The use of filters or digital post-processing to change the tint of the film. Common techniques include Color Wash.
Sometimes, this is used to create a particular mood — a washed-out, desaturated look creates a bleak atmosphere, while bright colors seem "happy" and naturally inviting, and orange is used in "sunny" places such as deserts or beaches. Other times, it's used to emphasize two contrasting colors to look more appealing, usually blue and orange. Especially blue and orange.
This is Older Than Television. Silent films used color tints to distinguish day and night, interiors and exteriors, and different moods. (The Other Wiki lists some of the conventional correspondences.)
Unnaturally Blue Lighting is often a signature of science fiction works. When overused it can results in both glare and loss of detail in a scene.
See also Hollywood Darkness. Real Is Brown (a brown tint applied to videogame graphics) and Red Filter of Doom (red tinting to create an ominous atmosphere) are subtropes. See also Post-Processing Video Effects.
- Nearly ALL adverts for holidays will have some kind of yellow tinge to give the impression that it's sunny all the time.
- Almost a required element of Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket. The "incompetent" scene will be drab and depressing, but the new miracle product makes everything bright and happy!
- Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel generally distinguishes the two time periods it takes place in by tinting the past yellow and the future a dusky purple.
- Cars 3: At the beginning of the film while Lightning McQueen is racing, the speedways he races at are bright and full of color, representing his happiness. Its also a sunny day at Willys Butte, where he practices. Later on following Jackson Storms arrival, the speedways and Willy's Butte become dull and darkly colored, representing his struggle and suddenly being outmatched by the new high-tech racers. At the end of the film, with thanks to getting his mojo back and career saved with thanks to Cruz Ramirez, the colors are once again bright, with a sunrise at Willys Butte repressing his return to form.
- In The Little Mermaid, the grotto turns hellish red when King Triton is destroying it, followed by turning a light chalky gray afterward.
- Tangled: When we first meet Rapunzel as a teenager, the inside of her tower is brightly colored with thanks to the sun shining through. After she returns from seeing the lanterns, it is dark and cloudy, and the inside of the tower is disaturated and shadowy, showing she no longer sees the tower as amazing.
- An example of using this technique well can be found in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic, where scenes in the US were shot with a blue filter and scenes in Mexico were shot through sienna.
- The movie Sleepy Hollow was shot almost entirely with a creepy bluish filter to enhance the horror atmosphere of the setting. Only at the end when the threat is past does the filter shift to a warm color (ironically, in New York City...)
- In The Matrix, scenes inside the Matrix are shot with a green filter, while scenes in the "real world" are shot with a blue filter.
- The Adventures of Picasso uses this in the scene in Sirkkas home (from 3:10 and about one more minute), switching between full-colour and black-and-white.
- Director Mario Bava was known for using colored lights — often in non sequitur shades of green or purple — to create a mood of unease.
- The Mamoru Oshii film Avalon has everything tinted brown, until one sequence which brings up the possibility that it's real and the rest of the film isn't. This possibility ends up not being true.
- The entirety of the Mel Gibson gangster film Payback was seemingly shot in Chicago at the height of Blue Filter Season to emphasize how grim the film was. But an alternate director's cut version (Payback: Straight Up) reveals that most of the mood lighting was a post-production effect due to Executive Meddling.
- The movie version of South Pacific is an infamous example of color tinting gone wrong, a mistake which haunted director Joshua Logan for the rest of his life.
- The "plot" part of the movie is shot normally, the musical numbers are tinted. The overall impression is that the characters have some kind of disease that periodically gives them either a rash or jaundice while also making them spontaneously break out in song.
- Battlefield Earth overused color filters, as well as weird camera angles.
- City of Angels (with Nicolas Cage) used a lot of sunset/sunrise tones.
- Every shot in Sin City invokes this trope due to City Noir roots and the shot-for-shot nature of recreating a comic book in live action.
- The film 13, noted on the DVD commentary, was shot with warmer colouring when the girls are partying and colder, more stark lighting as things fall apart.
- Man of Steel has a dark bluish tint when Clark is out in the world, while Smallville scenes use yellowish lighting instead.
- The movie version of Christiane F. is mostly green-tinged. This might be deliberate on the part of the film-makers (since it's about drug addiction), but it looks largely shot under fluorescent lights (in subway stations, etc.), due to budgetary restraints. This will give a green tint to film if not corrected with filters.
