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The inherent "brightness" of season 4

telperion66

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Especially when compared to the "darkness" of graveyards and the overall look and feel of seasons 2 and 3 in particular, anyone notice just how "bright" season 4 looks by comparison?

I'm really enjoying re-watching season 4 because no matter what else is going on in the world, the bright nature of season 4 is enough to liven up anyone's day and shine a light on it.

Don't get me wrong, I love the first three seasons of Buffy, but I've watched them to death... re-watching season 4 now is just so cool for the overall sunny vibe, look and feel it has.

What are your thoughts on the tones of the different seasons, the differing vibes, looks and feels that they respectively had?

-telperion66 (Nathan)
 

WillowFromBuffy

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S4 and S6 are both very colourful. I heard somewhere that they took the saturation to the max in OMWF. I really like it. Sunnydale is a colourful and wondrous place, and the palate of these two seasons match that.

Just compare an episode like "Restless" to most of the high school episodes. The latter is so drab and dour. I like darkness in episodes that are lit well and there are a few of those in the early seasons, but not that many.
 

Btvs fan

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Especially when compared to the "darkness" of graveyards and the overall look and feel of seasons 2 and 3 in particular, anyone notice just how "bright" season 4 looks by comparison?

I'm really enjoying re-watching season 4 because no matter what else is going on in the world, the bright nature of season 4 is enough to liven up anyone's day and shine a light on it.

Don't get me wrong, I love the first three seasons of Buffy, but I've watched them to death... re-watching season 4 now is just so cool for the overall sunny vibe, look and feel it has.

What are your thoughts on the tones of the different seasons, the differing vibes, looks and feels that they respectively had?

-telperion66 (Nathan)
S3 of Buffy was actually brighter than 1 and 2. They changed the theme tune slightly and used less grainy film for the cameras. But yes I agree S4 is brighter. I think the college sets were gorgeous too
 

vampmogs

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S4 and S6 are both very colourful. I heard somewhere that they took the saturation to the max in OMWF. I really like it. Sunnydale is a colourful and wondrous place, and the palate of these two seasons match that.

Just compare an episode like "Restless" to most of the high school episodes. The latter is so drab and dour. I like darkness in episodes that are lit well and there are a few of those in the early seasons, but not that many.
Lol I'm the exact opposite. It's a teen horror show about vampires and demons. I personally much prefer the darker gothic look then bright and sunny. I loved the grungy aesthetic in the earlier episodes with the original Bronze set etc.
 

Taake

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I really love the brightness of season 4, I love the darkness of the first couple of seasons too, it's very atmospheric, but I feel like that atmosphere carries on into season 4 just in a slightly different way as it presents more of a contrast between the wonderful, colorful, sunny quality of day time Sunnydale which seems idyllic, and the dark horror and seedy underbelly at night.

It's like a delicious looking piece of Halloween candy, but with a razor blade inside ;)
 

WillowFromBuffy

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Lol I'm the exact opposite. It's a teen horror show about vampires and demons. I personally much prefer the darker gothic look then bright and sunny. I loved the grungy aesthetic in the earlier episodes with the original Bronze set etc.
There are some high school episodes that look really good, like "Angel," "School Hard", "Lie to Me" and "Passion." But very often, the night scenes look muddy and the day time scenes look over exposed. S4 always looks vibrant and exciting.

I don't know much about movie making, but it feels like it is just as much a budgetary/technical issue as it is an aesthetic one. If we got a proper remaster, it would clearly benefit the early seasons the most.




Now, this is quite unfair, as I have put some quite horrid high school shots next to a quite nice S4 shot, but it nicely illustrates why I appreciate S4. Was that brown mud intentional in the first shot? Imagine how that would have looked on my parents tiny TV back when it aired. What awful instagram filter did they use for the second one?

The one with Tara is so nice. The colours are warm, the reds pop and it is nice and crisp.
 
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vampmogs

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I'm afraid you've lost me on using a shot from Surprise because Surprise and especially Innocence are, like, quintessential BtVS to me when it comes to aesthetics :DWhich isn't to say I don't love how the series looks overall but the grungy, gothic colours and tones of those episodes are the first things that come to mind whenever I imagine BtVS. I love the muted colours and the shadows. I think it really set BtVS apart from other teen shows (I personally hate how "glossy" CW shows look now) and gave it a richness and depth.

However, I agree with you about What's My Line. I think that episode alongside Inca Mummy Girl and The Dark Ages are really quite ugly. But the HD versions have really solved that problem for me as (and I know many consider this blasphemous to say) they've really altered the colours and made those episodes a lot nicer to look at. Inca Mummy Girl in particular looks really great now in HD.

