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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Nothelfer

Illumination Rumination

How did we make our new film look old?


The key to emulating the classic 30's and 40's style was to study the lighting used during "Golden Era" Hollywood.

Catherine, played by Caitlin Duffy, bathes in light of the set of "A Gift For All Ages" film
Shining in some "Golden Era" Illumination

The Christmas movies of yesteryear were just as popular then as they are now, and Hollywood was constantly cranking out a bunch of 'em.


Production moved fast on those small back lot sets!


The lighting they used was set up elegantly, but also simply, because of this.


This is the look we strived for. We went with tried-and-true "3-point lighting;"

The video and image below show the light grid wedged between the top of our set and the ceiling of our custom made Borrego Springs Resort soundstage.


This worked perfectly.


By quickly controlling the intensity of these sources we stuck to the classic style developed a century ago.


A huge bonus, however, of filming now-a-days is the sensitivity of the camera. Basically, we can now work with about 1/10th the light that was needed back then. We can stick to traditional lighting arrangements, but rather than flooding a set with an incredible amount of light, we could work with much more subtle nuances.

You'll see the result of this in smaller charming shots where candles become an important source of illumination. The flickers of the flame dance across the faces of the actors.


Fun stuff!


We have more examples to share with you along the way. So please take a moment to subscribe (that little brown box at the top of this page) to our e-mail and like/share what we're doing on social media.


A Gift For All Ages is a true love-letter to Christmas movies of old, and we hope you can help us spread the word about our "modern classic"!


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