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Old January 14th, 2011, 03:54 AM   #1
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Any Current or Former Broadcast News People Here

If so, I have a few questions.

We just hired someone to act as an on-air talent, reporter and interviewer and this person has almost 20yrs of experience in broadcast news. She is so used to the quick and ugly lighting and look of local news programs, and I am trying to 'force' my style without telling her that her ideas look bad. Just this week, she wanted the light very flat on their faces (her & interviewee), but I luckily, pushed back and explained why I wanted a bit of contrast from one side of the face to the other side. This is just one example of where I want to inject personality and style wherever I can but have a difficult time convincing someone who has a 'non-personality' style so ingrained.

Well, that's my rant.

I would like to hear experiences and how people dealt with the 'news' style of shooting. And am I wrong to think that for some of our programs (which are 'news' oriented), I should NOT be using the 'news' look?
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Old January 14th, 2011, 07:37 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kalle View Post
If so, I have a few questions.

We just hired someone to act as an on-air talent, reporter and interviewer and this person has almost 20yrs of experience in broadcast news. She is so used to the quick and ugly lighting and look of local news programs, and I am trying to 'force' my style without telling her that her ideas look bad. Just this week, she wanted the light very flat on their faces (her & interviewee), but I luckily, pushed back and explained why I wanted a bit of contrast from one side of the face to the other side. This is just one example of where I want to inject personality and style wherever I can but have a difficult time convincing someone who has a 'non-personality' style so ingrained.

Well, that's my rant.

I would like to hear experiences and how people dealt with the 'news' style of shooting. And am I wrong to think that for some of our programs (which are 'news' oriented), I should NOT be using the 'news' look?
I worked as a photojournalist for 11 years. I agree, sometimes lighting on a news shoot isn't the best. It's put up a light, shoot and scoot. The fast paced world of TV journalism doesn't lend itself to proper lighting techniques. I remember from my days, just being able to put up one light was a luxury, usually it was a quick sound bite from a camera-mounted light.

It sounds like you're making her a one-woman band. Does she have to set up and shoot her own news stories? If that's the case, then I say be happy with what you get. I do not envy the modern TV journalists. With the advent of small HD camcorders. they're now having to become their own videographers, even editors. That's not what most of them went to college for. They got a degree in Journalism, not TV Production. They have little interest in cinematography. It has affected the quality of modern TV news stories, but with so many local news stations stretching their local coverage to many hours a day, and with cable TV eating into their advertising revenue, quantity rules over quality. The old adage of "do you want it good, fast or cheap - pick two" still holds.

I have many friends who are still in TV news - or rather, were. Many have been laid off, replaced by the younger, cheaper one-person news "crews." As a trend, I think it sucks, but what can you do? It's now the new reality of TV journalism.
And that's my rant.

I suggest you gently pull her aside and teach her some proper lighting techniques. But if she's become a one-person production/reporter crew, honestly - what do you expect?
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Old January 14th, 2011, 08:05 AM   #3
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Used to be that news crews had electricians, but those days are long gone.

I suspect for news the best that can often hope for is a high key, not flat, lighting that reveals bone structure. If you want more stylish lighting it's often held back for documentaries, rather than news. If they're doing documentaries, you'll have to take time to demo the lighting away from the actual shoot. You can find you're dealing with some one who doesn't like various shading during an interview. It's very difficult to persuade these people to be more adventurous..

On news often there isn't time, or the man power, to carry anything more than a basic on camera light or a couple of lights with some diffusion clipped to them. How you carry depends on the willingness of the talent to carry gear like the tripod.
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Old January 14th, 2011, 10:03 AM   #4
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Steve:

If she's the talent, and you're shooting...in the end it doesn't really matter that much what kind of lighting you're setting up. It's not really her call. A simple "we're not shooting in news anymore, Dorothy...give me 5 minutes here and we'll be good to go," should suffice. (said with a twinkle, of course...not like a jerk.)

Light it the way you want it to look, and she can ask the questions the way she wants.

Now, if she's going to be shooting some of her own stuff, and/or you want to provide a little education, it's often helpful to explain why you're setting the lights up that particular way, and how it makes the image better.
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Old January 14th, 2011, 10:52 AM   #5
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TV news is still being lit the same way it was 40 years ago, whether studio or location. Flat, plus strong backlight when possible.

