Up thru the 1990’s TV broadcasters needed to be timid about colors because the analog TV technology produced such unreliable results.

One brand of cameras produced acceptable cool colors  and earthy tone but throw a yellow or red at them and the TV set would look as though the image was on fire, while another brand could tame the tearing red, but washout the remaining parts of the color wheel.

But we’ve come a long way, with the arrival of HDTV at the beginning of the 21st century video cameras became capable of producing stunningly real digital versions of real-world colors,

Achromatopsia, also known as total color blindness, it is estimated to affect 1 in 30,000 live births worldwide.

As illustrated in The Island of the Colorblind by Oliver Sacks, (British neurologist, naturalist, historian of science, and author ) some achromats cannot see color, only black, white, and shades of grey.

The book is an intriguing report of an isolated community of islanders born totally colorblind, Dr. Sacks set up a clinic on the island and the book tells the tale of the adaptations that he observed of how the color free world was richly described in terms of pattern and tone, luminance and shadow.

But it is hard for me to imagine being thrilled with grey food.

But it is hard to get enthusiastic about grey food.Color01

Why Color, not what is color, by why color. Not a question of physics. Why do we seek colors?

When we observe the dirt world, we mostly see greens, browns, red, during blossom and ripening times we see pure yellows, reds, oranges, pale purples and blue

The sky is blue of course but there is little flower or fauna that is blue.

What I want to share with you today is some history of color, some of the psychology and customs of using colors and finally, using color within TV productions.

Electing to use colors

The first paintings were cave paintings. Ancient peoples decorated walls of protected caves with paint made from dirt or charcoal mixed with spit or animal fat.

In cave paintings, the pigments stuck to the wall partially because the pigment became trapped in the porous wall, and partially because the binding media (the spit or fat) dried and adhered the pigment to the wall.

Historians hypothesize that paint was applied with brushing, smearing, dabbing, and spraying techniques. Large areas were covered with fingertips or pads of lichen or moss. Twigs produced drawn or linear marks, while feathers blended areas of color. Brushes made from horsehair were used for paint application and outlining. Paint spraying, accomplished by blowing paint through hollow bones, yielded a finely grained distribution of pigment, like an airbrush.

Brushes made from horsehair were used for paint application and outlining. Paint spraying, accomplished by blowing paint through hollow bones, yielded a finely grained distribution of pigment, like an airbrush. The oxides of iron dug right out of the ground in the form of lumps were presumably rich in clay. This consistency was conducive to the formation of crayon sticks and could be made into a liquid paste more closely resembling paint. Historians believe that the lumps were ground into a fine powder on the cave’s natural stone hollows, where stains have been observed. Shoulder and other bones of large animals, stained with color, have been discovered in the caves and presumed to have been used as mortars for pigment grinding. The pigment was made into a paste with various binders, including water, vegetable juices, urine, animal fat, bone marrow, blood, and albumen.

Brushes made from horsehair were used for paint application and outlining. Paint spraying, accomplished by blowing paint through hollow bones, yielded a finely grained distribution of pigment, like an airbrush. The oxides of iron dug right out of the ground in the form of lumps were presumably rich in clay. This consistency was conducive to the formation of crayon sticks and could be made into a liquid paste more closely resembling paint. Historians believe that the lumps were ground into a fine powder on the cave’s natural stone hollows, where stains have been observed. Shoulder and other bones of large animals, stained with color, have been discovered in the caves and presumed to have been used as mortars for pigment grinding. The pigment was made into a paste with various binders, including water, vegetable juices, urine, animal fat, bone marrow, blood, and albumen.

Prehistoric dwellers may have discovered that, unlike the dye colors they were using, and which were derived from animal and vegetable sources, the color that came from iron oxide deposits in the earth would not fade with the changing environment.

For this reason, it is believed that men traveled far and wide to maintain a steady supply of earth pigments. In every locality where prehistoric sites have been discovered, from Texas to South Africa, trails lead to near and distant hematite deposits where man mined. Historians have deduced that the impetus behind all mining activities was prehistoric man’s need for ochre pigments. Cave men might have traveled as far as 25 miles to obtain iron earth pigments for their paint in the Lascaux area.

Why?

What is there about color that causes us, from our cave dwelling ancestors to those around us today, to go to such lengths to add colors, or to alter colors?

‘What If we told you that color, as part of the electromagnetic spectrum, is in its purest form energy, a wavelength, which has its own magnetic frequency? What if we told you that colors can affect neurological pathways in the brain? And that they can create a biochemical response? In 1958 Dr. Robert Gerard recognized this and pioneered research, which suggests that every color has a specific wavelength, and each of these affect our body and brain in a different way.

