Rosco Spectrum

Sharing ideas through the prism of Rosco.

Remember you can always find product info on the Rosco website

Posts Tagged ‘CalColor’

Mmmmmmmm…. Green (Screen) Beeeer…

Saint Patrick’s Day is almost here and everywhere you look people are finding their inner Irish and going green.

Well, there’s nothing greener at Rosco than our green screen products, so today’s post is dedicated to sharing what we know about green screen paints and technology (it all applies to blue screen paints as well, but around St. Patrick’s Day, green is the theme).

A behind the scenes, green screen shot of Gerard Butler as a leprechaun in ‘Movie 43′

A good start is deciding whether to use blue screen or green screen – on days other than March 17th, of course.  Most experts say if you’re shooting on film, use blue screen, and if you’re shooting digital/HD use green screen.  The blue layer of the film emulsion is more sensitive, making blue screen the more effective choice, while the chips in most digital/HD cameras are more sensitive to green so green screen is more effective.  Visual effects master Pete Kuran makes this point in our Green Screen Instructional DVD

However, you have to couple that rule of thumb with the subject matter you’re shooting in front of it. For example, if your set or costumes have a lot of blue elements in them, such as Cookie Monster’s blue fur, then green screen would obviously be a better choice no matter what medium you’re shooting on.


It’s tempting to buy your green screen paint at the paint store, because it’s usually cheaper and more convenient than the our keying products.  But here’s the difference … and it’s crucial: Rosco green screen paints, including Chroma Key, Ultimatte and Digicomp, are manufactured using a single-source pigment. This means that instead of mixing together different colored pigments to manufacture the green paint, which is what happens when a paint store mixes up a color for you, we use one green pigment specifically chosen for optimal green screen results. This means the color is more pure and won’t reflect other interference colors, which will make for a cleaner key.

DotLot Digital Studios illustrates the difference between hardware store paint and Rosco Chroma Key paint in post

All Rosco paints are also manufactured to have an ultra-flat finish. This means there is no sheen or gloss in the finish at all, which is important because sheen/gloss in your green screen will appear as white or yellow on camera and may spoil your key. The “flat” finishes available from paint or hardware stores will have a sheen to them when lit for camera.

Yellow light reflections on a gloss green surface

There are two kinds of compositing colors – Chroma Key and Digital. The main difference between the two is simply the precision of color. Rosco’s original Chroma Key paint was designed for the analog Chroma Key Switchers that would take out the entire band of green or blue and replace it with an image – usually a weather map. Today’s digital compositing software has the ability to lock onto very narrow bands of colors, which allows for more precise and easier keying in post.

Cinequipt’s Studio C painted in Rosco’s Chroma Key Green

As a rule of thumb – most green screen projects will work great in studios painted with #5711 Chroma Key Green. In fact, Chroma Key Green is our #1 selling paint product – it is easy to apply and often times will cover in one coat. As you’re planning to paint your green screen, first ask yourself what kind of keying you plan on doing in post. If the edits will be relatively simple and the shots won’t have complex special effects, then Chroma Key Green is the answer.

Brandon Routh as Superman suspended on cables in front of a digital green screen.

However, if you believe your keying will be more complicated, then you might consider using one of our digital green paints. These high-end paints are great for making it easier to key in post – but digital paints like Rosco’s Ultimatte Green or Digicomp Green will add significant cost to your project and can be difficult to apply. We recommend using digital paints only if you need them for very complex keying work such as high speed capture for extreme slow motion work, characters suspended on wires or motion capture.


A key factor in lighting your green screen is keeping the light level on the green screen even and shadow-free. The best way to achieve this is to light the green screen separately from the subject using a source that produces a soft, easy-to-blend beam. You can make any light source soft and easy-to-blend by placing Rosco Diffusion Filters on your lights to soften the edges of the beam.

Complete Greenscreen with Eve Hazelton from Realm Pictures on Vimeo.

