Why so many sitcoms look the same

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  • Published on:  Tuesday, June 5, 2018
  • The one about sitcom lighting.

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    In this episode of Vox Almanac, Phil Edwards explores the surprising history behind sitcom lighting.

    Karl Freund was the genius cinematographer behind Metropolis, the silent film classic. But then he designed the set for I Love Lucy - the first of the multicam, laugh-track heavy sitcoms. Today, they look bland, but it wasn’t always that way. But at the time, Freund had a good reason to tackle the challenge.

    These lighting techniques are still in use today on sitcoms like Friends, the Big Bang Theory, and other multi-camera hits. What looks generic to our eyes was, at one time, the result of an artist who made the impossible look easy.

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  • Vox
    Vox  3 months ago +324

    Set lighting is just one part of everything that goes into a TV show. Watch our video to see the entire process from start to finish: http://bit.ly/2Ji191l

    • Rune Jensen
      Rune Jensen  1 months ago

      *FUN FACTS: **_Leftists cannot meme.._*
      Numerous scientific studies on the subject reveal some reasons for why this is so. For example, 100 out of 100 leftists have negative IQ, and an amazing 100% of leftists showed to have 0 sense of humor.

    • Fabian Granado
      Fabian Granado  2 months ago

      Vox what is the title of the music beginning at 1:17?

    • Jamar Waterman
      Jamar Waterman  3 months ago

      Vox i notice set lighting is different from country to country. Example USA compared to the UK. You usually sense differences as soon as the show starts.

    • fretbuzz59
      fretbuzz59  3 months ago

      You folks know how to use the bass control to roll off some low end on the VO? Jeez.

  • Isabela Freund
    Isabela Freund  2 days ago

    I wonder if we’re related

  • Maxon Mendel
    Maxon Mendel  2 days ago

    This reminds me of a video I watched the other day that talked about ¿The Who’s? Wall of Sound. I know that’s not the right rock group but I don’t feel like looking it up rn. But same kinda advancement. Just different medium

  • Michael Misi
    Michael Misi  6 days ago

    LOL I love that Vox sitcom with people working !

  • Sarah Ward
    Sarah Ward  7 days ago

    this is why i like shows like the good place and new girl

  • Lonnie Helm
    Lonnie Helm  8 days ago

    Y R they called sit-coms, cuz they don't want us to think..

  • Mr.Toast
    Mr.Toast  8 days ago

    Ok the TV on the edge of the table at 1:20 is giving me anxiety

  • Leonard Jointapple


  • Quiet Desperation

    Instead of a conventional laugh track, sitcoms should have just one guy, laughing hysterically.

  • Dave Davies
    Dave Davies  9 days ago

    "Live taping" in 1952? Nope, live filming perhaps. Broadcast quality video tape recording not available until 1956.

  • TF D
    TF D  13 days ago

    Desi Arnaz used to claim it was he that came up with that three camera system. All my life I believed it was true. Then I saw your video. Then I did my own research and you're right, it was this Freund guy. Arnaz was lying.
    Oh my god that's hilarious!

  • YukiSkullDoll
    YukiSkullDoll  23 days ago

    This was way to serious to watch ^^;

  • Gabriel Campanini
    Gabriel Campanini  24 days ago

    06:05 "a gorgeous blurred background you can't see because of this stupid effect we used on the video"

  • TBK Julles
    TBK Julles  25 days ago

    Why does he look like Casey neistat

  • WillN2Go1
    WillN2Go1  26 days ago

    This is good. Another aspect of the Situation Comedy is to show the room, the environment. Goofy and whacky always need Normal as a contrast. The guys who made Airplane! said in a New York Times article some years ago, the basic formula for filmed comedy is: if the actors are saying something funny and outrageous, then their action and the background have to be completely normal, If however there's some slapstick going on, or visual comedy, than the dialogue of the actors must then be normal. In I Love Lucy, we know that Ricky Riccardo is a band leader: that's pretty glamorous, definitely not normal. But in the vast majority of episodes his glamorous career is never mentioned or shown. Why? Ricky's part of the normal needed to contrast Lucy's zany. Instead of the nightclub, we usually see their nice but normal apartment, their nice but normal neighbors Fred and Ethel, and Ricky's normal person shock at what Lucy has just done.
    The evenly lit scenes not only allow everything you point out to be true, but it also shows the set. If this were Shakespeare, there isn't much set dressing--so we know that's entirely possible to show nothing except the actors. Yet in every successful comedy the actors are surrounded with information and that information is 'normal.' (Big Bang Theory looks like the room of a 20 year old kid.) Maybe take a look at Steven Spielberg's 1941 and why it's such a complete disaster (Ishtar? nah. 1941was a fun disaster). The short answer is there's almost no 'straight man' anywhere in the movie.
    It might also be interesting to figure out the difference between your VOX sitcom's flat lighting and I Love Lucy's even lighting. As a photographer, I wouldn't have enough money to buy an Edward Weston print, so I'd made my own. I start with a straight copy, and then figure out why it was bad. By the time I finally got my 'Weston' it was all mine and I understood a bit more about what he was doing. It's always in the actual doing that we truly understand.

  • Elizabeth Austin
    Elizabeth Austin  27 days ago

    Video: ..Friends, Seinfeld--
    Me: *pulls out a gun* What you say, mate?

  • brian554xx
    brian554xx  28 days ago

    I heard that Vox! was prone to endless reshoots, of which the cast was usually unaware.

  • Gankageddon
    Gankageddon  28 days ago

    That laugh track is the same in all of them because it is not copyrighted. It's free use so they all recycle the exact same laugh track. Also the children laughing and scream is recycled in every sitcom and movie also. I hate laugh tracks, it cheapens the show.

  • Jonathan Hathorn
    Jonathan Hathorn  29 days ago +1

    Once again with television, I Love Lucy was both the originator and Gold Standard of sitcoms

  • sonny lee
    sonny lee  29 days ago

    Why does every movie film have pictures and words in it?!?!!!!!!!!