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Why so many sitcoms look the same

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Published on Jun 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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