Category: Professional Practice

Reflect Upon Your Individual Investigation

Lastly, you must reflect on your own performance and learning and be able to evaluate the research processes you used and the outcomes you developed.



I like the overall outcome of my SSI video. I think that choosing to do a video was a much more convenient way to show the lighting and colours with visuals, rather than just writing them down. However saying that there are a few things that I would like to have done differently. The big one is my voiceover. In all my videos my voiceover seems non-enthusiastic and a bit boring. This is because I’ve typed up what I was going to say and I basically just read it straight from the paper. I wish I could just have more excitement in my voice to make the video a bit more interesting.

Originally I was just going to look at the colour palettes but then I added lighting because I thought without light there wouldn’t be any colour. But now I kind of wished I could have just focused on one or the other so I could have been more detailed on the topic.

Also I wish I could have covered some more aspects in this video as there are so many when it comes to this topic. I never really explained why Ridley Scott used these colour palettes or lighting styles which is something I wish I could have done. I watched numerous interviews from Ridley Scott but none seemed to cover the topic of colour palettes and only brushed lightly on his lighting style. So basically I wish I could have more reliable material available, possibly quotes and numerical data from Ridley Scott himself to add to my research.

I tried looking for footage of Ridley Scott during pre-production talking about set design, props,and the costume design because this would have been really nice to add some of that into my video but it was unavailable as I looked quite hard. I also wanted to look at other Ridley Scotts films such as Gladiator, American Gangster, and Robin Hood. However that would have meant me not talking so much about the other films that I covered because of time constraints. I mean there wasn’t a time limit but I’m sure a 45 minute long video is a bit too long.

Unfortunately I didn’t ask for any feedback from my teachers or anyone for this project. I believe if I would have asked for some constructive criticism for my video I could have been more critical in my reflection. Next time I will be sure to get some outside feedback as it could help me in the long run for future projects.

To sum everything up I am happy with the final video product and it was just what I was predicting when I completed my proposal form. However saying that, I wish I could have added a bit more extensive information to it. But because I was very limited to the amount of resources available, the interviews and pre-production footage that I wanted to include in my video, I couldn’t because it wasn’t there. But overall I enjoyed the topic that I researched as it is still very interesting to me and I plan to keep doing future research on it as it becomes available.

Unit 2 Criteria: 4.1, 4.2 & 4.3 and Unit 4 Criteria: 4.1 & 4.2




Present the results of your Special Subject Investigation to a group of your peers. The style, length, size and method of your presentation will be negotiated with your supervisor throughout the process. Some examples are as follows:

  • A written Dissertation
  • A Masterclass or lecture
  • A Multi-Media Website
  • An Interactive DVD/Blu Ray
  • A Showreel accompanied by a Supporting Booklet
  • Etc



Above is the final product of my SSI Report. I decided to make a video rather than just writing a paper because for the topic that I choose it is better as you can see the visuals and hear the added voice over instead of just reading it. I downloaded the 3 films that I analyzed in the video along with some extras like behind the scenes footage of Prometheus and Then I imported them and edited the video using Adobe Premier Pro CS3 and CS6. Below is the voiceover and the references I used.


In this video I’ll be examining a few of Ridley Scotts films that he’s directed throughout the decades, and I’ll be taking a closer look at his lighting style as well as the use of color palettes chosen for these films. In films, lighting and color palettes are usually intentional and are controlled on set during production. First I’ll briefly discuss what they both are.

Lighting a shot is an art, and is a very essential to filmmaking and with many different techniques to light a shot; there are numerous atmospheric outcomes to be gained. Just like light does, shadows play a prominent role in filmmaking, and its with these shadows we get a sense of feel for what directors are trying to accomplish in their films.

Color Palettes are a limited number of specific colors, which are used in a film to convey various aspects of character and story to the viewer. They visually can communicate emotion as well as also connote things symbolically. Color Palettes consist of many aspects starting with pre production with the set design, costumes, props, and in post-production with color grading to finesse the final image.

First I’ll be looking at the color palette and lighting techniques in one of his earlier films, the sci-fi blade runner. This film is praised for the amount of dedication, which Ridley Scott and cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth went into, to light each of the scenes. The film takes place in a futuristic 2019 dystopian Los Angeles. During the majority of the movie a major theme is the non-stop rain that doesn’t seem to end, and this is to show a sense of despair, pollution, and creates ambiance throughout. Scott uses ample amounts of florescent neon in this film. Such as in clubs, or on building store fronts, but famously know for the umbrella poles which seems a bit dangerous in the rain but it cannot be denied, it looks cool.

This scene however when the main character Deckard interrogates the replicant Rachael in Tyrell’s corporation, is one of the only scenes when the sun is quite present. While most of the movie has a mysterious blue tinge, this scene is quite the opposite with a warmish yellow feel to it. In this shot Deckard is lit from the back casting a halo effect around him, which suits his protagonist role. Deckard then ironically states “its too bright in here”, the shade is pulled down and the mysterious blue tinted lighting then comes back. This lights Deckard from the front and Rachael from behind. However in this film we rarely see peoples face completely lit. Such as on Deckard’s face after his test on Rachael, half his face is strongly light from the side while the other half is cast with shadows.

