5 Cinematic Lighting Tips
As I mentioned a minute ago, I said, "I'm a big believer in making sure concept feeds execution, "not the other way around." Concept is the important thing, the story is the important thing. What the shot is about, what's the purpose of the photograph? And then how do you fulfill that purpose with the techniques that you are using? Kubrick was obviously an extreme perfectionist, but it's his techniques. They were motivated by what he was trying to create. He figured out the idea, then he figured out how to execute it. This class is not about formulas. It is not about saying, "Here's how I did something, I want you to go out and do the exact same thing." That is not what this is about. This is going to be really different from a lot of other lighting classes. This is about me showing you how to address a scene, how to create lighting, think critically for what is happening in an environment. What is the shot about? How do you critically think about it? How do you creatively think about ...
it? And how do you make light that is for what you are working on? The entire idea here is not to say, "Hey, here's a couple of cool shots, "go out and do the same thing." It's to show you how to think about lighting in a much broader way. Both the shoots that we have done, I have not shot anything exactly like it. But my approach to the scenes is how I would approach anything. What does the environment look like, how do I make the environment look like how I want to make it look, and then what does that shot look like? How am I communicating my ideas most effectively, right? I want you to be able to look at any environment, or any situation, and go, "How can I apply these principles, these guiding principles of light, to what it is I am doing?" And we're gonna start pretty broad with that. We're eventually gonna work ourselves to a much more specific way about it. But I'm gonna give you some of those generalizations I mentioned a little bit ago. These are my like simple tips for creating cinematic lighting. And these are not absolutes by any stretch of the imagination, they're just things that I find to be helpful when thinking about cinematic, cinematic lighting. And so the first thing is, dark and low key. I understand that there are all different kinds of movies, and some are bright, and some are happy. But when we think about cinematic lighting in regards to photography, usually one of the, its one of the main things is just dark. It's a little bit darker, there's lots of shadow. THat's how we think about things that are cinematic, and so we just make it darker, and we use a little bit more of a low key image. Building upon that, remember that shadows are your friend. You're not necessarily gonna wanna think about lighting things really straight on to the front, or really broad and really soft. Again, not that there's not a place for that, but you know, if for our purposes, we're over-generalizing and we're gonna embrace those shadows. But it's not about the absolutes of the shadows. We still have to control the fill. So you start darker, utilize the shadows, but then you have to utilize and control how dark those shadows are. Or how bright they are. And again, this depends upon the mood you're trying to create. Separate the subject from the background. In a very dark environment, you don't want to lose track of your subject. You want to make sure you are able to clearly express who the subject is. And so we separate the subject from the background. And there's a lot of different ways you can do that. You can do that with depth of field, you can do it with rim lights, hair lights, environmental factors, so framing them up in a doorway, or creating figure-ground relationships. Basic compositional things. And then lastly, show depth. I mentioned this a little bit ago, but film like photography, film-making like photography, it is trying to create depth. Three dimensions on a two-dimensional plane. How do you do that? And again, we can use perspective, we can use depth of field, we can use lighting, highlights, shadow. We can stagger lighting. A lot of different ways we can do that. And so this is my like quick tips and tricks for things to remember when it comes to cinematic lighting. I'm gonna show you what that looks like in practice now, when I approach a scene.