Film School: Colour In Film with Lawrence Sher

Lawrence Sher in 'Joker Cinematographer Explains The Impact of Color in Film | Vanity Fair' Lawrence Sher in 'Joker Cinematographer Explains The Impact of Color in Film | Vanity Fair'

Cinematographer of Joker, The Hangover, and Garden State gives a masterclass accessible to beginners – in 15 minutes.

“You don’t have to think of all this technical stuff. Trust me – I was an economics major.” In this dynamic explainer, cinematographer Lawrence Sher introduces the fundamentals of colour (Hue, Saturation, Brightness, and Temperature), ways colour schemes can be used, Ansel Adams‘ Zone System, how he creates depth with colour during both production (lighting and art direction) and post-production (colour grading) (via Vanity Fair):

Sher demonstrates examples of complimentary colour and how colour can be used to create mood:

Sher breaks down his use of Zone Theory in Joker (2019):

Further Viewing

Sher continues his Zone Theory approach into Joker 2: Folie à Deux (2024), as seen in these stills from the film’s trailer:

Lawrence Sher cites cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, The Conformist) as the “master” who has “used colour as imaginatively as anybody in cinema histoy”. In Depth Cine explores Storaro’s cinematography style:

A roundup on video essays and explainers on Colour in Film:

More explainers and resources on Colour Theory:

Lawrence Sher talks briefly about the Log colour profile workflow – here’s a more detailed look at the image pipeline:

Lawrence Sher’s Instagram is also a great DIY film school on its own, not least for his “iso shots” series, where he recreated shots from big budget movies at home:

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