A Dreamer Walking

Toy Story 3 – Film Study – Color and Lighting

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on May 25, 2014

Toy Story 3 #1

Many call it the last great Pixar movie. I personally think Toy Story 3 is a fantastic completion of a wonderful trilogy. And, though you could make an argument Toy Story 3 is a little repetitive and less original then the first two movies, I think the film stands out as the most visually bold film of the trilogy. Simply put, Pixar was running on all cylinders when they made this film. From the refined Pixar storytelling skills to the huge advancements in technology Toy Story 3 was able to expand its universe while keeping a firm grasp on what made the first two films so loved by the first generation of Toy Story fans.

Let’s talk about the color pallet used to tell the story of Toy Story 3. Toy Story has had a  distinct pallet from the beginning. The colors are usually extremely saturated and there are few scenes where you see the whole gambit of the color wheel. Instead, each scene usually consists of one to three key colors to establish an atmosphere. The goal isn’t to be subtle with the colors, but rather use color to drive the emotional arc of the movie. With Toy Story 3 the brilliant art director Dice Tsutsumi took the helms of this beloved franchise and gave us a pallet of colors unmatched in animation. He was in charge of creating the color script for the movie, which consists of dozens of impressionistic paintings plotting out the general emotional arc of the movie through the use of color and lighting (check out part of his color script here). Dice Tsutsumi said, “The color script sets the tone of the film: how color and atmosphere and lighting will carry the story and the characters throughout the film”. The color script is started towards the very beginning of pre-production and isn’t finished until lighting for the movie is finalized. I believe Toy Story 3 is the best example I have ever seen of the emotional impact color and lighting has on a film. The actual images you will see here comes from the final film. The director of photography for Toy Story 3 was Kim White and she and her team were responsible for bringing Dice’s paintings to life. Animation is the ultimate collaborative medium. The sad part is though most of the artists go unnoticed. So, though I will mostly reference Dice Tsutsumi and Kim White in this post the results you see are made possible by the whole Toy Story 3 team. I am using eleven images from the film. As Dice said in an interview, “One of the things Ralph (the original Toy Story art director) said was to pick ten or fifteen key moments and see if you can describe the color flow of the movie with just those images”. This is my attempt to describe the color flow of the movie with just a few handfuls of images.

Toy Story 3 #3

Most will recognize this shot from the intro of the film. As you can see there is a complementary color scheme at work here, blue and deep orange/brown. Not only does this really make things stick out, it establishes Woody and his owner Andy’s relationship. Andy has always been represented with blue in the Toy Story movies. Woody is dressed in mostly worm colors and is a cowboy which makes this terrain fit perfectly with his character. He also has blue jeans which connects him visually to Andy. The shot here comes from a high stakes adventure taking place in Andy’s imagination. There is a tremendous amount of open space. The creators want to create a world here where you believe anything is possible (I mean come on, there is a huge Pig Ship taking up a chunk of the screen). We are at the height of Andy and Woody’s relationship reflected vividly through the deep saturated blues and oranges. Through out the film you see Art Director Dice Tsutsumi save deep colors for solid emotional connections.

Toy Story 3 #5

This is defiantly Andy’s room, reflected by the overwhelming amounts of blue in the image. The moment takes place after Andy has grown up and is about to go to college. The colors are less rich then the last frame and Woody doesn’t seem to belong as much. Woody and the rest of the toys’ marginalization is seen in specific and broad strokes. The Buzz Lightyear poster is mostly covered up in the corner. Woody is the only toy in sight. And, the stars representing Andy’s childhood are almost completely covered by posters and other “grown up stuff”. One other thing I want to point out in this image is the outside colors. The bright green colors you see from the outside actually look much more inviting then anything we see inside. This green actually represents someone we will meet later on in the film.

