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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Computer Scientists Paint a Picture of Six Decades of Movies

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Color palettes from films of different genres and eras.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo used a technique called k-means clustering to analyze the trailers of more than 29,000 North American movies released between 1960 and 2019.

Credit: University of Waterloo (Canada)

Computer scientists at Canada's University of Waterloo analyzed the trailers of 29,000 North American movies released from 1960 to 2019 to identify the dominant colors used in individual films, genres, and decades.

Using the k-means clustering technique, the researchers produced general eight-color palettes and more detailed 15-color palettes.

The algorithm eliminated skin tones and asphalt to determine more accurately the most dominant colors used.

According to the analysis, westerns used muted earth tones across the decades, and neon green was prevalent in science fiction films.

Said Waterloo's Andreea Pocol, "While movies in the 1960s and 1970s tended to use more saturated primary colors, the team’s analysis demonstrates modern technology has actually allowed directors to use a wider variety of colors in creative ways."

From University of Waterloo (Canada)
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