Colors are an event, they’re spectacular or soft or exciting or calming They change the nature of things, including images. We’ve all learned about color temperature and cromatic shifts (at least any of us old enough to have made a career with film), so feeling more like playing than working I set about to “colore” my very first video-clip.
I didn’t have a video camera, nor would I have known how to use one at the time, but I had decided to make a video-clip called Segreto, with my friend Sabina Macculi, an opera singer of some note here in Italy. She had given me here recent CD, Affetti, with lyric pieces from the late 1600’s up til chamber music (voice and piano) from the early 1900’s. An interesting album for those who might love dark lyric voices pining over emotional turmoil, lost love and hidden desires (the album is called Affetti which means, Affections in the “I love you” kind of way). At any rate, I had decided to portray her as an intense lunatic lost in her dreams as she desired her lover who was actually a complete stranger married to someone else, unaware of this unknown lady’s desires. You can’t get any worse than this. The piece is from the late 1800’s by Francesco Tosti, a well known author of the times and still a favorite of many opera lovers.
My point here, though, is my reflections on how to use color in the video-clip so as to give meaning to the inner turmoil and passion of the protagonist. The entire clip, except for a short video piece shot with a Sony Handycam worth about $120, was shot with my Nikon D2x in JPG. I know we’re all supposed to shoot RAW, and rightly so, but all that work of transporting the images in a JPG form and then the re-sizing for editing worried me, so I shot directly in JPG in the Medium format. My actress was marvelous as I shot my one-image-at-a-time sequences that make up the video. Since I portrayed her as an intense lunatic lying in bed, I desaturated all the colors most of the time, but as she got more intense I would crank up the colors, the saturation and the warm tones in order to re-enforce the emotional feeling in her gestures.
When she feels like she’s dying, I literally took the color out of her and let her lie in her vampire paleness. So basically, the color shifts, which were applied to very few images in the stop-motion sequences, literally color her feelings as she sings poetically through her illusions, desiring that which is impossible and dying in the attempt.
In the passages where she dreams of meeting her “lover” and expressing her love to him, I shot her amidst beautiful green foliage and I put some heavy make-up on her face and lips. After all, she’s in a dream. Actually, when I shot those photographs, the sky was cloudy and it was a bit cold, but by overexposing the shadows (where we were) the sky became white as in a dream, and the dark foliage became a brilliant green.
The whole clip is melodramatic for sure, but metaphorically pretty close to our daily strife. The only difference is that the color shifts in real life are only part of my perception and not connected with what I did in Aperture.