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To what extent does the use of colour in film evoke specific emotions in the audience?

Bradley Stearn

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Hey guys. Currently writing my dissertation for my university degree. I'm writing on the topic of colour in film and to what extent it evokes emotions in the audience. I have discussed a lot to do with both cinematography and production design, mainly the importance of the collaboration between the two roles. A large majority of my essay is currently discussing modern black and white cinema too. I have a few questions relating to my main question. Would be highly appreciate if I could get some answers/opinions on the topic from some of the DOPs in the group. Would love to hear examples of your actual work as well. Thanks in advance.



Main question:


To what extent does the use of colour in film evoke specific emotions in the audience?

Sub Questions:


  • What would be your main reason for choosing to shoot a film in black and white?

  • In what ways would you work differently in creating specific emotions, how do these differ to shooting for colour?

  • How did you direct the audience to a certain part of the frame without the use of colour?

  • In regards to the colour films you have shot, did you work with any kind of colour harmonies in mind when shooting the films?

  • How closely do you work with the production designer in creating a specific feeling/mood throughout a production?

If there is anything else you would like to add please do include it in your answer. Thanks!

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If you include animated films in your study, then you
will find a great deal of input from art directors who
work on them.

I worked for a number of years at Dreamworks Feature Animation.
A "beat board" was one tool common to all of the projects there,
which mapped out the emotional curve of the story, and against
which all color palettes were meticulously planned.

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