Lighting Workshop (Mise en Scene)
Mise en Scene means ‘Place on Stage’ in French and it is basically the contents of a scene. Everything that is in that scene is put there for a specific reason, this includes costumes, behaviour and many other aspects, today I will be explaining how lighting is specifically placed on stage to create an atmosphere.
Consider a frame like a blank canvas, you create everything that goes into it. Lighting is a key aspect and you must take into account the quality, direction, colour, and shadow.
The different types of light are:
- Ambient light – Light which you cant control/natural light.
- Artificial light – Added light by the photographer, it is good because we can control it.
- Diffused/Soft light – Soft light, for example a cloudy day, the clouds block the suns intensity leaving very few shadows.
- Hard light – the opposite of soft light, hard shadows, this is often difficult to shoot in but can work very well.
- Coloured light – Coloured light creates mood and atmosphere.
These types of lighting can be combined together, I will show you a few examples of popular movies which use these styles of lighting.
In this screenshot taken from the movie ‘Skyfall’, we can see a few types of lighting which has been used to create a certain effect. The coloured blue lighting has been used to show the grittiness of the scene, someone has just been shot and now the shooter is being attacked. The reason the blue works well is because the colour blue can represent coldness, in many ways such as literally cold and then deeper meaning such as cold hearted. Another style of lighting in this shot is the artificial and hard light coming from the jellyfish, this is casting shadows on the darker area of the building and again bringing effect into the scene as we can only see what’s close around the character, we cannot see clearly the entire room or what’s in or around it.
FAST AND FURIOUS 7
This scene from Fast and Furious 7 is much different to what was shown in Skyfall, without even knowing or having seen the film you can tell this. The lighting featured in this scene is ambient and hard, the image is quite overpowering to your eyes and you can see the entire image and what it holds which gives us a sense of security as we know what is happening. This scene is very important to the fans of Paul Walker as this is the ending scene for him since he sadly passed away. The colour is generally a warm green and light brown/orange which are all colours to represent calmness and tranquility.
BAD NEIGHBOURS 2
The lighting in this scene is scene seems to be ambient. I believe this is to represent that the family have reached a point in their lives where they are happy and living a normal life, yet their lives are about to flip around once again. If you look closely, there seems to be a shadow dawned over the family yet behind them it is sunny, I believe this is a subtle foreshadow as to what’s about to come for them.
As mentioned in my other post on mise en scene, everything in a scene is there for a specific reason, nothing is accidental! In terms of filming, multiple plans are drawn out to determine how a scene will play out and what props will be involved. Lots of time and effort is involved in attention to detail as one wrong scene will be picked up on by the audience whether they are a large or small group. If a film in based on a certain time frame (which many are) attention to detail is crucial as it will look ridiculous if you are making a film set in the 1800’s and a computer is spotted in the background of a scene in a building for example. Some examples of a good mise en scene is in the film T2 Trainspotting, this specific scene is when the main character is in a club and is surrounded by subtle references to the time period the film is set in, all these props and different aspects represent an emotion for the character or time frame for the film.
Other props such as chewing gum can build up the tension of the scene, like I mentioned before, everything is in place for a reason. This can even boil down to small things such as chewing gum and background posters.
Another example of mise en scene in a film is in the film 21 jump street in which Channing Tatum is in the class room in a science lecture. What I love about this clip is the attention to detail. The scene itself consists of the two main characters going through different effects from taking a drug, this specific clips lasts around 10 seconds yet is completely accurate and believable even for its short time. Below you will see a picture of the attention to detail in the classroom and the props within it, it has posters on the walls which you cannot even read and looks just like it involves every class room aspect you’d expect to see, all these props are in place to convey a certain message.
In my film I will be using quite a few props, below are a few of the main props involved:
- Pull String Bag
- Powdered Substance (Drugs)
- Bank Card
These props are all relevant to my film and will be correctly placed in the film to create effect. Some viewers may not even make these associations but the people who wear hoodies and use pull string bags hold that classic stereotype of ‘chav’, which although isn’t completely true for the majority of he public it is the perfect stereotype my film.
Other props such as the skateboard are purely used for entertainment as I am planning on getting a go pro shot on the skateboard to make the film look more ‘artsy’. However, you can still make the association that skateboarders are also ‘chavs’ which again isn’t necessarily true but the stereotype is there and therefore I will take advantage of that.
