Here is an example of creation itself. A creation that has raised women’s self-esteem the world over. However, while this video shows us what make-up and computer tricks do to hide facial flaws, it does not show how camera angles and lighting are used. The use of the camera and lighting is usually so subtle that the viewer is almost unaware that they have been used.
Long shots, close-ups, camera placements (high angles, low angles) – all these are camera treatments. Depending on which is used, the result is different. “It can make a hundred per cent difference to a face,” says Mahesh Aane, cinematographer/director, Strawberry Films. “Generally a face is not shot from below (called a low shot) but either from the same level or a slightly higher angle,’ he explains. A broad jawline can be made less prominent if this is done. Also, the nose appears narrower and a double chin and wrinkles on the neck can be hidden. A high angle shot can also affect the mood of the picture. It can surround the subject with an aura of mystery and romance. “The camera can make same face look exotic, erotic or stark,’ points out Mahesh.
Mood play can also be achieved through lighting. Esoteric, forbidding, happy, dull, glamorized, de-glamorized – you name it, and a high contrasting light can make it happen. As Vikas Shivraman, Director/Cameraman of Escape Reality Motion Picture Company says, “It depends on the kind of look required, and on the script.” The two most commonly used light varieties are in technical terms called ‘key’ and ‘fill’. The ratio of the ‘key’ light (it exposes the face) and ‘fill’ light (it fills shadows caused by the key light) determines picture contrast.
Shivraman’s Durex (condoms) campaign is an example of the ‘high-contrasting’ technique. This commercial was considered so brilliant that it was released overseas as well as in India. The film’s producer used shadows to hide the actual details but at the same time the scenes managed to convey the love-making going on. Care was taken to highlight expressions to draw attention away from the bodies. This clever use of light and shadow succeeded in creating the right atmosphere for the shot – sensual and romantic and steering clear of vulgarity.
Shivraman has also used the light and shadow technique in a Double Diamond Tea commercial which has a tired wife returning home to a considerate husband. The idea was to give a fatigued look, but not take away from her beauty. If make-up had been used to create the ‘tired look’ it would have spoilt things, says the film’s producer.
In fact lighting tricks have amazing versatility and every film-maker uses them.
Those gorgeously flawless skins selling one cream or another are not just the remarkable result of make-up alone. Diffused lighting has a part to play. Placing the light source very close to the camera or model – flat lighting in technical jargon – is often used generously. Other ingenious ways to impart softness to the picture are large scrims (satin or otherwise), and even acrylic sheets (perfect for bouncing light).
Camera lens also have a role to play. They can diffuse light, colour code, and even change the appearance of models. The right filter can create a dreamy glow on a model’s face. Camera lens can also fix flaws. Often, what needs fixing is the shadow of the eye-brows on the eye socket which can make the face look tired. Here the right lens can make all the difference. At times an innocuous little pimple can create a problem. Sure, make-up can blend it with the face but a pimple casts a teeny weeny shadow and again, it’s the lens which is used to cover it up.
The tricks used by the glamour industry are many…and what they tell us is that the women and men that they portray are products of fantasy.
(This is an abridged version of an article titled ‘Angles and Centre Spreads’ that appeared in the Advertising and Marketing (A&M) Magazine)