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]

This Course Will Teach You How to Play Guitar Like a Pro for $29

BartekSzewczyk/iStock via Getty Images
BartekSzewczyk/iStock via Getty Images

Be honest: You’ve watched a YouTube video or two in an attempt to learn how to play a song on the guitar. Whether it was through tabs or simply copying whatever you saw on the screen, the fun always ends when friends start throwing out requests for songs you have no idea how to play. So how about you actually learn how to play guitar for real this time?

It’s now possible to learn guitar from home with the Ultimate Beginner to Expert Guitar Lessons Bundle, which is currently on sale for $29. Grab that Gibson, Fender, or whatever you have handy, and learn to strum rhythms from scratch.

The strumming course will teach you how to count beats and rests to turn your hands and fingers into the perfect accompaniment for your own voice or other musicians. Then, you can take things a step further and learn advanced jamming and soloing to riff anytime, anywhere. This course will teach you to improvise across various chords and progressions so you can jump into any jam with something original. You’ll also have the chance to dive deep into the major guitar genres of bluegrass, blues, and jazz. Lessons in jam etiquette, genre history, and how to read music will separate you from a novice player.

This bundle also includes courses in ear training so you can properly identify any relative note, interval, or pitch. That way, you can play along with any song when it comes on, or even understand how to modify it into the key you’d prefer. And when the time comes to perform, be prepared with skilled hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, bends, trills, vibrato, and fret-tapping. Not only will you learn the basic foundations of guitar, you’ll ultimately be able to develop your own style with the help of these lessons.

The Ultimate Beginner to Expert Guitar Lessons Bundle is discounted for a limited time. Act on this $29 offer now to work on those fingertip calluses and play like a pro.

 

The Ultimate Beginner to Expert Guitar Lessons Bundle - $29

See Deal


At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Which Friends Character Would Earn the Most Money in the Real World?

Warner Bros. Television/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Warner Bros. Television/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Although Friends went off the air in 2004, the iconic sitcom continues to attract new fans who've discovered the show via re-runs and streaming networks like HBO Max.

To play into this devoted fan base, the professional resume writers at StandOut-CV conducted a fun experiment: They asked more than 3000 fans to predict where Joey, Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Phoebe, and Monica would be today, career-wise. They also took the time to figure out how much each character would earn in their respective fields in the real world. Could we be more curious?

Bringing in the highest salary is Joey, whose acting exploits are projected to earn him approximately $61,022 a year. Next comes Dr. Ross, whose career as a paleontologist brings in an estimated $59,023. After that comes fashion designer Rachel, earning $54,563 a year, followed by Chandler's writer/editor salary of $47,039 annually. Phoebe comes next, with her musical career bringing in an annual salary of $43,604 (although the site doesn't mention how her massage therapy business might factor into her life today). Surprisingly, Monica would bring in the least amount of money; she'd earn an average of $43,165 per year as a head chef.

As far as where fans think the Friends gang would be today, the answers are pretty great: They believe Joey would have expanded his acting career to include his own reality series called Keeping Up With Joey Tribbiani. Monica, meanwhile, would have taken the next step in her culinary career by opening up her own restaurant, and her husband Chandler would have continued his passion for writing at a comics magazine. The last season of Friends follows Rachel as she works as an executive for Ralph Lauren, and fans theorize that she would have used her breadth of experience to start her own fashion brand. It's believed Phoebe would have continued her music career, perhaps even becoming a music teacher, while Ross would have spent time writing dinosaur-themed children's books.

Hopefully, the upcoming Friends reunion special will give fans a final answer on what the characters would be up to today.