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In lighting design, backlighting is the process of illuminating the subject from the back. In other words, the lighting instrument and the viewer face each other, with the subject in between. This creates a glowing effect on the edges of the subject, while other areas are darker. The backlight can be a natural or artificial source of light. When artificial, the back light is usually placed directly behind the subject in a 4-point lighting setup. A back light, which lights foreground elements from the rear, is not to be confused with a background light, which lights background elements (such as scenery).
In the context of lighting design, the back light is sometimes called hair or shoulder light, because when lighting an actor or an actress, backlighting makes the edges the subject's hair glow if the hair is fuzzy. This can create an angelic halo type effect around the head. Filmmakers sometimes use this to show that the actor is good or pure . Television productions often use this effect in soap operas, where it has become something of a cliché of the genre. It is also sometimes called the kicker or rim light.
Backlighting helps separate the subject and the background. Live theatre lighting designs often use backlighting to give a more three-dimensional appearance to actors or set elements, when front lighting alone would give a flat, two-dimensional look. In chiaroscuro effects in painting, such as the candlelit paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby (illustration), backlighting helps separate subjects in the foreground and emphasizes depth.
In photography, a back light (often the sun) that is about sixteen times more intense than the key light produces a silhouette. A fill flash used with a backlit subject yields more even lighting.
The vertical angle of the back light can change the effect. A low angle can make the light hit the camera lens, causing lens flare. A high angle can make the subject's nose extend out from the mostly vertical shadow of the head, producing a potentially unwanted highlight in the middle of the face.
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Stage lighting is the craft of lighting as it applies to the production of theater, dance, opera, and other performance arts. Several different types of stage lighting instruments are used in this discipline. In addition to basic lighting, modern stage lighting can also include special effects, such as lasers and fog machines. People who work on stage lighting are commonly referred to as lighting technicians or lighting designers.
Chroma key compositing, or chroma keying, is a visual effects/post-production technique for compositing (layering) two images or video streams together based on colour hues. The technique has been used in many fields to remove a background from the subject of a photo or video – particularly the newscasting, motion picture, and video game industries. A colour range in the foreground footage is made transparent, allowing separately filmed background footage or a static image to be inserted into the scene. The chroma keying technique is commonly used in video production and post-production. This technique is also referred to as colour keying, colour-separation overlay, or by various terms for specific colour-related variants such as green screen and blue screen; chroma keying can be done with backgrounds of any colour that are uniform and distinct, but green and blue backgrounds are more commonly used because they differ most distinctly in hue from most human skin colours. No part of the subject being filmed or photographed may duplicate the colour used as the backing.
Chiaroscuro, in art, is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures. Similar effects in cinema and photography also are called chiaroscuro.
Compositing is the combining of visual elements from separate sources into single images, often to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene. Live-action shooting for compositing is variously called "chroma key", "blue screen", "green screen" and other names. Today, most, though not all, compositing is achieved through digital image manipulation. Pre-digital compositing techniques, however, go back as far as the trick films of Georges Méliès in the late 19th century, and some are still in use.
Three-point lighting is a standard method used in visual media such as theatre, video, film, still photography and computer-generated imagery. By using three separate positions, the photographer can illuminate the shot's subject however desired, while also controlling the shading and shadows produced by direct lighting.
Fill flash is a photographic technique used to brighten deep shadow areas, typically outdoors on sunny days, though the technique is useful any time the background is significantly brighter than the subject of the photograph, particularly in backlit subjects. To use fill flash, the aperture and shutter speed are adjusted to correctly expose the background, and the flash is fired to lighten the foreground.
Mattes are used in photography and special effects filmmaking to combine two or more image elements into a single, final image. Usually, mattes are used to combine a foreground image with a background image. In this case, the matte is the background painting. In film and stage, mattes can be physically huge sections of painted canvas, portraying large scenic expanses of landscapes.
The key light is the first and usually most important light that a photographer, cinematographer, lighting cameraman, or other scene composer will use in a lighting setup. The purpose of the key light is to highlight the form and dimension of the subject. The key light is not a rigid requirement; omitting the key light can result in a silhouette effect. Many key lights may be placed in a scene to illuminate a moving subject at opportune moments.
In television, film, stage, or photographic lighting, a fill light may be used to reduce the contrast of a scene to match the dynamic range of the recording media and record the same amount of detail typically seen by eye in average lighting and considered normal. From that baseline of normality using more or less fill will make shadows seem lighter or darker than normal which will cause the viewer to react differently, by inferring both environmental and mood clues from the tone of the shadows.
This article contains a list of cinematic techniques that are divided into categories and briefly described.
A front projection effect is an in-camera visual effects process in film production for combining foreground performance with pre-filmed background footage. In contrast to rear projection, which projects footage onto a screen from behind the performers, front projection projects the pre-filmed material over the performers and onto a highly reflective background surface.
Rembrandt lighting is a lighting technique that is used in studio portrait photography. It can be achieved using one light and a reflector, or two lights, and is popular because it is capable of producing images which appear both natural and compelling with a minimum of equipment. Rembrandt lighting is characterized by an illuminated triangle under the eye of the subject on the less illuminated side of the face. It is named for the Dutch painter Rembrandt, who often used this type of lighting.
Stage lighting instruments are used in stage lighting to illuminate theatrical productions, concerts, and other performances taking place in live performance venues. They are also used to light television studios and sound stages.
Portrait photography or portraiture in photography is a photograph of a person or group of people that captures the personality of the subject by using effective lighting, backdrops, and poses. A portrait picture might be artistic, or it might be clinical, as part of a medical study. Frequently, portraits are commissioned for special occasions, such as weddings or school events. Portraits can serve many purposes, from usage on a personal Web site to display in the lobby of a business.
In visual arts and particularly cinematography, framing is the presentation of visual elements in an image, especially the placement of the subject in relation to other objects. Framing can make an image more aesthetically pleasing and keep the viewer's focus on the framed object(s). It can also be used as a repoussoir, to direct attention back into the scene. It can add depth to an image, and can add interest to the picture when the frame is thematically related to the object being framed.
Architectural photography is the photographing of buildings and similar structures that are both aesthetically pleasing and accurate representations of their subjects. Architectural photographers are usually skilled in the use of specialized techniques and cameras
An ultra wide-angle lens is a lens whose focal length is shorter than the short side of film or sensor.
Photographic lighting is the illumination of scenes to be photographed. A photograph simply records patterns of light, color, and shade; lighting is all-important in controlling the image. In many cases even illumination is desired to give an accurate rendition of the scene. In other cases the direction, brightness, and color of light are manipulated for effect. Lighting is particularly important for monochrome photography, where there is no color information, only the interplay of highlights and shadows. Lighting and exposure are used to create effects such as low-key and high-key.
Landscape photography shows spaces within the world, sometimes vast and unending, but other times microscopic. Landscape photographs typically capture the presence of nature but can also focus on man-made features or disturbances of landscapes. Landscape photography is done for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most common is to recall a personal observation or experience while in the outdoors, especially when traveling. Others pursue it particularly as an outdoor lifestyle, to be involved with nature and the elements, some as an escape from the artificial world.
Prism lighting is the use of prisms to improve the distribution of light in a space. It is usually used to distribute daylight, and is a form of anidolic lighting.