is concerned with whether or not something is physically possible. And
sometimes it’s just not a good idea to argue with your boss.
So, as artists who are paid to do what our overlords wish, we will
find ways to stretch reality in an attempt to provide the desired effect
without completely rewriting the laws of physics. In general, and where
possible, a lighting artist should, however, make every attempt to place
light sources only as justified by the plate. Failing that, try to get cre
ative with your justification: “There could be a light over there, or up
there, even though we don’t see it in the plate.” That’s justification too.
If, on the other hand, you are designing lights for an all-CG scene,
then you have a world of possibilities. As the lighting designer, you
should have access to the other designers and to the director to discuss,
beforehand, where lights will be placed for the best possible lighting. You
will likely be able to discuss with the scenic designer, for example, just
where a window might be placed behind the action so you can adorn the
foreground objects with that magic halo of light (the evil rim light) that
almost never happens in reality. Or you might contribute to the story in
ways that enhance lighting. Take, for example, a scene on a stormy day.
It’s raining hard. “Here’s a perfect opportunity for effect lighting,” you
think to yourself. “How about some lightning outside!” you spout. Light-
ning can be used in a variety of ways to load the scene with tension and
foreboding or to surprise us with the skeleton in the dark closet that we
didn’t see before.
Designing lights for all-CG scenes is a lighting artist’s playground. If
you are ever fortunate enough to have this opportunity, let loose. Throw
ideas in every direction. Sure, lots of them will get dropped and some
will evoke looks of horror — but that’s half the fun! Some of your ideas
will stick, some will go through minor changes, and others will need
complete rethinks. That’s all part of the challenge. Don’t expect your
first idea to be the best one (although often it will be). Be flexible and be
willing to consider new ideas, even if they aren’t your own.
Chiaroscuro: The Use of Light and Shadow
Chiaroscuro is a method of painting invented in Italy during the Renais
sance. Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael used this method,
a defined set of rules really, to determine how light affected the objects
in their paintings. The rules were based on light approaching the object
from a predetermined direction. The word “chiaroscuro” comes from
two Italian words: chiaro meaning bright or clear and oscuro meaning
dark or obscure. My favorite master of chiaroscuro is Rembrandt, whose
paintings are made deep and foreboding by the deep shadows and dark
Part III: Creating Lighting ··································