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Old March 29th, 2005, 02:41 PM   #1
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Can't light how I want to for interviews.

My background is that I went to school for television production. Everything I learned pretty much revolved around a studio set, mostly news production.

So the training I got in lighting was in that area. I know the basics, I know how to light interviews so that it looks good, but I can't light it so that it looks *good*. So I hope you can help me out.

I've been soaking in documentaries lately and there's a look that I just love that I want to get. I think it's a bit artsy, but I like it. The backgrounds are almost always pretty dark. You can still see what's back there (be it in a home, or office) but there's just very little light. Maybe we'll catch a couple rays from a window or something.

The person being interviewed is lit, but not necessarily uniform. There might be some shadow on one side of the face, nothing too much but it's not a "perfect" light where there are no shadows. I guess it makes you feel like you're sitting there with the person as opposed to it looking like a perfect video shot.

I don't know if I'm explaining the right or not, is there a place to start learning how to shoot intimate interviews? Or is there a documentary style that I should research?

Thanks!
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Old March 29th, 2005, 02:57 PM   #2
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Bryan, got any frame grabs of interviews you like, that you could post here?

Aaron
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Old March 29th, 2005, 02:58 PM   #3
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Your killing me

Do you have any lights?

Its all here look at some posts by those wiser than myself.

You got to bet the brushes to paint..
I meant to say get the brushes but there is some zen wisdom here me thinks.
broken record...
8000 kit a425b, frz reflector. 3333 . holder arm.
www.liteshapers.com
chimera window pattern kits
dedo and gobo's
flags grids


ok I am dead now but the record plays on and on
8000 kit,,,
just messing with ya
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Old March 29th, 2005, 03:02 PM   #4
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Yes, I have read and read and read here. I'm not posting this without trying to find the info myself first, but I haven't come across anything that really talks about what I'm looking for.

I'm going to try and get some frame grabs so I can show you what I mean.

Currently all I've got it a JTL 3 light kit. Willing to get the right tools to do the work, but simply listing the 'brushes' isn't going to help me.

I need to *learn* how to craft these shots, and then understand how the tools work to make them.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 03:09 PM   #5
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www.power-of-lighting.com

no brushes huh..

I would look at hard light some frez some gels some barndoors


light back groud seperate

use jtl on subject with grid or flags or lightshapers

tota good cheap broad hardlight has barndoor that holds gels

I was just trying to say.. we could talk about painting or lighting all day..
you got to throw the paint or the light..

that is how you learn kind of sort of.. but check out Bill's site.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 04:20 PM   #6
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There are TONS of great books on lighting. Go to the book store and look in the photography section for portrait lighting techniques. I know the style you are referring to, it's kind of a low key with an even exposure so to say. The background isn't the focus, it's nice and dark, but there. If you carefully set up your lights ON the subject, and try to avoid spilling any to the background you'll see it happen. You can always and add more light to the background if it's too dark. The key here is good separation from the background. Get a hair light on them or a good kicker at the back and set the frontal up as you normally would with a key light and a fill light a half stop under the key or so, depending on your taste. I like to pull the fill maybe 1 1/2 - 2 stops or more for real drama but then you're pushing the format of video. It's just experimentation really, set it up in front of your camera and watch it on your studio monitor and judge the changes to see what you like.

If you wanted, you could set this up with one big softbox (Chimera of course, the other brands don't work, hehe) and a reflector... wait a minute, didn't someone just say that? Oops, sorry.

I'll add this to Richard's list... Black Foam Core. Yep, that's about it.

here's your freebie cheater instant reward tutorial...
visualize a clock... got it? Lay it on the floor in front of you, really big. The subject is where the hands would attach.
a. You are at 6:00
b. the Key light is around 4:30 (and slightly above)
c. the black foam core is at 2:00-3:00 maybe even as far as 3:30-4:00 (this is to suck up some light and give you that shadow.
d. the white reflector (could also be foam core) is around 9:00-10:00 bounces the light at the back of the head and shoulders, makes the separation.
e. and the background is 12:00.
It will depend on the FOV as to where you can place "C" and "D". It will also make a big difference as to where the subject is facing (into the light or into the camera) or somewhere in between. This will just give you a quick setup you can experiment with and only requires one light and a softbox. Gotta have the softbox for light "B" though, or it'll be too harsh. (unless you shoot it thru a BIG diffuser which leads one to ask, why not buy a big softbox?)(and actually you might like the more dramatic looking harsh light)
Setup "D" would also be better as a light too but that's more experimenting.

