Watch How Movies Create Mood by Avoiding Flat Lighting

Sometimes you look at a photo or scene in a T.V show and think "that looks rubbish." For me, 9 out of 10 of those cases are the result of flat lighting. Let Vanity Fair's Reverse Film School series show you exactly how much of a difference it makes.

Every film — be it short or feature length — that I've ever loved the visuals of have two things in common: interesting lighting and good color grading. Interesting lighting is as much about what you exclude as you include, and if I were to show someone what I mean, from this day on, I'll use this video.

Flat lighting is usually the result of the key light being fire at the subject from the same direction as the camera, as well as overwhelming the scene with light. In this short, you can see how much more powerful it is to light a scene carefully from multiple directions, and create shadows in all the right places. If you can blend subtle lighting, shadows, and appropriate use of color theory, you'll end up conveying the mood you're shooting for perfectly. That said, it's always important to make sure your light "makes sense" with natural light, location, and time of day. Get it all right and you will end up with a beautiful scene or shot.

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