Toy Story 3 #9

Wow look at the difference here. This looks like a place where toys belong. Here is the first of several images I will post of the Nursery, where most of the movie takes place. The next few images will express just how much control the Pixar artist have over the power of lighting and creating atmosphere for a scene. Andy’s toys left Andy’s house and found themselves here in Sunnyside Daycare. This is the first time the toys are introduced to this nursery where in just a few minutes kids will come and play with them. Andy’s toys are excited because this will be the first time in years they are played with. You can’t get much more inviting then this. It’s clear the artists want to create an attractive environment for audience as well as  the toys. Look at the designs of the objects you see in frame. I guarantee you the nice comfy chair and beanbag were strategically placed to help soften the imagery. Round designs are always more inviting then designs with sharp angles. We also see Director of Photography Kim White use soft lights to create an inviting environment. There are no harsh shadows and the nursery almost seems to glow. An analogous color scheme is at work here, ranging from light red to light green. There are no deep colors either, which might be a sign from the creators that though this is an inviting environment it has little depth to it. Unlike with Andy there are no owners in a nursery. As inviting as this might be within minutes the nursery seems to be transformed into a completely different environment.

Toy Story 3 #12

Yes this is the very same place you saw in the last frame. Look, you can see the nice soft chair and beanbag at the top of the frame. However, they don’t look as inviting now for some reason. This moment in the film takes place after the toys have been brutally played with by toddlers who Andy’s toys quickly realize are not old enough to handle them properly. The environment goes from a paradise to a foreign wasteland. The feeling of uneasiness is only enhanced by the extreme angle director Lee Unkrich’s uses. He places the camera so it looks directly down at the setting. We are not used to seeing images from this kind of position and it helps to established the discomfort of the situation. The toys are meant to look pathetic from way up here; as if the environment has completely overpowered them. Also, check out the lighting. There are no more soft lights in this image. Harsh shadows stream across the frame making for a much more menacing composition. And finally, we get to the color. The shades of red do more then anything in terms of changing the environment to a uninviting place. Red has always been used to represent danger and destruction and we are only getting a taste of it compared to what we see at the climax of the film.

Toy Story 3 #15

The nursery has gone from an unfriendly environment to an out-and-out prison. This shot is from the same environment as the last two yet looks like a completely different location. This is an example of the power animation has to push lighting to extremes in order to enhance the emotional impact of a scene. The character Andy’s toys once thought was good, Lotso, has shown his true colors and locked Andy’s toys up. Look at the light source here. The shadows are extremely defined and most of the color is actually sucked out of the picture. There are no round objects in sight and the picture is framed from a straight on angle which helps create a formal mood. It’s as if all the humanity has been sucked out of the Toy Story world and all we have left is a evil pink teddy bear who is determined to stay on top. So where is our hero? Where is WOODY?!

Toy Story 3 #11

There he is! Woody was picked up by a girl from the nursery named Bonnie. Just like the original nursery image, this feels like a inviting environment. Again Kim White uses soft lights to take away the shadows. Here we see a pretty broad analogous color scheme at work with a good amount of green. Wait, didn’t I talk about the color green before? That’s right! This is the character I was talking about earlier. Through out the movie Bonnie is represented by the color green and her room reflects this. However, Woody can’t stay in a wonderful place like this when his friends are stuck in a daycare prison. He returns to the daycare and helps break Andy’s toys out of Sunnyside. The problem is he doesn’t find himself in any better of a place.

Toy Story 3 #20

Well shoot! This takes place toward the climax of the film and art director Dice Tsutsumi begins to use monochromatic color schemes. Doing this he is able to overwhelm the image with a singular mood. Woody and the rest of Andy’s toys find themselves at the dump and director Lee Unkrich pushes the imagery to the max in this sequence. The lights shoot directly into the face of the audience. Unlike in Sunnyside we no longer have the claustrophobic feel of a prison, rather we get a wide angle shot of trash as far as the eye can see. It’s a different kind of hell we find ourselves in. The yellow green gives the environment a sickly look and we are deeply worried for Woody and the rest of the toy’s well-being.

Toy Story 3 #22

Well, things haven’t seemed to get any better. Woody and the rest of the gang are looking into an inferno and there seems to be no way of escape. The screen is completely devoured by red. In fact, the red light source is so strong it has seemingly changed the toys colors to shads of red. This shot represents the most dyer situation in the movie. Director Unkrich doesn’t want anything to get in the way of our connection with the toys here. He uses a shallow focus and makes sure there are no distractions in the background. There is only one light source in this shot and it is completely overpowering. The creators want us to think this might be it for the toys. The sequence is sort of a rebirth for Woody and the rest of the toys. In this moment all of them embrace each other and are ready for the next chapter in their lives.

