October 08, 2019

Color Me Frightened!

Technicolor celebrates the spirit of the season by exploring color finishing on horror themed feature and episodic content. 

In preparation for All Hallows Eve 2019, we are taking a look at some of this year’s most frightening content and how it is enhanced by our talented colorists. Add these titles to your queue, grab your stash of Halloween candy, and prepare to get your scary movie fix on.



The latest film written and directed by Jordan Peele, Us pits a loving American family against the most terrifying of all opponents-dopplegangers of themselves.  With plenty of twits, a 93% fresh Tomatometer score and some of the creepiest performances by child actors, this film will definitely keep you up at night.

Technicolor Supervising Digital Colorist Michael Hatzer teamed up with cinematographer Mike Gioulakis and director Peele to create some really unique and compelling color palettes to meet Peele’s goal of using color to create emotional spikes – sometimes toning things down so the fear felt distant but menacing – and then being very measured in how he delivered the suspense for maximum effect.

According to Hazter, “The color palette we used was not typical of the horror genre and was more subtle and interesting than looks more commonly used – we were able to play with combinations such as red against green and beige playing against blue. There are some great nighttime beach shots in Santa Cruz where you’ve got the dark blues and deep blacks of the night playing against the warm gold of the sand. These color combinations and this technique was definitely effective in heightening suspense.”


What is creepier than a never-ending Christmasland where every day is Christmas and unhappiness is against the law?  To make matters worse, Charlie Manx- an immortal who feeds off the souls of children lives in Christmas land.

Based on the novel by Joe Hill, the son of Horror Master Stephen King, NOS4A2 is a great example of color finishing for horror.

To ensure that the fright factor was at its highest, Senior Final Colorist Timothy Vincent worked closely with Cinematographer Martin Ahlgren to collaborate on everything from camera capturing and choosing the feel of lenses and camera body choices all the way through to fine-tuning passes with the showrunner Jami O’Brien.
 “We developed a very intentional color palette for NOS4A2,” says Timothy. “It has contrast, desaturation, and an overall cool feel with accentuation on colors to drive story points. The look and feel of the show is a character in and of itself.”

Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark

Like the bestselling series of books that inspired it, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark opens a creepy gateway into horror for young and old horror genre enthusiasts. Set in 1968, a group of teenagers discover a book written by a young girl with horrible secrets.  The girl turned her tortured life into a series of scary stories which have an uncanny way of becoming all too real for the teens who read them.

Directed by Andre Ovredal and produced by Oscar-winning The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro & producer Miles Dale, Scary Stories enlisted Senior Colorist Mark Kueper to work alongside cinematographer Roman Osin to deliver a color grade that helped translate the iconic and thrilling imagery of the story. Kueper was able to set the look early in production, allowing for optimized color continuity from on-set to VFX and through the complete post-production process.

“Color helps tell the story by creating a sense of time and place,” said Kueper. “André and Roman wanted an Amblin Entertainment vibe from the 80s, so we used a film print LUT to help us take the audience to that nostalgic place.”

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