**Not that there's anything wrong with that.** I think the aesthetic is still being driven by the common hierchy of local stations, in which production people report to the assistant chief or chief engineer. The goal of this lighting style is "minimum time and equipment to make sure everything can be seen". Make no mistake, in the news biz, this is understood to be "good lighting". You can't tell me or her it's bad lighting. It's very appropriate for the environment, even if we wish otherwise.

I'd suggest you give some thought to clarifying your own lighting and look goals, so you can explain to her why you're going for a particular look. How does that look contribute to the image you'd like your (station, company, non-profit) to present to viewers? Why are you striving for this aesthetic? Move the discussion to what a good look is for this employer/environment, THEN you'll be ready to train her on how to achieve it.
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Old January 14th, 2011, 06:00 PM   #6
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Thank you all for the comments.

She is solely the on-air talent and I am everything else (DP, editor, cameraman) in addition to a 2nd cameraman. However, she does sit with me during editing to put together news pieces, but for everything else, I have full control over editing.

For our studio lighting, I understand that having flat lighting is the norm. In the studio, I use Kino's- 2 Diva 401s for key/fill and 2 Barfly 200s for backlight and greenscreen. For interviews, I use the Barflys for backlight and painting the background, and I am adding 2 LED fresnel lights to the mix (Litepanels SolaENG 3).

Here are some screen grabs from the interview 2 days ago. Due to time constraints and only 1 inexperienced assistant, this is what I came up with. Feel free to criticize.

Thanks
Attached Thumbnails
Any Current or Former Broadcast News People Here-chief.jpg   Any Current or Former Broadcast News People Here-lisa.jpg  

Any Current or Former Broadcast News People Here-side.jpg  
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Old January 14th, 2011, 06:32 PM   #7
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May not be exactly be what your asking, and it may sound wrong to some, but there has been a long standing belief that the artistic styles seen in movies and such do not belong in journalism. I guess the hard stance is that tragedy and art do not go together. That straight forward statements and hard lighting add to the overall mood in journalism that it is supposed to be truthful and neutral. It is slowly loosing out to what I call dramalism :(
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Old January 15th, 2011, 01:16 AM   #8
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Steve - what kind of shows are these pieces appearing on? Features on regular news broadcasts?
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Old January 15th, 2011, 01:35 AM   #9
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Hmmm...long form is a little different and I see why you're concerned about the lighting. Actually, things look pretty good. We have composition with depth and angles. Two-shots can be tough because, technically, both the talent and subject should be lit independently. Is this a one or two camera shoot?
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Old January 15th, 2011, 02:12 AM   #10
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2 camera shoot: EX1 on her and EX3 on him and genlocked together.

This is to be broadcast on a gov't access channel and the web. The screenshots are from a new series called 'Someone You Should Know' and he is the new Police Chief. Next week will be the new Fire Marshall and probably a new city employee or resident every other week. Btw, this interview was shot in the boardroom/council chambers.

If someone can answer this: when is a good time to show a wide shot and which is better? I prefer to follow the 180 rule which means the first shot is the best in order to keep each person on the same side of the screen. Also, both wide shots were done after we finished so the video won't sync with the audio.

Here is an actual 'news' piece I put together two days ago.
Attached Thumbnails
Any Current or Former Broadcast News People Here-ex3a0037_01.mp4.still001.jpg   Any Current or Former Broadcast News People Here-ex3a0039_01.mp4.still001.jpg  

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Old January 15th, 2011, 02:47 AM   #11
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If your talent intros the package in the studio, she should still leave something to intro in the package as a VO with some establishing b-roll (walking down the hall, etc) and a wide shot right before the interview starts (think 60 minutes). That's how I'd approach it if the talent is flexible. 10-12 seconds. You may already do something similar.
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Old January 15th, 2011, 02:57 AM   #12
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Hi John,

Our studio is currently being revised to accommodate a greenscreen, 3 cameras and switcher in order to use the switcher's virtual sets. I should have the switcher within the next 2 weeks (Tricaster XD300 and nanoFlash to record from it).

At the moment, we won't be making any news shows with an anchor like you see with local news, mainly because we don't have the people or the time to do it all.
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Old January 15th, 2011, 03:36 AM   #13
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I am back doing some news after a 20 year break to do proper TV in post prod.

I used to be a sound guy but now do camera's for the local news network and my lighting kit consists of one 50 watt pag light on top of the camera and two redheads with 800w and 250w bubbles.

Most of the items are pretty simple and are shot very quickly so the lighting is kept simple to suit and is more about getting enough light to give the camera (HPX301) a fighting chance of showing decent images.

