Within this week we are purely focussing on visuals again (as that’s how the rotation goes). This week in particular, it is “How to light a Scene” and within this post I will be covering the various different ways, as well as showing an example towards the end that we have created.
To start with, within this week we were asked to talk about previous work that we’ve done with lighting in & out of college, as well as problems that we have come across. We spoke about this in groups, and in a conclusion we ended up with:
Previous work in & out of college:
- Three Point Lighting (Key Light, Fill Light, Back Light) – We used this in college a lot, especially for the lighting tasks back from the starting weeks, and to try out within some of our own productions.
- Natural Lighting – I personally used this within my Hallo Project
- White Balance – We had a lighting task back in the starting weeks to do with white balance, and I also use it on my camera at home to try and make everything look more natural.
- Reflectors – We’ve mainly focussed on using these in college.
- Softboxes – I sometimes helped in my old school set up some photography shoots using softboxes, and have had a couple in the past.
- Ring Light – Although I have never owned one, I am getting one at the end of the month – they’re used for making sure all of the face is covered with a light rather than having shadows everywhere.
- Gels over lights – We’ve used gels over lights to be able to get some effects.
- Back light is showing in the shot – Sometimes, especially within productions at college, we’ve had the back light clearly showing in the back of the shot.
- Consistency of lighting – Sometimes the lighting consistency isn’t brilliant!
- Too bright or too dark – Sometimes the lighting just isn’t right, sometimes it can simply be too bright or even sometimes it can simply be too dark.
- If it’s soft of harsh light – If the light is too hard, it’ll make it so you can see a lot of detail within an image in particular, if it is too soft, generally you won’t be able to see many details (for example, wrinkles on a person)
- Wrong White Balance setting – If the wrong white balance setting is used, it’ll either show up as too orange or too blue within the shot!
- Wrong reflector side – If you’re using the wrong reflector side, you might have too soft of a diffusing light, or you might have a golden-touch on the person for example.
- Filmed at the wrong time of day – If you’re using natural lighting, filming at the wrong time of day could effect your work as it needs to try and flow if the specific scene is occurring at the same time in the day
- Light temperature – The wrong light temperature could mean that your final product could come out either too blue or too orange (white balance).
We were also shown a PowerPoint presentation about various different aspects of lighting.
Uses of Light
There are a variety of different uses of lighting within films, the main ones are:
- Illumination – Illumination is used to try and illuminate an object or a person within the shot.
- Mood – Mood is shown within lighting quite well, if someone is rather happy, generally you’d have more of a bright effect, maybe sunshine or something similar to that, and if the character is sad it would be darker in general.
- Guides attention – Lighting is used to guide your attention to specifics. If you think about it, lighting makes a certain part within a shot stand out, it could be an object, or it could be a person, but it catches your eye more than the rest of the scene.
- Texture and shape – Texture and Shape is an interesting one, it is mainly focussing on shadows. There are two types of shadows: Attached & Cast. Attached shadows are attached to the person, and cast are shadows that you see on the floor.
Major Features of Filmic Lighting
When you’re asked about the major features of filmic lighting, there are four in particular:
The quality within filmic lighting has three different main aspects, the first one is “Hard Lighting“. This is when there are clearly defined shadows, and you can clearly see the difference between light and dark areas.
The next one along is “Soft Lighting“. Soft Lighting is when there is more of a diffused illumination, and the shadows are rather soft (like you would see on a cloudy day and the sun is maybe just getting through the clouds the tiniest bit). There is also an indirect or indistinct lighting within.
Finally, there is “Harsh Lighting“. Harsh lighting is the extreme differences between light and dark areas. This can be shown as a high-contrast image because there is a massive and sudden difference between the light and the darkness.
There are a variety of different directional lighting ideas for using within the film industry, the first one is “Frontal Light“. This is when the light is coming from the front, pretty simple!
The next one the “Side Light“. The Side light is the light that comes from either side of the character/object that’s being shown within the current shot.
Following onwards, there is a “Back Light“. The Back light is obviously coming from the background and is usually used to try and create the effect that the character is in front of the background.
There is also the “Under Light“. This is when the light is shining from underneath and it’s generally seen in the real world for example when you’re telling ghost stories and the torch is displayed underneath your face.
