Hello and welcome to this new episode of lighting breakdown. Today we will analyze some scenes taken from the film Hugo, directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, with Robert Richardson as cinematographer. Without any further ado, let’s start right away with the first scene:
Many of you on the Ci-Lovers Instagram page ask me to do a breakdown of outdoor scenes, so let’s start with this one. As always, let’s focus on the background:
Since this scene is shot in a studio, we have quite a few fixtures that light up the background. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what type of sources are used because I didn’t have the information, but let’s see what it is for the actress.
Here what interests us is this soft key light. But above all, there is this strong backlight that illuminates the back of the actress to give more naturalism to the scene and thus imitate the sun. Then for the Keylight, since it’s in a studio, they had more control. If it were shot outside, you would have to place large silk to diffuse the lights emitted by the sun and then place your own. So here, in my opinion, maybe they should have used the Book Light method to have this soft key light. That is, bouncing the sources onto a reflecting surface and then diffusing the reflections through a diffuser. So you will have such a soft Key light. Let’s see it all on a diagram.
Note that there are several ways to achieve this kind of look, but what is described in this article are simply the methods I would have used if I had to recreate it. Moving on to the second scene:
This shot roughly covers the basics of lighting in general. We have a Key Light, Fill Light, Kick Light, and Practical Light.
As you can see, the key light comes from the right side of the screen. Then we have the fill light warmed from the left side of the screen marked in green. Then we have the kicker light, which is motivated by the window at the top right of the screen. To add separation, they put this small fireplace in the back and then the practical light that plays a huge role in adding a little more light to the background.
A classic setup from cinematographer Robert Richardson; Backlighting. Let’s analyze it all more closely;
We have this strong backlight, probably motivated by the window above behind the actor. Then we have the fill light, presumably from a gold reflector reflecting the backlight onto his face.
Aside from the strong backlight, if we look closer, we can see that there is another source that illuminates and adds texture to the background shown here in blue. I don’t know how to tell you where this came from, but if you have any ideas, let me know in the comments.
That’s it for today, and I hope you learned new things. It is high time the world discovers your works and talents, and we are here to help you. If you are a cinematographer or filmmaker and want to share your skills, and your work, and be featured on Ci-Lovers, please don’t hesitate to email us five shots from your recent work with details and setups directly at Info@cilovers.com. We will publish it with pleasure on this website and our social networks.
For those still new to cinematography, I recommend these books from amazon, which have helped me develop my talent and knowledge without going to a school film. It might help you too;
Best Cinematography Books
This was Marco Robinson for Ci-Lovers. See you soon.