Colour Grading: Rinse and Spin

Our web series, Rinse and Spin, relies on different genres for each of its four episodes. One way stylistically to add an extra tone to each episode is through the colour grading. While the series’ colour grading should remain somewhat consistent, each episode could have subtle differences from each other to reinforce not only the show but its genres.

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For the first / pilot episode, there is no typical ‘genre,’ but it sets up the show’s themes of being not only a bit goofy, but also having sci-fi and thriller elements. With this in mind, I think stylistically the best approach to have the pilot episode (and thus also the rest of the series) have a colder / blue tone to it to conform to sci-fi. One popular example of blue being the main tone in a sci-fi movie is Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report (2002), as shown in an example below.

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However, Minority Report also has a washed out and often highly exposed lighting to it with the intention of intensity, and while our show does have ‘standoff’ moments, it still has a comedic aspect to it, so having a balance in colour would be ideal. I would therefore keep exposure somewhat contrasted / balanced, with a lighter tone in this particular episode. The intention would be to keep the whites and blacks looking how they are meant to, and to keep colours more-or-less how they looked on set, but with the colder tone and in this particular episode, a raise in the midtones. The highlights would likely stay as they are, as long as what’s “white” is white.

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The second episode represents the character coming back from a medieval era, and so this should help inform the colour grading style. Looking at modern films that take place in the medieval times, these films seem to give off a gritty feeling. While, to some degree, the colours of the costume design inform the grading on some level, the main colour that these films seem to lean on is shades of brown. This is to make it feel dirty and gives it similarity and workability with the colours of the costumes.

Two examples of this would be two Ridley Scott films.

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Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

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and Robin Hood (2010).

These films do have grittier tones to them than the medieval episode, which is more comedic, and so shouldn’t rely on having darker shadow tones like the examples. Being that the setting of these episodes are in a Laundromat, and so there aren’t large hills / plains and forests serving as the background, brown would have to be worked in more subtly, being used more-so with shots that look outside more. This would also suit to continue involving more blue in other shots to stay consistent to the previous episode. Overall, I would keep the midtones and highlights similar to the previous episode, keeping in mind that the costume design in this episode is darker than the previous, and generally would involve more contrast and less white colours.

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The third episode is stylistically based around 70s cop shows, having a darker tone in terms of the story and beginning to stick to a more serious turn. With these elements in mind, this episode’s grading, I believe should have a darker appearance than the others in all aspects – instead of relying on being mostly bright, it should now be involving more dark tones into it. The lighting on set contains red-pink tones as well as a bit of blue, to involve the two colours of cops. As a reference, I have looked into a few 70s cop shows, one example being The Streets of San Francisco (1972-1977).

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Upon looking into the colour schemes of these shows, the tones seem to be rather dark, especially in the shadows and midtones, and even the higher tones aren’t incredibly lit up. However, being old shows, the colour scheming is rarely balanced towards a colour. Given that the lighting of our third episode has red and blue, it would be best to work with that and even tone the red back a little bit to keep it close enough to the rest of the episodes. The midtones and shadows should be darker to give off the thriller-leaning vibe and to reflect typical cop shows, but the highlights should be a bit lighter to make sure the lighting doesn’t look too dissimilar from how lit up the Laundromat was in the previous episodes.

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The fourth and final episode takes the style of film noir (in a neo-noir context) as part of its storytelling, and therefore its lighting, and so it should go to follow to conform to these for its colour grading. Given that this genre stylistically relies a lot on its lighting, and it is the finale of the series, this episode will be colour graded especially different and darker. The reference point for neo-noir I have chosen is once again one by Ridley Scott: Blade Runner (1982).

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The film, alike most noir films, relies plenty on shadows and darker scenes to build mystery and suspense in the atmosphere of the film. The very same may be done to Episode 4 through making the shadows and midtones lower. Having the same sci-fi blue tone from Episode 1 would be a nice way to bring things full circle, the only difference being that now our character has been through an adventure and got into trouble, allowing for a much more grim style than the original episode.

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