The lighting of a scene can affect everything from set design to the overall success of a film. Check out this breakdown to find out how.

Cover image via Paramount.

A recent breakdown of the Ghost in the Shell remake shines a light on one shot and how lighting affects its narrative. No matter the type of lighting you’re using or location where you’re shooting, understanding why you should light subjects and settings a certain way will help you get the desired result out of your finished product.

The video breakdown above by Nerdwriter1 concludes that the recent Ghost in the Shell remake wasn’t the best representation of the original source material. Regardless of what you thought about the film, comparisons to the original were inevitable.

Of the many great points in the video, one of the most production-oriented addresses the following shot and how the filmmakers chose to light it.

How Lighting Can Change the Meaning of a Shot — Major Bed

The bed Major (the central character) is sitting on, made entirely of LEDs, is the only source of (practical) light in the shot. No matter the location of the light, in general, it is pretty dim. Like much of the rest of the film, the colors and lights are attempting to create a bleak, noir environment. The LED lights could have been more successful if they had been brighter, thus giving the room more light while playing up the futuristic look.

When you look at the shot from the original anime, the end result is much more powerful.

How Lighting Can Change the Meaning of a Shot — Bed Original

The light is coming in through the window, creating the silhouette of the character lying down on the bed. The video argues that the original shot is effective, and it makes the character seem significant — she is a physical manifestation of the city itself. This shot works on multiple levels, contributing to the overall story. That’s what makes the original so powerful.

Determining your lighting setup can add more to your work than just style and tone. It can bring new meaning and highlight your intended effect. The following video details a few ways you can light a scene practically while establishing tone.

For more coverage on the many ways you can light a scene, check out these links:


Know any innovative ways to light your subjects? Let us know in the comments.