Color Keys from Ice Age: The Meltdown
When we paint keys for a film, one of our responsibilities is to try find lighting scenarios and color pallettes that will compliment the story. From the keys on top, you can see that the first few sequences are very bright and blue. At the beginning of the story, everything is going great in the Ice Age world and there is not a sense of imminent danger. We wanted to have the color palettes in typical range of an Ice age movie. This palette goes away at the beginning of the second act, as the palettes go warmer and the time of day, transitions to night. When we get to the night sequences, the group is divided and feeling distrustful of eachother. We chose to have a really foggy sequence to highlight the lack of balance within the group. By sequence 480_DRAIN, we are well into the third act and the characters are all in grave danger. We chose to go with a really sickly green gray sky, to highlight the fact that the Ice Age world was in peril.
As color key artists, we have to think a lot about the light sources. It is way too expensive and unrealistic to cheat the lighting in every shot, not to mention shifting light sources all over the place would affect the continuity of each shot. That is why we try to find lighting solutions that will work for every shot and maintain a sense of continuity.