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Old March 15th, 2010, 07:08 AM   #1
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Lighting Criticism Please!

I would really appreciate your comments/thoughts/criticisms of my lighting of a recent interview I conducted. This was the first time i had used a set of Dedo lights:

This was shot using a Panasonic AG-HMC151 camera. If you stop the video at around 1:24 you will see a cut away I threw in there showing the 3 light set up, although the fill is higher and moved onto the interviewer, to throw a bit of light on him for the sake of the cut away.

Your comments please?!
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Old March 15th, 2010, 08:22 AM   #2
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Harsh... really, really harsh. Please use diffusion when doing interviews unless you want your subjects to look like they are on the evening news.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 08:58 AM   #3
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I agree - a softbox is needed for the key to get rid of those harsh shadows around the nose, his glasses, and his neck and shoulders.

Also you could play around with the backlight/hair light to give more separation from the background. Personally I place it a lot lower.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 09:01 AM   #4
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Yup - Diffusion will go a long ways to make these folks look less like they are getting the 5th degree in an interrogation room. Once in a while some shows like the CBS's 60 minutes or CNN's 360 will have a shot that shows their stage and lighting. It's all Kinos, softboxes and diffusers.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 09:34 AM   #5
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Even if you stick with the lights you have but could fashion something in front of them to diffuse their light, it would improve things greatly. Perhaps adapting some of the diffusers that photogs use for their flashes.

I also would try to get the lighting stands out of the interviewer's camera angle...unless you don't intend for that angle to be seen in the final product.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 04:02 PM   #6
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You might also be not getting the full benefit out of the Dedos. They are great for making patterns and interesting backgrounds. Not so much as primary key and fill others have mentioned, there are far better (and more interviewee friendly) soft-light choices out there.

I am a big fan of Chimera style soft boxes with grids for the key. These put out a lot of very soft light on the subject, but doesn't let the light spray all over the room...which gives you some dark areas to play with using the pattern projecting capabilities of your Dedos.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 07:39 PM   #7
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When assessing your lighting you need to look at many things - but the primary two are HIGHLIGHTS and SHADOWS.

Your shadows have hard, sharp edges - typical of small light sources such as Dedos.

And the highlights are equally strong and focused. Look at the poor main guys forehead. That bright shiny white patch makes him look like he's had bad surgery and he has a big scar up there.

This is NOT a good interview lighting plot.

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Old March 16th, 2010, 12:01 AM   #8
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First it would be good to stay away from white walls, that is your biggest enemy when lighting. Your eye is naturally distracted to Brightest object in the picture which is the wall. Remember that a person should have only 1 shadow. On your video you a see a shadow on both shoulders. Diffusion is your friend. Don't over light. Light only what you want the camera to see. Move the people further from the wall so their shadows falls on the floor, not the wall. You can also raise the lights to hit them at a higher angle. Instead of blinding the actor with the glasses with that light in the shot, try to use that light with a colored gel on the wall at an angle, so it gives a beam of color. Use a net or 1/2 scrim to even the light beam hitting the wall so you don't get a hot spot on the wall.
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Old March 16th, 2010, 02:02 AM   #9
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While we're at it...

OT (but I think it should be said). While we are at it giving out the frank advice on lighting, there's another problem - that's not a good way to mic an interview. There's harsh shadows on the audio too :-) - very strong reflected sound. One mic halfway between the two men just doesn't work, not when the reflections from the walls are so strong. If you were in the middle of a much larger area you might get away with it (though it sound would still be very "distant"). A lav or boomed mic on each would be much better.

Sorry for the hijack.
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Old March 16th, 2010, 12:51 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jonanthan Carr View Post
Light only what you want the camera to see.
Absolutely correct. Keep in mind it's not what you light, it's what you don't light.

I also agree that a more powerful light with diffusion will go a long way to smoothing out harsh shadows, and also allow you to move your stands out of shot, killing two birds with one stone. If you absolutely must use the dedo lights, you can try doing what I do for diffusion: fashion an old bed sheet (white so it doesn't cast a color on your subject) around a pvc frame with a t-joint at the bottom and stick it on an old tripod with the head removed. If you're going to do this, be aware that it will cut the light making it harder to get the stand out of frame. Also you don't want ugly pvc pipes in your shot. You have to get creative with angles.

