From The Grading Room – Is Yellow The New Orange?

March 29, 2018

In the last couple of years there has been a shift away from teal and orange to teal and yellow. Dan investigates that transition and looks at his own grades. He also asks do you miss teal and orange?


Has Teal And Orange Been Replaced?

It’s recently come to my attention that I’ve changed quite drastically as a colourist. I once was a happy warm, saturated colourist.

Over the past six months, I’ve drifted towards the sexy alluring look of our feature film grading counterparts.

This insight is both an investigation into my own style of grading but also a question for you all.

Have you become a member of the greeny yellow highlight club?

I also remembered during the process of writing this Insight that back in 2016 I looked at this very topic… and was a member of the red over yellow warmth club!

You can check that insight out here.

The Move Away From Teal And Orange

I’d like to start by saying I’m not bashing the Teal and Orange look.

It is and always will be a huge part of grading history.

It was such an amazing step forward for feature film grading it even made the mainstream news!

Check out this article from 2010 from a UK newspaper here.

The Teal and Orange look has been declining or should I say evolving over the last few years.

I’m not sure what caused this.

Overuse of LUTs in Vimeo/Youtube films? Mainstream news picking up on the trend?

For me, the pinnacle of the Teal and Orange era was the movie Battleship:

It’s about as teal and orange as you can get!

My best guess is that as it’s such a well-known style of grade that filmmaker’s and studios are starting to ask for something less well known.

Don’t get me wrong teal will always have a special place in our heart but its counterpart orange isn’t so lucky.

Here is an example of a film that would have certainly been teal and orange 5 years ago but has moved on to teal and yellow.

To get an idea of how widespread this move to yellow has become let’s take a look at some other platinum level movies and their grades.

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Homepage Forums From The Grading Room – Is Yellow The New Orange?

  • Manuel S

    I wouldn’t say that yellow has replaced orange, I’d say the teal/orange look has become a bit more complex. I still see lots of orange and even a little bit of red on the darkest tones of the skin, and I see more green in the lightest teal tones while the darkest ones remain more blueish. What I do see though is that the warmer tones of the image (especially the skintones) aren’t as saturated as they were on a more typical teal/orange look.

  • Watching “Paul Alwright – Seeds of Doubt” project, I’m wondering how you’ve managed to keep your look that consistent across all the beginning, which is pretty much one take. I’m thinking when the camera goes upstairs or behind the car. Have you keyframed a lot ? Nice job.

  • Dan Moran

    It was quite fun! I’m a big fan of doing invisible dissolves on a one-shot music video. It allows me to tweak the node graph for just that section and then I can experiment with dissolves to help blend between them. The core look is the same but I have one node at the start of my graph that is essentially an “exposure” control that I increase and decrease as the camera moves around. Sounds like it might make a good insight!

  • It might indeed! As a reminder, Patrick has already scratched the topic 4 years ago :
    But you sure have some of your own recipes to add as well. 😉

  • Jose Santos

    Great Article! Just wanted to point out that Dunkirk was shot on 65mm Film, not 35mm, and featured a full photochemical post production. The digital release was actually matched (as much as possible) to the 70mm color timed print (by Walter Volpatto as well). That certainly has a important influence on it’s look and I wonder how much of it was actually created versus being the natural look of the stock. I’ve never worked with color timing but to my understanding you can only balance the shots by mixing the RGB values when printing. I know some would say that stock doesn’t have a look but If you look at Interstellar, which was also shot on 65mm you’ll see that it has those exact same warm highlights. (the DI was also done by walter volpatto)

  • Marc Wielage

    Credit where credit is due: the Orange & Teal look (which some insiders claim was intended as the “fleshtone and teal look”) was perfected and popularized by Stefan Sonnenfeld at CO3/Santa Monica during the late 1990s for standard-def commercials. He carried that look into the Michael Bay films such as BAD BOYS and TRANSFORMERS, and no question it has a lot of impact for specific technical and artistic reasons. But it was originally done 20 years ago without LUTs, keys, or any magic — just time and talent. Great art direction, lighting, and exposure helps a lot. Today, the LUTs are not necessarily the only way or the best way to get it done. (I say this, after just using a custom LUT to do that very thing on an indie feature, from a client request.) As long as the client is happy and the pictures look good, that’s all that matters. But Stefan established that look and should get the credit.

  • Marc Wielage

    And there’s a lot of conversation about very specific colors added to blacks. That’s not my preference, being a traditional guy, but if the client wants it we’ll go for it. Log controls are one way to get there.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    I agree with both Manuel and Marc. I see this as a necessary evolution of the basic Look. It’s a derivative that I’m happy to see.

    RE: Marc – Any time deep deep shadows and blacks are tinted, I call that an ‘unreal Look’. Which is fine, if that’s what the clients want. But the audience will never take it for being ‘real life’ and will always see it as some degree of fanciful (depending on how heavy the push is) – which can work really well for many stories.

    I also agree with 100% with Dan: Battleship was definitely Peak Orange & Teal. It will never be more perfectly executed as evenly and heavily as in that film. There’s a level of craftsmanship in that look for that movie that always stops me in my tracks the few times I’ve clicked by it on cable. And I’ve been told most of that look was achieved on set (I originally thought it must have taken thousands of rotos to achieve its perfection).

  • Patrick Inhofer

    There’s no doubt that Transformers exploded this look into public perception. But I contend that part of that reason is the inconsistency of the look during shot matching… which the audience doesn’t see or understand but makes them aware of how heavily tinted those images are.

    I remember several ‘civilians’ commenting about the weird colors immediately after watching that first Transformers in the theater… these were people who NEVER notice the technical. It wasn’t until years later, on BluRay, that I noticed how the blacks bounced around within scenes. It’s as if they were trying to tame the Look but ran out of time – and I believe that’s why the audience noticed it.

    In subsequent movies this problem was eliminated – but by then, the look had entered the zeitgeist. And once seen, it is no longer unseen.

  • Willian Aleman

    I second this.

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