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Old August 10th, 2008, 07:50 PM   #1
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Lighting set up help..

Hey guys,

I've been asked by our church to film and edit a short teaching series. This is my first project of this type, and I want it to be top notch.

The setting will be a relaxed atmosphere, with a single person talking to the camera type approach. It will likely be in a coffee bar area of our church foyer. There may be an intro that is filmed in a living room setup. Each lesson will be approximately 10 minutes long and will be used as a discussion starter for our home group meetings.

My question is about lighting. I've had lots of advice from the folks on this forum regarding some interview lighting set-ups I have posted, and it has helped in that area. Do the same rules apply for a teaching setup as for an interview set up(key + fill + hair light+ soft background), or do I need to go for a flatter lighting set up.

Any advice is much desired and appreciated.

Sincerely,

Mike Watkins
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Old August 11th, 2008, 12:02 AM   #2
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Hi Mike,

Yes, generally you'll be applying the same concepts. However, stepping back you'll notice that training interviews probably have a different target audience and expecations. So while lighting is often subdued in an interview (avoid distractions), many training video products overtly use motivated lighting to generate interest and influence/entertain/enlighten the target audeince. Just look at the set design on professional training videos - you'll clearly see lots of props, colors, shapes, aids, etc, all trying to motivate the speaker and the message.

Let's say your training video was oriented toward religion, theology, values, etc. The audio volume, tone, diction, inflection, modulation and non-verbal communications is often "adjusted" to support and reinforce the message. Ditto on the set design. So it would make sense to consider other factors that support the message, including: music, special effects, camera angles, editing cuts, and certainly motivated lighting.

In other words, the astute videographer should consider lighting a training set similar to that of a movie. OTOH, for most interviews we usually are trying not to artificially influence the subject or the message.

Hope that helps,

Michael
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Old August 12th, 2008, 07:22 AM   #3
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Although when dealing with people the basic lighting configuration usually remains the same, that would be a key, fill and backlight, you can't use the same set-up for a speaker as you would be using for an interview.

On an interview the subject is pretty much confined to a very restricted area, he moves six inches either way and the lighting gets all screwed up. Also most interviews are basically head and shoulders.

Imagine a speaker trying to reach an audience under those conditions, it will not work. Speakers to be dynamic must move around, move their hands and have body language. Lighting need to cover a much larger area. Forget about keylight modeling, it will not work because as the speaker gets a little closer to the key the exposure will change. The lights should be in front of the speaker and very broad. If you don't have large softboxes then use open face lights bounced against large white or soft silver reflectors. You can still direct the reflectors toward the speaker to create a separation from the rest of the set. A large backlight or more than one light is also important to cover a larger area.

The background needs to be lit too, you don't want the speaker to stand in black hole. Use as much existing light as you can, don't worry about color differences as long as the lights do not directly effect the subject.
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Old August 12th, 2008, 07:13 PM   #4
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Thanks Nino.

Your input on my recent posts has been a great find. I am planning on shooting the project this weekend. As soon as I have some footage edited I will post the results.

Thanks,

Mike Watkins
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Old August 13th, 2008, 01:34 AM   #5
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Mike,

If I can add to what Nino said...

For quite a few years, I was the house video guy for the National Speakers Association and I've done more open room speaker video shoots than I can remember.

Nino's always good advice is correct here as well. You simply can not light for a single position, because most speakers equate "working the stage" with a lot of lateral movement.

Typically, the room will be lit from overhead - either fluorescent or overhead chandeliers (in the nicer hotel ballrooms) . This means your biggest challenge is typically front fill to lighten up the eye sockets. I've actually had a lot of luck with a pair of Arri 650 fresnels in the back corners of the room essentially at 45 degrees from center stage ruthlessly barn doored top and bottom so that the audience and ceiling are both proteced.