Good luck!
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Old March 17th, 2010, 12:30 AM   #11
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"your lights suck"......well you did want me to criticise your lights.

seriously though i havent watched you film (internet problems).

for diffusion on your dedos i would suggest cutting some 2 inch squares of half and full white diff or any other professional diffusion.
(dedo 150's can get really hot and will scorch other diff)
you can then just slip the appropriate amount of diff behind the barn doors on the lamphead.

this also applies to ctb or any other gell you have to use on your



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250 half white diffusion
251 quarter white diffusion
253 hampshire frost ....subject to scorching
254 new hampshire frost....subject to scorching

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Old March 18th, 2010, 07:58 AM   #12
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I agree with what has been said here, and to add a few additional things...
I agree about the audio, as it's hollow, and either 2 mics should have been used (boomed, or wireless), or if you were only booming one mic, then use an omni patterned one or position your talent closer together.

As far as the lighting goes, the light stands and mic stands, should have been positioned so it's not seen by the viewer, as it's very distracting to the eye.

The interviewee isn't lit that badly, a little harsh with the hair lighting. But the interviewer is lit very poorly as there's too much glare on his forehead, not enough backlight behind him. The shot looks strage when combined with the interviewee who is lit brighter. Try to keep the lighting as consistant between the two as you can, as well as framing.

Diffusing your light source definitely could cut down on this, as well as some makeup. Also if you are lighting someone who is balding, then it's best to diffuse your light source and position your lighting a bit more off to the side and lower (not overhead). Also some closer framing could help alleviate some of the attention to the glare on the forehead.
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Old March 18th, 2010, 08:34 AM   #13
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In addition to all the above, consider dabbing a bit of translucent makeup on the interviewer and interviewee. It really helps to knock down some of the reflective shine.

Also - move them at least 6' from the surrounding walls.
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Old March 18th, 2010, 10:02 PM   #14
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I think that there is something important here that people new to lighting need to understand. Just to clarify Ian, all putting a 2" piece of diffusion in front of a light like a Dedo will do is cut down on the output, no different than dimming it, it will not make the quality of the light much softer.

You must increase the relative size of the soft source to the subject. If you want to soften a Dedo, you would mount it in a softbox, usually something like a small Chimera with an egg crate or put a small silk in front of it, but something much larger than 2". That will give you a soft source 24" x 36" large, rather than 2". From a foot or two away, a small Chimera makes a very soft quality of light. If you take that same small Chimera an move it back about 20' from the subject, it has once again become a hard specular source because of it's relative size to the subject.

Conversely, if you were lighting a small piece of jewelry with that same Dedo and positioned the light about 4" from the piece of jewelry, then that 2" piece of diffusion would make quite a soft light on the piece of jewelry, because its relative size compared to the subject would be pretty large.

The details aren't that important as to how you soften a light but understanding the concept of relative size of light source to subject is very important. I was on a set yesterday where they were shooting ten actors in a big green screen scene. Key was a 10k punched through 12' x 12' silk, fill was a 6k opposite punched through another 12' x 12' silk, with both key and fill sources positioned about 15' from the talent. So to softly and evenly light the ten actors, the DP was using two soft sources with a total surface area of 288' square feet with sixteen thousand watts. Could they have lit the actors with smaller, harder sources? Sure. But since they wanted soft, even lighting, they had to use relatively HUGE soft sources to light such a large area. It's all the same whether you are lighting a small object on a tabletop or ten actors at once. It's the concept that is important, as in all of lighting. Using 24ks is the same as using Dedos, the 24ks are just really big Dedos or the Dedos are really tiny 24ks ;-)

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Old March 21st, 2010, 08:30 PM   #15
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Wow, what awesome responses, thanks EVERYONE! Sorry for the delay, busy week! A few bits of added information (not excuses, honest!):

- The room we had to film in was pretty small, with a HUGE board table in the middle, so positions were very limited...that as far from the wall as he could be.
- We were pretty restricted on time, so he pretty much had to sit down, and start rolling
- The dedo kit was hired for the film, because they are so lightweight and small..i had to fly to Luxumburgh and carry all gear single handidly. All new lights to me!
- My tie mics have been playing up...very distorted sound, and I havent solved the problem yet, so had to use this sound set up.
- The client wanted the lights and gear in shot, as a "scene setter".
- The lighting I would like reviewed mainly is of the interviee, not the interviewer, I know this lighting was pretty sucky....we had to film these intros in about 2 minutes after the interview, so I pretty much turned the lights round, moved the camera, and recorded. : (

I know there have been a couple of posts, but for future, what lights would you recommend for this type of shoot (there are more which will be almost identical in set-up). Budget of around 1000, and they need to be practical to carry/set up. I do currently have a Kino Flow. Specific recommendations would be apprecated (any web links etc).Whilst your at it, any microphone recommendations? These are a series of single man shoots, so I'm doing this all on my own, on the fly!

Again, thanks y'all, very kind of you to spend your time helping :) I feel so loved! (Even if my lighting sucks!)

Last edited by Matthew Stokes; March 21st, 2010 at 08:33 PM. Reason: Update
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