Hollywood's "Teal" Obsession Reaches New Low

Modern directors are losing their visual punch thanks to technology.

By , Contributor

Look around you. It doesn't matter where you are, just look around and take in the color. Is the place you're currently in all teal, or is vibrant like, you know, reality?

Hollywood wants you to believe it's all teal, orange and teal specifically. It's a topic I've written on before, one of those issues that makes the current movie-going experience such a miserable one. It seems to fall back in the hands of Michael Bay, many of his films tinted a teal/orange contrasting palette. Obviously, the footage itself doesn't look like that, so it's all done in a stage called the digital intermediate. Films are scanned digitally and then color corrected ("corrected" a loose term) to the director and/or cinematographer's desire.

But, look at that picture above. That's from Warner's new home video release of Unknown, the Liam Neeson amnesia thriller. This is a problem that's not getting any better, but is actually getting significantly worse. That screen is a frame from the Blu-ray, untouched and undoctored. That's actually how the scene looks, a dramatic closing fight scene after the building came crumbling down around the characters. Does the teal coating add anything? Doesn't it just make you question what exactly in a destroyed building currently on fire gives off that much teal?

Maybe you're asking yourself, "Who am I?" Well, I am just a lowly Internet commentator, not a hotshot director. Maybe I don't understand what Hollywood is trying to do, or I'm missing the intent. Nah, it's just a phase. Much like video games have succumbed to an overuse of earthy browns and reds to visualize war zones, Hollywood is stuck trying to find a modern identity in teal... and sometimes deep orange-ish/red. I can still remember the atrocity of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, a film so overzealous with its use of red, Matthew McConaughey looked like someone splattered him with paint.

wizardofoz.jpgI love film, and generally, I love to look at film too. The technical aspects have always intrigued me, but beyond the over-abundance of computer generated monsters and giant robots, it seems technology hasn't actually added anything, just taken away what we once had. We don't really need the magic of Technicolor anymore (even though it provided an unmistakable look) thanks to computerized tinkering, and not every film should look like Wizard of Oz either.

Distinction is wonderful and varied, but only if the look is actually distinctive. Old Hollywood used color - dominant, bright, rich color - in its costumes and sets to create dazzling images in comedies, musicals, dramas, and fantasy. Now, it doesn't even matter. We have teal. Lots and lots of teal. Genre seems irrelevant.

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Matt Paprocki is a 13-year veteran of the video game, movie, and home media scene. He has written thousands of reviews, has been published on a variety of websites, and contributes his thoughts daily on a diverse range of topics.

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