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Lighting a Horror


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#1 rebecca fletcher

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 09:01 AM

Hi,
I am currently writing up my 15,000word dissertation for University. I study Film Production Technology and my project is an Investigation into lighting techniques within a short production which I am dedicating it on Horror.
I am currently writing about camera effects on lighting, so the exposure, aperture and shutter speeds. Does anyone have any information on how you could use the exposure levels to create a Horror feel, or use the aperture, or shutter speed to ones advantage? I need to write references throughout so if any one has some helpful links that I may reference from then that would be great.
I have already written about the film Sleepy Hollow and the way they drained out the intensity of light, and the colours they created were always the same throughout- muted greens, dull metallic blue, drab browns, lots of various shades of grey, and black etc.

Any information on lighting a Horror would be great.
Thank you.


From a stressing student.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 09:39 AM

You might get more responses if you asked a few more focused, specific questions rather generalized ones like "exposure for horror".

Shortened shutter speeds for more strobing has been popular for action scenes and it moved into action horror scenes such as the zombie attacks in "28 Days Later". That's the only unusual use of the shutter I can think of for horror films.
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#3 Richard Davis

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 11:23 AM

This reply won't be any help, so i apologise in advance, but I'm guessing Staffordshire Uni right?!
I'm taking a gap year between level 2 and 3, so I have all that to look forward to in September.
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#4 Mike Lary

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 01:08 PM

If you have access to archives of ASC Magazine or other cine publications, you might search for articles on these films:
'The Hunger'
'The Exorcist'
'The Thing' (John Carpenter's)
'The Descent'
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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 11:43 AM

Hiya Rebecca. I'm not sure what you mean by exposure. Normally you would set the exposure by setting the apeture, but this is of course affected by film speed and the amount of light you have too.

Apeture can affect depth of field, so that could be one thing to look at. I can't think of examples of this offhand but have a feeling that there are some shots in Roman Polanskis repulsion that do things with shallow depth of field and focus pulls but I might have a bad memory and be thinking of something else.

As far as film speed, a lot of low budget horror movies were shot on faster stocks with smaller lighting packages. This can lead to grainier film but that can also be a look that people are going for anyway. Grainy film can be a look that can suit horror films just as it suited the hurt locker.

In terms of camera controls, you could also perhaps increase the frame rate so that the film runs slower on projection. I'm sure there must be horror films out there with slow motion shots in them.

Lastly of course apeture will affect how dark the film is exposed. A lot of horror films go for a darker look so you are not sure what is in the shadows! ;)

A lot of the look of horror films is down to the way they are lit however more than the camera settings.

I suggest you sit down and watch some horror movies and see what you can find! 28 days later is a great example as it has a bit of a different look while keeping with the horror genre. Others might be Alien, Repulsion, Rosemarys baby, Poltergeist, Ringu, Amytyville, Nightmare on elm street, etc

I can't think of many others as my brain is fuzzy today for some reason. I would suggest Lost Highway but I'm not sure how much that counts as horror but you should watch it anyway! :)

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 23 March 2010 - 11:45 AM.

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#6 Freya Black

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 12:02 PM

Oh yes! You should definitely watch "Prince of darkness" by John Carpenter too. It's a classic!

BTW Strictly speaking camera controls won't affect the lighting at all, only the way the light is recorded onto the film. Sorry to be pedantic but you are writing a paper and it can be just as important to say what you mean as opposed to meaning what you say, if you see what I mean. Otherwise they may mark you down directly which might also be mean but they have to mark you on what you say as opposed to what you mean to say but don't.

So yeah I have to say I know what you mean and I'm not trying to be mean but you have to actually say what you mean and not what you mean to say..

Hope that helps.

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 23 March 2010 - 12:04 PM.

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#7 Bob Neil

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 03:25 PM

You say "camera effects on lighting" :blink:

Camera effects effect camera - Lighting effects effect lighting.
Camera effects do not change or effect lighting.
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#8 Lynden Blair

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 09:47 AM

Horror lighting is really simple. Light should point upwards towards the talent or subject. Add color gels to create the effect you want. Red for bloody. Yellow for intense. Combine colors for dramatic outcomes. This technique works best on faces, against walls, trees or stairs scenes. 


Edited by Lynden Blair, 02 October 2013 - 09:48 AM.

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#9 jeff woods

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 11:13 AM

Horror lighting is really simple. Light should point upwards towards the talent or subject. Add color gels to create the effect you want. Red for bloody. Yellow for intense. Combine colors for dramatic outcomes. This technique works best on faces, against walls, trees or stairs scenes. 

 

I can't tell if this is tongue-in-cheek or not, but it brings up a good point: it's all subjective. And I'll second (third? fifth?): exposure has little bearing on a genre. Exposure can ruin a scare if you can see too far in to the shadows, but in my opinion, it has more to do with contrast (how much the audience can see vs. not).

 

One man's opinion,

-j


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#10 Stephen Selby

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 10:08 AM

Low angle lighting for horror. Plus issolated areas so not to reveal too much.


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