Posts Tagged ‘Lighting’


Posted: September 19, 2016 by Alan Hardcastle in Creative Media Production, General, Media Production
Tags: , , ,

Mis-en-scene. Yeas, it’s an outcome on the briefs, but it is also vital to you as a video or film maker. A french term, meaning ‘What we see in the frame’ – when analyzing a scene, we explore everything we see – and when we are making , we consider everything we place into the scene. Here is a handy and long guide to what you need to think about…


So, head over to for the original post and some great examples…

The Tao of the Shot

Posted: November 13, 2011 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 11_13
Tags: , , ,

The difference between a film and a good film is the attention to detail. To produce quality, every element needs to be considered in detail. In this unit, we have pretty much taken all other constraints out of the way, and can just look at the relationship between the subject and the camera.

There are 3 basic areas we are going to consider. The blocking (where all the elements within the shot are placed in the real world), the lighting (how we control what is lit and how it is lit) and finally, the framing (how it appears on the screen). All of these elements combine to inform the audience to construct a meaning and tell the story.

NB – we are looking at just one shot. A scene will be constructed out of a series of shots and should flow. Here is an example from Film Directing Shot by Shot by Katz.

We can break down the relationship in the following way to show what we need to consider for each shot.

Blocking means looking at the position of the characters relative to each other in the space they occupy. It will also be concerned with any movement occurring in the shot. This blocking also includes the camera – imagine it as a character by itself, as it basically is the audience.

The first thing we need to consider is the relationship with characters in the shot – after all, as humans, we are more interested in human interactions. We need to position the subjects in such a way that both appear realistic, say something about their relationship in the shot, scene and story. Oh, and stick the camera in there too! Here is an example from Film Directing Shot by Shot by Katz.

And here we can see it applied to a simple I shape of two people facing each other.

We can see this applied in just one position – read the book for the other 9 set ups – and there are a number of ways of then framing this.

examples for 3 and 4 or more characters…

The starting point of lighting your production is to use 3 point lighting (Tutorial Here and a Video Here). Here is a very good Simulator that show you the position and effect of each light. However, this is a starting point, and if you are creating a meaning you need to alter this accordingly – are you drawing attention to any elements of the shot? if so, light them!

One of the defining elements of Film Noir is the lighting – or shadow. Often the shot would be filled with dark, brooding spaces – but characters eyes would always be lit.


It is a good idea to know in advance how you want your shot lit by finding examples of what you want it to look like. Either by shots in other films, or by referencing photographs and paintings. The use of light and shadow has it’s own complex language – learn it and use it!

Framing your shot is the point where you actually convey the meaning to the audience. Everything you have looked at up to this point

Golden Mean refers to a naturally occurring geometric pattern. It tends to be a ration (EG AB / BC = 1.618). It occurs in Sunflowers, shells, and pentagrams…. Here is a Mathematical Explanation and an excellent application here

A quick attempt at an explanation – The Fibonacci sequence is a naturally occurring numerical sequence that is built on the preceding numbers – so, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8. 13, 21 etc. We can use blocks to show how this works – 


As we can see, this is a shape that occur throughout nature – 


And why do we as humans find is so pleasing? Because, being part of nature, we expect to see these ratios in all things, including ourselves.


Rule of Thirds is an approximate application of the Golden Ratio. There is an excellent tutorial here

What we are doing in both of these approaches is dividing the screen up, and making sure that the elements we are shooting fit into them in a pleasing way. Test it – line your shot up to just place your subject dead centre, and then compare it to lining it up with the left or right third, and see the difference.

The most important thing to do is to think about what you are setting up, and look at as many examples as you can – to that end, the following books are very useful – 


Kenworthy, C., 2009. Master shots : 100 advanced camera techniques to get an expensive look on your low-budget movie. Studio City  CA, Michael Wiese Productions.

Pepperman, R., 2005. Setting up your scen
es : the inner workings of great films. Studio City  CA, Michael Wiese Productions.

Sijll, J., 2005. Cinematic Storytelling. Studio City  CA, Micheal Wiese Productions.


Plus Katz, S., 1991. Film directing shot by shot : visualizing from concept to screen. Studio City  CA, Michael Wiese Production