I agree that the earlier visuals are both in part a deliberate stylistic choice and also due to technical limitations at the time. They shot on different film in S1/S2 and S3 looks noticeably different when they upgraded. But it contributed to the overall style of the series which I thought really suited it. People hate the current HD remasters and I can understand why but I honestly think the show looks really good mostly. One scene that looks particularly great now (except for the black and white film on the TV now being a weird blue colour) is the final scene in Innocence between Buffy/Joyce n the sofa. SMG looks AMAZING in that scene and the HD really, really shows that. The colour of her top pops in a way it didn't in the SD version and her eyes and hair sparkle/glow.

Don't get me wrong, I really like how S4 looks visually as well. I agree that it's brighter but I also don't see it as such a big departure from S3 either. I think it more or less still keeps that fairly 90's grunge aesthetic (I particularly love the look of Who Are You).

My least favourite seasons visually would definitely be S7 and, honestly, probably S5. S7 started off well but from the middle onwards it's like they stopped even trying. Everything is lit so blandly and episodes like Storyteller are particularly awful to look at (the bathroom scenes with Anya and Andrew and the high school scenes with Buffy and Wood are particularly ugly). It also doesn't help that the vast majority of the time they were either in that new high school set that felt way too modern and sterile to me or the Summers house which I didn't mind when used sparingly but as a main set was very underwhelming and ugly looking (certainly in comparison to the library or the Magic Box). I really missed Contner and his contributions to the series in S7. Whereas, S5 is vastly more visually pleasing than S7 but it also has this weird orange tint over the majority of the episodes and a lot of the nighttime seems are very blue and bubblegummy (especially Out of My Mind and the opening scenes of Fool For Love and Listening to Fear). They had really stripped away the horror elements and it looked a little too "cutesy", IMO. There are some exceptions of course like the final scene of Forever or most of Fool For Love and I certainly don't think it's ugly to look at or anything, but it's not my favourite.

I love discussing aesthetics. Lighting, sets, costumes, makeup, props, demon designs and the stunts all MAJORLY contribute to my enjoyment of an episode or season. I'm ashamed to say a script can be amazing but if the aesthetics aren't working for me it severely impacts my love for an episode. I have a feeling I'm in the minority there as I don't see this kind of discussed all that often on the series but it's a really important part of my enjoyment of a series. And overall I love the look of BtVS but if we want to dissect it I definitely have my preferences on what "eras" are visually more appealing to me.
 
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The Bronze

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People hate the current HD remasters and I can understand why but I honestly think the show looks really good mostly.
It's frustration as much as anything. You can see how much improvement is there to be had if a bit of care was taken. Unfortunately someone decided to take a wrecking ball to the original and then gloss up the resulting carnage.

I've never given it too much thought before but now it's been mentioned I do like the fact they weren't afraid to mix things up. Season 4 is brighter and I think it works. I always picture them outside in the sun on campus.
 

vampmogs

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I've never given it too much thought before but now it's been mentioned I do like the fact they weren't afraid to mix things up. Season 4 is brighter and I think it works. I always picture them outside in the sun on campus.
Yep! I will say, whilst I do wish the series had held onto it's horror roots more, I really love how every season is very different visually. The fact that BtVS has such defined seasons for me (thematically/aesthetically/tonally/plot-wise etc) is absolutely one of my favourite things about the series. Not to keep comparing to to The Vampire Diaries but I honestly found that series so boring as every season looked identical and the seasons just seemed to all blur together.
 

WillowFromBuffy

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Once scene that looks particularly great now (except for the black and white film on the TV now being a weird blue colour) is the final scene in Innocence between Buffy/Joyce n the sofa. SMG looks AMAZING in that scene and the HD really, really shows that. The colour of her top pops in a way it didn't in the SD version and her eyes and hair sparkle/glow.
I have limited experience with the HD versions, as I have only seen them with friends, but in the SD version of the Buffy/Joyce scene, the furniture, walls, their hair, their clothes and their skin are all in the same shade of beige, just like most of the rest of the episode.

Surprise and Innocence are amazing episodes, but visually, they rate pretty low for me, especially when it comes to the colouring.

These three below are from high school episodes that used darkness and sparse light really well, not just in these shots, but in the whole of the episodes.





I need a bit of contrast. I love partially lit faces and clear silhouettes.

My least favourite seasons visually would definitely be S7 and, honestly, probably S5.
I mostly agree about S7, though there are some good ones, such as "Sleeper" and "Conversations with Dead People." Actually, strike that. S7 has many good looking episodes, though there are some I don't like and it never reaches the heights of previous seasons.

S5 ranges from decent to amazing for me. "Fool For Love" is the best one, as it has the most visual variety of any episode bar "Restless." "The Gift" is also great and the "Body" is amazing, especially in the first two scenes, i.e. Buffy at home and Dawn at school.

I like the bubblegummy blue and the orange tint, especially in "The Gift", when the dawn rises to bathe everything in orange light.


