View Full Version : Movie lighting
04-24-2010, 04:15 PM
Someone linked to a Julia Child segment in another thread. I noticed shadows in one shot that would be unacceptable today. That reminded me of older films (specifically, Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds) that had harsh shadows. Probably nobody noticed back then. Filmmaking techniques, and that includes lighting, have advanced steadily. What was normal in the past would not be acceptable today.
If the story, direction, and acting are compelling, do you care if there are shadows? Or if you see shadows (and I'm talking about the actors, not boom shadows and such), do you think that the DP should have gone to the extra effort to eliminate them?
04-24-2010, 04:30 PM
I always thought that the shadows in Hitchcock's films were supposed to add to the atmosphere.
04-24-2010, 04:38 PM
I like shadows. Look at Casablanca. That is filled with shadows.
Television lighting, especially in sitcoms, is now completely shadow free.
04-24-2010, 05:55 PM
The shadows in Hitchcock were designed to be noticeable. Same in Citizen Kane or any film noir.
Early Julia Child was TV, not movies. And early TV, run on a restricted budget. Shadows weren't important: you were looking at the food, anyway.
04-24-2010, 07:25 PM
The shadows in Hitchcock were designed to be noticeable.
Do you have a cite for this?
I'm not talking about 'intentional' shadows. For example, sets will often be lit with a 'gobo' or 'cookie' between the light and the scene specifically to cast shadows. Hitchcock surely used this technique. It's the 'incidental' shadows I'm talking about; the hard-edged shadows cast by an actor onto a surface from the key light. I don't see any compositional purpose to these shadows, but they do broadcast 'Hey, there's a 5k light pointing right here!'
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