The Effect of Color | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios


You wake up in the morning, you look in the mirror and you decide how you look or how you feel mostly dependent upon color. Color can
effect you both physiologically and psychologically. You can make somebody
feel something with color. Piss them off. Yeah. Color is everywhere. It’s just pervasive all throughout our
lifestyles, our culture. Whether or not you’re verbalizing it, you’re actually
saying something to the world: “This is me because I’m wearing this color.” Most people know color. You know color, you use it every day. You interact with it. That’s how you make your way through the world and the color perceptors in your eyes are rods and cones. Cones start with a “C” and they perceive color, your rods perceive grays. Color theory, as a definition, it’s
more the mixtures and implementation of combinations of color. Color is the umbrella under which hue,
value, and chroma rest. Hue being the distinction between different colors on a wheel
from red to red orange, so to speak. Value being light and dark and chroma being
bright and dull. The color wheel is a tool that helps us talk about the
physical phenomena of light and how we perceive it and how we ultimately
implement it in designs and the combinations. We now teach more based on the harmonies
and contrasts and how it relates to how you utilize color. So students learn about
complimentary colors which tend to be opposite one another and clash which is
just two colors but they’re one-off of complimentary. I think that there’s been
many different types of wheels and so I say to students nowadays, I don’t mind
if you invent your own wheels with your own nuanced understandings of color
because you’re a different human than whoever came before you and who knows what
you’ll come up with invents the future that we haven’t even seen yet. So, you get a lot more interaction with
color nowadays on multiple levels and people are aware of this. They know that
they’re affected by it soulfully and not just mentally. And you should take that
strength in your soul to build your own understanding because it is so personal
and you change. Color, for me, is what I call sort of a
silent language or an emotional language that we all sort of intuitively know how
to speak. As we see color we start to associate it with different things in our lives.
We have three different types of associations: universal, cultural, and individual. Individual color preference is a really
interesting dynamic. I think color trends play a part in color preference. Quite
often though, it may be associated with an experience. There are definitely universal aspects to
color and they are usually the physiological ones. So red is definitely the
one that increases your heart rate when you first see it. It makes you want to move.
There’s some studies that actually say that you’ll walk faster, you’ll eat more,
you’ll talk more when you’re, let’s say, in a red room than any other color. One great
example is you think of the red carpet. Well, there’s a reason why the red carpet is the
red carpet and that’s because it keeps the traffic flowing. Where, conversely, when you see blue the
opposite will happen. So you become more calm and relaxed. I think the one that is most
interesting is the cultural differences. For the most part it’s usually a learned
response. So when you’re very young you might think of brown as dirty and earthy
but, as time goes on, you learn to adjust those associations. So, all of a sudden, when espresso and coffee became a whole new trend, brown took on a whole new
association. When we start to think of things like recycling or environmental concerns it’s natural for us to think of green. So we develop different
types of associations that we share with other human beings and, as we grow,
those become more and more meaningful to us. I’ve gone back through the twentieth century and
and I found that there were some ebbs and flows of color and it’s just an
evolution of a shit not a revolution. Color is not the place where I look first. It’s the why behind it; the
economic, the social, the political, the technological, environmental
influences. They’re all the drivers of why color is always evolving and revolving. With the economic issues that we’ve had in
recent years, people gravitate to safe colors, grounded colors rooted in the past and rooted
into the ground. So you bring up, what we call, organic
colors and as we get familiar with that, there comes a time when we need a pick me up. So take the familiar and just add a little accent of something new and give
you a totally new look. Here we were with the depression. People were so
depressed they needed to put color back in their lives so they colored glass and that’s where depression glass comes from. Go back to the Sixties and we saw the psychedelic
colors coming in because of the drug culture. Just pattern on pattern, color on
color and it was just a kaleidoscope of everything happening all at once. And in the
Seventies we had rest for a decade. We browned out and, remember the decoupage and almond and beige and browns of the nineteen-seventies. So, in forecasting, we
look at those kinds of trends, what are constant, but also something new and
different for the forecast in the future. As like a gif artist you can only use two hundred and fifty six
colors. I think the restriction is really cool. It’s like something common that all gif
makers have to think about when they’re making a gif. You work within this resolution that, in today’s high-def, you never see so it almost gave it an
aesthetic just because it was so constrained. It’s minimalism. It lets the viewer fill in the blanks. It’s communicating with people via imagery.
We like to experiment with different types of film. That’s why you never see the same looking portrait shot. You get like different colors that you wouldn’t get with your perfect camera. Like a VHS camera brings out the oranges and makes everything super-saturated. You
almost can’t fake that kind of color because of the way the colors interact with each other. You can always make a rainbow move because there’s so many colors to cycle through. You don’t even have to be choosy on the colors as long as you have all of them in there. I’m like a black and white fiend. You know, like, the conscious decision of not using color and making it work. Black and white is bold. But then you throw in, like, a little red. It’ll make that red pop just that much more. Variety, you know, like if you see our page. If it was all color or all black and white, it wouldn’t have much impact. When it comes to colors, though, you want to think of like what colors match before you even worry about what colors you can’t use. And like you can make anything as long as you
make it look intentional. It’s like a taste of nostalgia. It’s also like the challenge of trying to convey an idea in these blocks. Usually people think picking the color for something is pretty simple but it actually gets complex pretty quickly. Color’s emotive and I don’t think it ever stays static and so you’re looking at color in a different way of
accenting it rather than changing it abruptly. It’s just that you have to learn to identify it and codify the language: how do I arrange them and how do I speak about that arrangement so that other people understand what I’m creating or doing. Use black and white sometimes. Colors are just fun, man. I just want to, like, inspire people to make fun stuff.