Using the right color, and the correct selection and placement can seriously affect feelings, attention, and behavior when learning. It’s time that we leveraged that to our advantage. Even research with Alzheimer’s patients has shown that color cues improve memory and that learners recall images in color more easily than images in black and white – amazing, right?’ (https://www.shiftelearning.com/blog/how-do-colors-influence-learning)

Colors hold significance for people around the world. Not only do colors influence emotion, but they also hold meaning in religion and various cultures

Safety

Red means stop,

yellow means caution,

and green means go.

Yellow signs also warn drivers of upcoming curves, pedestrian crossings, and animal crossings.

Patriotism.

Most, if not all countries have a flag. The colors of each flag are usually seen as patriotic. Red, white, and blue symbolizes patriotism in the U.S.A.

Holidays:

Red and green are favorite Christmas colors. Orang and black for Halloween, pastel colors for spring and Easter.

Colors Traditions in the US. 

The most popular color is Blue a serene and calming color that represents intelligence and responsibility. Blue is cool and relaxing. Light baby blue is peaceful, while dark blue can signify depth and power.

Red is associated with the heat of energy, passion and love. We “see red” when we’re angry and it’s also the color of blood, power and danger, making it a powerful color in branding.

Yellow is the color of the sun, smiley faces and sunflowers. It’s a happy, youthful color, full of hope and positivity. It’s another color that grabs your attention and for that reason can also be used to signify caution, like red and orange.

Green is universally associated with nature, linked as it is to grass, plants and trees. It also represents growth and renewal, being the color of spring and rebirth.

As a secondary color, orange combines the warmth and heat of red with the playfulness and joy of yellow. It attracts attention without being as daring as red.

Because of its associations with royalty, purple is inherently prestigious and luxurious. Purple dye was historically expensive, which meant that only wealthy rulers could afford it. The ruling classes and kings and queens of old would wear purple and Queen Elizabeth I even forbade anyone outside of the royal family from wearing it.

 For all that pomp, purple is the least favorite basic color. In fact, only 8% of American woman say they like the color purple.

Brown is a natural color, associated with the earth and as a result giving a sense of stability and support. Given its link to the earth, brown brings to mind farming and agriculture and other outdoorsy activities.

Greyscale.

Gray: Security, reliability, intelligence, staid, modesty, dignity, maturity, solid, conservative, practical, old age, sadness, boring. Silver symbolizes calm.
White: Reverence, purity, birth, simplicity, cleanliness, peace, humility, precision, innocence, youth, winter, snow, good, sterility, marriage (Western cultures), death (Eastern cultures), cold, clinical.
 Black: Power, sexuality, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, fear, evil,

unhappiness, depth, style, sadness, remorse, anger, anonymity, underground, good technical color, mourning, death (Western cultures), austerity, detachment.

MY GENERAL COMMANDMENTS FOR BASIC COLOR ON CAMERA

 Color031. White is Nice, but too much, is Dull

In the last few years, I often hear people to ask me to design a studio set that has the look and feel of the Apple store. Great design for a still photo, great design for a retail environment, not so great for TV. Large areas of white in the background of a camera shot looks like interesting for about 20 seconds and then it grows boring.

2. No one looks good against yellow.Color05

Yellow sunshine, yellow caution, sorry Yellow. Yellow bounce light just makes people look terrible. Outside of a gameshow, or up high or down low as an accent color, keep it away from people’s faces.

3. Remember that people have different skin colors

Color04

This should be obvious, but it seems to be an awkward subject.

We are all different colors, when selecting a background for a reporter’s standup, be aware of your contrast ratio. Too low a contrast between someone’s skin tone and a background is a losing proposition. Simple solution avoid skin tone color backgrounds, period.

Color064. Blue Rules!

Not only do most people like blue, but since there are no blue people

it is a foolproof option. When in doubt, go blue.

  • 5. Too Much Grey is a “eh” thingColor07

Too much grey is only good on Game of Thrones

Final Word

Color is an easy to use tool. Do not be afraid to use it.


BrianHeadshowBrian Flynn is an Emmy Award winning set designer who has worked on over 2000 unique productions. He has worked for all the major TV networks and for numerous foreign news producers. Mr. Flynn also works on infomercials (wait there’s more), non-broadcast corporate projects, and for schools and colleges throughout the United States. Currently his work can be seen on the new syndicated talk show “The Doctor and The Diva”, and on a number of informercials featuring chef Emeril Lagasse. Mr. Flynn lives in the western hills of NJ, in the town of Blairstown. He also offers a catalog of news desks, and off the shelf studio news and talk show designs on his website www.newsdesksusa.com