How is a movie made to show selective colors. For instance, in Pleasantville a sister and brother are transported to the universe of an old black and white TV show, and the movie switches to being B&W. Then, as the protagonists cause the inhabitants to have 'real' emotions, like fright, anger, or love, things (people, places, etc.) start having color. In the middle of the movie, many objects are still B&W, yet many more are now colorized.

Sin City also used this effect (the whole film was initially shot in full color, and was converted to black-and-white. Colorization is used on certain subjects in a scene), for example.

How is this effect achieved? Is it post-production editing? What techniques might a director employ to do this?

  • 1
    I wouldn't know anything about the actual process, but would bet they film it in color, then make another chop of it to portray in B&W. Then they probably make masks of the areas they want to have color, then combine the two, laying the colored portions on top of the B&W. Another way might be they film it in B&W and use masks, then colorize the areas the want to be distinct. Again, I'm not even a novice at this, just using some techniques which are used in photoshop to do this kind of thing there. Sep 19, 2014 at 17:23

2 Answers 2


Today's consumer video editing tools and software like Adobe Premier Pro have features which allow you to gray out all other colors except the ones that you want included by specifying a range of color values.

A good example is here:

Hence, I am sure they have shot the entire film in color and then did post processing to remove the colors they don't need. If a pro-sumer software like Adobe Premier Pro can do it effortlessly, I am sure the editing houses might have larger and more intelligent systems to do this better.

  • which software is better?
    – Achmed
    Sep 23, 2014 at 9:48
  • I'd never use it for anything, but it's pretty amazing what prosumer software is capable of! Sep 23, 2014 at 18:31
  • @Achmed It gets more complicated to use the software as the features improve. If you can afford it and are willing to spend time learning, Adobe Premier Pro is as good at it gets.
    – saurabhj
    Sep 24, 2014 at 2:29

They Film it in Color.

Then they filter the Color out, only grayscales are left. This is pretty easy because every Digital film is saved in some colorinformation ( red green blue or red green yellow) and some luminiscence (brightness / Greyscale). So all you have to do is Kill the Color.

enter image description here

To make something then look colorfull you use the photoshop of your trust and overlay the color on the selected area again.

Note that even not digital film is saved in that kind of struckture when he is digitalised. You are even looking at the moment on a Greyscale picture on your screen.

I dont know if the not digital movies are made the same way (copy of the colored frame over the grayscale) but this could also be very similar to this pocess.

EDIT: Sin city was overly computer generated so i wouldnt say it is a black and white film at all.

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