Backlight is also a challenge. Particularly if you think you need separation from the drape. This is particularly a challenge if you have a dark drape and a dark haired speaker, or a blonde speaker against an equally light wall. In that case I carried one or two very extra tall stands (Bogen, I think) that went up to about 17 feet. I'd put a tota on top with the screen and possibly some 1/4 CTB for the brunettes or 1/4 CTO for the blonds. This backlight would be angled very sharply down with special attention to making sure that the lower wing was positioned so that light was cut right at the edge of the stage and therefore OFF the first row of the audience. That's essentially a broad, wide backlight.

That simple approach got me a lot of very good looking video without having to take or rig a lot of lights.

I never used softboxes in my speaker work, because they're too cumbersome and get in the way of the audience if you try to position them close enough to do any real good.

Fresnels are a better choice for this IMO, as you get a softer look even throwing at the typical distance of 40-100 feet from the stage.

YMMV, just some ideas from a LOT of shoots like this.


Oddly, while most professional speakers DO move around a lot - after videotaping hundreds of the top practitioners in the industry, I still think maybe the best single professional speaker I ever saw was Og Mandino. Who walked to the lectern, and hung on it not moving his body more than six inches in a 45 minute presentation. He was MESMERIZING. With content and delivery that still resonates with me 20 years later. Go figure.

Good luck with the shoot.
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Old August 13th, 2008, 06:56 AM   #6
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Thanks Bill,

I think I may have mislead on the type of teaching video that will be done. It wont be a Speaker + podium + stage + audience type set up. It will be a one on one type feel. The speaker talking to the audience through the camera. These 10 minute clips will be played as an opening discussion starter for the church's home meetings.

No movement, other than hand movement or the speaker walking into the opening frame, is anticipated. I will like use my XHA1 and the church's gl2 to grab wide and close ups at the same time, to bring more interest to the visual aspect of the shots. Of course there will be text and key note frames edited in as well.

I think I've got the basic concept of how this should be lit, but if there are any other suggestions, I would greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Thanks, Mike Watkins
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Old August 13th, 2008, 07:06 AM   #7
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I've done quite a bit of shooting religious material for an American audience here in the UK. Using a stately home library is popular = perhapsjust because that's kind of what the US viewer expects?

The real snag I have always had is that the speakers don't work TV cameras, but are great with an audience. The concept of doing things twice to allow different camera angles is a bit scary. They also seem to disregard non-religious TV that many viewers will be used to watching - and assume the 'message' is enough. It isn't!

So you need them to be very comfortable, have interesting but not distracting backgrounds and variety in your shots. It's quite helpful to have a continuity assistant, who can make sure the shots will make sense when cut. Sometimes when they repeat a little to allow overlap, they don't say quite the same things which plays hell with the edit.

3 point lighting is fine - just make sure if you change angles it remains fine!
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Old August 13th, 2008, 07:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Watkins View Post
The setting will be a relaxed atmosphere, with a single person talking to the camera type approach. It will likely be in a coffee bar area of our church foyer. There may be an intro that is filmed in a living room setup. Each lesson will be approximately 10 minutes long and will be used as a discussion starter for our home group meetings.
Let me clear some possible confusion before it starts. The set-up I recommended was for the scenario described above and will not work when there's an audience present in an auditorium or conference room settings. That's an entirely different ball game, different equipment and different approach.
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Old August 22nd, 2008, 12:43 PM   #9
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screen grab...

Just a quick grab from the project we're discussing.

I'll post more when I'm done editing.

Thanks,

Mike Watkins
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 12:24 AM   #10
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Lighting and set design

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Watkins View Post
Just a quick grab from the project we're discussing.

I'll post more when I'm done editing.

Thanks,

Mike Watkins
Thanks for sharing, Mike.

If I'm not mistaken judging by the reflective shine on the subject's face, you're using a some fairly hard lighting to the left (also notice the shadow on the right side of the picture frame) and another hard light angled above coming from the right at about 9 o'clock. And looking at the shadow cast from the fern tree, it seems like there's a substatial soft light coming from the lower right near the front of the camera.

The light on the left does give a bit of definition on the subject's right shoulder. The key to fill light does not have much of a contrast ratio - perhaps 2/1.

