Thinking about interaction design and cinema, in particular, there is the important component which is crucial in creating an immersive experience — atmosphere.

From Greek ἀτμός (atmos) translates as ‘vapour’, and σφαῖρα (sphaira) means ‘sphere’. Originally, this term refers to a layer of gases surrounding a planet or other material body, that is held in place by the gravity of that body.

But it also found its place in architecture and spatial design to define the sensorial qualities that space emits. German philosopher Gernot Böhme has also expanded on the architectural atmosphere, in his essay “Atmosphere as the Subject Matter of Architecture”.[3] He addresses the nature of space as the physicality of an actual space and the atmospheric qualities that are embedded within a space. Böhme states that “we must be physically present” (p. 402) to experience space in its complete entirety.

Everything surrounding us provokes certain perception and setting the mood, thus changes the emotional state of the individuals within the space, which is a powerful tool of behavioral influence.

There are five core aspects contributing to the atmosphere creating:

  1. Light
  2. Object
  3. Air (the most important agitations of space are sound, heat and odour)
  4. Materials
  5. Sound

We can say, that the atmosphere is essential for creating an experience, as it has a tremendous influence on the audience. And those architectural methods and approaches could be used in storytelling as building an environment, both in physical space or in the imagination, is a basic in every story.  Considering that, to immerse people into a specific experience it is important to create a right atmophere.

That is how this term migrated from architecture to creative industry, the cinematography in particular, which is of my interest. Therefore, I am going to explore the ways of creating an atmosphere in movies.


  3. Zumthor, Peter (2006). Atmospheres. Birkhauser, Switzerland.