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Creating the Sin City Effect


Does anybody know how one can create the effect used so effectively in Sin City? You know - those shots having a splash of colour in an otherwise black and white frame. Example:

I am guessing there are ways by which you can filter all the colours except one, hence achieving the effect. But is this effect achieved during the actual shooting of the scene just by choosing some specific camera settings, or is it done during the editing process? I want to shoot a similar thing, but I’m in no way a professional. Any help would be much appreciated. :slight_smile:


If you have Final Cut Pro. Go to filters and there’s Color Correction and 3 way Color Correction. I forget which one it is but one one of those there’s a little eye dropper symbol. All you need to do is really click that eye dropper then then select which object you want to filter. Then basically you just have to mess with it a little till it looks the way you want it and the color you want it. But to make it look really good you are going to need really good lighting. I did a project for my Junior year of high school that was a 48 hour contest and we did a Sin City thing. We had lots of lights. To make it look really good your going to need lighting for shadows etc etc. Check out my movie I did the Sin City effect for. I think I succeeded with very a 0 budget.


You can get this effect with a secondary color corrector like on Final Cut Pro indeed. You have to select a range of colors, or a single color (like pure red or different tons of red) and desaturate everything else.

BUT the most important trick is not to only think you’ll get the effect in the editing process but be very careful in the shooting cause if you want to get only black and white with the red alone for example, you have to be sure you shoot no other red thing except the red object you want to isolate (like the red coat in Schindler’s List). The color has to be strictly separate from others.

In case of the pic you posted from Sin City. You can see that there’s a whole body isolated with a yellow color. In this case, they use another trick in the shooting. They painted the whole actor’s body in green (more efficient than blue, which is more used for outside scenes), so that you can change the green to any other colors in the editing process. Now of course, same problem, be sure the green is only on the actor’s body and no other green in your frame, cause it will be replace by yellow too.

Another thing, for the black and white comics style, here’s a very good tuto. It’s for Photoshop but if you get it, you can use the same kind of settings for Adobe Premiere and then try to do the same on Avid or Final Cut Pro.

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Another trick to get a very good black and white. Orson Welles’s trick (so I’m giving you a very precious trick, not known by much) : use a red filter when you shoot in black and white, put a red filter directly on your camera lens (you can do the same for photography). It will erase any mid colors (in black and white, this is for grey) and you’ll have a real black and white, not much grey.

Like as you can see on this pic, Marv got his bandages real white, almost unreal. He really had bandages on the shooting, but they use red bandages, so that they could change the red into pure white in the editing.

I hope it can help you. Feel free to ask other things if you ever want to know more. :wink:


Cool stuff! You guys are on the road to being the next Robert Rodriguez! :slight_smile:


Wow, thanks a lot for your precious help. Really great stuff. :slight_smile:

Just to be more specific, I want to shoot a black and white frame of two hands, but drenched with red blood. Sort of similar to what Tarantino101 did in his short (love the look of it, by the way). I don’t think it should be that complicated, I am guessing that I need to use some strong red colour in the actual shooting for maximum contrast.


Cool stuff! You guys are on the road to being the next Robert Rodriguez! :slight_smile:

Why did you edit your post from a critique to this nice message?


Shot in colors if you isolate the red. Desaturate every color except the red, be sure you have no other red (not even dark red) than the blood.

For the blood, get an already-made-fake-blood, if you can’t don’t use ketchup, it’s not near to real blood at all. Use corn syrup mixed to any red syrup (we have grenadine in France, that’s the best for it) and believe me, I’ve worked with pro doing this for blood, great effect.


I love the Orson Welles trick. The first time I heard about that trick I feel in love with it. Every film I make now that uses black and white I always do the Orson Welles trick make everything mostly pure black and white with very little grays. I just like the look visually more then the traditional black and white. It looks sharper and it also looks more creepy so its perfect if your making a horror film or a very dark gritty movie.


All u need to do is go to youtube and type in the editing program you own, for example i got sony vegas. I just type sony vegas sin city effect, dozens of tutorials will come up on it.


Why did you edit your post from a critique to this nice message?


You don’t think that this quote:

[quote]Cool stuff! You guys are on the road to being the next Robert Rodriguez![/quote]

drips with sarcasm? Haha :stuck_out_tongue:


The day one of you fuckers makes a movie for 8,000 dollars and wins Sundance will be the day I will start making fun of Rodriguez.


Scar, did you achieve the effect? Working on a project?


Scar, did you achieve the effect? Working on a project?

Still putting everything together mate. This topic helped a lot though.


You don’t think that this quote:

drips with sarcasm? Haha :stuck_out_tongue:

You’re right ;D


Still putting everything together mate. This topic helped a lot though.

Show us the result as soon as you got it. Can’t wait !


I am going to use this effect for my short film but I dont have final cut so , Which editing program I should use for this effect except Final cut ?


sony vegas does the job good.


I got Vegas but do you know which effect like sin city effect ? thanks What I should do


this teaches it pretty well for you


I played around with Vegas, but couldn’t figure out how to do it for colors other than red. Could have looked harder, but found a way to do it in Adobe After Effects that came to me easier. I haven’t tried to do more than one color yet though, that might prove to be tricky. In AE, “Leave Color” under Color Correction seems to do the trick.