I mean, compare this to Buffy and Joyce sitting in their beige living room, wearing their beige clothes, their beige foundation and stroking each other's beige hair.

I think I've seen BtVS more as a vaudeville show than a serious horror show. There is some dancing, some singing, some dressing up, some silly monsters, some scary monsters, some comedy, some tragedy, a bit of joyous camp, a bit of heartfelt sincerity, etc. A show that contains so much needs a bit of colouring.
 
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vampmogs

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S4.

S5 is the stronger season but S5 often looks washed out and I don't like the "necro-tempered glass" and how it gets around the vampire issue. I don't think the harsh lighting did either DB or JM any favours, either. JM in particular looks like he's aged years since S7 (a lot of forehead wrinkles and crows feet that weren't as noticeable in S7) and DB was having weight issues due to his knee.

There's some episodes that I think were shot well. Episodes like Damage and Soul Purpose have some really nice lighting. But I prefer S4's darkness.

I prefer S1 and S2 aesthetically, though. S4 all kinds of bleeds together visually and S3 is just ok.
 

Btvs fan

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S4.

S5 is the stronger season but S5 often looks washed out and I don't like the "necro-tempered glass" and how it gets around the vampire issue. I don't think the harsh lighting did either DB or JM any favours, either. JM in particular looks like he's aged years since S7 (a lot of forehead wrinkles and crows feet that weren't as noticeable in S7) and DB was having weight issues due to his knee.

There's some episodes that I think were shot well. Episodes like Damage and Soul Purpose have some really nice lighting. But I prefer S4's darkness.

I prefer S1 and S2 aesthetically, though. S4 all kinds of bleeds together visually and S3 is just ok.
I disagree partially about S1. Certainly in the first half they were often shooting in the day and Angel was getting so much sun, it's a wonder he didn't burn up. The second half was much better except in In to Shanshu in LA where they have the bad guy show up in the day and it looks like a guy from an S n M party is strolling around 😂
 
V
vampmogs
I hated Vocha's costume. It looked so awful and cheap!

vampmogs

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@WillowFromBuffy funnily enough I've just been looking through some Tumblrs and came cross this HD image from Innocence. As you can see, in the HD version the colours pop a lot more and don't look as "beige." Buffy's top in particular stands out in an entirely different way.

I'd give the HD versions a shot not just for S1-S3 but for all of the series. They definitely don't always look great but the first time I rewatched the series with the HD it was like rediscovering the show. There's whole new detail to the clothes and props that weren't ever visible before. For instance, Angel looks like he's wearing an entirely different shirt in Lie to Me then in the SD version as it's now apparent it has patterns on it. We find out Willow's autopsy box in fact is a Scooby Doo lunchbox when she's examining the body in Beauty and the Beasts. You can read the print on Willow's jacket in The Freshman. You can now clearly see all the different posters plastered up around The Bronze and Sunnydale High etc.

It does also give me, at least, a new appreciation for how seriously good looking this cast was. SD doesn't do them all justice for how gorgeous they all are.


 

WillowFromBuffy

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That looks very different. If fact, they may have overcorrected a bit. That lamp is suddenly kinda aggressive. But it is definitely an improvement. I don't know what they felt that "Innocence" had to be so beige.

I do feel sorry for the set dressers, as I have noticed that a lot of their work is only visible in the HD version. However, it is only partly due to the higher definition and is mostly because many scenes now look like harshly lit TV sets with very even lighting. Most of that dark, gothic feel is gone.


I've always known that Willow had a Scooby lunch box. I imagine it is more in-your-face in HD, as this scene is probably far less dark, but you can easily see that is Shaggy and Scooby, even if it is quite blurry.

Btw, this is easily the best scene in the episode. Long before Willow puked snakes and had her wrists slit in "Bargaining", she was willing to do some unpalatable work for her loved ones.
 

Btvs fan

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@vampmogs Not just his costume but his whole plan made no sense to me. He wants the scroll. Which he got. Then for some reason he leaves a bomb to potentially incinerate Angel (so much for bringing him down to our level) Then he hurts Angel's friends which is simply gonna make Angel mad and aware of him and hunt him down. He then stops mid chant to bring back Darla (his job) to have a scythe fight with Angel. Thank god for Lindsey otherwise this plan would've failed utterly. Though the actual fight was really good and had some awesome stunt work 😃
 

DeadlyDuo

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The later seasons had better picture quality than the earlier seasons but the earlier seasons had better story. Maybe they should've made use of both kinds of atmospherics to kind of give Sunnydale a dual personality. During the daytime scenes it would be bright and clean, giving the impression that it was a little idyllic town; then during the night time scenes, it would have that gothic menacing atmosphere as the vampires and demon came out to play (but obviously do it so that its easy to see what's going on).
 
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