If you’re shooting a green screen wall, another good technique is to place Rosco CalColor #4430 30 Green on the lights aimed at the green screen. This will turn any light into a pure ‘green screen green’ source by removing any interfering colors from the output of the light. If you’re experiencing a green halo on your subject from the green bounce off the wall, use CalColor #4730 30 Magenta on some lights aimed from the ceiling at the back of the subject. CalColor 30 Magenta is the complementary color to the bounced light coming off a green screen and will neutralize any of the offending green spill.

Celebratory green spill into the Chicago River – guess which holiday this celebrates!

If you have any other green screen questions, feel free to reach us at Happy St. Patty’s Day and Cheers from all of us at Rosco!


Wendy Luedtke is Rosco’s Color and Lighting Product Manager, a Lighting Designer, and a self-professed color geek. Wendy has taken the helm of Rosco Spectrum to introduce our latest tool for lighting designers:

I am so excited to announce our new web tool, Rosco myColor. I have personally been using myColor every single day since we got it running in our super-secret internal beta testing lab. Every. Single. Day.

myColor is our new online tool that puts all of our filter ranges – Roscolux, Supergel, Cinegel, E-Colour+, and Permacolor – all in one place. It allows you to find, filter, sort, compare, notate, and save all of our colors the way that you want. It’s fantastic to use as you’re debating colors. While your real swatchbooks are fanned open on your desk, you can have them virtually fanned here to see additional product details as you add/remove colors and whittle down to your final selection.

As color filter product manager, I use it as a quick reference encyclopedia of Rosco color filters when a customer calls to ask what color pink they should use or what correction might work best.

As a lighting designer, I use it a number of ways. If I know what I’m looking for and need more details (whether because I need more technical information or because I can’t quite recall exactly what filter I have in my mind), I can type in a filter number or part of a color’s name into the search box – and immediately see the color’s details, including spectral data, available sizes, and any important bits like full name or number that I wasn’t sure of (or forgot).

If I know I want “a salmon-y red like R40” for the sunset scene, I can peruse some options by browsing the reds around R40 in chromatic order. I can click and compare any that seem interesting to me. Doing this, I can see that Calcolors 4660 and 4690 have a little extra green transmission, which could work nicely on the scenery for this show.

You’ll note that in the ‘Color Data’ section some colors give you the ability to ‘View Production Photos.’ If we have production photos of the color in use, you can click directly to those images in our Color Resource Gallery. If we don’t have photos of the color you’re looking at, but you do and you’d like to share them, please click here.

Go click around a bit yourself and try some of these features in myColor, I’ll wait…

Ready for more? Because there’s more. Read on…

Perhaps the two most powerful features of myColor are myPalette and myShow. Please note that you will have to create a myColor user ID and log in to take advantage of these features.

myPalette is like your very own custom swatchbook. Use it to keep track of your favorite Rosco colors – the ones you use over and over again and/or the ones you can’t wait for a chance to try. Make notes on what draws you to each color. Assistants can use myPalette to keep track of designer favorites, using notes to reference the designer’s name or memorable project. Resident companies can create a myPalette of their inventory that they can export for visiting designers, or save a palette of their stock gel-scrolls for designers to reference while making color choices for the rest of their plot.

myShow is your color list for a particular show. Let’s say you’re designing Cabaret. Start by adding colors you’re considering to the palette builder, and then save as a new myShow. Add, remove, and refine your color choices as you work on the project, using the notes section to list the purpose or position for each color. Export your final selections and email them to your assistant or ME.

Teachers can create a myPalette or myShow with their lecture colors to speed prep time each semester. I’ve saved my color lecture as a palette with notes on which demonstration each color is for. You can also create a group login and have your students save myShows for each project to compare and discuss in class. Students can also then easily share ideas with classmates outside of class.

I could go on and on… but I have to get back to my myColor.

If you want to learn more, check out the myColor Help Page, then pick a user ID and start exploring. It really is fun. Enjoy!

