Digital / Film : change of lighting methods ? (2 replies and 1 comment)

1 month ago
chrisbrejon 1 month ago

Hello Mr Deakins,

first of all apologies to bother you with my question and for my English. I am a french lighting technical director working in Computer Graphics. I have written a course where I try to analyze differences and similarities between live-action and computer graphics.

With the recent development in Computer Graphics (Path tracing and Physically-Based Rendering), I would say that every time live-action and cg have more common...

There is a question I have been asking myself for a quite long time.

Has the digital camera changed your way of working ? I am not trying to compare digital versus film. That's really not my point.

But I was wondering if you work any differently and how ?

A couple of "clues" have made me wonder :

1- this article» with a quote from you : "I find myself lighting more and more with practical light sources and very few 'film' lights. [...] Choice of and the placement of practical light sources is an increasingly important aspect of lighting. Digital capture and the increased dynamic range that it offers makes lighting this way even more exciting."

2- But then in this video», you say : "I don't really do anything differently."

If you can shed some light on this topic, that would be great. Once again, sorry for this never-ending topic.

Many thanks,


Roger Deakins
4 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 4 weeks ago

Yes, I do find I use practical lights as the main source more often than I did when I was shooting film but I wouldn't say that necessarily related to digital imaging rather than to the speed of capture. I mean, if there was an 800 ASA film stock the same would apply. There is a scene in 'Prisoners' that I think demonstrates what I am saying and that is when I was shooting with a key fob light as the only source. I would not have been able to do this had I been shooting on any available film stock but there is nothing to say that it couldn't be done. I also think that the practice of shooting by the light of practical sources is, in a more general way, just a natural development of my work although, I must say, I shot a few films early on with little or no 'film' lighting.

4 weeks ago

Hi Roger,
In the scene which you only used the key fob light what f-stop/ ISO did you expose at and do you remember what the lumens of the light was?

4 weeks ago
chrisbrejon 4 weeks ago

Thanks a lot for your answer. I'll definitely check the scene in prisoners and update my class with this new info.

Have a nice day,


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