Finally, we have the “Top Light“. This is when the light is shining from above and generally it creates shadows on the characters eyes to make them look rather sinister. It also does this on the nose.
There are two different source lightings that are used in the film industry, the first one is “Artificial Lighting“. This includes anything that is man-made, for example bulbs, low sticks, diodes and any other man-made light sources.
There is also “Natural Lighting“. This is when you’re using lighting that comes from outside, for example the sunlight, moonlight, fire and any other naturally occurring lights.
There are two different ways colour is used within the film industry, the first one is “Apparent Colour”. This is when the colour is clearly observed by human eyes and is like that with no change.
There is also “Colour Temperature”. This is what the human eye can clearly see, however it is the colour based on equivalent temperatures against a black background. They’re represented in the temperature “Kelvin” (for example, Tungsten is 3600 degrees in Kelvin, Daylight is 5600 and Fluorescent is 5400).
White balance is very important within film and photography in particular, this is used to calibrate the camera and represent the correct colours of the image despite the lighting conditions you’re in. The reason it’s called “White Balance” is because White Light is composed of almost equal amounts of all the colours in the visible spectrum.
Three Point Lighting
Three Point Lighting is a very simple lighting set-up that uses, well, three lights! It consists of the key light, the fill light and the back light. Three Point Lighting is a basic professional lighting set-up that incorporates essential light sources and directional. It can allow expansion and experimentation for a shot within a scene, and it can have any amount of lights up to 100 lights! The idea of Three Point Lighting is to try and create an illusion of “reality”.
Key Light – The Key light is the main source of the light within the shot, it is the brightest out of all of the lights within the shot and is usually directly on a subject from the camera’s viewpoint, with a hard quality. This usually provides a good modelling or texture of a subject when they’re placed on certain axis’ from the camera (usually about 30 or 40 degrees from the camera-subject).
The Key Light is usually placed to the side of the camera or the subject so that the subject is quite well lit and there is some shadow on the other side. Usually it provides a hard light like the sun would on a clear day, and produces some hard-edged shadows. Sometimes you’ll see this when you’re trying to do a chiaroscuro effect (which is the play of light and shadow). It has a high-contrast against the shadow to add some dramatic effect to the shot.
Fill Light – The fill light is the secondary lighting within Three Point Lighting. It is placed on the opposite side to the key light and can be linked to indirect sunlight or reflected light that is out there like you can get in the real world. The main thing Fill Lighting is used for is to fill any shadows that is created by the key, however it’s usually softer and not very bright so it casts a soft shadow.
Fill Lights have a minimal use, which is usually used to create Low Key Lighting which is used in Film Noir and various other dark genres that are out there.
Back Light – The Back Light is placed behind the subject and lights the subject from behind. It doesn’t provide any direct lighting and is used for modelling, providing subtle highlights and rims around the subject’s outlines. The main use for this is to try and separate the subject from the background and give a 3D look.
Qualities of Light
High-Key Lighting is used to indicate a brightly lit scene, and usually has very minimal shadows meaning that the lighting is quite high in all areas of the shot.
Low-Key Lighting is used to create more of a grey and dark scale of lighting, where there’s a decent amount of shadow used within the scene, and the key light is less bright and doesn’t dominate – the majority of this is used within the background of a shot.
High-Contrast Lighting is used to create a strong contract between brightness and shadows, and usually uses a small amount of in-between grey scale. This creates the effect that more colours will stand out, for example hair colour compared to the skin, lips, etc.
Colour Correction is used within some films and quite a lot of photography to try and create more of a visual effect on a certain colour that is used, for example, if you wanted to make something modern-day look like a western, you could change the colour so that it becomes more of a orange/golden colour.
Saturation is used to show the intensity of the image’s colour within a shot. This is usually used to try and bring out certain bright colours and make them stand out a lot more, for example the Joker in scenes from The Dark Knight (2008). You can clearly see his green hair, purple coat, red, white and black face paint etc.
Within this task, we were asked to try out taking photos with three point lighting. We were asked to do four photos inside and four photos outside – one with a key light, one using a fill light, one using a backlight and one using all three at the same time.
The photo shown above is the first main one that we took (as we had an issue where our camera was displaying the images as really dark despite having all the lighting on, so we had to mess with that until we got it working again). This was one of our shots at getting a Key Light being used, however we simply didn’t think that the photo had enough light in it, so we put it up as shown in the next photo. There was also a problem with the lens that we used in this image, so we changed it and then our photos were working properly.
