Friday, June 15, 2012
LIGHTING TIPS, 101
No, this isn't a behind the scenes snapshot at Mad Lab Productions, it's an image from Bride of Frankenstein (1935). They're trying to get the ratio of sugar to Kool Aid just right for the annual "Monster and Mad Scientist" picnic. STRESSFUL.
But aside from that, this image is a great example of what can be achieved by light in terms of making a scene dramatic.
There's soft light, and there's hard light. Soft light has, well, softer qualities, and you can see a nice example of it on the stone wall in the background. It sort of gently fades from bright to dark, with no hard shadows. It gives a gentle, modest quality to things, and is perfect for a background, since you don't want the viewer's eyes being drawn TOO much back there.
Now look at the faces of the characters. It's a great example of hard light. The faces have areas of real brightness, that drop off fast into darkness. It creates a real contrast (between light and dark), and that contrast creates drama and visual excitement. The viewer wants to look here, and keep looking. And that makes sense, since this is the area where the action is.
This masterful mixing of soft and hard light is a way of directing the audience to where you want them to look. Like last week's entry that talked about using motion to direct the eye, lighting can (and has to) do the same thing.
Here's hoping the picnic is a hit. It has to be better than last year's, when the Creature From The Black Lagoon's tuna salad gave everyone food poisoning.