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WPI Technical Theatre Handbook: Lighting Angle
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Lighting Angle

Figure 5.23: Computer rendering showing the effect of lighting an actor from several different angles. From left to right, top to bottom: from front overhead (low angle), from rear overhead (high angle), from side, from front below actor, from directly overhead.

Another variable that lighting designers have control over is lighting angle. Depending on how a person is lit, different features of the person's body and face are accentuated. This can be used effectively to make a character look sinister, mysterious, or larger than life. Lighting that hides the face (back lighting) tends to make people more nervous and less trusting of a character. Floor lighting and downlighting can both make a character look larger than life, while side lighting can make a character look mysterious. These techniques are effective only if used sparingly. If overused, they become the norm to the audience, and thus lose their effectiveness.

Steve Richardson 2000-07-06

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