This photo that we took was mainly focussing on the Key Light from the left hand side of the camera to try and only get one side of the face lit.
In this photo, we used the reflector to try and minimalize the shadows that were seen. We used the white side of a reflector and bounced a white light off of it onto Elisa’s face (the opposite side of the key light).
In this image, it’s not amazingly clear but we tried to add a back light in. It wasn’t too effective on this one (possibly because of the placement) however it is just noticeable to the top left of the image.
We also tried out using all three at the same time, and I feel it went quite well in the image shown above on Lydia – you can clearly see the key light is being used, a reflector is being used and also a back light is being used.
We were asked to try out natural lighting as well, so we took advantage whilst the sun was out to try and get a shot using natural sunlight.
We also tried to add a backlight (as you can kind of see within this photo) however it didn’t work too well, you can already see the LED that we were using in the background of the image.
This image shown above we tried using the reflector, and it kind of worked however we couldn’t bounce the sunlight off of it too well, so we only ended up with this.
The image shown above we tried to use all three of them, however it didn’t work to our advantage as you can’t see the backlight (which was because of the placement) and the reflector still wouldn’t reflect the sunlight too well.
This image above was used to show what it was like without any lighting at all.
Overall, I feel this task was rather helpful as it shows the differences on how much lighting can effect the still image and in a scene itself. It also showed how much work would have to be put in to get the exact right effect, as well as how different it is to try and use the natural lighting and the artificial lighting.
Our big task for this week was to view 3 different images from films that we like (as shown below, I’ve shown 3 from some of the films I like) and we have to analyse the lighting within them, and then later on we have to re-create one of the images.
Sweeney Todd (2007)
I really like this shot from Sweeney Todd due to the old-styled colouring (more towards black and white with a tiny pinch of colour for example from the fingers and the lips). The lighting within this shot is quite simple, with a few lighting techniques being used, especially three point lighting. Three point lighting within this shot is quite effective – we can see that there is a top light being used as the key light, as it clearly defines the right of the characters face (or to the audience, the left). The key light is effective as it brings out a simple light onto the characters forehead and side of his face, and as well as this it makes the eyes stand out a lot more and make them look stern or even somewhat threatening. There is a fill light being used as well, just not loads – most likely if a reflector is being used, it would be a darker side (maybe even the black side of the reflector) to bring the shadows down just a tiny bit, but not too much to keep it quite sinister. There is also a back light being used on the sleeve of Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) which brings out the character from the darkened background quite well and makes the arm stand out, and shows how the arm is actually coming out from the background a little bit more rather than staying in one place. Even though the main focus in this shot should be the knife from what the audience would think, it’s not clearly shown from the lighting, however, you can see the odd light from the knife for example a tiny patch from the back light and the sides (mainly to the left and top from the audience’s perspectives). It seems that the shot is using quite a hard key light as it is clearly shown as quite bright as the forehead is shown brightly, and you can see some detail within the skin, as well as on parts of the clothing with the shadows clearly being shown.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
This shot from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them I feel is a good shot as it uses a variety of different lighting techniques, and also uses an idea of Depth of Field. This image in particular clearly shows the main character within this part of the scene, and the lighting in particular is quite harsh as you can see a lot of the skin detail on the character himself and on the clothing, as well as clearly defining some of the shadows. The key light within this still from the film is coming from the right hand side as we can see it is the brightest side of his face, and is right round towards his ear, which suggests it is actually more on the right rather than in front of him and to the right. The fill light we can see is on the left hand side of the still – we can see this as there are some shadows, however, the shadows that you can see are quite light, they’re not too harsh and they’re easily shown on the character. There is also a back light which we can see from the outer rim from behind him, and this is to bring him out from the background and into the foreground, clearly making him stand out compared to everyone else.