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100 thoughts on “The Effect of Color | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios”

  1. TréCreative says:

    i love it.

  2. Nick Gale says:

    It's one of those things that once you have noticed it. I't can't be un-seen. after that i invariably end up fixating on it.

  3. Tony R says:

    now that you mention it, every single slide is either static or it zooms in/pans while zooming in

  4. thescowlingschnauzer says:

    They're good for breaking up talking head footage to match the quick-cut editing. Less nauseating than the switch from frontal shot to side shot that MTV used to be crazy about. Quick-cut edited videos really should stay under six minutes tho. The pace gets overwhelming and tiring.

  5. catsinhouse says:

    Does grizzled face guy get paid per word?

  6. Ryan Gatts says:

    Not my favorite of these videos, but please keep going 🙂 I look forward to seeing where you go next

  7. Brandon Thompson says:

    I love off book, but not this episode.

  8. erin sullivan says:

    Hmmm. I'm torn. While I love the topic, and found the actual information to be great, the visuals were off. For a piece devoted to color, I found the choices strange–washed out, muted, and strange. It didn't serve the story–hell, it didn't serve any color! The whole world is not Instagram.

  9. Rothmaniac says:

    i think this video was made specifically for those who are tripping balls

  10. Santoslives says:

    I think it works sometimes, it keeps the flow going. But it can be annoying when you become aware of it.

  11. Marko Nara says:

    Excelente Video! love it

  12. jorgebassmaster22 says:

    Or, you could install Adblock. No ads anywhere.

  13. Trevor McLeod says:


  14. mellon marshall says:

    no it is color, in the US and they paying for it and creating it so I think they get to say how to spell it.
    Anyway if you want to be mean here you could say the Brits and that are wrong as they added the U not the US took it away

  15. Isiac says:

    Yes, its an old cheap effect seen everywhere, and it never looks good…

    especially when used in EVERY CHANGE.

  16. Scaven7 says:

    best series, best channel

    off to paint!

  17. David Abades Barclay says:

    love thesee

  18. Sai says:

    1. You talk about the history of color trends, and you DON'T mention that it used to be pink=male, blue=female? O.o!

    2. The clips from the gif artists didn't fit. Looks like you were trying to reuse material from your previous segment; they were talking about pixelation constraints, not really about colors.

    3. Yeah, the zoom is annoying. Do you think that what you're showing us isn't interesting enough without making it constantly dance? Read some Tufte. 😉

  19. Preemie Maboroshi says:

    Thanks for another awesome video. I really liked the idea of people making their own color wheels. I personally love clashing colors. And I liked the story of Depression glass a lot.

  20. Fish says:

    guys if you vote for Romney we wont have amazing stuff like this anymore

  21. Devin Delelys says:

    This is so insensitive to colorblind people lol! 😀

  22. Steven Hoober says:

    Yes. Stop it.

