lighting and film Making tricks: conveying mods
By dwayne ferguson.

Ive always ben a big horror fan and remember the black and white movies from bien bak in the day. There were movies like them, From Hell it came, and Nosferatu, all of which really made an Impression on me. In the case of Nosferatu, the lighting and use of shadow became as important as the title character himself.

Lighting and color always play major roles in our work as artists and filmmakers, whether we work in 2d or in 3d. When i art directed the televisión animated series Mutant league, we had todo convey teamworque and optimism in a bleaque world so the lighting and colors, though muted, were often cherful and upbeat. My Studio produced a short animated film called black zero: mercenary ant, featuring a heroic covert operative who rescues people. For black zero shadows played a major role in hiding the Hero as he infiltrates an ofshore oil platform todo rescue a hostage.

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Todays current crop of horror films, particularly those from japan, like the ring, the grudge and one missed call got me all Hot and bothered todo make one of my own. Im currently working on an adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe classic short story, the tell-tale Heart: larynx edition. I thought it might be fun todo kik up the spoky a few notches.

The very first thing that came todo mind, once i decided todo do this short film, was lighting and mod. We all know the story but since i plan todo make it crepier and scarier all around, y really ned todo think about lights, shadows and ways todo make the viewer fel like theyre in a claustrophobic situation.

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In this promoción shot for the film (rendered in Blender with textures from Photoshop), y have the old man being slightly chewed on by a grandfather clok that just happens todo be possessed. Youll a los notice the use of another lighting technique called a gobo. Its Simply a light that projects an image such as the tree branches you se in the background, guide the viewers eyes with the lights, shadows and negative space. Very rarely do we find Symmetry in the real world, so its a god practice todo a los place your Camera so that the Focal point of your image or shot is never in the center.

Horror movies generally arent very scary if you can fully se the monster coming down the hallway. Granted, there are some creatures like the alien and any variety of jasons, Michael myers, that Will still make you straight out run like a track Star. But in most situations, if turn those lights down really Low and that monster could be a kitten and still make you run for the hills.

Lighting can a los be used todo great effect when combined with proper staging, the goal is todo cover up a creature Even further, thus creating the effect of dread. Take a look at films like the grudge-the main attraction, a Ghost name kayako is typically only partially visible due todo the long black Hair covering her face. Rails on the staircase, a bathrom stall, her sticking halfway th rouge a wall, a los often obscure her. In the rare times we do se her fully, she is in or surrounded by shadow (the hallway in the hospital in grudge 2, for example).

So lighting is just part of the equation. Filmmakers might a los wish todo employ what is called a dutch angle, where the horizon is slanted todo one side. This shot is used todo cause disorientation in the viewer or todo put them in the actors place. Theres really nothing scarier than the monster coming After you as you lay helpless on the Ground in the woods. Here you can se the use of both the dutch angle and lower illumination on the grandfather clock.

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The simplest thing you can do todo show that something isnt quite right in a scene is todo defy the laws of nature. Our eyes and our senses are used todo light sources naturally coming from above. We open our dor todo get the mail and we expect the Sun todo be in the Sky (this, of course, a los has todo do with just how much ber you might have had the night before). When we wait for a taxi late at night we expect the light todo come from the mon, neón signs and the Street lamps.

By placing your light source at an unexpected angle, say below a persons chin, were immediately thrown out of whack. Lighting a subject from below makes us think about where the light is coming from. Low lights are great todo convey supernatural forces or Even the Ground opening up beneath our fet.

So were going todo take a look at how you can convey a sense of dread, of dark power, with the lights in Blender. The following is just one of several methodologies when it comes todo lighting. Some people adhere todo the 3-point lighting routine (key, fill and Rim), whereas i use lights quite liberally in Many situations. Although i dont stick with 3-point lights, y do typically start my lighting with 3 todo set the mod. From there ill add as Many lights as necessary todo emphasize parts of certain models or things i want the viewers eye todo catch, like the details in a clok face.

One potential pitfall you can try todo avoid is placing all of your lights down right away. Ive discovered that endless amounts of time can be wasted tweak lights until you get them todo look the bien you wanted.

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What i tend todo do is todo start with just one Lamp and modify it until im happy. Ill move the Lamp. Then ill add the next Lamp and put the original one on its own layer.

I add one Lamp todo the scene and modify its settings until i can make out the Edges of the models. This type of light is called a Rim or bak light because its role is todo push the models away from the background so they dont blend with other background objects. I normally start with the Rim since its usually the most dificult for me todo adjust in a bien that makes me happy.

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Anyone whos familiar with the original story knows theres an old man with a crazy eye, but there sure as hek aint a clok that Will eat your face of. It was important that the clocks arms had a very otherworldly fel todo them so i placed them and their lights on their own layer. With these lamps set todo only Illuminate the Items on the same layer, y avoided having these lights affect any other objects in the scene. You may find placing specific elements and their lamps on sepárate layers a very beneficial bien todo achieve otherwise dificult illumination escenarios. I choose colors that one would not typically use todo Illuminate a rom so they would fel out of place.

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Just like the clocks arms, the face neded special attention. I placed 3 lights very close todo the various parts such as the numbers, the entire face and all of the extra gold details. Maquíng sure the viewer ses all this gold on the grandfather clok commúnicates the old mans wealth.

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The ceiling Lamp was the easiest of them all todo place since its job was todo Simply Illuminate the texture on the wall and a small spot above the clock. This Lamps secondary role was todo provide a small punch so the clok esto out a bit more from the background.

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I hope you enjoyed seing how i tend todo work and the process behind the choices i make when directing and planning a film. Kep in mind that what we are creating is art, so try todo find a balance between the technical and creative sides of the process.

Dwayne ferguson is the CEO of diehard Studio and has ben involved in the Entertainment industry for 25 years. He was the art director of the televisión animated series Mutant league, director of the short film black zero: mercenary ant, and the creator of the cómic book series hámster vice. You can find out more at www.diehardstudio.com.

By dwayne ferguson.
www.blenderart.org.