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Marvel Studios is really, really good at what they do.
Over the past eight years, they've created a tightly interconnected cinematic universe
spanning across fourteen films and counting,
which is unheard of in the history of cinema.
Not only that, but the majority of the movies are
actually good.
Some are even genuinely great.
They've consistently made really smart choices
in terms of who they hire in front of and behind the camera,
giving us nerds the huge, spectacular superhero movies we've dreamed of for decades.
I only really have 2 major issues with their approach.
One-- the generic, unmemorable scores --has already been
covered in some really good video essays.
So I want to talk about the other one.
Marvel's color grading. Or in other words:
Why do Marvel's movies all look like muddy concrete?
Like, look at that. It's a great scene, but that's really ugly.
Now, in case you're not a filmmaker
or person who's into technical terminology,
let me briefly explain what I mean.
Color grading is the digital manipulation of the colors
and tones of the image you see on screen.
This was first used in 2000, on "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
and since then has become an essential part of literally
every motion picture you see.
From movies to TV to commercials to YouTube videos.
The rise of color grading connects directly with the rise of
digital cinematography, as in, shooting with digital
cameras as opposed to traditional film cameras.
High-end digital cameras shoot an extremely flat image,
meaning there's very low contrast and saturation.
It looks really gray and dull, but that's specifically
so you have the most information there to use
when color grading. So you can take footage
that looks like this and make it look like this.
So, what does this have to do with Marvel?
Well, Marvel's first three movies ("Iron Man" 1 & 2, and "Thor")
were shot on film. After that, they switched
to digital, using the Genesis on "Captain America: The First Avenger"
and then the ARRI Alexa on every one of their subsequent films,
from "The Avengers" up through "Doctor Strange."
So, what's the issue here? Well, Marvel's best-looking movies
also happen to be the ones shot on film, but
there's more to it than that.
My issue isn't that the other movies are shot digitally.
It's that they consistently use the same style of color grading
on all their digital footage,
creating an image that's flat and dull when it should be
vibrant and exciting.
Digital cinematography can look amazing
but it has to be graded properly.
The root of the problem is the lack of proper black values,
as in, the spots in the image that should be black,
like the deepest parts of the shadows, aren't.
Look: when I use the eyedropper tool in Adobe After Effects,
this is what it tells me it is.
Dark gray.
And looking at the shot, you would think that spot
should be black.
Having a pure black value in a shot
makes the other colors stand out more,
and since the Marvel movies don't have proper black
the colors don't pop.
Since we're talking about superhero movies,
I want to illustrate this point using superhero comics.
In traditional comics artwork, there is a
penciler, who draws the pictures with, y'know, a pencil,
and then an inker, who uses black ink to go over
the pencils and give contrast and definition to
the image.
Then the colorist, obviously, colors it.
Superhero comics are generally pretty colorful,
and a big part of what makes the colors stand out is
the contrast between them and the pure black of the inks.
There was a brief fad in the early 2000s of skipping the inks
and going straight from pencils to colors.
The most well-known example of this would probably be Salvador Larroca's
art in X-Treme X-Men.
See how there are no actual blacks there, and it all looks kind of
flat and washed-out?
That's basically the problem with how Marvel's movies look.
Also in the comics, everyone realized this didn't look good, and stopped doing it.
Let's look at "Guardians of the Galaxy," which I think has the best
cinematography of any of Marvel's digitally-shot movies.
(although some of that gets lost in the color grading.)
I'm going to do 10 seconds' worth of adjustments
really just tweaking the levels and boosting the saturation
a little bit, and let's look at how
they fare side-by-side.
I know these are aesthetics, and thus are totally subjective,
but I think that's a much more vibrant image.
It's more dynamic, it has more definition, and it looks like what I think
a superhero movie should look like.
Let's do the same thing for "Civil War," a movie I love despite the fact
that it looks like an empty parking lot.
These adjustments obviously help more on scenes shot at night
or inside,
instead of in the middle of a sunny day,
but there's still a noticeable improvement.
It's a bummer, because Marvel hires some really good
cinematographers, and then does their work a disservice
with how they handle it in post-production.
Here's what John Toll's work looks like in Iron Man 3,
and here's what it looks like in Jupiter Ascending, which was his next film.
These were even shot on the same camera.
It's easy to jump straight to the camera and
and blame the Alexa, but that's
not really accurate.
This is the same camera that shot "Mad Max: Fury Road,"
and obviously that didn't have the same problem.
Look at this scene in "Skyfall". The blacks are actually black and
it looks AMAZING.
This is mainly a matter of color grading
and Marvel setting top-down requirements on their movies
that they all use the same camera and that they all go through the same
post-production process with the same colorist.
The issue is way more complex than I'm making it out to be.
There's the whole matter of how different cameras interpret different
types of light,
and why some look better than others.
For example, this is why the outdoor daylight scenes
in Marvel movies look the crappiest,
and the scenes lit with fluorescent lights tend to look the best.
Since the image that gets recorded into the Alexa
is so flat, with so much to work with, it
takes a ton of skill and work to get the perfect look.
It's often easier to stick with the flat style
and just embrace it, which is why every music video
these days looks like this.
(When they used to look like this.)
But you have to consider what works best for your movie.
That flatter look makes sense for, say, "Spotlight"
or "Sicario", where you might want
the visuals more muted and closer to reality.
But when you're dealing with a big, bombastic superhero movie,
don't you want the images to be bright, to pop off the screen?
Not to be a bunch of muddy gray tones?
The recent DC movies, for all their problems,
at least have this figured out.
Look, Marvel is a billion-dollar company with an insane record of
success, and I'm sure they've focus-group tested this to gain empirical
evidence that audiences like flat, dull-looking
superhero movies.
So this is just my opinion.
But looking across all their movies,
there's the appearance that they copied and pasted
the same color grading with the same
levels and same color palette on every one.
Now, is there hope for the future? Actually, yes, there is.
There's some change coming.
The upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2" is the first Marvel Studios film
to switch from the ARRI Alexa to the new RED Weapon 8K camera
(Which is a really cool name.)
I'm excited about this move, because
from what I've seen, RED cameras are the way to go if you're shooting a blockbuster
on digital.
That's what Ridley Scott used for "The Martian,"
what Michael Bay used on the last few
"Transformers" movies,
and what Guillermo del Toro used for "Pacific Rim,"
the movie I would consider the gold standard for what
digitally-shot blockbusters can look like.
Across the board, these had the vibrant colors
and deep black values that Marvel's movies have lacked.
We recently saw the first footage, and in my opinion it looks like a
definite improvement over the first film.
The colors are more vibrant, the blacks are deeper,
and it just looks less... flat.
So I'm crossing my fingers that this isn't an outlier and more Marvel
movies follow its lead.
I wanted to make this video because
I genuinely really like the movies that Marvel
and every time they make a new one, I hope
that they'll fix this problem. It's small, but it matters.
But if we're being honest, Marvel-- just go back to shooting your movies
on film.
You're making enough money. You can
afford it.
(Yawns) So that does it for this video essay, which is also
my first video essay.
This is a bit of a departure for the channel, but if you liked it and want to see
more stuff like this, let me know in the comments.
Or if you think I'm a nitpicking nerd who should shut up
about this...
let me know in the comments.
Here's a bunch of social media links, so you can yell at me
on multiple platforms,
and I will see you guys here next week, with a new video
on Wednesday. Bye!


為什麼漫威電影的色調都看起來醜醜的 (Why Do Marvel's Movies Look Kind of Ugly? (video essay))

734 分類 收藏
浚祺蘇 發佈於 2017 年 6 月 22 日
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