Interview Light Set Up Help...please!? at

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Old July 26th, 2010, 06:30 AM   #1
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Interview Light Set Up Help...please!?

This forum is awesome...but I'm finding myself a bit drowned by quite so much expertise and advise! A lot of people know a LOT about a LOT! I know similar questions have been asked, but i'm finding it hard to find an answer for me!

So... I conduct a lot of short interviews "on the fly" here in the UK. The locations vary a lot; offices, homes, outdoors, factory floors etc although most are in office inviroments. Many of these have to be set up very quickly, and often in confined spaces (need to keep cool). The focus is generally on just the respondant, although next week I am due to film a casual two person conversational interview. I am a one man band, so need something that is pretty quick and easy to set up for suitable results. I also need something relatively compact and lightweight... I sometimes have to rely on train travel, with my camera, tripod, and lights! I really need a one-case/bag solution. Not asking too much am I??!!

Budget isn't the main factor, although something within £1,250 would be good. I currently have a Diva Lite 400 which serves well as a good single light but I really need to be doing something a bit cleverer with my lighting! Its also not realy practical to carry around that PLUS other lights/stands.

Can anyone suggest a SPECIFIC kit that I should try? (part codes/model etc would be handy). As you can tell, I am a little bit of a lighting novice, with bits of information I have picked up along the way, but please don't dont blind with too much science...treat me like a muggle!

Thanks for your help, and patience!
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Old July 26th, 2010, 06:37 AM   #2
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Something like this perhaps?
Lowel DVC-91G DV Core 250 Lighting Kit with Hard Case - Proactive
Lowel DVC-91G DV Core 250 Lighting Kit
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Old July 26th, 2010, 07:44 AM   #3
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I traveled From Florida to Singapore and Shanghai with a 12"x44 SKB flatpack and a kata backpack to do interviews and man on the street. Suggest you learn to use a reflector and three point lighting. WALTER GRAFF - HOME has great tutorials on lighting but I recall one in particular was about setting up the same interview with varying amounts of equipment.

There is also an article about his light kit. The main point is that you should consider what is sold as a "kit" as just a package of stuff. It isn't like a model or radio kit that you put it together a voilą, you have an interview setup. Many who post here will tell you to assemble your own. But if u read this forum you know that. Personally, I think if you don't know what you need, you need to grab a light, go do some lighting with what you have, wrestle with it. Then you will learn the value of soft light, softboxes, barn doors, flags, stands and pro lights. They are expensive for a reason.

All that said, I love Lowel stuff and have found them very transportable. However,LED lights are a whole new level of portability. YMMV
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Old July 26th, 2010, 09:04 AM   #4
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I have experimented with various lights and 3 point lighting, and thanks for the link, very interesting reading! But I would still really appreciate peoples recommendations...and yes, I understand that i pre-formed kit may not be suitable, that was just a suggestion as a starting point.

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Old July 26th, 2010, 10:10 AM   #5
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If you've got one light...I'd get a reflector, for fill-side (or I use big sheets of whit office supply display board, sometimes called "foamcore").

I'll often use window light as the rim light, but you have to have daylight balanced lighting instrument(s).

I've ended up using these hardware store "curly" bulbs that are 6500 kelvin for little fill sources, etc. They are fine for a broad source for interviews with some white boards...and very portable...and you can use windows as a part of your lighting as opposed to constantly running from them...

I know that some purists will scoff, but they work as long as you test them ahead of time with your intended framerate and shutter to verify there's no flicker.
Kolb Productions
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Old July 26th, 2010, 11:54 AM   #6
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I agree with Tim in general. Specifically, I would also agree that lighting begins in your head. My teachers at film school always taught me that good lighting comes from a plan. You have to be able to look at any environment and use your eye to judge about how best enhance what is already there.

Gear is not important really, knowing what you are doing is. There are so many great. inexpensive ways to light talking heads these days. You might want to go to Walter Graff's site and look at his Graff lights. I have made a dozen of these and I can light entire scenes with just these cheap, from Home Depot desk lights and it looks great.

I also was hot to buy a Kino Flo Diva when they were first introduced but every time that I went to the store to look at them, I was put off by the price tag. $700.00 for a Diva 200 kit and over $1,000.00 for your Diva 400 kit? When you look at a Diva, what is actually providing the light? Those 55 watt biax tubes, right? Not the Coroplast fixture, except for the reflectors in the Coroplast. Not the ballast, dimmer and the stamp on the back of the light that says Kino Flo. So I built my own Divas. Sourced out some better ballasts than what Kino Flo uses, better reflectors. My Divas do not dim like the Kino Flo ones do, but other than that one feature, for all intents, my lights are better built, heavier duty and cost me $223.00 ea. to build. I had a plan. See what I mean?

