Now we’ve all seen the trend for high contrast blue orange grading of movies. But when was the lightning scheme first brought in for shooting general night time scenes rather than using blue filters or minimal arc lights? This doesn’t have to be through digital grading as I’ve seen other comments noting that Blade-runner implemented the scheme and I imagine that dialogue round a camp would be an obvious one.

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    Got any stills that demonstrate this look?
    – HorusKol
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 3:27
  • An older example from Easy Rider screenprism.com/assets/img/article/Easy_Rider_2.jpeg and Stand By Me goo.gl/images/briiky where it’s a subtle contrast. Easy to insert any Michael Bay image but a Dr Who one i.ytimg.com/vi/R58Xj1oR-cQ/hqdefault.jpg shows the very stylised contrast. Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 6:52
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    Well, the first two are campfires, so orange light is naturally expected there... The "teal" there is how your brain perceives what is actually black in contrast to the firelight. The Doctor Who image is filled with a white-jacketed Matt Smith, so it's hard to see what effect you're trying to illustrate.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 7:40
  • New link for the Stand By Me image mentioned by @RossHalliday
    – Joachim
    Commented Feb 19 at 9:10

1 Answer 1


First things first, "night scenes" and "teal and orange" are two different things. One is a technique and the other one is a color grading method.
Some extra trivia: In USA the technique is called "day for night". In Europe it's called "American night" (nuit américaine).

I can't pinpoint it to a certain movie (but many critics point to Wizard of Oz*) or date but it happened with colorization of black and white movies. In those B&W ones the night feel was made by tinting the film itself with indigo or by brightness/contrast. So to work on those materials required moving white to orange which changed blue(-ish) to teal.

In "ye old day" operators used blue filters on cameras so it saved time in post processing (imagine working on every single frame in a 2 hour movie). Why is it present in modern movies? Because people. People have this nasty habit of being orange (Hello Donald). And because we live in the digital age our movies are corrected usually by some algorithm. And if you don't go there and manually tweak some changes or set a color scheme (like in Amelia) it will ALWAYS complement people (present in almost all scenes) with teal.

You mentioned Blade Runner and you would be right BUT it's mostly present in the Final Cut. Which was released in 2007, and you may guess, with computer color grading.

* As a moment of treating film (celluloid) in such a way that the colors are compliant with each other and sepia (orange) moments harmonize with color scenes.

  • Cool, Thanks for the detailed answer. I’m going to be seeing it everywhere now... Being from Scotland though we tend to be a lovely shade of pale blue rather having the Donald’s Orange glow. Scottish colour grading would be more “Teal and Blue” than “Teal and Orange” Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 19:22
  • How is a 'night scene' a technique?
    – Joachim
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 22:41

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