The Dark Knight (2008)
I really like this shot from The Dark Knight as well, as it clearly defines the character from the background, uses a variety of lighting techniques and also you can clearly see how lighting techniques have become apparent within the shot to make it how it is now. Firstly, the colour style within this is quite clever. It seems that saturation is used really well within this as it clearly defines the brighter colours such as the green hair, the red lips and the purple jacket within the scene to match the character well (The Joker played by Heath Ledger) and link even to the comics. This is quite clever, especially as how the face paint works within this shot, because rather than using a top light to make the eyes look more sinister the face paint that is used around the eyes make it shown as sinister to match the character that the joker is (the more evil and dark side of the film) and already makes it sinister without having to add a separate light from above. The key light within this shot is being used to the right of the audience and towards the audience a tiny bit and the light is rather dim and doesn’t show much except from the face and the hair. The fill light is quite well used and isn’t too bright either, however you can see that it is being used, otherwise there would be a lot darker of a shadow. By the looks of it, the light is towards the left of the screen as even some of the top of the head to the left seems to not have much of a shadow either, but again as said in the Sweeney Todd part of this, it seems that it could be used with a reflector on a darker side. Finally, the back light within the shot we can clearly see being used within the actual shot – it’s there in the background! By the looks of it, this could be one of the ways that The Joker is standing out from the background, as well as the camera having a depth of field effect as well.
For the re-creation picture, I feel that I’m most likely going to try doing the Sweeney Todd one, as I feel it is more achievable than the other two images, and I particularly like how the lighting is used within the shot itself.
We first tried to take the shot, however the exposure on the camera was too high and we were not able to get the lighting in the right place on the left or right hand side for the shot. The shot is also out of focus on this one, so we tried it again.
This one worked better than the previous one, however, it still didn’t look 100% right, I think it was mainly because of the random light that you can clearly see on the left hand side, so we moved the light a little bit more and turned the exposure down.
This one I feel worked quite well, however, some of the lighting didn’t look like it was meant to, and I didn’t get the original effect that I wanted, so I tried it one last time to try and get the effect that I wanted
Finally I was able to get the effect that I wanted to try and re-create the still image that was previously shown within this post! To achieve this, we had one light high up in the air acting as the key light (to the left of the image shown and towards the back slightly). This was so that we could get the top light effect, and could also take advantage of using it as part of the back light. As the position of the light was slightly behind from the front, we could simply make it so that the character (being me in this) was clearly shown more in the foreground than the background, matching with the original image – the only difference is that the back light is underneath rather than over the top of the arm, but it still looks effective. We also had a reflector setup on the right hand side of the image. This was to reduce part of the shadows – not loads, but just enough to be able to reflect part of the light off. The light was shining directly into the reflector and the reflector was facing towards myself. The biggest problem that occurred whilst taking these photos was that we couldn’t always get the right darkness due to the shutter speed. To change this we had to mess with the exposure to be able to reduce it and say “This is how we wanted it” to the camera, rather than having it come out really bright.
I feel this task was really helpful as it showed us how much effort is actually put into lighting (especially as the first lighting rig we did during this task took about an hour to get as perfect as possible in the time we had). It also showed us that lighting is one of the key aspects within the film industry, and shows how we can get different meanings from different lighting techniques. By re-creating a shot taken from a film, we’re able to understand in more detail how some of the lighting was used within the film/scene itself and to show how we could try to re-create it using lighting shows that our knowledge is improving.
Social Media Analysis
Within the past two weeks I’ve been promoting my Audio Task from last week (The Billy Goats Gruff audio task) by sharing it on two of my social media platforms: Twitter & Instagram. In particular, I’ve had a reasonable amount of responses from Twitter, either through replies to the tweet or through direct messages to people that follow my account, and to some that don’t follow and have their direct messages open.
It seems that Twitter is doing quite well with getting some publicity through the tweets that I’ve been posting lately, and it seems they’re getting more and more viewers each day that something is posted, and the feedback I’ve received, even though it might be rather simple on a few of them, it is being seen by people out there in the world! To improve and get it seen by more people, it might be worth mentioning certain people within the tweets themselves, and work on the hashtags more to try and get more people to view the content that I’m producing onto the platform.
Even though this is the only two responses that I’ve got on Instagram so far, it’s a start – the best way to try and get it out there more is by possibly mentioning other people on the platform and trying to build up some form of community-base on the account itself. Another way to try and improve it will be to use more hashtags – with Instagram, so the post doesn’t seem like it’s full up with them, you can comment on the post itself and get it so the post appears under those hashtags, so maybe it will be an idea to expand on the amount of hashtags that I’ve used so far and get it out there more by literally putting as many hashtags out there as possible.