    Also, the subtitles are comically badly done. Read them before publishing, perhaps.

  23. Thiago Coelho says:

    I don't know if I can trust video makers with that much power. I liked that video, but how do I know if you brainwashed me to like it using a special color combination?

  24. Thiago Coelho says:

    …Or regular blind people.

  25. ValenteFV says:

    I love this show !!! why is it not more popular come one peope we should share it

  26. Aldo Ojeda says:

    I don't.

  27. ImaginaryAudience says:

    With the fast-paced nature of their videos, the fact that they use the zoom in the interviews keeps a more constant motion which helps it feel like it never lets up. And with the amount of information that they usually try to get across in so little time, it works. The zoom may not appeal to everyone, but within the context of their style, it works perfectly, IMO.

  28. Daniel Ekeroth says:

    Whomever subtitled this needs to learn some proper English.

  29. John Flanagan II says:


  30. Deborah Hernandez says:

    This is wonderful. I love the comments from Thomas, Leslie and Doty. Great and clear. Thank you to all involved, I love it.
    Deborah Hernandez
    Associate Adjunct Professor Fashion Institute of Technology
    Color Certificate Facilitator – Fashion Institute of Technology
    Owner – The Rug Designer's Studio INC.

  31. DaySoze says:

    Every video you guys put out is awesome!! I learn so much thank you!!!

  32. deadcel11r says:

    'Assoshiate' -____-

  33. Uniden says:

    I love it. I realize the purpose of the zoom was to keep the video moving at a high pace.

  34. Viktor Hertz says:

    I watched this video by pure chance at a Swedish video blog, and almost choked on my lunch when seeing my artwork at 1:26. AWESOME!! Thanks for including my color piece in this video!

  35. Excessu says:

    i dont hate it but i like cut zooms more

  36. lavedah says:


  37. trinity wood says:


  38. PogieJoe says:

    This is fantastic! Subbed!

  39. NAIF AL-MALKI . says:

    Fucking New Youtube !!

  40. BlackLion999 says:

    Why did i just watch this?!

  41. Joe Rienzi Bencito says:

    "Red carpet being red. It keeps the traffic flowing"

    "I don't think so."
    – Traffic Lights

  42. Atu Oma says:

    pretty cool to know

  43. Septravarius says:

    Actually, yeah, the constant zooms on EVERY shot… that's totally annoying, distracting, and unwatchable. Tone the zooms down!

  44. 1234NameTaken4321 says:

    But if red makes people's heart rate increase then how would a red light help us stop?

  45. daddy7860 says:


    Damn lazy-ass Americans.

  46. Paulo Silva says:

    too many faces talking to us on video – too noisy

  47. DjDedan says:

    word pronunciation change all the time, american and british say a ton of words differently, like schedule and zee or zed… the G comes from Graphics right? Which has a hard G, so why would we use a soft G??? I know that's what the originator thought but he must have been either smoking somethin or he was just trolling hard

  48. SIX Colour says:

    There is no other thing I most love that #Color, You know I dream in Color.

  49. noobmand17 says:

    love this 1:22

  50. richardthere says:

    I like colors!

  51. Meredith Everitt says:

    Can I just say THANK YOU for making this series. LOVE this.

  52. Uniden says:

    exactly what I think

  53. tim jackson says:

    Ho do I get rid of the subtitles? Love the series.

  54. MegaEmmanuel777 says:

    Your videos are DENCH! #Thatisall #RespectfromLondon

  55. Uniden says:

    On any video, click the cc icon on the bar of the video player to make it turn grey.

  56. VioletteSky16 says:

    4:48 GIF is pronounced liked 'jif.' You'd think gif artists would know that.

  57. Jacob Earl says:

    Conversely: Maybe they are the ones WE should defer to?
    Perhaps THEY are the EXPERTS?
    But no, Jif. I”m right there with you.

  58. dloburns says:

    The colors Dave, the colors.

  59. Eddie Webb says:

    Agree, it is actually called out in the original specs for the CompuServ's application compushow. The original author has also stated that many times.

    "The GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), pronounced "JIF", was designed by CompuServe and the official specification released in June of 1987."

  60. drooayed says:

    the G stands for graphics, graphics is not pronounced jrafics. You'd think someone trying to correct others on their pronunciation would know that.

