Unnaturally Blue Lighting
aka: Bad Blue Lighting
"I used to like the color blue. Now, it's dead to me. Cram it, Smurfs. Piss off, ocean. Screw you, sky."
A subtrope of Mood Lighting
common in Science Fiction
shows. Shots are suffused with vaguely blue lighting. This is usually complemented by stark, overly bright desk lamps. Occasionally this infects outdoor scenes, making sunny days look more overcast; this should not be confused with the dark blue camera filter used in shooting "day for night
A low-intensity version of the effect can be produced by shooting a scene light with daylight-balanced light on film (or its digital equivalent) that is balanced for incandescent (tungsten) lighting. Daylight has more blue than incandescent indoor lighting, but typically has less than some fluorescent lighting used in offices, which may be part of where the trope originated. In the early 80s, HMI-lighting (strong lights, with daylight temperature) came and was often used outside, mixed with regular bulbs, giving them a strong blue tint (as they were bluer than they are today), which is often seen in the early 80s. Today it still remains for moonlight, as otherwise it would be hard to separate from daylight, however often in a much subtler way.
Although this is a good way to cover up a lower-budget set, the light can sometimes become glaring and/or induce too many shadows.
Nowadays, the rise of Orange/Blue Contrast
makes this nearly ubiquitous in mainstream movies and television.
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- For whatever reason, it's being used in recent Viagra commercials like this one (maybe because the pill itself is blue?). The effect is weird because that particular commercial takes place in the desert.
- Used to great effect in Little Buddha, contrasting the cool blue Seattle shots with the warm reds of Tibet.
- In The Lord of the Rings films, the battles at Helm's Deep and Osgiliath are shown in a blue tint.
- This is supposed to invoke night, as that's when the battles take place, with the opposing troops being less hindered by the darkness than the heroes are.
- The Underworld series makes consistent use of trope, blended with Hollywood Darkness. Individual scenes which aren't primarily blue are a rarity. Even the DVD covers invoke this.
- Parodied in 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when the daughter (based on Lisbeth Salander) brings home a date based on Selene, which prompts the film to suddenly become very blue.
- Minority Report is a classic example — it's in most scenes and submerges some of them. Some viewers found it strained their eyes.
- The future scenes in the Terminator films look like this.
- The first Twilight movie had this, possibly to emphasize the characters' pale skin or the cloudiness of Forks. The sequels had more of a golden, warm tone to them.
- The One uses this to distinguish between the different universes that the movie covers; the first universe plays this trope deadly straight with heavy blue lighting, the "central" universe and Gabriel's one have slightly cold lighting with a little blue, and the "happy" universe that Gabe is sent to at the end has warmer, more orange lighting.
- Done in Blade 2. Daylight is a cool blue, to contrast with the harsh, halogen yellow of night lighting.
- The more recent Harry Potter films use this a lot for any scene that isn't in Hogwarts, and some that are, probably to go with their Darker and Edgier tone.
- Battlefield Earth: Most of the Psychlo-centric scenes are shot like this. It is possible they are taking their lead from the novel where Pyscho "breath-gas" has a purple tint.
- In The Matrix, all the scenes that take place in said Matrix have green lighting (although the effect is relatively subtle in the original releases of the first film). It's computerized tinting done entirely in post-production. That's why the non-remastered version is different. Similarly, scenes set in the real world have a blue bias.
- Used in Pitch Black, though it's justified by making one of the planet's suns a blue giant and it's only blue when that sun's in the sky.
- In one dream sequence of In the Mouth of Madness, Cane tells the hero his favorite color is blue. Much to his horror, the next scene is filmed with a very heavy blue tint.
- Traffic does this with Michael Douglas's politician storyline. Each storyline in the film is distinguished by slightly different filters.
- Justified in the second half of Melancholia, where the sky is dominated by a giant blue planet. It becomes intensely blue light when the planet is about to crush Earth.
- The US remake of The Ring is filmed with a blue tint.
- Reign of Fire spends most of the movie using a blue tint, then takes it off for the epilogue.
- The first Resident Evil uses a noticeable blue tint, particularly in the "laser corridor" sequence. The sequels use different color filters, but Apocalypse and Extinction both reapply the blue filter for scenes that reference/flash back to the first film.
- George Lucas' short film, Freiheit, is entirely saturated in blue.
- Some of Platoon's scenes are filled with blue tint. Said tint is omitted from Blu-ray/HD releases.
- Contrary to its name, Red Dragon is an incredibly blue movie.
- X-Wing has this in the scene where a disturbing-looking medical droid is helping treat your rebel pilot's injuries if he survives his ship being destroyed and doesn't get captured by the empire.
- Fallout: New Vegas: While solely not for Mood Lighting purposes, night vision abilities work this way. In particular, using cateye (potent night vision drug) in very dark places will make everything heavily blue-tinted, which does make things easier to see, at least.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the Silent Realm is like this when Link isn't being chased by the Guardians.
- Mass Effect is a heavy offender, going as far as giving crimson sunsets a blue halo.
- Battlefield 3 has everything tinted blue, even the night maps are just a slightly different shade of blue instead of black.
- Ink One of the few examples that isn't set in a science-fiction world. At least two scenes are tinted blue, one of which is so saturated, that it nearly drowns out the true colors.
- Close your eyes and face a bright light source like the sun for a minute or two. Then turn away and open your eyes. Everything will appear blue tinted. This occurs because low wavelength red/orange light passes through the skin and blood of your eyelids but high wavelength blue/violet light is absorded. The low wavelength light continues to stimulate the red-color perceiving cone cells or your retina, causing a reduction in their sensitivity, but fails to stimulate your blue-sensitive cone cells, causing them to increase in sensitivity. When you open your eyes your blue sensitive cones are over active and your red sensitive cones are burnt out, so everything looks blue.
- Wearing sunglasses with an orange tint will produce a similar effect.
- L.E.D. lights have much more blue light in them then fluorescent lights, and the most sensitive spot on the human retina, the fovea centralis, has no blue light-detecting cones, so blue lights are much more uncomfortable for the human eye to look at. This has raised some health concerns about them, as they may disrupt humans sleep patterns, since they suppress the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
- To be more specific here: "white" LEDs have a distinct blue tint compared to fluorescents (usually greenish) or incandescents (yellowish). The old-style red/green/amber LEDs have no blue to speak of; LEDs that can emit blue are a relatively recent (mid-1990s) invention. The color of the light given off by "white" LEDs is actually pretty close to daylight white, but it "looks wrong" since for most of your life you've been used to artificial lighting being yellowish or greenish and just subconsciously edit that out. There are now "warm white" LEDs that attempt to mimic incandescent color temperatures more closely, but opinions vary on how effectively they do so.
- For a more technical explanation, the blue tint of "white" LEDs is due to the fact that the actual semiconductor material which produces the light emits a fairly narrow band of blue light. The rest of the spectrum is filled out by a yellow phosphor, which absorbs some of the blue light and radiates in other parts of the visible spectrum, but enough of the strong blue peak remains, biasing the colour of the resulting light towards blue.