The Conversation, an informal academic blog in the U.K., has published a fascinating overview of the history of lighting in motion pictures. It’s a great review moving through the first ways films were lit (using natural light in glass studios, in case you were wondering, which is why Hollywood is in California) to today (when lighting is used more minimally). A hypothesis presented is that lighting was used less and less due to the physical effects on the actors.
However our theatricality side, though usually used on stage, knows that lighting is still an important factor to consider. This video at Filmmaker Magazine illustrates (as we already know and have discussed) the ways in which light can affect what we see. There is an interesting discussion in the comments as well. And one Director of Photography has actually laid out his set ups for lighting 4 different commercials (I particularly like the one where he had to improvise a system!).
After reading the historical background on the use of lighting in film, what do you think? Do we rely too heavily on computers these days to give lighting effects that physical lights could give?