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Chapter 5. Adjusting Color > Color Your World

Color Your World

Walt Disney was a genius at packaging entertainment. He turned dry American history into the Davy Crockett craze in the ‘50s, and made science sexy (while reinventing the amusement park) with trips to the moon and the “house of the future.” Yet, when he renamed his long-running Sunday television show in 1961, Disney didn’t feature his top attractions such as Mickey Mouse or Peter Pan. He chose to call the show “The Wonderful World of Color.” At a time when most of the world recalled World War II from black-and-white photos and newsreels, and were still watching Leave it To Beaver in monochrome, simply having a television show presented in full color was a significant draw.

Color is a powerful tool. It seizes our eyes and commands our attention. It tells us what to look at, and for how long. It provides clues that help us see flat things in three dimensions. If you don’t believe that, cover up the bottom half of Figure 5.1 and look at it from a distance of a few inches. Then, cover up the top half and look at the bottom of the figure. Do it long enough and you’ll end up with a headache, because our eyes must refocus drastically to look at a yellow space imposed on a red space. Because of that physiological effect, red tends to appear to be in front of a yellow card (as in the top half of the figure, which should look like a red circle on top of a yellow space to you). It’s even true when you reverse the colors: In the bottom half of the figure, the yellow circle looks like a hole in a red card, allowing the yellow behind it to show through.


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