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Lighting Artist

In digital animation, lighting is an important element which participates to the realism of a scene. 

professional quote

To better prepare for the professional world, ESMA students learn the importance of teamwork. They work with passionate and experienced teachers to produce ambitious animated films!

Jason Figliozzi
Animator, Disney Animation

professional quote

The qualities of ESMA are the qualities of a very high level school. That a short film from ESMA is selected for the Oscars is well deserved!

Kristof Serrand,
Directeur Artistique, Dreamworks

Kristof Serrand

How to become a Lighting Artist ?

In digital animation, lighting is an important element which participates to the realism of a scene. The lighting artist is responsible for this specific area. He is in a way the director of photography of a virtual set. He insures the coherence of the lights on each sequence.

Let there be light…

It is obvious that the lighting artist has an essential role in the creation of various atmospheres. Like in real life, lighting brings all its strength to a character or a setting.

Whether he works on the production of a fully animated film, or on improving a film sequence with the use of CG imagery, the 3D lighting artist gives that little final touch that changes everything. The icing on the cake!
The lighting artist places the light sources in the 3D software to light up the characters and sets, and uses his know-how to contribute to the films’ atmosphere. He is also the one who manages the luminous reaction of certain reflective materials, such as the transparency of a window or the brightness of a clothing item.
The lighting artist’s work needs to be approved by the director before finalization.


Technique and artistic skills

This professional has a solid knowledge of photography and light, colorimetry, depth of field, shading and textures.
He obviously masters 3D software such as Maya, Photoshop or After effects.

Technique is fundamental, but not sufficient ! Artistic sense and creativity are essential qualities to sublimate a scene as a cinematographer would do in the cinema. The 3D lighter uses its specially trained eye to creatively manipulate elements such as the color of light.

He is part of a team and must be rigorous and methodical in order to meticulously render its realism to each scene he works on.

To become a lighting artist, it is highly recommended to follow an animation school in order to acquire the technical and artistic basics.
The lighter generally works for animation studios, but he can also collaborate with independent studios or agencies specializing in 3D animation.
After a few years of experience, he will be able to apply for supervisory positions or acquire new skills to expand his field of activity.
A lighting artist can earn between 2,500 and 3,000 euros gross per month.