Media Production Mentoring

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How to Light a Scene: Horror, Comedy, Drama

I was disappointed that I couldn't find any tutorials online for how to light a horror scene, or how to light a comedy, or how to light a drama. So I took it upon myself to create just such a walk through... with pictures!

How to Light a Scene: original image

How to Light a Horror Scene

The Horror Look

Horror scenes typically contain the following elements:
  1. They are slightly desaturated.
  2. They have a color wash of some kind (read: monochromatic).
  3. They often have a low contrast (perhaps because they are so often shot on cheap film/video cameras?).
  4. The subject is often isolated in the frame with a dark background and minimal light sources.

How to Light a Comedy Scene

The Comedy Look

Comedy scenes typically contain the following elements:
  1. They are highly saturated.
  2. They have bright colors.
  3. They often have lower contrast lighting (read: high-key).
  4. The subject is placed in the middle of a "busy" location with multiple soft light sources.

How to Light a Drama Scene

The Drama Look

Drama scenes typically contain the following elements:
  1. They are highly saturated.
  2. They have natural colors.
  3. They contain high contrast lighting, often with sharp shadows.
  4. The camera angles and images are artistic and rich.

Hopefully this helps you the next time you want to light a horror, comedy, or dramatic scene.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


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