Toy Story 3 #24

Lets just thank the gods the next step wasn’t incineration. Woody and the rest of Andy’s toys survive and are taken by Andy to Bonnie’s house. Here we see Andy giving Bonnie his toys. Andy is in his classic blue clothing and the rest of the frame is consumed by Bonnie’s green. We can see the storytellers are embracing Bonnie here by using deep green colors. We see just as vivid of greens as we did blue at the beginning of the movie. The visuals are supporting the idea of the passing of the torch. Andy’s story is done but we have new adventures to look forward to with Bonnie. This is beautiful imagery. It almost feels as if we have been transported into a wonderful memory. For the last time Andy plays with Bonnie and his toys before he leaves. His blue fits wonderfully with Bonnie’s green.

Toy Story 3 #26

The movie ends with this shot. I think it is a wonderful salute to Andy’s story. A blue sky filled with clouds is what the very first Toy Story movie opens with and it’s only fitting we end with it as well.

Fire Hydrant- Rich Contrast

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on June 2, 2011

First Let me apologize for not getting any blogs out recently. I hope to get another Invisible Ink post out soon.

I have been fascinated with fire hydrants lately. I did a series of pictures on one a while back. Here is another fire hydrant that caught my eye. For this picture I wanted to see how rich I could make the colors. I am also in love with contrast and found my painting program created a very rich color with a great contrast for this picture. If you zoom up on this picture you will see how stylized it really is. However, I do not mind stylizing a picture as long as I enhance what I believe to be the main focus of the picture. The main focus in this case is the water hydrant and I feel the contrast helps bring out the hydrant from the surroundings. Using the painting program allows me to simplify the picture much like turning it black and white would. I am not interested in the small details but rather the overall picture and how it all works together. I like the yellow fence to the right of the picture, it compliments the yellow in the hydrant. I also like the balance between dark and light. I hope you enjoy!

(You will have to click on the picture to see it in complete focus)

Religious Pics

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on May 14, 2011

A few weeks ago I helped my mother with a photography project. The assignment was actually my moms, I was just there to help. However, I really began to get interested in the project. We were trying to represent Christianity through photography. Here are a few of the pictures I personally took and worked on.

We thought a cup holding many of the words in the Bible could be a good representation of the Word. The Bible consists of many things and at the moment we are just keeping them in the cup. I actually might come back and change a few things about this. However, I do like the lighting and position of the cup. I really wanted to create a contrasts between white’s and dark’s. I also wanted a few words to clearly stick out, more on that after getting a closer look…

These are all words associated with the Christian Bible. The key was getting the words to stick out without them obviously sticking out or looking foreign to the rest of the piece. I used a sharpening tool to bring out a few of the key words. We also spent time beforehand setting up the key words before we put the rest of the words in.

Here is an interesting piece. One of the ideas we wanted to express was the word leaving the cup. It was crucial to get the focus right on the words that were leaving the cup. I also upped the contrast in the piece like the others. Separating the words from the paper was important. Making everything else feel soft was also important. I didn’t want anything else to stick out but the words leaving the cup.

The point of this picture was to express my view on Religion. I will let you interpret it the way you want. I like the contrast and lighting in this picture. The way it fades into darkness is just right in my opinion. It was sort of hard to bring out the texture in the cardboard in the breadbasket. I think the cardboard reads but would rather not have the rough wall in the background distracting us. My mother said she thought I shouldn’t have put the “Religion” in there, but I wanted to direct the audiences thought process a little. I worked on the font to make it feel like it belonged to the rest of the piece. Putting the shadow on the edge of the letters really helped.

Hope you enjoy the pictures

(You will need to click on the pictures to see them in focus)

Colored Foot Print

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on April 28, 2011

I just found that foot comforter in the middle of some rubble. I found it made for an interesting picture especially if I took away a lot of the other colors. I wanted the color of the foot comforter to stick out. One hard part was figuring out how to frame the picture. I decided to not have it quite in the middle of the screen, it is a little farther up and to the right. I added a slight amount of grain to have the picture feel like it fit the subject matter. Hope you enjoy the picture!