As October begins, the world around us begins to take on all sorts of vibrant colors – yellows, ambers, deep reds & oranges… and pink – lots and lots of pink will be seen throughout city skylines and on people’s houses.

Throughout the month of October you’ll see how the American Cancer Society’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign works with corporations, civic entities and individuals across the country to “Light It Up Pink.” The NBCAM is a partnership of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to screening services. While October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the website is a year-round resource for breast cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and the general public.

Thanks to the efforts of the NBCAM campaign, individuals and institutions across the country will begin to search for ways to turn their lights pink for the month of October, which means lots of sheets and rolls of pink gel heading out of the Rosco warehouses for the next few weeks. Our phones have already started ringing with people asking what’s the right Roscolux color to use.

The White House in October of 2008 lit in CalColor #4890 90 Pink

There are a number of factors that influence what “the right pink” is, including: the spectral output of the light source you’re working with, the hue of the pink you want and whether or not the gel can survive when installed on the light source.

Most lights used to illuminate buildings are either metal halide or sodium vapor. The metal halide makes a ‘white light’ that has spikes in the blue and the green, while the sodium vapor fixtures are very yellow and also have a high green spike. Remember, a color filter cannot put color into a light source that it doesn’t already contain. So, if the light source you’re working with doesn’t have the colors in its spectral output to make pink in the first place, installing a pink color filter on the light won’t work.

In general, you’ll have the most luck working with metal halide as that particular source has more colors present in its spectral output, so it should yield a decent pink.

Sodium Vapor, on the other hand, has very few other colors in its spectral output – really the only colors of light it makes is yellow and green, so getting a decent, rich pink out of it may be more difficult.

There are several different manufacturers of both metal halide and sodium vapor lamps, which means that the spectral outputs of both can vary greatly depending on the actual lamp you’re working with. It’s always best to take your Roscolux swatch book outside at night with you and hold it up to your eye while you look at the source to see what colors might work. Once you have a short list of favorites, go buy a test sheet or two of the ones you think might work and experiment with them on the fixture. Not only will this help you confirm your color choice, but it will also help you determine whether or not the gel will survive in front of your light source. Roscolux filters were manufactured to hold up to a lot of heat, however some industrial fixtures can produce high amounts of UV or IR that might cause the gel to fail/fade/melt quickly. It’s better to learn that a plastic filter won’t hold up on your lights by sacrificing one sheet of gel before you’ve bought several rolls to cover all of your lights.

Note: If you are having gel failure, you can investigate Rosco’s Protective Filters to place in-between the light and the gel to help the color filter last longer.

Last year, Norcostco had a lot of success selling Roscolux filters to various institutions around the Twin Cities. They had two Roscolux suggestions they offered their customers that wanted to put gel on the lights illuminating their buildings:

R43 Deep Pink for metal halide lights

The W at the Foshay Tower

The halo atop the Capella Tower

R346 for sodium vapor.

Canterbury Downs

The sign outside The Hartford building

Park Nicollet Medical Centers used LEDs to wash their building in pink, but used a ribbon gobo in a Source 4 with R43 to turn the ribbon pink:

My personal favorite was the R346 used on the Basilica of St. Mary:
Photo Credit: Cassandra Parker

The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Campaign has inspired thousands of people to light their homes, businesses and civic institutions pink in an effort to raise awareness of their mission for early screening to cure breast cancer. Speaking for everyone at Rosco, especially those of us that have been affected in one way or another by this disease, I know we are honored every time a Roscolux pink is chosen to Light It Up Pink For The Cure! If you, or your organization, uses Roscolux pink filters to Go Pink for the Cure, please share the photos of your pink buildings on Rosco’s Facebook Page – we’d love to see them.

The result of mixing the warmest and coolest colors  – red and blue – is the color purple. This balance of red and blue evokes a myriad of emotions  – all of which can work within a design to affect the viewing audience.

This Spectrum post will take a closer look at some of the reasons why purple is so awesome by exploring some of the emotional undertones the color evokes when used in a visual medium.

