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