February 14, 2017 at 9:56AM

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(Cinematography) What is meant by a Natural color palette?

I hear the term 'Natural Color Palette' in film pretty often however I am not sure what the concrete meaning of it is. What colors are a Natural Palette associated with? Primaries? Secondaries. Does this mean there is no color overlay over the image? I would consider all colors "natural" from Wes Anderson's MOONLIGHT KINGDOM colors to the MATRIX'S greens. They're all colors we would find naturally.

Films I would Identify having a natural color palette:

BOYHOOD
UNDER THE SKIN
THE MIRROR
VOYAGE OF TIME
TREE OF LIFE

I know a Natural Palette with my eyes but I can't tell you about it. I know most films don't have this but I don't know how to explain it.

4 Comments

Films like Hero (Jet Li), Dick Tracy, Hairspray (with John Travolta), Run Lola Run, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and especially Pleasantville, are examples of films where the color palettes are intentionally applied, super-saturated, and/or call attention to themselves. By contrast, a natural color palette is one in which the colors do not call attention to themselves. Earth-tones (or in the case of cities, natural colors of buildings and concrete) predominate.

Nature obviously obviously offers an immense color palette, but the garish colors of tropical fish in a coral reef, though natural, is likely not what is meant by "natural color palette". Rather, the earth tones of dirt, bark, leaves, and stone are.

February 14, 2017 at 12:55PM

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Okay so the term and the identifier of color palettes is focused on the look of the "natural" environment around the narrative and not in the sets, clothing design, skin tones etc?

Jackson Flowers

February 14, 2017 at 1:16PM

Yes, both natural, but also neutral. Muted earthtones, not pink flamingoes, not fields of poppies, tulips, and lavendar.

Michael Tiemann

February 14, 2017 at 2:24PM

I have always associated "natural color pallet" with a final image that resembles the real world. Pink flamingos are still pink, lavenders are still purple but trees and people aren't. In other words, they didn't screw with the image for "artistic effect". Then I started seeing Blu-Ray reviews where people said the color was natural but the whole movie was tinted brown or blue etc. I think "natural" has become a meaningless buzz word like "warm" and "smooth" in the audio community.

February 15, 2017 at 7:14AM, Edited February 15, 7:19AM

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