I thought it would be fun to use the power of Google to see how some of the emotions purple evokes can be created visually.  I’ll briefly discuss how purple ties into a specific feeling or concept and then show you the resulting picture Google Images supplied when searching for “Purple *emotion*”

If we interpret red as furious and blue as calm, purple can be interpreted as the unrest, discontent or even insurrection found in between violence and serenity. Google Images search results for Purple + Unrest =

The 1989 Purple Rain Riot in South Africa was so named because a police water cannon with purple dye was turned on thousands of protesters who were marching on South Africa’s Parliament – literally coating the unrest in purple.

The police used the purple dye so they could identify the protesters later for arrest, but instead ended up with purple government buildings after the protesters briefly gained control of the cannon and inspired graffiti artists to spray paint messages like “The Purple People Will Rule.”

Egyptian author, poet and feminist Marwa Rakha calls purple the color of loneliness because it “comes from mixing a passionate heart with a cold attitude.” Google Images search results for Purple + Loneliness =

Interesting that “Purple Loneliness” retrieved an image of Simba’s mother Sarabi from Disney’s animated Lion King shortly after Mufasa was killed and Simba departed – tying the lonely image and the author to their native Africa. Zambia, in southern Africa, is also one of the largest global amethyst producers, producing about 1000 tonnes of the purple gemstone – which represents the birthstone of February and my favorite Greek God Dionysus.

Mufasa and Simba, both kings of the jungle, along with Prince remind us that purple is also the color of royalty. Google Images search results for Purple + Royalty =

One of the first entries that popped up was a purple formal gown fit for a prom queen – a good reminder that color choices can evoke an emotional response in costumes just as much as it does in the scenery and lighting.

On stage, we use purple for night, shadows and tumultuous weather, like ‘Tempests’

Lighting Designer Sonia Pasqual’s use of Purple in Valencia Character Company’s production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”

Painters use purple to create deeper, richer shadow colors and to alter black so it is a more interesting “dark” and not just neutral. Purple is also an obvious choice for scenic designers to add floral elements into their sets. As an example, one of the things I miss most in Los Angeles is the June blooming of the Jacorandas (aka – the purple trees).

A Jacoranda near downtown LA

Both scenic and lighting designers combine purple with pinks and oranges to create sunsets & sunrises.

Thom Weaver’s lighting design for “Villa American” with purple R58 at the top of his sunset

Leonardo da Vinci believed that the power of meditation increases ten times when done in a purple light. In his case, the purple light came from stained glass windows in the sanctuaries he worked in, but might I suggest using R359 Medium Violet to light your purple peacefulness instead.

Proceeds from the sale of R359 benefit ESTA’s Behind the Scenes Foundation, which gives peace of mind to technicians all over the US by providing financial support when they are sick or injured.

The American Cancer Society uses purple as the color of hope for cancer patients, and every year the residents around Gardner, MA hold their A.C.S. Relay for Life. In an effort to raise awareness of the fundraiser, the organizers wanted to place purple candles in the windows of their area town halls, but the ‘purple’ C7 bulbs they bought looked more red, fuchsia or pink instead of purple when they were lit. They contacted us to find the right gel (doubled up CalColor #4960 60 Lavender) that they wrapped around their clear C7 bulbs to make their candles purple and had them installed in Leominster’s town hall (14 windows) and in Fitchburg’s town hall (10 windows), The CalColored purple candles stayed lit the whole month leading up to the Relay.

Unrest, loneliness, royalty, night’s shadow, tumultuous weather, floral peacefulness and hope are all symbolized by the awesome color purple. May the purples found in Rosco’s ranges of color filters and scenic paints help you add a touch of awesome to your next design.

In this installment of Spectrum Wavelenths, we were inspired by the BIG GAME coming up on Sunday to look at the color Yellow. We’ll examine how the color became a part of one team’s color scheme, how one particular Yellow is doing some good in our entertainment community and why the crew of GLEE chooses CalColor Yellow for color washes in the stage performances they capture on camera.

