Quite recently, VideoLab released a video onto YouTube that went viral. It was a bit of a tongue-in-cheeck critique of the colour grading of Man of Steel. Stefan Sonnenfeld from Company 3 gave the film a darker, greyer aesthetic, most likely to resonate with the success that came with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight world.The video is supposed to be taken as light hearted, and their addendum in the description on the YouTube video reiterates that this was neither an attack against Stefan Sonnenfeld or Zack Snyder. Nor was it an attack aimed at DC comics.
But it does raise an interesting point. Usually, colour grading remains a mystery to most movie goers and content like this helps reiterate the roles that go on behind the scenes in post production. It’s also interesting to see that people quite often side with VideoLab. Footage that looks bright, contrasty and saturated will always look better when played alongside grey footage (people don’t often prefer the look of RAW footage to graded content) but there are clear stylistic choices as to why they went for it.
Ultimately, the success of Man of Steel in the box office shows that the decisions they made creatively were the right decisions. The film was an enormous success and the upcoming Batman vs Superman should be incredibly interesting from a colour point of view. Whether you agree with VideoLab and what they did, one can’t deny that it has helped create a discussion within the public of the role of colour grading and the extent to which it can transform an aesthetic and change the whole feel of a film.