Saturday September 19, 2015
What do Renaissance paintings and television have in common? As it turns out, quite a bit! Both the television screen and the canvas are flat surfaces, and yet when it’s done well, the images have depth, take on a reality, and have emotional weight. Both painting and television lighting use highlight and shadow to make a two-dimensional surface (the canvas and the TV screen) look fleshed-out and three-dimensional. The common element in both cases is how your brain perceives the world.
Working with the input from our eyes, our brain interprets visual cues to “see” an image. Beyond just having enough light to see something, the quality of the light and the way that the light falls on a subject helps define our perception, understanding and feeling about what we’re looking at. For those who appreciate music, it’s the difference between noise and a tune. Both may stimulate the hearing, but only music can convey meaning and emotion. That’s the difference between just being undifferentiated flat light and being carefully lit.
The art term for using shadow and highlight to represent shape is Chiaroscuro. Leonardo da Vinci noted “shadows are of supreme importance in perspective, seeing that without them, opaque objects and solid bodies will be indistinct.” What the artist does with paint, the Lighting Director does with light. Both use “brush strokes” of paint or light to help create depth and form by using highlight and shadow.
The main “brush strokes” we use in lighting are often divided into the fundamental elements of Three Point Lighting. These three elements are Key, Back and Fill. Although they may not literally be from three distinct fixtures for every shot, these basic points are the building blocks for more complex lighting.
Working in unison, the Keys, Backs, and Fill Lights help create compelling images that draw the viewer’s eyes to your anchors and desired points of interest on the set. Your anchors look natural and attractive, the focal point of a scenic visual composition designed to support the telling of stories.
September 19, 2015