With the right approach, you can immediately alter the mood of a scene from happy to horrifying simply by changing the lighting.
Lighting is a powerful tool. It not only makes images look more cinematic and beautiful, but it also elicits emotions in audiences depending on its design. In this intriguing video from The Lighting Channel, we get to see how drastically a mood can change simply by changing the placement of a light or adding a colored gel. Check it out below:
These lighting setups, though they're extremely popular, can be a little difficult to get right. It's important to know what kind of lights and modifiers to use to, say, soften the look of a subject to get that angelic look, or create dramatic shadows to turn that same subject into a machete-wielding maniac for your horror film.
Luckily, The Lighting Channel has provided an explanation on how they achieved each look in the video's description:
- Portrait: This is a classic lighting setup. We placed a large china ball on the model's right, on the left a white styrofoam board to fill in the shadows, and from high up behind a backlight to help separate the top of the head from the background.
- Horror: Anyone who has played with a flashlight knows holding it under your face makes you look creepy. Add a flickering background light and it becomes full on horror!
- 1920s Beauty: For this mood we used more than just lighting, again we have the backlight to make the hair glow, in front we put a harsh spot, and the secret here is stretching some stockings over the lens to create that soft dreamy look over the whole image.
- Artificial Intelligence: These days ring-lights are very popular for creating a soft beauty light, the only problem is they also create a small ring reflection in the eyes, which we think looks a bit robotic. Check the tutorial for a simple ring-light design.
- Sci-Fi: Simple household dimmers and color lights can go a long way to create atmosphere. By revealing each side of the face with different colors we created additional drama, and under counter kitchen lights in the background hint at a futuristic location.
- Sadness: Shadows are fun! This was mostly a silly idea, but by shiny the light through a wet plexiglass sheet we got a cool rain effect.
- Film Noir: The only thing missing here is a lot of cigarette smoke. We used a window blind to cast the shadows in the background, and a cardboard box with a little hole cutout to focus the small patch of light on the eyes.
- World Leader: By putting a China Ball slightly above the model, and black blankets left and right to reduce the lighting on the sides of the face, we created an enlighten and powerful look. If you angle the camera a little from below it would further amplify this effect.
- The Interrogator: Get between the light and the camera and you become an intimidating silhouette. And if you let some of the light hit the camera then the lens flares start to kick in!
- Angel: Similar to World Leader, we just blasted the background with lots of light and made everything heavenly.
These are only ten looks you can create with different kinds of lighting. There are plenty of others you can explore, combine, and create on your own. Remember, when it comes to lighting there's really no right or wrong—I mean, don't get me wrong, there is such a thing as bad lighting, but the point here is to push yourself to experiment and try new things.