Making a movie is no easy feat. From proper lighting to positioning the camera at the right angle to capturing the highlights, the hard work and sweat of hundreds of people go into shooting the film. Apart from the effort of the camera person, the one other thing that goes into capturing the expressions of the actors is effortless lighting. Gone are the days when motion pictures were shot in black and white, and the colour tone was not too different for each film. To create natural-looking film scenes, one has to know about the right techniques of the studio lighting in Australia for film making. If you have nailed the lights and their angles, be certain that the essence of your story will break through the screen. The audience will be related to the emotions going on within the actor as the shades of light will create an aura of importance around him.
If your goal is to become a director, D.o.P, or any other technician associated with the crew, you have to know some basics of lighting techniques. Though the majority is up to the cinematographer, every person on set must know the basic techniques so that no scene gets messed up. There have been instances of important scenes not having the required impact on the audience just because the lighting had been faulty. If a movie with a dark theme goes on the floor with a lighter tone around it, you might as well imagine the audience’s reaction even before it releases! Whilst it is definitely the role of an actor to enact the script in the right manner, proper lighting already gets the job done for 50%. People watching the movie would comprehend the underlying notes from how the lights are shown on the screen.
How Does Studio Lighting Create a Visual Impact?
Film lighting means knowing about the quality, direction, colour, and source of the light. With effective direction, these different aspects come together and pave the way for good end results. The audience’s attention is guided by these elements, and they work at the same time to create visual impact and an atmosphere that would have an effect on all. The direction of the light points at its source. It looks over where the light is coming from and on which part it has to fall to create maximum impact. Backlighting and top lighting come under this category. To maintain the intensity of the light, its quality is checked by the cinematographer. According to the demand of the scene, the source of the light is fixed. It could be a fill light or a key light or something else that would portray the emotions of the scene most effectively. Many filmmakers argue that the colour or the tone of the lighting is the most important aspect. White, warm, black-ish, or something with an underlying hue, there are many colours to choose from as per the script. Filmmakers use the right colour of the lighting to bring out the mood of the film.
Analysing the Different Techniques of Film Lighting in Australia
Lighting techniques are immaculate for every person on the film set. Whilst the director communicates with the cinematographer through lighting, a writer decides on the tone and mood of the script accordingly. Experienced filmmakers always have a specific direction in their minds. If you want to be at par with the look and feel that they demand in their projects, you have to know the basics of film lighting first. In order to give a more cinematic feel to your work, get an idea about the lighting techniques so that your work on the set becomes a piece of cake. By merely studying the scene, you would be able to grasp the kind of lighting it needs.
So gear up and take a look at the most important film lighting techniques:
- Natural Lighting – First and foremost, understand when you do not need to set up artificial lights for the scene. Natural lighting techniques are dependent on location and the chosen hour of the day. If you have a specific scene in mind that requires the reddish hue of the sky during the sunset, you might have to wait for a day or two to get the perfect setting. There is no place for impatience when it comes to wanting to shoot in natural lighting! Once you find the right hour and location, know that this particular scene might turn out to be one of the best in your entire film. Some filmmakers use flags or bounce cards to alter the natural light a little.
- Key Lighting – Hailed as the main film light on the set, key lighting is essentially the strongest light you would find in a scene. Even if the scene demands a complicated setup of lights and the technicians are going around to position them correctly, the key light is generally the first one to be put up. However, it is a wrong notion to have that the main light would always be facing the subject. The key light can take its place anywhere as per what kind of lighting the scene requires. It can even be placed behind the subject to create a dark tone or the silhouette of the actor. But one crucial piece of information about film lighting in Australia that you have to remember is to never place this main light right near the camera as that would make the lighting featureless and flat.
- Backlighting – There is nothing better than backlighting when it comes to a three-dimensional scene. In a three-point lighting setup, this is added last most of the time. To highlight the subject, the backlighting is positioned a little higher from behind in order to keep the subject separated from the background. The backlight has to be diffused a little so that it covers a wider area and does not give out a major glare. When the intensity of the backlight is lessened, it has been seen to provide the subject with more depth and shape. If you are shooting during the daytime in an open area, you can use the sun as a backlight. With the help of a reflector, the sunlight can be bounced at the subject with a lesser intensity. From creating a halo effect to making a strong silhouette of the subject, backlighting is quite essential and creates an impact on the audience.
