Friday, July 20, 2007

Recolorization Experiments

I've always wanted to shoot a film in color, convert it to black and white then go back and totally recolor the image similar to vintage photo "tinting" or the recolorizing of ye' old cinema classics. As much I disliked all that colorized revisionist crap, there's was always something about those plastic, greyish skintones which always fascinated the hell out of me. It feels part technicolor, part otherworldy, especially when it's done right with clean-looking source material. I like it in the same way that I liked redubbed films where the dialogue tracks sounds like it's resonating above every other element because it was recorded in a studio and wasn't properly "world-ized," to misuse a Walter Murch phrase. In this same respect, in colorized images the colors seems to almost be fighting each other; it feels painful but there's something undeniably artistic and satisfying about it when it's done in the right spirit. Sometimes it also reminds me vaguely of some Europeans films with very odd color schemes, like the way that Jean Pierre Melville tried to pull down the colors and get these steel-greyish skintones.

A little proof of concept image is in order here:



The first image is the raw minidv frame, the last one is what happened after I converted to black and white then selectively recolored it, and the middle frame is the color correction which actually made it into the final film (along with a bunch of grain and other stuff). The middle frame unfortunately isn't the exact one as the other two because in the final film that frame is hidden by a fade-up from black but I thought I'd include it anyway for reference. The retouching is a little rough here but I suppose you can get the idea. Perhaps this image wasn't the best example because there's not a wide range of grey values and her hair gets lost there in the black over on the right, but I just randomly picked this one to see what I could do. Of course with modern color correction you can isolate both specific colors or parts of the image and carry out what I suggest with far more accuracy and ease than turning the entire image monochrome and redoing all of the color, but it might be fun to try it anyway.

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