Color Selection and Color Choices in Video

An often overlooked aspect of creating a corporate video or commercial is the color palette for the project. Granted, when you’re filming an event or documentary-style production, you may have very limited control over the colors in the video. Everyone is wearing whatever clothes they have for the day, little pre-planning occurs to alter the color scheme, and whatever is in front of the camera will be captured. For higher end video work with more coordination, however, a little bit of planning can make a big difference. The first consideration you should have is for your own branding and company color scheme. For instance, Apple has always been associated with white, which almost speaks to their entire brand strategy from their initial one-button mouse design to their iPhone launch (with no keyboard) to their iMac (with computer and screen in one). Each design is clean, simple, and elegant, so white fits the profile. Your color palette can impact the whole theme of a video and make for a more cohesive finished video.

Starting on a basic level, which any company can manage for almost any video (except events), consider having all of your on-camera interview subjects wearing a similar color palette. For instance, you could instruct everyone to wear pastel colors, or everyone to wear a shade of gray or black. You want to avoid a video where every single person has a different colored shirt. You could even have customers wearing one color palette and employees wearing another, if your video integrated commentary from both groups. Make sure colors are a conscious decision one way or another, though. Avoiding white clothing is usually a good idea because white reflects light, which just adds another variable for the videographer when trying to light the shot properly.

On a more sophisticated level, could you find ways to integrate your company color palette into the video subtly? For instance, if your company has red and black as its primary colors like ours, you could hang a piece of art on the wall with red and black in it, have a black lamp on a side table, and lower-third text that uses the company color scheme to introduce the employee speaking. Don’t overdo it and make your video hokey, but subtle color touches can go a long way towards cohesive branding with your other marketing collateral like flyers, mailers, billboards, Websites, etc. Also as a general tip, avoid shooting in rooms with overly busy color palettes, unless you’re trying to capture a chaotic feel to the shot.

Another way to play with colors is in post-production, but having a plan before you shoot the video is a wise decision. For instance, if someone is talking about troubles of the past and the difficult path to success for the company, the footage could appear in black and white, before later turning to full color. You can play with saturation levels and add a happy, upbeat feeling to the video by making every color more vibrant, crushing the blacks, bringing out the reds and greens, and adding almost a yellow glow to the video. Of course, saturation can be overused, but for most corporate videos you want to create a happy feeling and energy, so they’re almost always slightly saturated.

One use of colors to set the tone is desaturating footage showing the competition or the way “the other guys” do things, then saturating footage of how your company does it. For instance, Netflix could have run commercials showing black and white or desaturated footage of someone returning movies to a rental store, then cut to saturated footage of their own service of a beautiful sunny day and a guy walking outside to grab his DVDs from the mailbox. You immediately convey a message, visually, that your way is the best way and the other way is outdated, drab, and boring.