Lighting

Posted on by
Back to Lighting...

Changing lighting placement in wides vs close-ups. (3 replies and 6 comments)

Sairaj Batale
1 month ago
Sairaj Batale 1 month ago

Why do people change lighting placement when shooting wides and close-ups? Does it really prove realism in it? It's a major turn-off for me when I notice such changes and for me, realism in lighting is a major part. 

For example, in the wide shot, you'll see a good ambiance shot but when shooting MCUs or OTS, you'll see they'll either use negative fill or will try to elevate the current lighting and somehow I feel they fail in doing this. Why?

dmullenasc
1 month ago
dmullenasc 1 month ago

Why don't cinematographers just light the wide shot and never make changes for closer coverage? Because: (1) Not everyone notices these changes and we don't shoot for other cinematographers (2) There might be some compromise in lighting for the wide shot to keep fixtures out of the frame, so maybe the key is a bit higher or harder than desired, or the light is a bit flatter... but it can be adjusted for the tighter shots, (3) Not ever changing the lighting from wide to tight, while this would be strictly matching, can actually sometimes be more distracting -- what works for a wide shot of a person might not look so great in a close-up and the lighting needs to be adjusted for that greater detail in the frame.

But this doesn't mean that the "cheating" is always successful in terms of being imperceptible, sometimes the mismatch is noticeable. Various reasons, maybe a star performer insisted on more flattering lighting, maybe the director wanted more mood in the closer shots, it's always a judgement call and a matter of priorities.  Continuity and matching is one goal but it isn't always the most important, ultimately telling a story and creating the right emotional response matters the most, even if it means not strictly matching.

But I agree that matching the feeling of contrast in coverage is a good idea. However sometimes you get into a judgement call of whether it is better to match or better to make a better shot!

Sairaj Batale
1 month ago

Cool. I guess I get it. Thanks a lot, David!

Sairaj Batale
1 month ago

Sir do you have any preference for this?

dmullenasc
1 month ago

I think a lot of cinematographers, me included, try to light the wide master shot so that no changes are needed for coverage. Sometimes it actually works out that way, but many times you see opportunities to make the tighter shots a bit better, get the side-light to wrap and catch the second eye better, etc. Cheating is an art and we all try to master it. It's always a judgement call, the pressure on sets is always TIME so you try not to do a lot of relighting between set-ups unless it is important, but you also don't want to take the easy way out and never make adjustments for the sake of speed, but end up with something less interesting.

Sairaj Batale
1 month ago

Great. I now know my answer loud and clear! Thanks!

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

Sometimes you are compromised on a wider shot, you can't light a shot exactly as you would like to so, when you go closer, you might take the chance to adjust things. Every shot can be made better. Of course, you are always aware of continuity but there are times when the lighting of an actors face in order to make the most of a performance takes precedence.

Sairaj Batale
1 month ago

Okay. I get your point. What would you do? Do you have any preference for this?

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

As David says, it's a judgement call depending on the shot. I know that if I move in for a close up shot that needs to hold a performance on screen for a long time I will take all the care I can, even if that means there is a mismatch between it and a wide.

Sairaj Batale
1 month ago

Ok. Thanks a lot, Roger!

Back to Lighting...