The Language of Lighting

Tal Lazar

The Language of Lighting

Tal Lazar
3h 54m
9 modules (view curriculum)

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  • Total Time:

    3h 54m


Lighting is a language communicating information and emotions to the viewer. It is also a language visual artists use to communicate with each other. This course is not just about lamps and lighting conventions. Learn to see light like a professional cinematographer and design it to tell a story. What is the purpose of lighting in a scene and how to connect it with your character? What is the difference between lighting on set or on a soundstage? How do you lead a team of lighting technicians? What is the best lighting unit to choose, and why? All these questions and more are answered in this course, filmed on a soundstage and utilizing demonstrations and many scenes from great films.



What are the most basic objectives of lighting, and how to even describe light so that others can see the same thing? Basic concepts of lighting, such as emulation, are introduced and demonstrated.


Lighting needs to convince the audience that it's real, even when it's not. In the process of creating that believability, lighting designers build the fictional world. Lighting also tells stories and creates effects - all this and more in this video.


How is lighting used to deliver information to the audience? Concepts such as contrast and movement are introduced, and we go through the entire process of designing lighting for a scene, from script to screen, in this video.


When is it a good idea to use practicals vs. movie lights? A deeper dive into the characteristics of light reveals the answer. Advanced topics such as the inverse square law, diffusion and color temperature are reviewed.


Independent films often film on location. How does this affect lighting? What is the difference between a location and a soundstage? Factors of equipment, crew and time are reviewed, as well as a deep dive into electricity.


Blocking and lighting are closely related but seldom discussed together. We close the loop and introduce procedures to successfully run a set with lighting, as well as look at multi-camera specifically.


Tools to plan for lighting without even having a camera or lights are introduced. The light meter, waveform monitor and histogram are introduced.


How does the camera see color, and how does that affect lighting design? Looking deeper at color temperature, color gels, vectorscope and color meters reveals a hidden world.


What types of lamps are there and how are they different? From tungsten to HMI, fluorescent and LED, we look at each type and create a foundation for picking the right lighting unit for a task. We finish with reviewing safety procedures needed to work on location.

About the Educator

Tal Lazar

Cinematographer, Producer, Educator

4 Courses

Tal Lazar is a cinematographer and educator whose courses are taught at leading film schools such as Columbia University, the American Film Institute and Sundance Institute.


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