The Big Bang: Color Noir on Film

The Big Bang is an independent film with Antonio Banderas who follows a private investigation that carries him from a random disappearance and eventually poses existential questions regarding the origins of life and the god particle. It’s a head-full for sure. The film was Directed by Tony Krantz who has a vast art knowledge and had very specific ideas regarding the use of color in the film. I felt that in order for the color to have a lasting presence, and so the brain would not neutralize our coloring, that we needed some sort of white reference on order to give the brain a waypoint with which to register color. The use of white went against Tony’s desire to give the film an almost noir type if feel, so we instead decided to go for a balanced neutral and solid black onto which we could anchor our colors. The entire film has this common thread which helps give the fearless use of color and total departure from reality a sense of unity.


I presented to Tony the thought of using only two colors at any given time… Thus, keeping each scene away from a random or garish sort of feel. In doing that, it also inspired us to consider the meaning of two paired colors. I think I had 7 different gel colors that I restricted my choices to, then paired them as the scene dictated. Antonio, who has directed a few films of his own that favor a more impressionistic visual approach was completely on-board with staging for camera. Especially if it offered an unusual and meaningful lighting or composition storytelling opportunity. He is an amazing actor to work with.


Colored gels were used to large effect in a glass home on location outside of Spokane, Washington. We used layers of purple, blue, ND and Roscoscrim so we could shoot a long dinner scene with a stylized day-for-dusk effect and see into the surrounding landscape. The still here was shot around mid-day and we were able to get a stylized dusk look with the help of some heavy clouds. With the blue component in the window gel-pack… Plus the fact that film is routinely blue-sensitive, we enjoyed an interesting effect where purple highlights became blue shadows as they worked their way down the density scale. Interesting and totally accidental phenomenon. We peeled away layers of ND as we lost the light and completed the scene in one daylight period. Sam Elliot is very fun to work with. No-nonsense and a cool guy. I rather enjoyed this film as it gave me the opportunity to do something I had never done before.

Below is the interesting title sequence we shot with the WeissCam at 1000fps (some of it obviously re-timed)

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