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Is green the skin tone du jour?

The sixth installment of the visually rich Harry Potter movie series uses a heavily stylized color palette to lend a sense of mood, mystery, and, at times, hopelessness to the scenes. Most Hollywood movies today use sophisticated color grading tools and use color, much like music, to reveal a character’s inner emotions or to increase the emotional impact within a scene.

What I found most surprising about the color palette in Harry Potter is the heavy use of a cyan/green tint. In many scenes, the dark illumination combined with the heavy coloring gives a sense of foreboding and impending doom. The two examples below taken from the official Harry Potter site clearly illustrate this intense coloring.



Harry Potter is not alone. Cyan/green seems to be a popular trend in current cinema.

The upcoming Sherlock Homes movie takes a more restrained approach to color with natural, if desaturated, colors in the daylight scenes and slightly cool cyan/green casts to dark and dangerous scenes.


In the upcoming movie Ong Bak 2, (there was an Ong Bak 1?), the jungle scenes also share a green cast, this time shifted more toward yellow.


As you can see from these three movies, filmmakers are counting on color’s ability to influence audience’s emotional reactions to a film. In still photography, we’re only beginning to use color in this way. Perhaps by spending time studying cinema’s creativity, photographers will gain insight into the ways we can shift the colors in our still photos for greater emotional impact.


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