Cinematographic affordances : creative approaches to lighting in moving image practice

Nevill, Alexander (2018) Cinematographic affordances : creative approaches to lighting in moving image practice. Media Practice and Education, 19(2), pp. 122-138. ISSN (print) 2574-1136


The widespread adoption of digital technologies in the film industry has received a good deal of critical attention from practitioners and scholars alike, however, little specific consideration about changing lighting practices can be found among this discourse. Traditionally, the domain of a cinematographer, the control and orchestration of lighting have significant aesthetic connotations for moving image work, so it is surprising that this practice remains an under-explored area. This article draws upon autoethnographic notation from my cinematography work in conjunction with written practitioner perspectives on the subject to account for the changing landscape of lighting practices in the film industry. Taking inspiration from sociocultural psychology, I argue that creative lighting is a fundamentally situated and distributed process during which practitioners pursue affordances arising from their given production environment, technological facilities and cultural context. Three new concepts toward lighting practices arise from this analysis; organisation, correspondence and association which I suggest can offer further insight into the creative lighting work of practitioners in the film industry.

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