Frame from "Audience of One" - Adidas Superstar

Black and White as a way to portray emotions

Despite the fact that photography and cinema began in black and white, the charm of color has come to stay. The first color film is from 1902 and was a part of some experiments from Edward Raymond Turner – photographer, inventor and british filmmaker. Nowadays, color is the standard of cinema and video. And it’s easy to know why.

Color captures out attention

And it gives life to an image. On top of that, it’s a preciously helpful tool when it comes to storytelling. Without us realizing it, a scene with warm or cold colors make us feel different emotions. Warm tones transmit comfort, happiness, affection. While cold tones give us feelings of insecurity, sadness, loneliness… But colors also help when it comes to giving context to a certain action (it wouldn’t make sense to have a scene with warm colors during the winter, or vice versa).

But what about black and white? Can it help us convey a message?

Yes! The absence of colors can be equally appealing. Usually it helps us focus on the emotional aspect the message we are seeing.

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”

Ted Grant, photographer

But it’s not enough to remove the saturation from an image. The value of a black and white image is irrefutable, but the perfect result is achieved with the careful balance of light, shadow and texture.

Where can we break the standard of color?

From advertisements to documentaries, visual identities and music videos, it’s possible to make a commercial work using black and white. And example of that is the ad “Audience of One” from Adidas, which gathers the testimonials of multiple artists. Sound Design and other special effects help to make the video fresh, but it’s the black and white that keeps us immersed in the message. The brand is coherent and keeps the same visuals on the behind the scenes video.

“Audience of One – Adidas – Superstar – Pharrell Williams” directed by Patrick Clair and produced by Elastic for the Johannes Leonardo NYC agency.
In “Whisper”’s case, winner of 7 awards in 2013 and 2014, we can understand the clear association between its theme and the choice of black and white.

Whisper directed by Gioacchino Petronicce for the Betc agency. Produced by Moonwalk films.
And even opening titles can break rules. This was the opening video of the Analogue/Digital conference in 2013, which earned its creators two awards. The symbiosis between black and white and the double exposure sends us straight to the analogue world, while the motion graphics keep us in the digital era.

ADBNE 2013 – Opening Titles da BREEDER, with the creative direction of Joyce Ho.
When CNBC Prime, a channel dedicated to the news in the financial sector, decided to rebrand, it resorted to this monochromatic color palette. The new visual line aims to transmit a premium and masculine feel in which black and white are of great importance.

CNBC Prime designed and animated by Gretel.

The color – or its absence – can have a huge impact in the way our message is passed on and perceived by those who see. Why not leave behind the idea that a shiny image with, screaming saturated colors, is the way? Who knows if the ideal solution for your brand’s next video doesn’t involve a monochromatic look!

Andreia Calhau
andreia.calhau@portugalmultimedia.pt

Even with a sleepy face, she’s always ready for a challenge. Highly proactive and full of “scalabis” culture. Audiovisual is her thing and her inspiration sources are endless: from shorts films on Vimeo to the one and only Justin Timberlake.

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