Talking About Color in Black and White

Quick — describe the color of the ocean to someone who’s never seen it. Can you do it? Is it blue? Green? Something in-between?

Describing the qualities of light and color can be difficult — even for color professionals — because the way each person experiences light and color is subjective. Or to put it another way: Is the dress blue and black, or white and gold?

This subjectivity is one of the reasons why making effective use of color can be so challenging for the filmmaker. It’s easy for the right “look” to get lost in translation in conversations between the director, director of photography (or DP), editor and others involved in a project.

Add in the technical challenges of working with color in a practical way, and it’s no wonder that color grading is often left to specialists, or considered and applied only at the end of a project. It’s something Adobe hopes to change with a new app under development called Adobe Hue CC.

“We’re making sure that everyone can participate in this process and it’s no longer an exclusive thing,” says Patrick Palmer, senior product manager for Adobe Hue CC, “Working with color and light creatively has become a very immersive and emotionally important part of the production pipeline, and we’re reflecting that across the board with our products.”

Previewed this year at NAB, Adobe Hue CC (formerly known as Project Candy) allows anyone with a smartphone camera to capture the qualities of light and color they see around them in daily life, create a color Look (or grading presets used to enhance the appearance of video footage), test it right away with sample photographs and video and then share that Look with others through Creative Cloud libraries for use in Premiere Clip, Premiere Pro and After Effects.

“It’s about capturing inspiration because your phone is always with you,” explains Patrick, “The idea is that you know what you like, and what you see is what you want to produce as a Look. So you can grab that, select the aspects of color and light that you’re most interested in, test it, and share it with people you work with.”

One of the most innovative aspects of Adobe Hue CC is the use of a 3D histogram to represent the relationship between colors, light and saturation within a scene using an intuitive and simplified UI. “It’s different than anything else we’ve used so far, and it’s a much more intuitive way of representing color and light than a traditional 2D histogram, vectorscope, or RGB waveform,” Patrick adds, “It doesn’t need to be explained before you can work with it.”

Patrick hopes Adobe Hue CC will not only allow filmmakers to capture scenes for themselves, building up a repository of unique Looks overtime, but also that making the creation of Looks more accessible will enable new conversations and understanding of color across collaborative teams.

“Someone doing location scouting might see something unique and fantastic about the location, and then capture it and share it with the entire team,” he muses, “Maybe the DP might pick up on something from the Look and use it to communicate with the producer or editor… it makes conversations about color accessible to people who aren’t color professionals.”

Check out an interview with Lars Borg, the color scientist who developed the algorithms for Adobe Hue CC, on our Creative Cloud blog here.

_This story is part of a series that will give you a closer look at the people and technology that were showcased as part of Adobe Sneaks. Watch other Sneaks and videos here.