Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching Roger Deakins breaking down how film lighting works.
It is hard to speak about Roger Deakins without slipping into hyperbole. He is, quite simply, one of the best cinematographers working today. Whether he’s collaborating with the Coen brothers or Denis Villeneuve, the fact of the matter is the man’s a genius. Maybe you’re an aspiring cinematographer or just a fan. But when Deakins offers tidbits about how he does what he does, we’d all do well to listen. Especially if he’s talking about light.
Distinct, evocative, and expressionistic lighting is one of Deakins’ signatures. His resume is written in exposure and shadow, in warmth and coolness, in gels and refraction. When people think of Deakins’ work, I imagine they think of the blistering, Mars-like haze of Blade Runner 2046. Or perhaps the stark frigidity of Fargo. Or maybe even the shadow play of The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford.
It makes sense that Deakins’ work feels defined by lighting because, as the two-part video series below testifies, for Deakins, lighting is all about making an audience feel something. Being familiar with the technical side of things is important. But, fundamentally, lighting is like most things in cinema, a science and an art; an expressive muscle, trained by experiencing light itself.
These two videos cover everything from Deakins’ philosophy, to lighting night scenes, to the critical challenge of capturing character in the human face, to the creative joys of browsing bulbs at Home Depot. Together, they are the perfect watch for anyone curious about how a master approaches the foundations of his craft.
Watch “Roger Deakins on ‘Learning to Light'”:
Who made this?
StudioBinder is a production management software creator. And they also happen to produce wildly informative video essays. They tend to focus on the mechanics of filmmaking itself, from staging to pitches and directorial techniques. You can check out their YouTube account here.
More Videos Like This
- First, here’s more of what to expect from StudioBinder: how filmmakers weaponize camera apertures and what makes them such an essential storytelling tool.
- And here’s another, from StudioBinder: a video essay that clarifies the importance of a script breakdown with a look at Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel.
- Here’s Roger Deakins breaking down the one-shot in 1917.
- Roger Deakins, for Rotten Tomatoes, on his award-winning career.
- And here’s Queue favorite Thomas Flight on how 1917 makes up for its lack of editing with a combination of cinematography, choreography, and set design.
- Cinematography-focused channel Aputure has a breakdown of why Roger Deakins is the king of adding depth to a cinematic lighting setup.
- Here’s the cast of Denis Villeneuve‘s Sicario gushing about how great Deakins is.