“Rich people lead a colourful life, while poor people’s lives are black and white.” This line is an excerpt from the film, The Great Buddha+. This film, with 90% of its frames produced in black and white, won five awards in the 19th Taipei Film Festival and the Award for Best New Director in the 54th Golden Horse Film Festival for its director, Hsin-Yao Huang. A strong contrast between colour and greyscale was used by Huang to express people’s helpless in dealing with the social gap. Much like many other films, colours are endowed with special meaning in the story. The director crafted on every detail, from the costume and art design in the pre-production period, to the lighting, colour temperature and costume textures during shooting, and the post-production light and colour, to focus on the accurate feeling presented by colours in the story.
--Image provided by: CATCHPLAY ON DEMAND
The birth of a great film relies not only on the director’s efforts but also those of all the staff involved in every aspect of the film production. Every detail of making the film is interconnected. From the script creation to the on-set filming, from the hardware to the software, every aspect of the whole process must be fully taken into consideration. Despite all these painstaking efforts, Huang seldom watches his own works after they are finished.
Huang: ʽUnless the film is shown in a cinema or another excellent playing environments, I wouldn’t want to watch it again. Watching the film in an ill-equipped environment makes me feel sad,ʼ said Huang, with some frustration.
As a professional filmmaker, what are the essential elements of a good film in the director's opinion?
Advancements and changes in technology have altered people’s habits when watching films. In the past, people had to go to the cinema to watch the latest films. If you wanted to revisit these films at home, only VHS was available. Later, VCD, DVD and Blu-Ray video formats were introduced into the market. Although the images in these video formats cannot compete with those from cinema projectors, the image quality has been enhanced considerably, and is now much more vivid and delicate than VHS. It appears on the surface that these formats have enhanced viewing quality. However, they also bring about hidden concerns that directors cannot ignore. Unlike cinema projectors which shine a light through a transparent lens and then project images onto the big screen, these new media require a flat panel display which uses back-lighting. And LED back-lit monitors make it easier to have inaccurate colours.
H: ʽColours are often manipulated in film to portray different ambiences. In The Great Buddha+, the film was mainly in black and white, and intermingled with some colours. The contrast between black and white and the colours was to highlight the tension of the story. Another example is the colour red. In the film Grand Budapest Hotel in 2014, the colour red was saturated, and it was so red that it not only told a wonderful story but also stimulated a sense of comfort for the audiences. But later, as I watched the film again in a friend’s house, the red was so striking that it nearly distracted me from the plot. That’s why I find colour accuracy an extremely important factor. When the colours are inaccurate, the film loses the original intentions of its director and other artists. On the other hand, these inaccurate colours could distract the audiences from the film, which I think is a great pity.ʼ
Huang believes that colour accuracy is an essential part of movie-viewing. But as a director, he can merely supervise the colours of the film only when the film is finished.
H: ʽOnce the film goes is made, it is out of my control. Some people watch it on TVs and computers. Nowadays, more and more people watch films on their mobile phones and tablets. Each manufacturer has its own built-in video set as well as video optimisation. I often say that when someone over-edits his or her photos, people may not be able to recognise who he or she is. Similarly, when a video is over optimised, it loses the original details which the film intended to present. Thus, I have the habit of not being willing to re-watch my films after they are completed because their original colours are lost when being played on different media.ʼ
--Image provided by: CATCHPLAY ON DEMAND
For a director, what is the best way to watch a film if you can't see it in a cinema?
To be honest, it was the first time for me to watch a film on such a big screen with a projector at home, and all I want to say is that this experience was just exhilarating. Once you have this set at home, you will want to re-watch all the films you’ve watched before. You may have watched them on DVD or Blu-Ray formats on a TV screen but re-watching them with a projector brings out a whole new level of depth and detail.ʼ
The BenQ home projector series gives excellent image quality of Full HD, 4K HDR, etc. resolutions with BenQ’s exclusive CinematicColor™ colour management technology that utilises the international standard colour gamut (Rec. 709 and DCI-P3) of film production industry specifications, is capable of accurately restoring the colours of the movies and thus projecting the true pictures intended by the directors. No wonder it has gained Huang’s praise.
H: ʽThe most important thing about watching films at home is the quality consistency of their images and sound. In the same way that filmmakers follow the Rec. 709 or DCI-P3 industry colour gamut, television and home entertainment systems have their own sets of specifications, and Blue-Ray and other digital TV platforms follow these specifications. And if our film-playing system could conform to the standard colour gamut, it will be able to present colours as close to their original ones as possible. In other words, it could provide more accurate colour restoration, which in my opinion matters more than anything else when watching a film.ʼ
・Huang’s documentaries have gradually gained prominence in Taiwan’s film industry since 2000.
・In 2011, Huang won the Grand Prize and Best Documentary Award at the Taipei Film Festival with his movie Taivalu. The Great Buddha was Huang’s first short drama film. It was nominated for Best Short Film at the 2014 Golden Horse Awards.
・In 2017, Huang expanded on The Great Buddha and produced the full-length drama, The Great Buddha+. It was not only selected as the opening film for the 19th Taipei Film Festival but also swept the Grand Prize, Best Narrative Feature, Best Art Direction, Best Music and Best Editing Awards. The film was also nominated for ten awards in the 54th Golden Horse Awards, including Best Feature Film and Best Supporting Actor. The film won four Golden Horse Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Original Film Soundtrack. After twenty years of filming documentaries, Huang himself won the Best New Director Award.