Perhaps the pix has an intensity problem - the subject's brown shirt is very dark with little illumination.

In summary, the facial light works okay. My main feedback would be to work on the set design. Almost everything in the scene is a shade of brown or burnt orange. There's little contrast between the subject's flesh and the color of the background wall - even the prominent picture is the same color. My goodness, it looks sooo 70's - like the inside of my home! (fortunately my dog still loves me)

Thanks again for sharing.

Michael
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 09:21 AM   #11
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Thanks Michael,

I'm in agreement with you on the brownish tone of the set.. We were going for a warm little "bistro/coffeshop" type feel, not sure if we got that across, sounds like we should have invested in a piece of green shag carpet ;-)

I used the vividrgb preset and realized when I was logging the footage in that the reds were off the chart...I didn't notice this in the viewfinder during the shoot. My next purchase may be a good field monitor. I'll search the forums, but would love to hear suggestions on a good field monitor for around $500.00 - $1000.00.

This shot has had some levels adjustment in post using RGB levels filter in FCP. I am considering running the project through Color to fine tune.

I most likely won't be reshooting the project, but additional comments are welcome so that I can implement them in future work.

Again thanks for all of the encouragement and critiques that are offered here.

Sincerely,

Mike Watkins
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 10:51 AM   #12
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I always said that photographer's best friend is a good monitor. As the industry is moving toward HD and LCD monitors you'll probably find some good buys on Ebay on an 8" Sony Field monitor.

On your shot I would have like to see more lighting separation between the subject and the set, looks like they both have the same exposure. In few words more light on the subject or less light on the background. Also when the background is so dull some slight light pattern would help. Also showing more background gives the feeling of space, right now looks like he was crowded into a small office, move him away from the background, move you camera a little closer and wide the zoom a little. Forget about the low depth rule like on interviews, this is not an interview.

I see shadows in every direction on the plant, meaning that you had lights coming from different directions. The basic light concept on anything is based on one single light, this is because the human eye is accustomed to see only one light source, the sun, and that casts one shadow. The appearance of a second shadow always gives an unnatural and artificial appearance.

Next time also move the plant several feet away from the wall, by doing so you'll have a better control of any shadow and you'll add another plane to the image thus creating more depth. Use some backlight on the plant in order to create better separation, always remember the Chiaroscuro principle. I don't know how to embed a video here, I'm sure there's a way but if you go on youtube and under search write: "chiaroscuro efplighting" I have posted a short video explaining in an understandable way the basic principle of the chiaroscuro technique.

Overall is a good start and you are heading in the right direction. Never be afraid to ask, the dumbest question is the one that wasn't asked.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 03:24 PM   #13
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A couple of things hit me almost immediately.

In no particular order:

1) Lighting from several directions for example highlights on both sides of the face and of almost equal intensity, diverging shadows on the wall from the plant.

2) Skin tone amazingly close to the color of the background - almost looks like everything had been spray painted the same color, including the speaker. I think you need more light on the speaker and less on the background. It might be a good idea to check the lighting in black and white to be sure there is adequate contrast.
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Old August 25th, 2008, 04:11 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Mike Watkins View Post

I used the vividrgb preset and realized when I was logging the footage in that the reds were off the chart...I didn't notice this in the viewfinder during the shoot. My next purchase may be a good field monitor. I'll search the forums, but would love to hear suggestions on a good field monitor for around $500.00 - $1000.00.
For portable use, you'll find the classified forums/etc have reasonably priced monitors like the Varizoom LCD for under $500. Or, if you'll continue to work at studio locations and have a laptop, you might consider getting DVRack software (connect via your camera's firewire to your PC). And if your drive laptop drive is fast enough, you can record AVI directly to it. On my laptop, I use an external G-Raid firewire for studio capture. After capture, I reconnect the G-RAID drive to my editing PC. At any rate, in addition to serving as video monitor, DV Rack has all the field monitor displays you could imagine.

Videoguys Serious Magic DV Rack 2.0SD $349.95, DV RAck 2.0HD $499.95

Regards, Michael
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