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Why movies today look dark ?

Doug Palmer

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I remember about 6 years ago many commercials on television (Australian tv at least) favoured a milky, almost overexposed look. It was a fashion that someone obviously thought looked cool and 'different'. It looked washed-out and about as nice-looking as weak, milky dishwater to me. The comment below the article on minimalist art is, to me, spot on, where they say that it looks lazy. But for me the whole effect doesn't work so well because of digital cinematography. Such low light cinematography often reminds me of poorly-lit studio tv camera work from the 70s: flat and textureless. If you're going to have low light, put something in the picture that has some life to it, somewhere in the frame (eg. a candle flame somewhere, or an open fire). Minimalist art can be minimalist in entertainment. But to each their own.

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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A sort of post-modernist, or post-post-modernist fashion affected the classical music world too. They went through a long phase of insipid light strings with insipid light bows and bowing. They call it historically informed practice but it's less favoured now than it once was. Less was more I think the thinking was. But less is just less. If artists are happy with less then less they end up giving.

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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It's not underexposed, it's deep and rich. /sarc 

There are fashions in photography and there's nothing we can do about it. Remember how The Matrix inspired all the NPCs to put green into everything? Today we are suffering from that. Indiana Jones is all sepia, and The Joker has a lot of shots with a dirty green tinge. It's the Lord Privy Seal of cinematography.

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Just how things are. It is not by mistake. Just as some films have a blue cast all over it. It is by choice. Also, they can get away with things in the dark when you can't see what is going on very well. 

But...I may be wrong.

I've seen a number of films where the dialogue was unintelligible. You would think that after the thousands of eyes involved in making a film would view it, someone would say something. But no... the audio is terrible...no one says a thing. It could be the same with post work. It is subpar and no one says a thing. If you want the facts, go interview the filmmakers to see why they make the movies so dark.



Selection from vintage skateboard sticker archive.

Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Small Gauge Film Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Advertising Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. VHS Video Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Popular Culture Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Audio Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Social Documentary Photography


Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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  • 2 weeks later...

There are several rumors about the reasons:

a) The producers want to hide that they are not using film anymore by turning their videos into audio dramas.

b) The colorists are all using the same buggy „cinematic look“-plug-in that does nothing but reducing contrast, saturation and brightness.

c) That‘s a requirement of the streaming services (higher  compression rates when you cannot see anything - and higher compression rates equals higher profit).

d) That’s a requirement of the manufacturers of smartphones/tablets/laptops: When you are streaming such videos, you’ll have to drastically increase the brightness to see anything at all. This will drain your battery much faster. And hence you are more willing to buy a new device that claims to have a longer battery life.


But of course, these rumors are all fake. ???

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