Having the correct props is essential to a film as it represents the how well the film has been produced. If i was to use props such as a smart shirt and a book being read by someone who is in a gang it doesn’t really make much sense. Props take a huge effect towards production value therefore obtaining the right props is crucial.
Low-key lighting is a type of lighting that represents the sun light, if you’ve read my blog post on soft/diffused light, low-key lighting is basically the opposite of that. Below is an image I’ve recreated of what our set up looked like in order to take the photos. The black cylinder is the light box also known as a snoot which directs light into a concentrated area creating a deep shadow on the opposite side of the object/face therefore there is a big contrast between dark and light unlike soft light where the whole picture is lit up. The coloured boxes either side of the snoot box represent the colour gel sheets we used to add colour to the pictures. As you can see in the photos below, the colour sheet is placed over the source of light making the entire photo a certain colour, in this case it is red.
Normal Low-Key Lighting Photos –
Low-Key Photos with Colour Gel Effect –
When will I use this lighting in my film?
I really enjoyed using this type of lighting today. I will probably use it in my films when there is a scene which involves tension, my reasoning for this is because of the fact that the dark lighting on one side of your face almost leaves a sense of mystery/insecurity, and due to the fact my film involves scenes in which the main character is nervous, I believe this lighting is a great lighting to use. I also really like the colour gels as they add effect to each scene, for example we used a blue colour gel in one of the photos which makes the photo look very relaxed. Other colours such as orange and yellow also leave this relaxed edge to the photo, red on the other hand can come across as dangerous and unsettled, because of this, I will probably use the red colour gel in a POV scene when the main character of my film gets knocked out by someone, this shot will take place as he wakes up and is looking around. I believe the red will add a great effect to the scene.
Diffused/soft light is also what is known as natural light, it is a type of light which produces no shadows providing the light is shared evenly throughout the whole picture using reflectors. An example of diffused light with a reflector will feature below this text and an example of diffused light without a reflector will follow. The setup we used to obtain these pictures will also feature.
In order to obtain these pictures the same way I did you need to use a professional photography studio with these pieces of equipment:
- Flash head
- Soft box
- Light stand
- Light reader
Once you plug in the light reader you must make sure the settings are at 125th of a second (shutter speed) and an aperture of F/8 for diffused/soft light.
In my film I may be forced to use this type of lighting due to the weather in my filming locations, it tends to always be very cloudy this time of year in Cornwall and I will be filming in open locations showing this type of diffused/soft light. However one of my filming locations will be in the woods where the lighting is strained because it struggles to get past all of the trees so another lighting option may be used there.
As you can see, there is no sound in the film at this point, we decided to edit the visuals before adding sound just in case we changed the film a little.
These past few screenshots show you how we added the audio. We went from the beginning onwards adding background noises and then small sounds such as text tones.
As you can see, for the phone call scene in our film we were going to use text and overlay it onto the screen making it look like the conversation happened, however instead we got two of our friends to record the audio, our reasoning for this is due to the fact that our actor went on holiday before we could record the audio using his voice.
This is showing us the outcome of the phone call conversation using audio instead of what was being said written on the screen. It is so much more effective, as you can see, we have edited the EQ of one of the voices to make it sound like its coming through the phone. It is so much better this way and would’ve looked very unprofessional if we used text on the screen. Furthermore, it took less time to do it this way, the only thing stopping us from doing it this way originally was the fact that our actor was on holiday at the point of needing to record the audio, we weren’t sure if we should use another persons voice, but we had to compromise.
Furthermore, we have also changed one of the songs in the film as we feel it fits better. We were constantly thinking about the audio throughout editing our film. The song change went from ‘Honey Sweet – Blossoms’ to ‘Undercover Martyn – Two Door Cinema Club’
This is the start of the credits which have been made on Photoshop. I made an Ident to make it look a little more ‘flashy’.
These are the option screens we made for our film. The reason we made two was originally to pick the one we liked more but instead we’ve decided to use them both as we like the both of them and it would be a shame to waste one and not use it.
This is one of the finished option screens and this is the theme they will all take, but the pictures and choices will obviously change.