The color palette throughout this film is mainly a combination of the two complimentary colors yellow and blue. Like here where Deckard is wrapped in a blue blanket and his apartment ceiling is a tad yellowish, then looking out from his balcony there are loads of yellow and blue neon lights in the distance. Then we cut to Pris who is roaming the streets, and again we see the same color palette. Yellow construction stripes, and blue streetlights, even the police lights on the cop car are blue and yellow.

However in this scene “ Scott uses candlelight, or some suggestion of it, to illuminate Tyrell’s very ornate room, this gives everything a redness that fits with the moment when Batty arrives and destroys his maker. The room becomes more of a cave than some swish apartment in a mega skyscraper.” This is very different from the yellow and blue colors typically used in the film, but the red glow from the candles is very appropriate for this scene and definitely suits and goes well with the blood caused by the eerie eye gouging part.

“ In this film light can represent illumination, and also invasion and interrogation.” But it’s with the use of these lights that Scott gives us those subtle highlights and magnificent shadows that gives blade runner its distinct look and feel to it.

Next we’ll move on to one of Ridley Scott’s debatably most famous known film, Black Hawk Down. Which is based on the battle of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993. Scott worked together with Polish cinematographer Slawomir Idziak to give this film a tremendous color palette that breaks most of the normal conventions for war films. One thing they do stick too for modern war movies is the beach-bypass look was done by color grading in post. This makes for a dirty gritty feel for the image, which has high contrast and really desaturated look to it.

The landscape of Somalia’s dessert is a brownish orange not a typical golden sand color, which implies a sense of distraught and danger. Black tire smoke is a common theme in this film, which contaminates the sky and connotes trouble.

Compare this to the steel barracks that the US soldiers are stationed in. They are light by cool blue halogen lights, which suggests coldness and unfamiliarity. However this is another example of the normal conventions broken. Usually warm tones show a calming and relaxed atmosphere but not in this film.

This scene is when a soldier calls his wife before going out on the mission. It is color graded in postproduction for a very desaturated look. There is hardly any color in any of these shots compared to the rest of the film. Its almost feels like it’s a dream of something in the past, that’s too far out to grab. This is done to show the vast amount of distance between the soldiers and their loved ones back at home and to convey emotion about the soldier’s lives that they left, to come serve for their country.

Then when the soldiers enter the brightly lit Mogadishu, the mission begins. That’s when all the trouble starts and the nice warm orangey tones that usually are supposed to be comforting are now dangerous. The interesting conventions to this color palette are flipped around and are not what viewers are used to.

After tremendous gunfire, lots of gory bloodshed, and a couple black hawks down. Some of the soldiers find shelter in an abandoned building because they are the first to start setting up a perimeter for the first black hawk down. Here we have another cool blue lighting scheme. The lighting is coming through the windows and the holes in the walls. Since we again have a blueish tone here we know that the soldiers are somewhat safer here than outside with the enemies in the brownish orange heat.

With the mission taking longer than expected day starts to turn to night and instead of a traditional blueish moonlight Scott has chosen to take a completely different approach by making it eerie green. There are no blue tones present here. Which suggests that the safety is once again gone. The constant explosions and numerous fires provide an excellent source of light and create warm orange tones, which again represent danger.

The soldiers fight through night and into dawn, which happens to be blue. Safety is returning once again. The soldiers are left to run back to base on foot, as there is not enough room in the convoys. This is last stretch before making it safe and sound back to the base and as soon as they arrive there the color palette returns to regular conventions and everything turn backs to its normal hue.

Finally we’ll look at one of Ridley Scott’s more recent film, Prometheus. Scott shot this film in 3D on a prototype Red cinema camera with polish cinematographer Dariusz Wolski. Prometheus is based in the future and is about a team of explorers and their expedition to a planet far away to discover new life. Although the story plot isn’t amazing, the visuals undoubtedly are.

In this scene, the explorers are getting briefed on their mission by characters Peter Weyland and Vickers who are funding the expedition. Notice how the colors of their suits are visually consistent with the background and fit in perfectly. This is because the wardrobe choices were made to work thematically with all the colors of everything on set.

Then in this scene we see the reoccurring yellow and blue color palette again, that Scott seems to like so much. Motion graphics were used to simulate a holographic computer operating system. Its glows a strong limeish yellow color and has other small images on it most of which are a complementary light blue.

Or in this scene where the main character Shaw is speaking to the captain of the ship. The lighting from this room gives off strong yellow tones with subtle hint of blue from their suits and the monitors on the cabinets. The yellowish tone here is very strong but compared but the cool blue lighting in the hallway this separates the two different areas as well as works together with the color palette.

Another example is the video camera interface from the characters spacesuits that relays back to their ship are also yellow and blue. Or how about the spacesuits themselves? They are a dark blue and attached inside the helmets, are bright florescent yellow lights. Beside the color palette, this was because most of the big sets were lit minimally because they wanted loads of mysterious shadows. This is why they are holding flashlights most of the time and these helmet lights would also allow the viewer to see the characters faces.