Whether you are a sports fan or not, everyone knows that there is a big football game coming up on Sunday involving the Pittsburgh Steelers who proudly refer to themselves as the Black and Yellow. The color is an integral part of the team’s identity as millions of viewers will see when their mighty, yellow Terrible Towels engulf Cowboys Stadium in a sulfurous cloud of fury after the Steelers score on Sunday.

The Terrible Towel

This yellow towel is widely viewed as the first of the “rally towels” and was created by famed Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope in 1975. In the beginning, when the craze was at its peak, local department stores were sold-out of yellow and black hand towels, wreaking havoc on their inventory as now they had incomplete sets to match up to their yellow and black bath towels. As Sunday’s kickoff approaches, I’m sure Steelers fans across the country will echo Myron Cope’s favorite phrase: “The Terrible Towel is poised to strike!”

The Steelmark Insignia

Yellow is also a part of the three-hypocycloid (diamonds with inward-curving edges) logo found on the Steelers’ helmets, which is also known as the Steelmark – the insignia used by the American Iron and Steel Institute. The diamond colors were originally chosen by the AISI to promote the attributes for steel: yellow lightens your work, orange (I always thought it was red) brightens your leisure and blue widens your world. I don’t know about you, but I could use a little more yellow around here to lighten my work load!

A typical Steelers fan

No – that is not a staged photo of me taken for the sake of this Spectrum post, Steelers fans just love telling the world who their team is. As fans look to support the Steelers on Sunday, another creative way to do that (without exposing your belly to the elements and your neighbors) is to illuminate a landmark or even your own house in yellow! A good color choice for this would be Roscolux #313 Light Relief Yellow. Not only is it a great shade of yellow for showing Steelers Pride, but the purchase of that filter also supports Light Relief - a charity that helps support entertainment technicians in times of hardship. Lux #313 is a pleasant ‘late afternoon’ shade of yellow with a slight tawny tint that makes it a better yellow choice to use on skin tones. Since 2005, Rosco has donated a portion of the proceeds generated by the sale of this color and to date has raised well over $10,000 to help support this wonderful foundation. To see the other charities that Rosco color filters support, please visit the Rosco Gives Back page of our website.

Rosco CEO, Mark Engel, presenting a check to Light Relief

I mentioned above that Lux #313 was a “better choice for skin tones.” Yellow is a tricky color because it’s a warm color comprised of red and green. The reason I gave Light Relief Yellow the skin tone recommendation is that it skews a little more to the red than the green. This skew is especially evident when trying to capture yellow light on camera. One of the most frequently asked questions we get from filmmakers and photographers is: What yellow color filter do we make to create a pure yellow effect? The answer is CalColor Yellow because, like all the filters in the patented CalColor system, it was developed to transmit only the specific wavelengths of color that the camera ‘sees’ to achieve purity. So, in the case of CalColor Yellow, it’s designed to have a perfectly balanced blend of green and red for the camera so that it appears yellow in your image without looking too orange or, worse yet, too green. If you’d like to experiment with CalColor Yellow and the rest of our Academy Award-Winning CalColor Range, it is available in a convenient CalColor Kit.

Rosco Yellow illuminates a performance of “Like A Prayer” in GLEE’s “The Power of Madonna” episode

For those of you non-sports fans not interested in football, immediately after the game on FOX, GLEE returns to your television lineup. This television show is unique in that they stage a theatrically lit performance at least once an episode! When they were preparing to shoot the pilot, the crew called Rosco stating that they wanted to fill their stage with pure, saturated colors and felt CalColor (along with our Storaro Selection) was the best way to go. Since then, GLEE has been an All-Rosco show!

Some of you more astute sports fans reading this post might feel the strong need to point out to me that there is another team playing in Sunday’s game that also has yellow in their moldy-cheese color scheme. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. The fact is, this Spectrum post is written in Minneapolis, Minnesota and like all other Vikings fans, I’m dyeing my kitchen towels yellow and singing “Here We Go!” with the rest of Steelers Nation because I’m a fan of any team playing against the Packers.

