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Old October 10th, 2006, 12:38 PM   #1
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That British light?

As I was watching a British television drama (Cracker), I wondered, what is it about these British shows that makes them similar and identifiable, aside from the actors' accents, tall taxis and such. Could it be that the light is so uniform, a result of usually overcast skies?
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Old October 10th, 2006, 10:19 PM   #2
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A guess

Hi:

As a lifelong British television fan, I would venture to say that what you are noticing is the BBC methodology. In the U.K., being a lighting cameraman is a much more defined occupation than it is here and there is a much smaller body of working lighting cameraman shoooting content for BBC, Granada, etc.

Ever notice how many English films have all of your favorite actors over and over again? The body of talent in the UK that makes a living on camera and behind the camera is much smaller than it is here. I think you see a lot of the same guys lighting a wide variety of programmes.

All the best,

Dan
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Old October 11th, 2006, 05:41 PM   #3
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Eeew, fighting talk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Schweer
the light is so uniform, a result of usually overcast skies?
And if you do live under a sky that's more like tupperware than crystal azure, it's totally natural.

There's film lighting, where you've got 7-11 stops of latitude, and video lighting 'as taught by Auntie Beeb' that has 1.7 stops of latitude (or perhaps I exagerate). Auntie Beeb is into soft key. Everyone likes it. It's flattering.

But seriously, there's perhaps a move of flat lighting for video that's overlapping a filmic look (taking into consideration black stretch and increased gamma of video). Added to that, there's a kind of tiredness about harsh lighting that only so much pro-mist can soften. Many video lighting people are discovering uplighting, soft lighting, putting a healthy glow where once was graggy shadows. Conversly, consider environments, where once was flood, now spots highlight areas where we want people to look.

Bring on the practicals. The audience is adult enough to know that overhead tungstens make mummy-like eye sockets and that office florries make everyone look like morgue candidates. Making offices look like the insides of refrigerators and shop interiors look like spot-lit dens don't reflect our audience's experience.

IMHO, of course! :D

OTOH, There's people like Alan Roberts who will squeeze every last stop of performance from a given camera to provide the colourist with a broad enough palette. The colourist will make every shot in a scene match the Director's vision, no matter what the source footage is like. So if you see flat, grey shots, that's what the Director wanted.
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Old October 12th, 2006, 09:41 AM   #4
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no fight here

Matt, I like the look. When I go outside and it's overcast I say, "Great, a video day," and normal people look at me strangely.
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Old October 12th, 2006, 10:18 AM   #5
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I've noticed a lot of sameness as well. They seem to use a lot more hard lighting than television shows in the states do.
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Old October 26th, 2006, 07:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marco Leavitt
I've noticed a lot of sameness as well. They seem to use a lot more hard lighting than television shows in the states do.
That might be because they are very much lower budget than US shows! On the few shows with good budgets the DoP's seem to take the opportunity to go totally over the top (Dr. Who being a good example)
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Old October 27th, 2006, 04:17 PM   #7
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I always thought it was the conversion from PAL to NTSC that gave "that look".

On Dr. Who, I noticed that the exteriors had a different look than the interiors, and I wasn't sure what that was about. I do mostly remember overcast days, tho... (this was from the Tom Baker as Dr. Who days...)
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Old October 28th, 2006, 10:29 PM   #8
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When I lived in the UK, everything shot interior was video and everything exterior in film. I have no explanation for why they would do that, but it seemed pretty much universal - Beeb or ITV. Maybe they wanted to exploit a shallower DoF the exterior shooting on film would allow. I was there for twenty years and never really got used to "the look". Of course half of the dramas and sitcoms were US imports, so I really never got complete saturation into this particular production standard.

On the other hand, the scripts and actors were (are) so damned good, that it never really spoiled anything for me. I wish I could find "When The Boat Comes In" on DVD. It was one of the very best miniseries of all time.
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Old October 29th, 2006, 04:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Barker
I wish I could find "When The Boat Comes In" on DVD. It was one of the very best miniseries of all time.
Boom! http://www.play.com/Search.aspx?sear...go.x=38&go.y=4
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Old October 29th, 2006, 10:09 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Vincent Rozenberg
Thanks Vincent, but I don't think these will play in the USA, will they?
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Old October 30th, 2006, 02:34 AM   #11
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If you've got a multinorm/multiregion player it will. Otherwise, not.
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Old November 11th, 2006, 11:48 PM   #12
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Bringing up an almost 2 week old thread...Has anyone seen the new Brit series "Jericho". There is some really nice lighting there. There seems to have been a change in the last couple of decades, maybe more money coming in.
I'm thinking (being a mystery lover) of the difference between the video series like Tuppence and Tommy and the earlier Adam Dalgliesh, Then some nice, though flatly lit film pieces like Miss Marple (with Joan Dickson) and the Pierot series with David Suchet-(great Deco Production Design)- and now some more sylish lighting like Jericho. Everybody's getting better.
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