Film School: Colour in ‘Euphoria’

Euphoria (2019) Euphoria (2019)

“Sometimes, in order to get to the deepest emotional depths of a character, capturing a feeling, rather than reality, is more important.”

In asking not only “how” but more importantly (and far more interestingly) “why”, In Depth Cine examines both the tools and intentions behind the visuals in individual films and overall filmographies of directors and, more specifically, their cinematographers. Here are some takeaways from their look at Lighting With Colour in TV series Euphoria:

“Unrealistic Emotive Lighting”

Comparing Sam Levinson‘s Euphoria to another series, Skins, In Depth Cine observes that “both use colour in an expressionist way which visually matched the emotional experiences of the characters onscreen”

Style Across Series

To create consistency between various crews shooting different episodes, an overall lighting style was established by one of the series’ several cinematographers (in this case, Marcell Rév). “Other DPs… will then replicate, or build upon, that initial look.”

“Emotional direction”

As stylized as the show looks, the creative team takes its cues entirely from the script, “customizing the approach to lighting or camera movement depending on the emotional content of each scene”

Lighting With Colour: Euphoria | In Depth Cine
Lighting With Colour: Euphoria | In Depth Cine

“Structure and Fluidity”

The show’s inventive sequences are achieved through a combination of detailed storyboarding and on-set improvisation

In-Camera Transitions

A constantly moving camera often necessitates stitching together separate shots into a “single” take


Colour is created through a mixture of RGB lights and classic tungsten vs daylight (“orange and teal”) lights

More Euphoria Breakdowns

In Depth Cine’s follow up video on the style and philosophy of cinematographer Marcell Rév, includes storyboards and reference film shots, side-by-side with final shots and sequences from Euphoria:

In this excerpt from his chat on the Candela podast, Euphoria cinematographer Adam Newport-Berra breaks down the ‘tubes of death’ used to fog out an entire street (via Candela):

Deconstructed breaks down the visual style of Euphoria | A Lesson in Cinematography:

StudioBinder looks at how lighting, together with camera movement, long takes, and sets built to facilitate surreal practical effects, are used to achieve the show’s “emotional realism”:

How many editors does it take to drown a darling? Four.

Nikola Boyanov, editor on Euphoria

Most Euphoria breakdowns focus on its lighting and cinematography, but not how the selection or sequencing of shots imbue context and power to those expressive shots. So here’s one about Euphoria‘s editing – a chat with four of the show’s editors about their techniques for collaboration, how the shots they cut out add power to the ones they keep in, and emphasising expressiveness over narrative (via The Editing Podcast):

Try It Yourself

Without smoke machines or large lighting sources, Ryan Raeke attempts to replicate the look of Euphoria:

Film Riot shares their colour grading process of Recreating the Look of Euphoria:

Further Viewing

Broadening the range of examples and approaches, here’s a collection of video essays exploring ways colour is used in visual storytelling:

In Depth Cine looks at ways cinematographers, such as Marcel Rev in Euphoria, Vittorio Storaro in Apocalypse Now (1979), and Ernest R. Dickerson in Do The Right Thing (1989), use colour theory, create a colour palette, and use colour to tell a story:

And here’s more on colour theory:

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