Sharon Calahan’s Tips for Achieving Pro Lighting

Sharon Calahan’s Tips for Achieving Pro Lighting
From Caligari Truespace2 Bible by Peter Plantec

Sharon Calahan is Technical Lighting Director at PIXAR Animation Studios.

1. Take a color and design class to learn more about composition.

2. Learn about the functions of key, fill, and kicker lights from a book about photographic or film lighting.

3. Remember that there is always more than one right way to do something.

4. Think about what logical sources might be in the scene, which can help motivate the lights you are using.

5. Think about the story point and the mood you are trying to evoke.

6. Avoid placing a bright light that emanates from near the camera lens.

7. Consider that all lights do not need to cast shadows (and shouldn’t), but the key light should.

8. Avoid lighting a flat plane with equal brightness across its surface.

9. Avoid lighting oposite sides of a character or surface with equal brightness or color.

10. Limit your use of specular highlights.

11. Remember that the camera moves shot-to-shot, your lights need to move as well.

12. Remember that one light cannot always solve two problems.

13. Consider that a light that animates in position does not look natural — avoid or use with care.

14. Think about shot-to-shot continuity, but don’t be limited by it.

15. User reference material if it helps.

16. Don’t be too literal about the physics of it, go with what looks and feels right.

17. Experiment and get second opinion.

18. Remember that if you can visualize it in your mind, you can make it happen in your image.

19. Keep it as simple as possible.

20. Share you successes and discoveries.

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