Darren Aronofsky | @wnq-movies
Created, Written, and Directed by Harry Chaskin, Dan Lippert & Justin Michael
Today on Movies In Color, I’d like to share a stop-motion short film made by extremely talented folks. Monster Island came out today and you can watch it here!
Take a trip to MONSTER ISLAND! Zog and Java are two best friends looking to throw the ultimate BBQ party. They also happen to be giant monsters imprisoned on an island. 99.9% stop-motion animation, 0.1% tiny live-action people!
The color in the short is stunning and shows a clear attention to detail as well as clear inspiration from films like Godzilla vs. King Kong. I made a few palettes to showcase their fantastic use of color and the clear parallel between the short and Toho monster films above.
Here is a bit of insight into the use of color in Monster Island from creator/writer/director Justin Michael.
“When we started pre-production on Monster Island, we always knew that color was going to be an important component for the piece to succeed. Harry and I are both enormous fans of old-school Toho monster movies, not to mention stuff of the Ray Harryhausen stop-motion variety. I grew up watching many of Godzilla’s decidedly goofier outings, and my absolute favorites were some of the more technicolor-looking iterations like Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla, not to mention the wonderful and goofy King Kong Escapes!
We ended up pushing things a little further than those Toho films and really saturated the hell out of things, both in paint and fur choices during construction and fabrication, and in the post-production color sessions with our colorist Loren White. We wanted the island to feel vibrant and inviting, like a 1960s James Bond villain’s lair.”
Go watch this short! It’s great!
I got to make some color palettes for the best animation studio around, Studio Ghibli, to promote their newest and, sadly, last film When Marnie Was There. They’ve done Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and many other amazing films and are masters at using color.
When Marnie Was There
Natural settings are highlighted in both palettes for when Marnie Was There. Each still’s location is vibrantly represented. From the yellows and bright greens in the forest to the bright blues and turquoises of the seascape, there is a clear intention to let the environment take center stage.
One of the more boldly colorful and childlike films, Ponyo masterfully combines a multitude of bright colors fitting for its universe. There is also an inherent softness to the colors that helps them all blend together, despite their boldness.
Laputa Castle in the Sky
The palette for this still from Castle in the Sky shows a versatile way to paint a night scene. The purple and blue hues are inviting but suggest depth, action and contrast nicely with the characters’ faces. The overall palette communicates night-time without overusing dark colors and blends purple hues effortlessly.
Based on primary colors, this still from Princess Mononoke feels bold and eye-catching. By putting the character of San front and center and setting a mood with the fiery bold background, this still effectively communicates emotion through its palette.
Spirited Away carefully combines dark and light hues and a contrast of colors to tell its story. The interior of the train feels cold and foreboding and uses darker tones of bright colors (reds, purples) to give the audience a sense of the unusual. The outside is vibrant and clear, using blue to create a peaceful and bright atmosphere.
This still from Only Yesterday captures a mood through its use of color. The peaceful and beautiful setting is achieved by combining mostly blues, greens, and yellows in both the field and the sky, unifying the frame and reflecting a sense of peace.
We have our first correction here at Movies In Color and it came as a very pleasant surprise. Jean-Louis Bompoint (cinematographer for The Science of Sleep, New York I Love You, Grace is Gone, and The Thorn In The Heart among others) was kind enough to email and point me in the right direction concerning color and grading on The Science of Sleep. He provided me with the correct still and color chart, and I’ve used it to replace the old one. I also wanted to post some of the insights he shared with me about the film as well as color grading in general. An excerpt from his email is below.
Concerning the shooting of The Science of Sleep, you have to know this…
On this film, I was the first DoP in the world to have used 35mm – FUJI-500 ETERNA film stock for the first time.
Film lab was ECLAIR and my color grader was Khadija Fatmi. When I met Khadija for the first time I said to her:
1) Telecine Operators/Color Gaders will not have to judge by themselves how to grade the picture from the original 35mm negative film to video/digital file.
2) They MUST only follow every color chart which will be shot at the beginning of each scene.
3) Following this methodology, 2 rules must be followed by Telecine Operators/Color Graders to obtain a correct color grading:
4) By this method, all the other colors of the spectrum will follow naturally by themselves and we only need to do a “one light” positive Telecine with a perfect color grading.
5) Every color chart of every chosen scene for the final cut must be kept in memory by the Telecine Operator for a last adjustment on the final grading with the Film Director & the Director of Photography.
NOTE: If these technical requests are not respected, the photographic style of the film will be destroyed and injured. Added color and grading corrections must only be requested and confirmed by the Film Director and the Director of Photography.
Khadija Fatmi has followed my instructions and did very good work on my pictures. I continue to thank her for her wonderful collaboration with me. She is the best color grader in the world!
I consider the new “Y” color grader’s generation as dangerous. Trusting only curves and other gadgets and less the original picture well-exposed & lighted by a director of photography. You have to know I never have quite any color grading on all the pictures I have shot during my 30 years’ experience as DoP.
Some very detailed and great insight on an amazing film! I really appreciate the attention to detail as well as the effort to capture a well-exposed and well-lit image. Especially with such original production design, both the production designer and DoP have to work together to accurately place you in the world of the film.
A huge thank you to Jean-Louis Bompoint for writing in and sharing his process!
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