(will have to click on the picture to see it in complete focus)

Fence Depth

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on March 16, 2011

I first need to apologize for being a little lazy at getting consistent posts up. I am hoping to get more posts up soon. My goal is to average about a post every two days. Hopefully the posts aren’t just links and photography either. I am using this blog as a measuring tool to how much I am learning in my studies in film. Right now I am in the middle of several movies. I hope to write a review on some of them and post them soon.

Anyway, this is a picture I took of a wooden fence. I wanted to establish a sort of depth mainly through the way it was focused and the way the lines of the fence get closer together the farther away it goes. It is fascinating to me and I like the balance between black and white. Hope you enjoy!

(Click on photo to see completely focused)

 

Fire Hydrant

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 27, 2011

Here is a series of pictures I took of this cool fire hydrant.

(to see the pictures completely in focus you need to click on them)

This picture is to highlight the actual color of the main piece. I took the color out from around the fire hydrant so that the hydrant could really stick out. The combination of yellow, red, blue, and green give the hydrant a sort of personality/character.

I wanted to get up close and see some of the wear and tear in the hydrant. It really has gone through some tough years it looks like. The wear and tear just makes the hydrant more unique.

The lighting in this is really good. I wanted to concentrate on a small part of the overall piece. Even in this small section of the hydrant you can see character. The combination of yellow and red is great. The blue in the background also seems to complement the chain.

(to see the pictures completely in focus you need to click on them)

Hope you enjoy!

Wood Fence

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 24, 2011

Went out the other day and took a few cool pictures of this fence.

I really liked how the light bounced of the fence here. I took away most of the blue and green colors so the warms colors could stick out a little more. My only regret was not having the focus point a little farther up.

I made this black and white because it felt more rich that way. I tried to turn the contrast up so high that there are really just three main shades dark, gray, and white. This wheel has a lot of character to it. I really like the texture in the wood.

I kept the rusty color of the metal in this picture. You also get a closer look at the texture of the wood. The color of the metal really fits into the black and white.

(you need to click on the pictures to see them clearly)

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Light on Top of Fence

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 9, 2011

Another picture that I chose to insert a little grain into. I found this to be a pretty beautiful shot. I love seeing how the sun catches the snow. I wanted the focus point to be close to the lens so the sun was as out of focus as possible. Hope you enjoy.

(Click photo to see more clearly)

Framed Cord

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on February 7, 2011

This is not exactly my favorite picture I have ever taken, but I do think there are a few good things about it. First thing is the way the picture frames the main object. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time when the sun was about to set and was framing this extension cord beautifully. The eye is immediately drawn to the main part of the picture just by using light as a framing device. Extension cords for me bring back memories. When I was a kid my dad worked as a scenic designer for a collage and my brothers and I would go and visit him a lot. There were many extension cords around his work place and we would often bring him a cord or two so he could plug one of his power tools into it. So, because of the memories it gave me I wanted to make it look older as if it were taken from when I was a kid. I worked a little with color separation so the cord could stick out more. I brought down the saturation a little bit and then I gave the picture a sort of papery grain. As a young kid I saw many pictures that weren’t glossed over, they just were inked paper and they seemed to give the images a more classic feel. Hope you enjoy.

(Need to click on the picture to see it clearly)

Hanging Leafs

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on January 29, 2011

Here is another picture I took on my outing the other day. I am surprised that these leafs have survived the winter so far. I used the sun as a centering device, taking the picture with the sun directly behind the main leaf pointing down. This gives us a very nice silhouette. One of the difficulties was figuring how much to crop the picture. I wanted it to feel balanced between the background and the leafs. I took away some of the blues in order to make the color scheme more worm and inviting. Over all I think it was a good picture. I still don’t know if I like the house in the background, seeming to cut into the tip of the main leaf.

(Click on the Picture to get a clearer image. I don’t know why it is not as clear on the main page)