Harnessing colour

 Harnessing colour title image

Aside from a narrative and direction, colour is one of the main components that attracts viewers - especially in promotional videos. By harnessing the power of colour correctly, you can create something that is visually distinctive and most importantly, attractive to your chosen audience. Let’s first take a look at the psychology behind colours. By understanding the effects that are triggered by each colour, you can experiment with different emotions and feelings.

Neil Davidson has written a brilliant article on the psychology of colour and how they are used in film and video production. He begins: “Perhaps just as much as in Neo’s pill-related decision in the Matrix, colour plays a major part in our sensory experience and visual perception of the world. It has the capacity to drive our emotions, influence our mood, and even accelerate our heartbeat. This is why having a good understanding of the psychology of colour in post-production provides powerful creative control helping you achieve better results from your videos and evoke the desired associations and reactions in your viewers. From title design to correcting badly-lit interviews to introducing carefully selected hues to enhance a sequence, a good grasp of colour could really elevate your production to the next level.”

It’s quite simple when you think about it! Orange for example creates an instant feeling of happiness, freedom and warmth, whereas purple triggers thoughts of creativity, unconventionality and fantasy.

 Colourful sunrise

Focusing on cinema, you’ll see each scene is coloured in three blocks: light, medium and dark. Observed in the whole spectrum, these colours are mixed and matched. Let’s take a horror film; more often than not, horror films will have dark and brooding colours to emphasise tension, with black being the most prominent, as psychologically (in much of the world), this colour is symbolic of death and the unknown.

Richard Lackey writes on the 5 common film colour schemes, which gives a good understanding of the fundamental principles. On planning the look, he writes: “In post of course, a colorist can only work with what he is given, and so it can be argued that the overall look and feel of the image is the responsibility of the production designer. This is carefully planned by the art department as a whole in consultation with the director and cinematographer long before cameras roll. While this is true, how many of us regularly work with a professional production designer? Sometimes perhaps, but certainly not for every project. Many times I’ve brought on someone in a junior role, or simply used a stylist to quickly set dress a location with found existing objects, or to bring some selected items in with them if needed.”

Creative Bloq gives some further tips on generating the right atmosphere with colour, ranging from the bold to the subdued and advice on how to understand which colour palettes best suit the theme you’re going for.

By understanding the value of colour and how it can be used to the best effect, you will be able to create a video that is truly exceptional.