  61. VioletteSky16 says:

    Except the creators of the gif even say it's pronounced like 'jif'. howtopronouncegif. com
    Do your research next time, okay?

  62. darkhumphrey says:

    i don't get this. so someone would waste 4 years of time and resources to learn something totally useless in functionality and practicality such as art at college, but pretend they are more educated than a 3rd grader, so they embark to splash paint on a canvas or dance on top of bunch of butter and call it an art, and blame others for not "getting" this seemingly retarded, useless activity? pity

  63. PRussell303 says:


  64. MrNecro99 says:

    it's 'jif'

  65. Arthur Tripp says:

    Its jif or gif. Personally, I feel like the hard G is more appropriate because graphic is a hard G.

  66. Saia Fog says:

    Pronounce it whatever way you choose theyr still awesome

  67. VioletteSky16 says:

    I wrote that comment 3 months ago. You're the one dragging this whole thread back up.

  68. Mongol Hun says:

    I am color blind -.-

  69. Mongol Hun says:

    I am color blind -.-
    End of the story lol

  70. Lino Coria says:

    Love your show.

  71. Miscellaneous says:

    I love colors yellow and green. The colors seems to compliment each other.

  72. ParanormalCollection says:

    Yes it does keep your attention, but that's because people are so ADD. It's proven that the more a child watches TV, the more likely it will develop ADD.

  73. haliy18 says:

    I love colors blue

  74. Deanna says:

    I like pink and brown (I know brown is not really a "color.") Reminds me of cherry blossom trees or earthworms. 🙂

  75. Miscellaneous says:

    Nice. 🙂

  76. Lilith says:

    I think the way words are pronounced is a convention. If all of us decide to pronounce it gif instead of jif, then there's nothing to stop us from doing that.

  77. David Larson says:

    PBS to the rescue, once again. This is an excellent resource for introductory color for my Design students – covering both fundamentals and more complex ideas. Thanks!

  78. calvin719 says:

    Sorry Doty at 3:38 there's a typo in the subtitle for the word "shift". 🙁

  79. Sarkhamy says:

    Can we all just agree that people can pronounce it any way they feel like because we all know what we're talking about?

  80. Toure Diggs says:

    Awesome segment

  81. Samwalton85 says:

    Maybe she was affected by soke color, but she said expresso instead of espresso. 3:08

  82. ShaolinDeadlyGamers says:

    Every single shot zooms in…

  83. Caroline Rose says:


  84. Ankur Tandon says:

    Thanks… mmm

  85. Alton Etheridge IV says:

    5:54 Love that they mentioned Aaliyah.

  86. bigpimpdaddy69 says:

    What's the name of the song from 6:20 to 7:00? None of the music listed names the title of the song and it sounds really epic.

  87. Sameir Ali says:

    Great informative video.

  88. freeNode5 says:

    I absolutely hate brown decor, but when I go to the store, that's 95% of what people want to sell me :'(

  89. Laura Van Der Horst says:

    i cant even concentrate on what they talk about because of all those spacy figures and pictures. its like you have to look at 50 different thing in 1 minute and listen to people talk and listening to horrible background music.

  90. Laurel melina says:


  91. Randy British says:

    fricking fast

  92. Fin Yellow says:

    whats the 2nd last song they used called? In the description there are links…but which is the song?

  93. Caleb Garrett says:

    My favorite speaker is Leslie Harrington. She really helped me understand what color psychology is and how to distinguish between different types of color associations. Very cool! Also, I️ have now used her as a source in two of my college essays on the effects of color on humans and human function. THANK YOU LESLIE AND PBS!

  94. Anime AndChillz says:

    u mom gey

  95. nicki gurr says:

    the berserk references tho( guy with the brand tattoo 2:28 and best boy 6:50 )

  96. Arkham Avenger says:

    Hey, Yahtzee

  97. Arkham Avenger says:

    I was thinking about buying one of your books, so which would you recommend?

  98. Alma Molina says:

    Mis.Gessert are you here?…

  99. Hunter Jackson says:

    please tell me what physologically is??? @ 0:08 lol it's physiologically and psychologically. And no… it does not affect you physiologically. Color cannot make you sick or treat cancer. Color is interpreted through your senses, which only affects you psychologically.

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