The creative gurus behind Muse Storytelling know a thing or two about cinematic lighting. This team of Emmy award-winning filmmakers has hosted hundreds of workshops around the globe and operate the immersive Muse Film School. With all of that experience, we decided to ask them an important question: why is lighting such a crucial element of video storytelling? As Varina puts it…

Light supports how you want your audience to emotionally react to a scene in your story.

This is why you have to be conscious of what your lighting is communicating to the audience. At Muse, they always keep their D.I.S.C. (or Direction, Intensity, Softness, and Color) model in mind when crafting a scene. These four elements of lighting will always come into play no matter what or how you’re filming.

The Four Elements of Lighting


This is where you are shooting in relation to your light. This affects the shape and depth of your subject and how that subject is perceived by the audience.


This is referring to the brightness of your light and how the brightness relates to other lights in the shot. Lighting ratios have a huge effect on the mood of your scene.


This is how soft or harsh your light is on your subject. This is affected not only by the modifiers that you place on your light but also by the size of the light source (the larger the light, the softer the light). Softness can make or break the emotional mood of your scene.


This last element of lighting is based upon the color temperature of your light, or how warm or cool it is. Blue-r tones typically feel more sad and cold, while yellow-er tones typically feel more happy and warm. Contrasting tones can be used to even further emit emotion however, this is usually not the best look on skin tones.

If you can remember these four elements of lighting the next time you’re shooting with the simple D.I.S.C. acronym, you’ll master the way you light your scenes to effectively tell your stories.

Lighting Gear in Action

Learn more about the Muse Film School here. • Watch more filmmaking tutorials here.

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