Inside the Lighting Design That Makes All Sitcoms Look the Same

Getty Images
Getty Images

There’s a reason that most sitcoms, from Seinfeld to Friends to The Big Bang Theory, all look similar. That familiar bright aesthetic can be traced back to one man, according to a recent video explainer produced by Vox. This pioneer, explains Vox’s Phil Edwards, was none other than Karl Freund, the cinematographer behind the pioneering 1927 sci-fi film Metropolis and the 1931 Bela Lugosi version of Dracula.

Freund would go on to work on I Love Lucy, essentially inventing the three-camera sitcom, a form that’s still recognizable today, though you might not be able to put your finger on why.

It basically came down to the much-derided laugh track. Sitcoms like I Love Lucy were shot in front of live audiences, which Freund argued brought out better performances. But in order to have a show that didn’t need to pause to re-stage shots or move lights around, filming had to happen in a specific way. Freund helped solve that problem.

He set up three cameras, one on each side of the stage to capture close-ups, and one in the middle to capture wide shots. These cameras were on moving dollies that allowed them to shift. Even more crucially, the set had fixed lighting. There were lights placed above the set, down on the floor, and under the cameras. Actors were brightly lit from every angle so that shooting never had to stop. Actors could move around the set as much as necessary, and the cameras could follow them.

That even lighting is why sitcoms all have that bright look. Movies and single-camera shows, by contrast, are more dramatically lit, with dark shadows and a tighter camera focus. Film directors can play with lighting and focus as much as they want, while a studio audience watching a sitcom wouldn’t have much patience for all those cuts—nor would a tight shooting schedule for a weekly sitcom like I Love Lucy have room for them.

See the difference in the video below.

[h/t Digg]

Turn Your Couch or Bed Into an Office With This Comfortable Lap Desk

LapGear
LapGear

If you're not working in an office right now, you'll understand the freedom of taking a Zoom meeting from your back porch, jotting down notes from your bed, and filling out spreadsheets from your sofa. But working from home isn't always as comfortable as everyone thinks it is, especially if you're trying to get through the day while balancing a notebook, computer, and stationery on your lap. To give you the space you need while maintaining your well-earned place on the couch, LapGear has the perfect solution to your problems with their lap desk, which you can find on Amazon for $35.

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With more than 6000 reviews and a 4.8-star rating on Amazon, the lap desk can fit laptops and tablets up to 15.6 inches across and includes an integrated 5-inch-by-9-inch mouse pad and cell phone slot for better organization. There's even a ledge built into the desk to help keep your device from sliding when you're at an angle.

For some added comfort, the bottom of the desk is designed with dual-bolster cushions, so you'll never have to feel a hot laptop on your thighs again. The top surface is available in various colors like white marble ($30), silver carbon ($35), and oak woodgrain ($35) to work with your design aesthetic.

Find out more about LapGear’s lap desk here on Amazon.

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The Office Children's Book Is Coming to Introduce Your Kids to Dunder Mifflin

The Office: A Day at Dunder Mifflin Elementary is coming from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in October.
The Office: A Day at Dunder Mifflin Elementary is coming from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in October.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Amazon

Thanks to constant TV reruns and easy access via Netflix, The Office hasn't lost any of its popularity since airing its series finale in 2013. Now the beloved sitcom is about to be introduced to a whole new audience that (fortunately) isn't old enough to understand what Michael Scott means when he says "That's what she said." As Entertainment Weekly reports, a new book for kids, The Office: A Day at Dunder Mifflin Elementary, is out now.

While it might be hard to imagine how a children's book all about Dunder Mifflin would work, now that we're getting a glimpse at it, it seems like the best idea ever. A Day at Dunder Mifflin Elementary will introduce your little ones to all your favorite paper company employees—though they won't be the same Jim and Pam we all know so well. In this book, the illustrated characters are all school-aged.

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The 40-page book is written by Robb Pearlman, author of Bob Ross and Peapod the Squirrel, Pink is for Boys, and Star Trek: Fun with Kirk and Spock, and illustrated by Melanie Demmer, who works on the My Furry Foster Family series. Though the book is intended for kids ages 4 to 8, you can be sure that we'll be reading it, too.

You can order your copy of The Office: A Day at Dunder Mifflin Elementary for $16 on Amazon right now. And if you're looking for more Office collectibles that are available right now, head here.

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