I use as much natural source light but most of the time usually bounce a 800w redhead off a ceiling or wall to just add to whatever is already there, I have a dichroic daylight filter on the redheads if needed and also have the 100w HMI bubble for the pag light. If I use a redhead as a direct source I tend to use it with a 250w bubble with some diffuser.

It isn't art but with the need to do things quickly and move onto the next job they tend to get what they are given which is always far superior to any of the self shoot material done by the journalists on their Z5's.

Your screen grabs look fine and that is pretty much what to expect for news shooting (I have seen a lot worse) Just one small thing is that in the single shot of the talent the light on the back wall is very distracting and draws my attention to it as it is the brightest thing in the shot, the one on the right is not switched on so I assume it could have been controlled. Also the exposure on the background and talent is pretty much the same, I always try to get a one stop difference between talent and background.

Personally being very old skool I do tend to find that fluro and LED lights just do not have the throw for news work and the redheads or pag light can give more detail and depth even if bounced.
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Old January 15th, 2011, 04:00 AM   #14
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Usually the wide shots are shot after the interview, together with any reverse shots. Where they appear in the cut piece is another matter.

In the UK there seems to have developed a fashion in the wide shot of having the interview out of focus and some meaningless foreground object (like a bowl of flowers) sharp. Another is to have everything out of focus.
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Old January 15th, 2011, 04:17 AM   #15
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Steve:
I just watched the Cicero Distribution Center piece twice... nice job with it. (Will leave the comments on the sit-down interview lighting to others) This is really solid work, imo. Shots are nicely composed, well lit, and have good audio. What were you using for lighting on the interviews? The audio is good but I wonder if it's necessary to have the micrphone quite so "in their face". Sometime in a noisy environment it definitely is required... If you want the mic in the shot a lot as a deliberate thing, you might want to add a mic flash with a logo. I use a short shotgun so I can have the mic out of the shot -- or put a wireless lav on them. I see you shot the longer interview with Julian hand-held. I didn't mind that at all, it added some variety to the story.

I've shot a lot of community news and have been a broadcast news stringer. For a long time I was a one man band -- I would shoot and edit, and would also produce the stories, write them, do VOs, the whole thing. [Fortunately for viewers I never appeared on camera :-) ] For lighting it was either existing light or using my on-camera light. Once in a while I would have time to set up proper lighting. So your lighting looks fine - as others have said in this thread you just don't normally have time to do anything too creative. Sure it looks a little flat but will the viewer mind a bit? I don't think so. Lisa's lighting looks better, with more modelling in it. But anyone watching will have no complaints at all. It looks great for that style of show.

I do have a couple of comments about the piece though, if you don't mind. These are more about the story itself. I only saw Lisa twice in the story, a 20 second intro and a 15 second wrap. This is quite a long story. Five minutes would be extremely long for regular news, so I understand you have plenty of time available to tell the story -- which means it makes it much harder to keep viewer interest. Her standups are nicely done, but I would say the story needs more of her in it. The interviews are very good and the clips aren't too long, but I think there are too many of them and the story bogs down. I would have liked to see Lisa driving the story forward with more VOs to bridge the different parts of it, and maybe one more standup with her -- somewhere in the middle. The story could be split up into maybe 3 or 4 segments with Lisa doing VO or standup between each: distribution centre info, economic impact, park/facilities additions, and then overall reaction and comments. (I realize that it may be lack of B-roll viz that explains the use of many interviews) She is strong on camera, looks great, good voice -- so why not get her in there! We see her mic in every shot, so why not include more of her. She may need practice writing some quick bridge/standup material while on location and try recording them. You don't have to actually use them until she's happy with how they turn out. Or you can record the standups later once she's had time to look at the clips. The clips of local citizens were really good (Sam/Helen/Mary) and had lots of energy. It might add some life to the stories to hear (or see) her ask some of the questions and make the interviews a little more interactive and less like a corporate video. She needs to make the story as visual as possible. (The 3D models were good) This is cheesy, but you could have her holding a can of pop: "If you buy a can of Shaky-Cola anywhere in Illinois, it will soon start out right here in Cicero, at a huge new distribution center. Over 1 million cans every week will be sent out across the state from right here in town."
Well I don't mean this to be critical at all, it's a really solid story and these are just some ideas. You obviously know what you're doing. Good luck with it, would like to see how they progress over the next while.
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