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Light as a storyteller

Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity (1944)

Today we will go back in time and travel with the speed of light (heheh) (sorry)

I am fascinated how artists in the past who had limited technology and resources were able to express their talents and were telling the story within the art piece mostly with lighting. Lighting is able to create certain moods, atmosphere and character.

Even in written pieces, eg. Gustave Flaubert's Madam Bovary (1856.), the writer  is using lighting effects to symbolize specific situations or a character's psychology, while at the same time reflects a particular point of view. Not to mention how often the lighting is being used in poetry as a driver for expression of the feelings.

Akira(1988) is the perfect example for this. In this japanese ground breaking animated science fiction film, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, neon light is used as a symbol for consumerism and it creates the dystopian feeling of the city which is very difficult to animate in every frame of the movie.


"No other film has ever looked like Akira, before or since. It’s stunningly fluid and detailed animation often required as many as 9 separate cel layers. The 125 minute feature was comprised of over 160,000 cels and almost as many backgrounds, each one completely hand–drawn and hand-painted." Joe Peacock, Akira cels collector 


Have a look at the short video on Akira: How to Animate Light



Another example is Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer sometimes referred as "The master of light"

The video bellow describes how in one of his paintings (Woman holding a balance 1662–1663) light draws you in and encompass the full scope of the painting.



And if you are interested how Film Noir  were made when the technology and resources were limited, and how talented people of the time made iconic look and feel in their movies, have a look at this video:


I hope you enjoyed this post. Feel free to share with someone who'll find this interesting :)