In the process of watching a movie the viewers’ perception is influenced by many factors including cinematography and lighting. They became an integral part of the visual design, and consequently, they produce a desirable emotional effect. The paper aims at describing cinematography and lighting techniques, which are employed in the scenes for narrative and emotional purposes.
A film director, Steven Spielberg, used a significant technique of cinematography such as the reaction shot. It allows to see the response of the character to some point or action. Such a salient method emphasizes the facial expression of an actor. The reaction shot helps the audience to see and understand the nature of heroes. The film’s director also used this technique with the following replica. It is important to note that this shot is performed by using close-up. The proximity allows the viewer to experience emotions similar to those felt by the character. Thus, this method draws attention of directors due to its subtleness and the ability to arouse desirable reaction at the right time (Elements of Cinema, n.d.)
The main purpose of the reaction shot is to help provide the emotional content of the film. An actor reacts to the previous scene of the movie, or expresses a response to the words of another hero. The method does not always require the other person in the frame. Film “E.T.” is an example of the frequent use of the techniques. Steven Spielberg applies this approach to transfer content as deeply as possible by means of non-verbal communication. Moreover, the feedback on the aliens is always ambiguous; thus, this technique is very suitable for the film. It helps to tell the story in a more multifaceted way. Since the movie is partly a comedy, the use of this shot is quite corresponding. It adds drama and also produces the necessary psychological reaction.
A camera dolly is implemented to create smooth horizontal movements of the film camera. The technique is widely used in cinematograph and television arts. By means of the dolly the camera can move. An operator pushes the cart forward or backward to get the image known as dolly shot. It is necessary to provide the place for the camera to maneuver and horizontal surface on which it can be shifted. The method is commonly practiced, and has many advantages because it conveys a different perception depending on the angle of shooting. Zoom or approaching to the actor or the object makes the audience feel different emotions. For example, advancing towards dangerous things evokes a feeling of tension or fear even if there is no sound; on the other hand, zoom of a positive hero creates nostalgia. Furthermore, this technique can be diversified when using curved track, diagonal moves or turns in the opposite direction. Such a camera has a steering mechanism that increases the efficiency of the device and this method. It is found quite interesting when an operator partially applies circular shooting with a camera dolly (Brown, 2002).
The usage of optical illusions helps to create remarkable effects. Forced perspective is a technique of shooting with the help of optical illusion, which makes the object look closer or more distant than it actually is. The camera and mostly large objects are supposed to cause an optical illusion for the audience. For example, shooting the actors from above makes them more important in the frame. Filming aliens is an interesting example of this technique. When placing the hero close to the camera, one can make him visually bigger. The methods is often used in adventure films, where it is quite appropriate. Moreover, it requires no voice. It is applied in the scene where the alien tries to read comics and display space system (Malkiewicz, Mullen, & Fletcher, 2005).
A background light is another frequently employed technique in this film. It provides separation between the background and the object of the stage. The lighting setups make light of three or four points. If four points are used, the background light is placed behind an actor or an object. Filmmakers created a sense of depth of images by adding a background light. It should not be too intense, what is understandable from its name. Multiple light sources are used in several scenes .They distinguish items, which have to draw the viewer’s attention. In some parts of the movie background light adds uniform illumination behind the actors and objects. Sometimes it differs a little from the key one, because the camera does not always cope with the contrast (Malkiewicz, Mullen, & Fletcher, 2005).
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A fill light is used in the film in order to bring attention to details and reduce contrast scenes. Such a technique allows making the shadows of varying intensity that are lighter or darker. Accordingly, it enables the influence of the mood of a viewer and creates a sense of joy, danger, or interest. There is no doubt that this method depends on the environment (Brown, 2002). It is used to visualize the complex approach to such a logical chain as the cause-effect. It is also beneficial in a room with dim lighting. The technique is particularly noticeable with the white or black colors, for instance for clothes. It should be noted that due to the ability to use new technical approaches, the fill light is used in “E.T” to create an emotional response. A successful application of this method makes the film even more intense and ambiguous.
In conclusion, cinematography and lighting techniques play an important role in manipulating the viewers’ emotional response to the narrative events. The reaction shot, camera dolly and optical illusion influence the perception of the film putting the right emphasis on the features of characters and objects. A background and a fill lights are in charge of the image clarity, and make the spectators be able to determine all the significant elements in the scene frame, thus creating dramatic situations and preferable film environment.