Lighting
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Lighting

Lighting is the manipulation of light to selectively highlight specific elements in each scene so they appear in a particular way. Light generates much of the mood of a film and can be used to indicate the time of day or night, the seasons, the state of mind of the character or to enhance a theme.

When discussing lighting, there are four key elements:

  • Quantity / Quality
  • Direction
  • Source
  • Colour

Lighting Terms

Naturalistic: Lighting that makes the scene look normal

Expressive: Using analogy for effect

Low Key: Dark lighting - shadows used for effect

High Key: Bright - lack of shadows

Lighting direction can also add meaning to the scene. Although most scenes are shot using three point lighting often other setups are used.

Side lighting casts hard shadows onto the surrounding setting. This can make a character seem imposing or a setting suspenseful.

Back lighting can give the character a sense of mystery or an almost holy appearance.

Video Examples

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Lighting

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Lighting

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Gallery

Time To Die
Blade Runner
closing sequencecharactercolourlighting
Parlour Room
Psycho
cameraworkcamera anglemise en scenelighting
Replicant
Blade Runner
lightingfilm noir
In The Movie Theatre
Donnie Darko
lighting
I Want You To Hit Me...
Fight Club
lighting
Graveyard Scene
The Crow
lightingback lighting
Bookshop Scene
Vertigo
lightingexposurecamerawork
Departed Chase Scene
The Departed
mise en scenecolourlighting

Resources

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Finding the Perfect Balance of Darkness in Horror Films
lightingmedia production
Film 101: Understanding Film Lighting - 2020 - MasterClass
lightingvideo
What Happens When A Movie Has No Gaffer? | Reverse Film School | Vanity Fair - YouTube
youtubevanity fairreverse film schoollightinggaffer