Go Steelers!

In case you haven’t heard – Rosco turns 100 years old this year. We dedicated a portion of our LDI booth to showcase a time-line of our First Hundred Years and exhibit some of our ‘museum pieces’ to highlight products from our history, our present and our future. If you didn’t get a chance to visit our booth at LDI – our friends over at iSquint took a video tour of the booth with our very own Chad Tiller. The video shows some of the products that Rosco sold back in the 1910’s and 1920’s plus gives you a sneak peek at the new Rosco equipment that is ushering Rosco into its next 100 years.

We continue to tell the story of Rosco’s first 100 Years in our Rosco Spectrum Forum below and here are a couple of images from our LDI booth that pertain to this post’s subject matter – color filters.

Containers of Opaline and one of our earliest advertisements

Three of our four Academy Awards® - two of which are for color filters like CalColor, which is also shown here

In the early 1900’s, professional theaters in New York primarily used colored gelatin imported from Germany on their lights. When World War I began, the supply was cut off and the producers turned to Rosco. “You’re making colored lacquer…Can’t you make it in sheets?” It wasn’t that easy, but Rosenstein convinced a chemist friend, Mac Weiner, to leave his lab position at Rockefeller University and take on the challenge. They set up Gelatin Products Company to manufacture Rosco Gelatine and we were in the business of selling gels. GPC was eventually formally merged into Rosco and Mac and his son Sy ran Rosco’s filter plant until they each passed away years later.

Gelatine sheets advertisement

The color range started small and new colors were added as needs arose or sometimes it was just serendipity. One day in 1919, Rosenstein had checked out a run of gel and decided that it was off-color and unsaleable. Louis Hartmann, David Belasco’s electrician, came in and looked at a sheet of this unsaleable, salmon-amber. He asked if he could take a couple of sheets and returned the next day to get some more. No one knew what he was talking about. “It was here yesterday,” he said, “that bastard amber.” Well, it had all been remelted and now Hartmann was rhapsodizing about how wonderful it was on skin tones. Fortunately, he still had a sheet and Mac was able to recreate the accident – Bastard Amber. Over the years, Bastard Amber has become one of Rosco’s largest selling colors… Serendipity.

Rosco introduced “Roscolene” in 1955, and it is still offered today. Initially it was a surface-coated filter, but eventually it became an extruded, body-colored filter. Unlike Cinemoid, the other plastic lighting filter that was only available in sheets, Roscolene is produced in master rolls so it is offered in sheets and rolls. The Roscolene color range was based on the Rosco Gelatine range so the prefix 2 for gel becomes 8 for Roscolene (226 red, 826 red).

By 1959 the numbering system was totally unworkable. The red-pink section went 15, 16, and 17 red then 60, 112, 113 and 114 pink. As daunting a task as it was, we decided we had to go to a new numbering system. We went to 201-283 for gel and 801-883 for our new Roscolene range of colors manufactured out of PVC plastic. Everyone went along with the change with one notable exception, Rudy Kuntner, Master Electrician at the Metropolitan Opera, with his characteristic German intransigence, held firm. Until his retirement years later, he ordered 71 Bastard Amber and 28M Purple.

Past Roscolene swatchbooks

Colortran had introduced a polyester-based medium, “Gelatran” in the late 60’s, so in 1970 Rosco launched “Roscolar,” a range of filters made of coated Mylar polyester base similar to Lee Filters. It filled the void while the next generation was being developed. In January of 1976 Rosco introduced “Roscolux,” a body-colored polycarbonate color filter. The line was rebranded “Supergel” for marketing overseas. The technology apparently was very advanced since today, 34 years later, several people still coat polyester the way Rosco began doing in 1970, but no one else body-colors polycarbonate. Roscolux/Supergel is now the largest selling color filter medium in the world.

History of Roscolux swatchbooks.

Coming up in part three: Stan Miller – 50 Years at the Helm