- Soft Lighting – Even though it does not mean any particular lighting direction, this is an important technique nonetheless that you have to learn. Cinematographers mostly use soft lighting to reduce the intensity of a scene. Whatever other technique you are using to highlight the subject, soft lighting is incorporated into the scene as well to make the glare lesser. To heighten aesthetic situations, soft lighting is mandatory. Moreover, creating suspense or drama, reducing the intensity of harsh shadows or creating a replica of the faint light coming from the outside, all of these can be done by soft lighting. It creates a flattering tone on human subjects, and most actors have a few scenes in soft lighting in each movie. In order to beautify the subject, use soft lighting well and see the wrinkles and blemishes not appearing on camera. Once you position the light correctly, the scene would turn out to have a fresh note with the feel of the lighting coming from natural sources.
- Bounce Lighting – Just as the name suggests, bounce lighting literally bounces off from one subject to another. This strong light is often seen moving from the subject to the ceilings or the walls, and the process is done with the help of a reflector mostly. This gives the feel of the area being wider. With practice, an expert cinematographer can use bounce lighting to create backlighting or fill lighting. Bouncing light off the walls and the ceiling paves the way for diffuse illumination. It might even result in soft lighting, if used properly. Filmmakers opt for bounce lighting when enough ambient light is required across a large environment. Not only with artificial light setups, but bounce lighting can be very well done by reflecting the sunlight on a white board. This is basically a great way to highlight the subject and make it stand out of the crowd without pouring in all the light over them.
- Side Lighting – Also known as Chiaroscuro Lighting, side lighting is an important technique that you have to learn in studio lighting in Australia. comes into the frame from the side to highlight the subject. The lights fall on the subject in a parallel manner and set the mood of the film right. Mostly used in the film noir genre, side lighting is used to heighten the sense of drama going on in the scene. To achieve maximum effect from the side light, you have to make sure that the subject is of contrasting colour. To accentuate the contours of the actor standing in the middle of the screen, contrasting side lighting is required to create a low-key effect. It can also be bounced off on reflectors according to the demands of the scene. However, it has to be diffused properly so that there are no harsh shadows appearing on the camera. The textures or the edges present in a certain scene can be brought out most effectively by side lighting. When shooting in an open space, side lighting often creates a depth and gives rise to an illusion that increases the distance between two objects.
- Motivated Lighting – Imitating a natural source of light is a great way to make the audience connect with the scene. Sunlight, moonlight, or even the light from the street lamps are often used in motivated lighting. The type of lighting technique used to enhance the feel of practical lights, the intensity of the motivated lighting has to be decided by the director or the cinematographer as per the mood of the scene. A separate light source can be used to customise the form of motivated lighting. The sole aim is to make motivated lighting look close to natural lighting, and to achieve this, several methods of using filters or coloured gels are used. The warm yellowish hue that you see inside a room or the subtle blue-ish light falling on the subject are the outcomes of motivated lighting. This technique is a great way to replicate natural light sources and often brings marvellous results. The setting or the intensity can be easily altered with the right tools.
The way you are placing the light matters in every shot. From setting the tone to creating the atmosphere to giving a professional look, the lighting techniques are essential in every scene. Besides a good script and good actors, you need to make the film visually appealing for the audience. This is where the role of lighting comes in. Moreover, the way in which our eyes react to lights is different from that in films. This is the reason why a film set is packed with lights from every angle to get the required shot on camera perfectly. If you need help in understanding the different technicalities of film lighting in Australia, contact us at Flick Switch. Our team of professionals would lay down the basics in the easiest manner so that you can comprehend every tiny detail. Technical knowledge in cinematography is required to pave the way for the most dramatic cinematic shorts. With Flick Switch’s help, you can ace your projects right from the first go. Once you learn the proper lighting techniques, you would be able to convey your message to the audience just right in every scene.