In this scene where David is talking to Dr. Holloway, from the behind the scenes footage we can tell these shots are light from many different places including from above as well as from behind with the bright lights on the wall. It is well light but compared to the shots from the movie it seems really dark. This was done by colorist Steven Nakamura in postproduction by crushing down the blacks with color grading software Davinci resolve. He also enhances colors with more saturation to both of their green shirts and the blue from the pool table.

Ridley Scott’s lighting technique and use of color palette differs from film to film. Depending on the atmosphere or mood he trying to create he does this by his unique lighting style and use of shadows. He also use colors palettes to break conventions and tell a story of its own. Even though it takes many people to work to get his film made, Ridley Scott is definitely an auteur because he is a dedicated director and does an extensive amount of preparation for his each one of his films.


Clark, James (2002). Ridley Scott. London: Virgin Books LTD. pg 66-69

Radulescu, Roxy . (2012). Ridley Scott Week. Available: Last accessed 5th May 2014.

Botkin, Isaac. (2009). Color Theory for Cinematographers. Available: Last accessed 5th May 2014.

Parrill, WIlliam (2011). Ridley Scott, A Critical Filmography. North Carolina: MacFarland and Company INC. 108-115.

Taboada, E. (2013). Recreating the Shot: a Lesson in Lighting Through ‘Blade Runner. Available: Last accessed 5th May 2014.


Unit 2 Criteria: 3.1, 3.2 & 3.3 and Unit 4 Criteria: 3.1

Following the approval of your proposal, conduct and write your proposed investigation.

Whilst conducting your investigation apply research methods and procedures to aid your investigation, whilst ensuring the accuracy and validity of your research material.

Record a diary of your investigation and the progress you make when constructing your final research document, using: images; videos; text, audio; etc



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For this project I had to justify that there was enough research material out there on this topic. I researched online and there was quite a few websites on the topic of Ridley Scotts lighting techniques and colour palettes. There were plenty of forums online where the general public would come together and discuss films but I decided to discard using these as a source as I couldn’t prove if they were reliable enough. Above is a screenshot from a website which I obtained a few stills for my video. is an excellent website that takes still images from movies and generates color swatches from this image. This website was very helpful and provided excellent examples from many different films of Ridley Scott.

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Besides using websites I also wanted to find journal articles as they would also be more reliable but after looking on Google Scholar and Taylor and Francis I unfortunately wasn’t able to find anything on the topic. So I wanted to use as many books as I possibly could. I looked in the college library and there was only one book available on Ridley Scott, which was by James Clarke called Ridley Scott (pictured above and left). I tied looking at the local library but they didn’t seem to have books. I knew it would be difficult to obtain books from the library on this topic as it was so specific, but I didn’t think it would be that difficult. So I purchase a downloadable online book from for £15 called Ridley Scott: A Critical Filmography by William B Parrill (pictures above and right). Both of these books gave me a better understanding of the way Ridley Scott worked while making his movies.

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Above are the three Ridley Scott films I choose to analyze in my final video. I narrowed it down To Blade Runner, Black Hawk Down, and Prometheus. I picked these three films because they are all from different decades and all had something different to offer. Such as Blade Runner having an excellent lighting scheme, Black Hawk Down breaks the normal colour pallete conventions, and Prometheus has loads of good example to offer as it it one of Ridley Scott’s most recent films. Unfortunately I decided not to use films like Robin Hood and Gladiator which have really good color palettes and lighting used. I did this because I wanted to just focus one three films rather than jumping from film to film in my video edit.


Unit 2: Criteria: 1.1, 2.1 & 2.2

Unit 4:Criteria: 2.1, 2.2 & 2.3




Present and justify a planned proposal for your investigation. The proposal you submit will evidence your independent Investigation towards the end of semester two.


research proposal

For this task we were able to choose anything we were interested in within the media field. We did a Colour Grading project last semester and since then I have been looking at colours in films a bit differently. I find colour palettes in films really interesting and I now always ask, myself why these colors are selected for theses scenes and what purpose do they serve?. There are many answers these questions but I thought I’d take a deeper look into why directors choose their color palettes for their films. Also since my lighting unit last year I also wanted to analyze specific lighting styles that directors have. After talking with my lecturer Paul Smith he said I should narrow it down to one director. So I choose Ridley Scott, as he is a well established film maker that has plenty of movies with wonderful lighting techniques and color palettes. Below is my proposal form which I submitted.

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In my research proposal I had to justify that there was enough research materials out there to conduct my analysis. I found several books and websites which I knew would help me with my investigation. I decided early on that I would present this project in a video with a voiceover. I would take numerous films that Ridley Scott has directed and take specific scenes that are good examples and edit them together while discussing his lighting style and use of colour palette. I choose to do this as well as looking at research material, because there is no other better way to analyze films colour palettes and lighting style then by watching the movies themselves.

Unit 4  Criteria: 1.1, 1.2 & 1.3

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