An insight into film lighting

An insight into film lighting

Lighting plays a key role in filming, especially the fill light and backlight. Fill light is the soft lighting in the front, while the stronger light in the back is the backlight. The lights can be arranged strategically, so you get a dark area between the space the backlight illuminates and the space the fill light illuminates to get a moody feel to the shot. This is very effective in most moody and somber settings.

For getting a different look, you can make the backlight softer, but in any setting, the backlight should dominate the fill light. This is part of the reason, why films take longer time to shoot. Light setting is the task that eats up plenty of time during film shoots. Therefore, it is better to plan a scene in such a way that it doesn’t need frequent relocation. And this is best accomplished when you order the scenes according to the lighting.

Time saving tip

In a scene with reverse and direct shot, instead of shifting lights and camera to the opposite side, switch actors and camera to the other side, so you get the right, eye line relationship. This lets you use a single lighting for multiple shots. Based on the situation, you may have to shift the props too. This tactic is right when the background of the actors present is identical. While this may not work all the time, when used in the right setting, it can come out well and save time too.

Cost effective lighting

Since lighting is pivotal in both video and film in relation to mood and tone setting, choosing a cost effective option is best. While fluorescent or tungsten lighting sets have been used conventionally, LEDs are becoming more popular now. These give better and powerful lighting and are cost saving too. In fact, even vehicles including emergency vehicles have efficient led light bars fitted in them to increase the lighting, when they drive at night.

Color mixing

The custom of mixing color temperatures of different types has been used to bring on a greater impact on scenes. This involves using different colored lights in a single shot. ‘Terminator 2’ had the steel mill shot where orange and blue light was used to symbolize molten steel and moonlight. But before you decide on color mixing, you have to assess the relationship of the different colors you are mixing, as it is impossible to change blue to a darker hue without turning the orange into a bluish tinge or less orangish.

One of the important things you note when you visit a film set is the harsh lighting. For an untrained eye, the place would look too bright. You may wonder why such efforts and money are put into lighting when the film would look more natural without them. The reason is that film as well as video does not react to light as our eyes react.

The contrast in lighting we see in real life cannot be dealt with by the film and video. Without artificial lights, you are bound to get the shadows go totally black or have a white area on the highlights. To get a natural scene, you need to have as much lighting as needed by the film or video to make it look natural.

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