by Thomas Hawk
Modeling in a lighting sense means the visual definition of geometric form-visual modeling. Shadows on the objects will be created with good visual modeling. These shadows are created in necessary places so the object’s form can be understood, yet still giving enough general light to see the object. Too much light will destroy shadows needed to define a shape.
Mood: Over-the-top mood lighting is very easy to establish. Just throw a bunch of heavy blue lights on top of objects and voilá, instant melancholy. Throw a bunch of red lights on a character and bang!, instant angry scene. However, most scenes are in need of more subtle mood descriptors, and these are often very hard to achieve. We will talk more of mood later, but it is very important to understand that subtle mood lighting is usually what separates a mediocre scene from one with real emotional impact.
A standard concept in both photography and theatrical lighting design is that of key and fill lights. Key lights are the brightest light in the scene and are aimed at the most important object or character. Fill lights are usually much dimmer and are usually present to assist in illumination and to soften the shadows caused by the key light. You can also use fill lights to add subtle color and depth to a scene.
In theatre, we often make rough sketches, known as key plots, to plan how the key and fill lights are going to work to achieve a design. Key plots are often divided into three parts (top, front, and side) to show the angle of key and fill lights in relationship to the target object. Each arrow on the plot represents a different light. There are no real rules to key plots.
Usually, no one but the lighting designer ever sees them in the theatre world, and no one but the digital artists see their own key plots. The important thing is to use this planning tool as an impetus to organize and plan ideas in lighting. By creating key plots for each scene or mood change of a scene, you can actually save an amazing amount of time when it comes to actually placing lights in your scene.
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