As far as your situation, if you shoot mostly run and gun interviews in small and cramped offices, etc. you need to work with what you have. In most cases, what you will have will be hideously ugly backgrounds, really ugly fluorescent overhead lights and an occasional blasted out window near or behind the talent? So in my mind...

1. I shoot a lot of these type situations. Since you can rarely art direct the BG much in these situations, I often shoot the interviews as green screen or with a black limbo BG.

2. If I have to use their ugly BGs, I try to request the largest conference room or hallway I can get my hands on. At least if I can provide some separation between the talent and the BG and my camera and the talent, I stand a fighting chance of being able to create something interesting.

3. I also would consider shooting with a 35mm adapter or a DSLR. Shallow DOF is your friend in these situations. Ugly BGs become a lot more palatable if you can disguise them as out of focus blobs, rather than seeing the ugliness.

4. As far as lighting, your Diva 400 is a great light for the situations you are in. Daylight tubes, no heat and small wattage concerns are all hallmarks of what I would be looking for in your situation. Problem is, the Diva 400 and a stand are not exactly portable as a one bag solution, with light stand, sticks and your camera, etc. If you go much smaller though, you will not have enough lighting horsepower to use as even fill when you have some indirect sunlight to work with. I like LEDs, I use them a lot but only through a Chimera (takes time to setup and breakdown and in the end, more room than your Diva).

I would not consider tungsten lights like Lowels, simply because in your shooting situations, you probably deal with daylight from windows and skylights all of the time? I would only use tungsten if you are always able to control the ambient light situation. If not, trying to mix tungsten with ambient daylight or even ambient 4300k fluorescent light is a PITA.

The bottom line is, you already have a great main key light in your Diva. Learn how to use it. I would agree that you should supplement the Diva with a Flexfill, this will allow you to effectively double your sources. I would also consider adding a small daylight LED like the Coollights LED256 as a hair/rim light. It can run off of camcorder batteries and with a Mafer or Cardellini, you have almost endless mounting options on cubicle separators or on door edges behind the talent. Saves you having to plug-in another light and saves you having to carry another lighting stand. With the addition of a light source like this and the Flexfill, you now have an effective three point lighting kit for not much more money or weight gain.

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Old July 26th, 2010, 09:22 PM   #7
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I would say that you should proceed with getting one relatively hard light to go along with the Diva400. Your light is rather handy in that it provides a decent soft source but you could use something to help separate your subject from the background. You have a lot of choices but you should probably get something that puts out the equivalent of 300 tungsten watts or stronger. The smallest I would go is a Lowel pro-light with a 250W lamp. The problem with going tungsten is that it won't match daylight at strength. I'm getting the afore-mentioned LED256 to use as back/rim lights. Unfortunately for you, I got the last two if I made it under the wire before stock ran out.

A big daylight source like you have is very handy as a single light to simply use as some fill in an otherwise lit room. If you don't have a decent looking room, it really takes four light sources to do a three-point setup since one is also needed for the background. What you are doing now is using the Diva400 as both key and fill and using existing light in the room (and spill from the key) as your background light. The one light you are probably doing without entirely is that coming from the reverse angle. This is why I suggest getting just one more light for now. Since you will need more control of the light pointing back at the camera's direction to prevent light hitting the lens, it is best to get a harder source for this purpose. I would also suggest getting a reflector since you can let some spill from the key and back lights hit the reflector and use it as front fill.

A trick I just recently read about on this forum is to put a hand mirror on a stand and redirect the key light back as a rim/back/hair light. This would be the lightest solution of all, but I have never tried this so I don't know how strong it would be.
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Old July 27th, 2010, 02:21 PM   #8
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Light int setup

As you work alone and need to setup fast I would suggest going with a dedo 3 or 4 light kit as you can
carry it in a backpack and setup really fast as all light are on dimmers. Another good, lightweight and fast to
setup light is a rifa.
Another lightweight kit would be an ianiro led54 - it seems nobody knows those lights on this forum.
Ianiro is the company that invented the original redheads which were the defacto eng light kit for years
in the industry. The led54 is the new redheads. Check it out.
Keep in mind that you don't want to go with high wattage lights if you only film Mid shots and CUs.
Try and aim for availiable light as your fill light. Learn to use what you've got for instance windows and white
Good luck.

Divas 4 are good, but hard to carry if you work alone as you should use gripstands with them and the case
is quite big.
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