Blockbuster Looks in DaVinci Resolve: The Matrix

This article was originally published on PremiumBeat’s blog.

The green tint of the Matrix universe drips with dystopian atmosphere. Learn how to achieve this look in DaVinci Resolve.

Above image from The Matrix

In an previous article, I analyzed the orange-teal look, a style popularized by theTransformers series that’s now featured in numerous Hollywood films, regardless of genre. Before Transformers, there was The Matrix, which showcased its own distinct look.

The Matrix depicts a technological dystopia, so the filmmakers decided the overall green tint was a nod to the monochromatic green of command-line computing, one of the first images used in the movie.


The most interesting aspect of the film from a color perspective is that The Matrixruns contrary to traditional styles of rendering skin tones in healthier yellow, orange, or magenta registers. Skin is colored by the epidermis’s melanin as well as red-colored hemoglobin in the blood. Green skin, on the other hand, evokes decomposing or dead flesh.

Most skin complexions fall in a general range that is approximated by DaVinci Resolve’s Skin Tone Indicator, which can be activated in the Vectorscope preferences. The indicator line runs between red and yellow, the combination of our skin and blood.

DaVinci Resolve’s Skin Tone Indicator shows roughly where most healthy skin tones will fall, at least on typical jobs. Access this feature by clicking on the lower right preference button.

Blockbuster Looks in DaVinci Resolve: skin tone indicator

Certainly you wouldn’t see a Matrix grade on most fashion jobs, where healthy, vibrant skin tones are the name of the game. Many artists who use Photoshop’sCurves to manipulate a fashion image tend to steer away from the green slider, instead opting to utilize the red and blue to create distinct looks. The Matrix is the furthest thing from a fashion job though, so the Wachowskis went in a different direction by addressing the science fiction tone of the film.

When referencing The Matrix, consider your project’s material and how much healthy skin tones matter. It may seem an obvious choice if you’re grading a fantasy, noir, or science fiction movie, but why not experiment with other genres?

Bringing in one of the stills from the film shows a definite bias toward green, and the image deviates from the Skin Tone Indicator as we suspected.

Read the full article on PremiumBeat’s blog.

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