The assumption that I am afraid to read the book is false. I think you know that already. So the the colorful illustration from Wild is not just an awkward reach. It's deliberately misleading. Goodby Anna.
"Hollywood Lighting" by Patrick Keating
Posted 25 November 2014 - 12:56 AM
@ David Landau:
While I'm sure that most people today would agree with you that a show like Columbo was overlit, it might be a stretch to say that the people who shot it would have agreed that it was overlit. In fact probably the studio work was closer to how they wanted the show to look (as opposed to the location work) because they would have had much more control over the lighting in the studio. It was a different era in which people had different tastes and liked things brighter and more colorful than they do today. Most of our eyes have adjusted to darker sets and actors in the last couple of decades, so films and TV from past eras look too bright to us. Even light meters used to be calibrated differently. I had an old Nikon from the '60s and was taking slides with it that were coming out pretty bright. But then the light meter on the camera broke, and I started using my spot meter. Suddenly the photos were about 1 stop darker than the ones taken with the older light meter. I asked around and found out that they started adjusting light meters darker at some point. I preferred the brighter photos, so I adjusted accordingly. Now I try to overexpose everything on my sets by 1 stop to make up for the difference.
The other thing I want to mention in general is, artworks have their own intrinsic values. So when I watch a film, I never look at it thinking about how it could be better if it incorporated different technologies or aesthetics. I enjoy it for what it is, for what it's doing. For instance although theatrical lighting is my first love, I also love films that use only natural light, if the lighting is done well and if it's a good film. Some of my favorite films are Italian neorealist films for example, and I also like some modern festival films which use only available light. It would be terrible to impose one kind of lighting on every film. That's why sometimes I'm dismayed at value judgments about one kind of lighting being "better' than another type of lighting, especially if the lighting in both cases is done proficiently and with clear intent. Good lighting is lighting that is appropriate for a scene, a character, a certain moment in a certain script, that clarifies nature, or illuminates it or obscures it or beautifies it or leaves it neutral or attempts to produce emotions or thoughts or empty us out of them according to a specific intent. There is a strong tendency among today's filmmakers to frame the past through a contemporary viewpoint, through contemporary goals. But as Keating explains, the motivations and goals of the cinematographers who shot the classic films were different than the motivations of today. They had different parameters of what was acceptable, what was beautiful, than we do today. And within that system, there was a lot of diversity and innovation.
Edited by Anna Biller, 25 November 2014 - 12:58 AM.
Posted 25 November 2014 - 01:39 AM
I just looked up Columbo on IMDB and it seems that some of the cinematographers who shot some of the earlier episodes were real heavyweights in Hollywood. One of them shot Miracle on 34th St., another The Blue Dahlia, another 2001 A Space Odyssey and Cabaret, and yet another Touch of Evil and Imitation of Life.
Posted 25 November 2014 - 01:44 AM
Whoa! Russell Metty (who shot 5 episodes of Columbo plus Touch of Evil and Imitation of Life) also shot Douglas Sirk's other Technicolor films, Spartacus, Flower Drum Song, Dance Girl Dance, and Bringing up Baby! Amazing some of the talent that worked on these old TV shows!!