September 23, 2014 at 12:25PM


Choosing Gels and Color Contrast

I just recently watched The Drop, which is a great film, and the cinematographer Nicholas Karakatsanis did an excellent job creating this neo-noir gritty city look by filling the bar scenes with a lot of color contrast. I read an article in AC where Karakatsanis commented that he backlit scenes with Primary Red to signify danger and used green plus 1/2 to get a greenish blue on HMIs to light night exteriors. He didn't mention the specific gels for his warm tones or greens, but I found the warm key and green fill to be very effective.

What gels do you like to use to create color contrast for certain situations? Or post examples of scenes that you shot or of your favorite films usage of colored light.


I have yet to go too crazy with gels in stuff that I've worked on, but I generally prefer a blue cast for dark/night scenes. To my eye, it registers more along the lines of moonlight when it falls towards the blue end of the spectrum. Here's a music video I directed and shot a bit over a year ago that involved some very dark scenes. It was very much a DIY sort of project because of budget limitations, but you get the idea. CTB's were used quite a bit. I want to replicate this technique for night scenes in future projects that I'm working on.

December 4, 2014 at 6:49PM, Edited December 4, 6:49PM

Steven Bailey

I my opinion high contrast signifies a strong mood, color adds to that by telling you what mood that is. Not necessarily by the color themselves, but by how those colors are used in a given piece. Although color often have a natural meaning to us.
Bright, low contrast scenes are more of a happy, natural mood.
high contrast -
Low contrast (relatively)

January 19, 2015 at 8:49AM

Josh Wilkinson
Music Video Director/DP

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