How Much of that “Acting” can be Attributed to Good Lighting?
What’s the difference between an Emmy-worthy film clip and a really bad YouTube video? According to John Jackman, author of Lighting for Digital Video and Television, it could be the lighting. First you need the proper exposure – you don’t want everyone and everything looking pale and washed out. Second, you need to create the illusion of depth – so that people forget they are watching a screen. And third, perhaps the most important role of lighting is to create the “mood and feeling” of a scene.
Skeptical? Check out this 90 second video which demonstrates how important lighting is to a film. It focuses on the features of one woman. As the lighting shifts she “morphs from drama to horror to comedy.” In fact, in the space of 90 seconds, this woman looks “normal, beautiful, evil, grotesque, depressed, jovial and so much more.” It’s no wonder some people would say the lighting of the scene is more important than the camera recording it!
With this in mind, it might surprise you to learn that of the more than 90 Creative Arts Emmy’s awarded each year, only two are for accomplishment in the lighting category. And they are focused not on scripted programming, but on lighting design and direction in Variety Series and Variety Specials. The 2017 nominees for Variety Series are:
And the 2017 nominees for Variety Special are:
Conspicuously absent from the Variety Specials category is the Emmy Award ceremony itself – probably because the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has determined it should remain above, or at least outside, the competitive fray.
Interestingly, the majority of these shows are also up for “best show” Emmy’s, including, Saturday Night Live for Best Variety Sketch Series and The Oscars, Hairspray Live!, Super Bowl LI Halftime Show Starring Lady Gaga and the 70th Annual Tony Awards for “Best Special Class Program.” Coincidence or celebration of lighting genius?
A review of previous winners of lighting awards reveals that several lighting geniuses seem to monopolize the category. Robert Dickinson, nominated this year for lighting the Oscars, has been nominated 56 times and won 18 times. Robert Barnhart who was responsible for lighting Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl LI half time show, has been nominated 37 times and won eight times. And Andy O’Reilly, nominated this year for his work on the Oscar’s has been nominated 30 times and won 10 times. These individuals, and other lighting professionals like them are also responsible for the lighting of some of the Emmy-favorites television dramas and comedies – and their actors.
Sadly, though lighting is one of the most important aspects of a television show (and our lives, for that matter), the lighting awards are rarely broadcast in prime time, and will not be included in the 2017 telecast on September 17th. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that a creative genius has lost a lot of sleep in the last few months making sure that the lighting is perfect when performers and presenters like Oprah, Nicole Kidman, Alec Baldwin and Riz Ahmed hit the stage. They are going to look great. And we’ll credit the lighting.
As you enjoy the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, watch how the lighting converts the mood, introduces new tones and burnishes the beauty of the set and the performers. Imagine how different it would be without the right light. And then look around your house. Is your light doing you and your home justice? Our Tesla light bulbs will. Learn more here.