Talk to your Audience..with Light !

Talk to your Audience..with Light !

As filmmakers, the ability to capture your subject or characters from the right angles at the right moment goes a long way in helping you tell your story right. Perfectly designed shots and camera movements combined with a spectacular performance by the actors can result in cinematic magic.

But, one major factor that dictates the tone of every scene, shot, performance or mood is Lighting.

Successful cinematographers, directors and even photographers know that an in-depth understanding of the role that lighting plays in a scene is as important as knowing why you chose filmmaking as a career in the first place.

Quentin Tarantino

Check out this image below: as part of their Cinematography class, some of our beginner level students at Digital Film Academy were tasked with recreating the lighting from a scene out of ‘Inglourious Basterds’ by Quentin Tarantino. Compare the top and bottom versions.

At Digital Film Academy, students get very intensive and practical training. Check out the following 4 examples, featuring actual DFA students from our Advanced Level Cinematography class. In each , working through various lighting exercises and trying out different techniques.

Lighting exercise: DFA talent, Michael Agate Jr. and Sonali Chatterjee.

The position, size, distance and intensity of the lights in a shot/scene can create various emotions for the audience. How does Tannia’s shot above make you feel: melancholic? wistful? romantic? lonely?


Notice how the extreme close-up of Christina below together with the lighting combines to create an almost claustrophobic, brooding emotion. Is this person trapped and watching? Or sinister and plotting? Either way, she’s certainly got our attention!

Christina Watkins

With the right use of lighting, you can make your audience scared, thrilled or happy even before the characters in the scene say a single line of dialogue. What emotion does the shot of Michael below evoke in you?

DFA students learn diverse lighting techniques like Cross-Key Lighting, River-Cop Lighting, Basic 3-Point Lighting, Lighting Ratios, High Key, Low Key, and a whole lot more.

Michael Gross

When you see Martial’s lighting set-up below, would you say: epic? messianic? powerful? all of the above? Leave your feedback in the comments below!

At Digital Film Academy in New York, you will work with instructors who are working filmmakers in the motion picture industry themselves and have a great wealth of experience.

Martial Davis

Learn more about our New York film school and find out how to break into the film industry.

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