especially egregious example, while the two 'Transformers' films are equally bad, and you can look at 'Armageddon' the same way or even his 1993 video for Meat Loaf's 'Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are' and find precisely the same visual tropes going round and round. The clones in 'The Island' who never see outside of their facility are the lucky ones - you start to feel sorry for all other characters living in the Bay-universe, who must be permanently dazzled, disoriented and punch drunk from existing in a neverending golden hour where, no matter what the time of day or how long seems to have elapsed between events, the sun is constantly looming vast and unclouded on the horizon, blazing out an unblinking golden orange so that all the colours are a saturated amber. They must stumble from building to building, retinas scorched and delirious from lack of sleep, desperately trying not to look at anyone from the fear the sun will be blazing out directly behind them whichever way they turn, often with a helicopter simultaneously crossing in front of it with a slow-motion "whooomph-whooomph-whooomph" EVEN IF there are no helicopters anywhere to be found in that vicinity. Terrifying.

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  181. Thank you for this amazing article. I am referring it to a lot of film people... It really annoys me how films have suddenly changed now. Everything now has a commercial looking sheen to it which is totally distracting.It's not about colour co-ordination to enhance the story, it's about pressing a button and making dismal, unimaginative films look 'moody'.
    The Road recently came out in a diffused brown colour or something - complete lack of meaning and contrast as the whole film looked the same... dreadful and boring...
    I'm glad Lynch didn't shoot Blue Velvet in sepia/orange tones...

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  182. Am I the only one who loves these colors?

    Yeah they're used alot, but they're used for a reason! They give me eyegasms!

    But seriously yeah I've noticed it for quite some time now ever since that one old creative cow Colorista tutorial.
    Ever since then I've LOVED this color scheme!

    You guys may hate me for this, but I think this color scheme looks incredibly awesome!

    I mean, why else do you think Michael bay, and the amazing christopher nolan use them? Because they look good! Michael bay isn't a great story teller, but let me tell you. He knows how to make shots look good!

    And like someone else said before. There is really no other color scheme that pops as much as this. Seriously. You never see purple and red color grading anywhere. Why? because it looks like crap! You see this everywhere. Why? Because it looks good!

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  183. This is a bit random, but on DXM all movies look like this when viewed through a CRT television. Times a billion. This includes movies that don't even try to have this color scheme. Well, it made me think of this post.

    On the other hand, I don't entirely disagree with color filters and palette changes, they just need to be a little more subtle. There's nothing wrong with making things a little greener, a little bluer, etc. if you just want to give the film a more distinct mood (I thought it was done well in The Matrix, even though it's now been overdone a thousand times). It's this orange and teal crap that's just getting out of hand. It certainly stands out, is nicely contrasted, and excites the eye, but too much of it and its just redundant and boring.

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  184. Watching 2012 tonight. Aside from sucking...the movie is bathed in Teal and Orange.

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  185. This was fun! The trend that actually disturbs me is noticing how, within the first 10 minutes of almost every hollywood movie, someone lights up a cigarette....you do the math....

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  186. Epic article, and the problem i now have is that I'm spending more time critiquing the pallette of movies I see rather than getting into the story. Such a waste of all that color gamut, latitude and all that film stock, they should've just photographed it on monochrome film, then colorized it. Also note excessive use of graduated filters.

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  187. Great post! it's still reverberating on the web after all this time :) I found it under someone's Orange and Teal tinted facebook photo! haha!

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  188. Cracked brought me here. Brilliant article, and I'm not even British. I just like saying brilliant.

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  189. It's bleeding thru to TV as well. Series 2 of the UK show 'Being Human' was all teal and fake orange faces. It was so bad I could only watch one and a half episodes before I quit.

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  190. Insane http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR5RaZupoO4

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  191. Cracked.com brought me to this too a couple of weeks ago... and I felt complelled to come back here after watching Tim Burtons Alice in Wonderland again yesterday.

    Almost every scene the Mad Hatter is in (not to mention his wardrobe and hair) is courled this way!!

    30 minutes in, it was driving me insane!

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  192. Amazingly enough, they even managed to teal-and-orange the new GREEN LANTERN movie! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCEcYg3lNR4

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  193. They also did Green/purple full saturation,too, booyah!

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  194. Just saw a new movie, "Chloe" (2010), directed by Atom Egoyan and starring Julianne Moore... it's teal and orange, all the way! Amazing!

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