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Old April 3rd, 2009, 08:08 AM   #1
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Optimal Lighting for Interviews on Film Shoot?

I use a Canon XH-A1 camcorder for my job, and I recently bought a Lowell lighting kit that consists of 4 lights. I have been having problems with lighting in terms of shadows on faces, and in the background. Does anyone know of a good website showing the perfect setup, or know of the best setup for interviews personally? Thanks!
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Old April 3rd, 2009, 08:58 AM   #2
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not sure of a website but from my experience both as a still photographer and videographer I use a basic setup when I do lighting for interviews.
KEYLIGHT- generally at a 45 degree angle from the A camera set up high enough to throw the shadow to the floor with the nose shadow cutting across the end of the lips just under the apple of the cheek.
FILL LIGHT - generally at a 30 degree angle or less from the A camera and less wattage OR farther away from the subject than the Keylight to open up dark shadow on the face.
BACKGROUND LIGHT-set behind and below the subject obviously pointing to the background and about 2 to 3 feet from the background, point up to form a pleasing pattern of light on the background. It is also a lower intensity usually about 100 or 150 watt with a piece of tough spun to soften it up a bit.
HAIRLIGHT- if I need to use it it's a light similar in nature to the backlight but on a boom set up tohighlight the rear part of the dome of the hair.
My suggestion is get a wig head out it on a high enough stool or ladder and set up you kit and camera. Set the lights and look thru the camera keep moving and adjusting the lights until you get the look you want.
Now for the real world application for most interviews I have done over the years. One light just slightly off the camera, set to slightly above the subjects eyes, pretty flat lighting,check exposure and go.
Anyway the wig head is a great way to learn how lighting affects the subject. Be it 1,2,3 or 4 lights. Learn the basics and you're miles ahead.
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Old April 3rd, 2009, 01:48 PM   #3
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Thanks Don, lots of good tips. We are also trying to find a room to designate the photo and video studio. This way we can permanently have the lighting set up. Do you know how wide a room should be for all of the lights be set up in an effective way? I know if the room is too narrow, the lights would be too close to the talent resulting in poor lighting. Hmmm
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Old April 3rd, 2009, 03:25 PM   #4
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I'd want a room that's at least 10X10 and preferrably a minimum of 12X15. That way you have a bit of room to fine adjust the lighting, subject from the background and the camera position. Way back in the old days when I did still photography I used the dining room of my apartment. Now this was an old 2 flat very popular in Chicago neighborhoods and honestly the place was actually bigger than my first house. The dining room was 14X28! Man I could do just about anything in there.
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Old April 3rd, 2009, 04:18 PM   #5
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Here is one way to skin that cat frequently used by pros:

You will want a soft light source at a 45 degree angle to one side and 45 degrees up from the front of the interviewee. You can use a fill reflector to fill any the dark skide fo the face somewhat, and a hairling boomed from behind provides nice hair separation and modelling. A background light through a cookie may improve the background.


The DVD "How to Light and Shoot Interviews" (or something like that) by Vortex Media is well worth the price and gives you very easy to follow ideas and advice. Google Vortex Media and you should find it.
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Old April 4th, 2009, 09:23 AM   #6
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Hi Kelley,

Tell us how you are lightng them now and in what kind of room you are shooting in.
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Old April 6th, 2009, 12:09 PM   #7
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Hi Kelly

The Lowell website has plenty of examples where you can try lights in various positions
Lowel EDU - a Lighting Resource Center

David
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Old April 6th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #8
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Hi Kelly,

As a basic formula I usually use the same basic 3 light setup that Don mentioned. If you've got the same kit I use it's usually soft box as key, umbrella'd Omni for the fill and the Pro as the back light. If I need it I'll take another Omni or even a Tota and us it to give a little more ambient by bouncing it. A lot of times I'll also bounce the Omni as the fill off of a card.

There are a lot of very good books on lighting so I'd suggest going to your local book store and browsing for a while until you find one that strikes your interest, read through it and go out and experiment. Also, if you can find a DP that you can assist there's nothing like hands on to learn.

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Old April 6th, 2009, 08:10 PM   #9
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Lowel's book on lighting, on the web site, is great.
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Old April 7th, 2009, 07:18 AM   #10
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Kelley,
Plenty of good advice here. The fallacy of "lighting Kits" that they aren't "kits" that you can put together following an instruction sheet and voila!, you have proper lighting. Lighting is a journey that requires repeated learning and experimentation to acquire the knowledge to make your equipment do what you want. Along the way, you will also learn various ways certain equipment beyond the "kit" is needed to achieve the results you want.

Just to add to the pile of references from my own experience, John Jackman's Lighting for Digital Video and Television is an excellent book for understanding the hows and whys. He uses Lowel equipment often in his examples. Moving past the hows and whys to technique, efplighting.com is a treasure trove of examples with explanation of equipment and technique. Another online resource is the "instruction" web page at film-and-video.com. There's one article in particular that may help you right away called "Beyond 3-point lighting".
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