- For John Carpenter's original Halloween (1978) in 1978, cinematographer Dean Cundey used color filters to cast daytime scenes in brown (to evoke Midwestern autumn in the California-shot exteriors) and nighttime scenes in blue (to evoke a supernatural eeriness). A high-res DVD release in 2003 "fixed" the color timing, much to the consternation of both Cundey and the fans.
- Chopper has all kinds of uncomfortable lighting, including unnatural blue, sickly green, and lurid orange/blinding yellow.
- Hero might have this along with the color-coded flashback costumes.
- Margin Call has a predominantly blue tint as the film is set predominantly at night, amplify the growing realization of what was about to happen to the firm, and to emphasize the fact that the only available lighting are the glow of the computer screens and fluorescent lights.
- In The Phantom Carriage (1921), exterior shots have a blue tint while interior shots have a sepia tint.
- CSI: Miami seems to have incorporated another shows use of this trope in its Poorly Disguised Pilot for CSI: New York. When the camera focused on Mac Taylor (the NY character) it looked darker, while shots of Horatio Caine were brighter.
- During the first season of Heroes, Mood Lighting was used to differentiate the different regions that the show took place in. New York was blue, Texas was gold, Nevada was bleached out, etc. This was dropped in the second season.
- Used in the Firefly episode "Out of Gas" for flashbacks more than a day or two previous.
- In Dexter, the kill scenes are usually shot with green gels on the lights to create a sickly or monstrous appearance for the character. In addition, bold red lighting is sometimes used in relation to kills.
- Done frequently in Power Rangers to suggest an Alien Sky. The moon usually uses blue tinting, a volcanic planet uses red tinting, and in Power Rangers RPM, the earth post-nuclear Robot War uses a yellow tint.
- Veronica Mars: One of the notable differences between the Season 4 pitch and the rest of the show was the drastic change in mood lighting. Neptune, Neptune High and Mars Investigations all had very orangey, red warm hues—whereas the FBI office Veronica was slated to work in was all white, blue and cool chrome.
- You can tell the 'dramatic' episodes of Castle from the 'regular' ones as the show has generally darker lighting.
- Several video games use the graphics card to give the entire scene a certain lighting effect:
- Crank up the visual treatment in Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and you'll see how the entire world is seen through a yellow tint and a lens vignette effect to make it feel like a rough, gritty city during the day.
- Likewise, if you turn on the Over Bright and the Enhanced Contrast in Need For Speed Underground 2, you'll see how the dark parts become darker while the light parts become glaring, in order to accentuate the shiny lights of the city and the cars.
- What's your favourite Metal Gear level design - grey buildings with a blue tint (Metal Gear Solid), grey ship with a green tint (Metal Gear Solid 2), orange buildings with a green tint, averaging out to grey (Metal Gear Solid 2), green trees and buildings with a yellow tint (Metal Gear Solid 3), or brown brown with brown and a brown tint (Metal Gear Solid 4)? Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has conventional (if perhaps a little psychedelically bright) colours in a conscious attempt to break away from using this trope, as did Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Metal Gear Solid V has dark, blown-out colours, mostly in blue and gold.
- Although the areas are often right next to each other, World of Warcraft colors the sky (and the artificial fog of the area if you don't have maximum distance set on your visual settings) of many of its areas to fit the type of area. For example, the sky is colored orange to fit a burnt or volcanic area, the Eastern and Western Plaguelands have a reddish-brown tint and yellowish-brown tint respectively to give off an infected, ravaged feel; and Shadowmoon Valley has a yellow-green sky to match the green lava of the area. And with Wrath of the Lich King comes Icecrown, which has gloomy dark blue lighting to match the pure ice wasteland. Thus moving past a zone border can turn previously-clear lakes to sickly green, for example.
- In Psychonauts, this becomes a gimmick in one of the levels which takes place in a theater that plays the memories of Gloria Van Gouten. By using the lighting, one can induce Mood Whiplash upon the scene, changing it in order to progress.
- The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack uses this a lot; for example, the colors on Cammie Island are much darker, in the morning are yellowish, and in the West are all red and black.
- Used in Danny Phantom: During any ghost attack the scenery changes colors, usually to a dark blue, purple, or red—though with the other "ghost" powers on the show, it's plausible to Hand Wave it as an effect of ectoplasm on a human environment.
- The Diet Coke and Mentos experiments have a strong blue tint to the video, although this does not extend to the sequel.
- In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Tough Love", the city of Townsville turns a hellish red when everyone (sans the girls) is under HIM's control.