Review: “Hot to Set Up and Shoot Awesome Interviews with LED Lights” DVD from Vortex Media

Posted to our forum by DVi member Ian Campbell: I got my DVD copy of “How to Setup, Light, & Shoot Great Looking Interviews” in yesterday’s mail. I’ve now watched the DVD twice, and I made some notes and wrote a review of sorts. Here goes!

I bought the first lighting DVD Vortex offered a couple of years ago — “Hot to Setup, Light, & Shoot Great Looking Interviews.” The first thing I noticed is that the new LED lighting disc offers 90 minutes or training vs. the 60 minutes of training found on the their first lighting DVD. Nice! And as with the other Vortex discs I own, they are beautiful to look at. The folks at Vortex care about the look of their product. The high quality of their productions plus the great training Vortex offers is why I’m a happy repeat customer. The ONLY thing that didn’t work for me were the audio “tones” or “beeps” that were used (instead of music) to usher in each new chapter on the DVD. Maybe I was tired when watching, but I like the music Vortex usually uses instead of tones. Hey, I know I’m really sweating the small stuff here since this really is only a minor gripe.

I completely trusted the training as offered in the first DVD, so I promptly bought all of the lights and accessories that are recommended by Vortex for achieving television network style interview lighting for under $1,500.00. And guess what: the kit I assembled as recommended by Vortex worked great! I didn’t doubt that it would. I was delighted that the training that was so simple to follow offered me fantastic results the very first time I used the lights according to Doug Jensen’s recommendations. In fact, I’ve had several compliments about the “look” or my videos – leading to repeat bookings from clients. This first disc is all about lighting with tungsten lights.

The brand-new “Hot to Set Up and Shoot Awesome Interviews with LED Lights” is just what the Doctor ordered. I haven’t made the leap into the world of LED just yet, except for some LED on-camera lights that I own and love. I mainly purchased “How to Set Up and Shoot Awesome Interviews with LED Lights” because the first Vortex lighting DVD was so good that I wanted to “mine” any additional tips-and-tricks that I might benefit from by viewing this new training disc. In addition, I wanted to have a good idea of what NOT to buy when going LED. At some point soon, I’ll be making the jump to LED. Doug Jensen, in his first lighting DVD (tungsten lighting), takes his viewer through all of the best choices to build a lighting kit where you get the most bang for their buck. Jensen thankfully offers similar advices pertaining to LED choices here. Most lighting companies sell kits that load the buyer up with items that cost big bucks that you’ll likely never use. So, at-the-end-of-the-day, the first lighting DVD saved me a ton of money in terms of how to build a great lighting kit while avoiding costly mistakes. And Jensen’s training is so good, it makes good interview lighting do-able for anyone wanting great results… quickly, easily and essentially without compromise.

If you don’t yet have LED lights but are considering them — get this DVD! Don’t make the mistake of buying costly LED lights that you might not need or use – especially when they are more costly than their tungsten “cousins.” Doug Jensen’s suggestions will likely save you big bucks if you see this disc before you go shopping. Jensen’s philosophy is the same for LED lighting as was his advice for tungsten on his first lighting DVD – “less is more”. He shows you how to build a an LED light kit with as few lights (and stands) as you’ll need to do interview lighting with beauty and artistry.

I really like the fact that the video talks to the viewer on a professional level — but it it should be easy for anyone wanting great results to comprehend. First, Doug Jensen doesn’t assume that you already have LED lights, which is great. He starts from scratch and makes the case for both tungsten and LED. He presents a good argument for both. But after watching the DVD, it’s clear that anyone doing interviews will clearly benefit from making the move to LED sooner-than-later. I was convinced when Jensen showed how LED lights co-operate much more than tungsten when it comes to “tweaking” the lighting and getting the exposure right more quickly – without as much work this requires with tungsten. It’s apparent that lights which remain much cooler to the touch and are faster setting up and faster packing away (not having to wait for them to cool) is the way to go. And, they mix much better with daylight from a window than tungsten. What’s not to like?

“Hot to Set Up and Shoot Awesome Interviews with LED Lights” is smart… it goes well beyond the choice of (and the setting up of) the lights. You get great advice on choosing an ideal location. And then, there’s useful advice on what to do when an interview location is far from ideal. In addition, there are chapters offering excellent pointers on how to work with on-camera talent – and how to make them look their best in-front-of-the-camera.

Doug Jensen announces on the new DVD that his company, Vortex Media, is offering full LED lighting workshops which run for a single day – and more advanced training is offered over several days. These workshops will take those interested in advanced techniques beyond what can be offered in a 90 minute training DVD. I didn’t find there were things left unaddressed in Jensen’s “Hot to Set Up and Shoot Awesome Interviews with LED Lights.” I can only assume — and hope — that the Vortex LED lighting workshops might cover more advanced setups that would include the lighting of several on-camera subjects for a two (or more camera) shoot. There is a Vortex Workshop page up, for anyone interested in their workshop series. Here’s a link: Vortex Media Workshops for TV/Film Professionals.

One of the my favorite things about “Hot to Set Up and Shoot Awesome Interviews with LED Lights” are the multiple samples of great interview lighting in contrast to samples of mediocre and awful interview setups. Jensen shows examples of several Network news interview setups and points out where they have either excelled or have fallen “flat.” This was really wise to include. As Jensen suggests, it’s often difficult to explain “why” exactly a certain interview lighting setup looks artful — but when an interview is nicely lit and well composed it’s something an audience will recognize as superior immediately. I agree.

I highly recommend “Hot to Set Up and Shoot Awesome Interviews with LED Lights.” If good video lighting is important to you, then it’s quite likely you’ll be revisiting this disc as a resource to rely on for many years to come.

— posted to our forum by DVi member Ian Campbell.


FTC 16 CFR 255 Disclaimer: The author bought this DVD out of his own pocket. He has not been paid by DV Info Net or by Vortex Media to write this review. Vortex Media has not paid or otherwise solicited DV Info Net for this review.

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