Originally Posted by Dan Average
You can't really tell it from the DVD Beaver caps, but the Grinch's color on the '99 edition is pretty inconsistent -- most of the time it's the green-yellow shade you see in the caps, but sometimes it's more yellow and sometimes it's basically green (although never the "neon green" seen in the '06/Blu versions). That said, this may well have been the way it was originally animated (little inconsistencies like that were pretty typical of TV animation)
And sometimes intentional as well. A particularly noteworthy example is Don Bluth's THE SECRET OF NIMH, in which the central character, Mrs. Brisby, had something approaching a dozen different shades of fur, carefully tailored to the lighting situation in each scene. Such subtleties were, I'm told, lost on the colourist responsible for one of the US VHS or DVD releases (I forget which), which "corrected" the fur to look the same shade in every scene, undoing all the hard work of the film's artists.
In the case of the Grinch, I'd take the yellowy-brown look of the older DVD over the newer neon green look any day of the week. Frankly, I refuse to believe that a man like Chuck Jones would intend for it to look so damn TASTELESS, for want of a better word. I wonder if what has happened is that those responsible for the new master have matched the colours to the original animation cels, ignoring the fact that the artists working on these films KNEW that, due to a multitude of factors, the colours people saw on the screen would not exactly match the colours on the cels, and adjusted their palettes as appropriate.
Similar questions arose with the BD release of SLEEPING BEAUTY, and I think it's worthwhile my linking to the post
I made about it at the time and the comments from various animation professionals and/or experts about the issue.
Maurice Noble once explained to me how he would over saturate the colors in a character or a scene to compensate for the inferiority of the film. Once on film, the color would be toned down to about what he intended. This is where you could run into a problem during restoration.
NB: Maurice Noble was the art director on the Grinch.
The true reference point for restoration is a primary color film positive source, not the original animation art.
Studios such as Disney did extensive color testing on cel set-ups to determine how paints, backgrounds, and exposures would affect the final film image, many of the animation art colors are purposely distorted in order to “read” correctly on film. (There is a selection of camera tests like this on the “Snow White” laser disc and Platinum DVD.)
Alice (of Wonderland fame) on cels, for instance, has decidedly green blond hair, in order to “read” on film as golden yellow.
(quote by Jeff Kurtii, emphasis mine)
I was going to pick up the Grinch BD, but I suspect I won't bother now, after seeing those captures. Ignoring for a moment all questions of "right" or "wrong", the colours on the BD are fugly, whichever way you look at it.