Why color grade with limited green such as in Stranger Things?


The phenomenal Netflix original Stranger Things does almost everything for a very specific reason. If you watch closely like I do you may have noticed the color grading. Greens are very limited in the set designs, costumes and grading - often not present at all.

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What does grading with a limited green palette achieve and evoke? I know in comics like Batman limited green is used for emphasizing night but in photographic elements like Stranger Things I'm not sure what it achieves? Does it have historical roots in a particular type of analog film?

8/2/2016 5:28:00 PM

Accepted Answer

I have just barely seeing the series...

What does grading with a limited green palette

But the very first scene of the series is... Green-ish!

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I also see some kids wearing green. Comparing the proportion of green items on my own home I do not feel the proportion is that diferent.

Let us just concentrate on the color grading.

Color grading in images, and specially cinema is a tool to evoke a mood, a feeling, an ambient.

Contrary to we might think we do not have thaaaat much variety of color gradings. A grading is a tendency to a region of a chromathic circle.

In my opinion we have 3 main regions, Warm colors (yellow to red), Cold (cyan to blue) Green (lime to turquise) and a secondary less used purple region.

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So, what some grading can represent? The first two, are easy. Temperature. Depending on the context this warm or hot temperature, and a good one or a bad one (A Mad Max desert or a Baywatch beach)

Ok, the green one... In Matrix it is very clear that the green grading is when the action is taking place inside the matrix.

But in real life, green "ambient" is asociated with health institutions, hospitals, but more specific with old mental institutions. The color theory on the victorian era was that green was a calm color, evoking grass and nature. But a dark green gradient now is a iconic color of people lock down and crazy.

But what about a non saturated color?

The grading is also about non saturated colors. You do not want to see a happy mood here, but a psychological troubled ambient. The choice is obvious. Lower saturation, lower brightness.

I also feel that the grading is not just to green, but also to blue. Cold+Night=Mystery.

And about the sets and props?

The basic idea still remains. Green = Nature... at least in planet Earth. If the series is not about Nature, but super-natural... you want to step off the most obvious color in nature: green.

But I do not see that proportion too diferent.

How many green shirts (besides a very specific institutional shirt, like a University shirt) do you have?

What I feel lacking of is again, saturated props.

This is just my opinion.

8/4/2016 5:26:00 PM

(from wiki) The show is set in 1980s Indiana and is an homage to 1980s pop culture

They wanted to create an immersive vintage feel to the tv series.

There is also a post about this:

"Part of the essential friendliness of ’80s sci-fi came from the softness of analog film: Stranger Things, shot in 4K, gives us a decade edgier than we remember. The aesthetic is a perfect blend: old-fashioned real sets (or least, little flagrant green-screening) and restrained color grading that stops short of blue-orange blockbuster smears, all pictured as precisely as digital cinema is capable of.

In movies they can mimic the analog "color range" to give a vintage look to their production. On prints, we associate the lack of blue with vintage because unprotected pictures/prints that were exposed to the light for years lose their blue color first and seem to become more yellowish/reddish.