If you're from a news background, you should pick up quick, just vary the light intensity. News likes big flat lit images, portraits like texture, texture needs controlled varied light.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 04:50 PM   #7
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Thanks Rhett, that's great stuff.

I'm almost overwhelmed by the different lighting books out there. I want to learn, just don't know where to start. You're right with your description, my training is in flat images and I want the portrait look.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 06:58 PM   #8
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There are a lot to choose from but you could always just sit around and look at them before choosing. I'll bet I've got 20-30 of them in storage. I remember a whole series of them were style specific, those were my favorites, small glossy books with great setup diagrams.

I forgot the say, you can, and will need to, adjust the distance from the subject for all the lights and reflectors to make different effects. Black cards usually need to be quite close to work well but you'll figure it out with experimentation. It'll also depend on what you can get away with and not show up on camera.

good luck and have fun.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 08:21 PM   #9
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Rhett: Very nice explanation with the reference to the flat lying clock. I am curious with regard to the use of the black foamcore. Often I use my diffusion panels in conjunction with bouce cards - foil and white but I have not used the black foamcore. What direction is it pointed with respect to your clock diagram? Is it in place as a flag to limit light entering the lens? Is it for spill control?

Thanks again for your talented insight.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 10:02 PM   #10
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I think experimenting with light is a great way to improve just as others have said.For the look your talking about ( assuming I get it)try placing your subject at a distance from the background equal to 3 times the distance of subject to the light source
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Old March 29th, 2005, 11:38 PM   #11
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Rhett nailed it. If you can't get what you want from that thorough description then don't waste any money on a book.

The type of lighting you describe is easy to do. It's just Key, Fill, and Background... You could do it with two lights and a reflector... or one light, a reflector, and a window.

Get a volunteer to sit for you and then put your Key approximately 45 degrees to their face... and from slightly above eye line... then bounce-fill from opposite side at 90 degrees. Cookie or 2.5-3 stops down on the Background... and finally make sure there's adequate distance from cam to subject and subject to background... this will compress your frame and give you a softer background while helping your talent pop off the frame. Simple.

You'll have to experiment whether you want to or not 'cause video cameras are so different when it comes to light... some of them have a hard time with a shot that combines intermediate to dark lighting with proper lighting level on a subject. What looks best to your eye might not show up the same way in the camera... and then you'll have to set light levels that don't look right on set, but look perfect in the camera.

But Rhett definitely said it best... and first. So read his post like a book and then you should be an expert on this particular shot.

I wonder why somebody hasn't suggested a Chimera 8000 kit for you? Did you know they were on special at B&H this month?
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Old March 30th, 2005, 07:07 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Matt Gettemeier
I wonder why somebody hasn't suggested a Chimera 8000 kit for you? Did you know they were on special at B&H this month?
That's a great idea Matt! I'll have to check it out.

;)
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Old March 30th, 2005, 10:06 AM   #13
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Check out Walter Graff's site - he's the man.

http://www.bluesky-web.com/new-page6.html

Not only is there good instruction on the site, but he offered very reasonably priced training in small, hands on classes. I'm taking my first class with him this Saturday (I've heard some really great things about it) and will let everyone know how it went afterwards.

Best,

Matt
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Old March 30th, 2005, 02:22 PM   #14
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Sorry it took me so long to get back. Black foam core is great for tons of things like flags and such but you can also use it as a reflector to bounce back black. If you only have a single key you can add a little shadow and thus cheat a fill, by bouncing off a black card. Treat it just like you would any other reflector with the exception that it might need to be placed a little closer because of it's inability to reflect much. It's actually doing a little absorbing of light too I guess but the black mat boards do a better job of that, (for cutting gobo's and such).
I like to get the 3/8"-1/2" foam core that's white on one side and black on the other so I don't have to carry as many pieces and still have options. Then if I need a harder reflector I can wrap foil on it or break out my gold disks but white and black seem to work for almost everything.
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Old March 30th, 2005, 08:51 PM   #15
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Gotcha. I find it curious that a black foamcore could be used as a fill ... seems contradictory to me since it would seem to absorb rather than reflect. That said, I just watched some talking heads on CBC a minute ago at ECU and the speakers looked just like the bouce fill was very un-reflective ... I can't wait to try this.

Hard to watch the lighting when the topic was Fox news and their perception of world affairs and the way they tend to skew... but that is completely off topic!

Thanks Rhett!
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