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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:47 AM   #1
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to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnal

here is the situation:

camera-canon 5d or 7d
lens-nikon ais prime 50mm 1.8

i have to shoot a series of upbeat talking head-12 of them-during the course of a 2hr corporate event.

the only available space is a corner office away from the gathering.

the office measures 14' x 10' but i can not totally remove the contents of the office.

consequentially, i have one spot for the interviewees to stand.

that spot is approx 4ft from the black fabric background i will put on a stands

the camera will be 8ft in front of them.

the ceiling is 8ft dropped ceiling.

i have access to two lighting instruments for my key-a softbox with a 500watt daylight bulb or a 650watt arri fresnel.

all the interviewees will be standing & are youngish, vibrant and energized-20yr-40yr-of varying heights and some-unknown amount-wear glasses.

i have 2hrs to interview 12 folks.

that means i have approx 10min with each-including lighting tweaks.

if i use the softbox as key, 45degress from camera/45 degress up, the light should be fine

but i'm worried about the spill from the softbox and glasses reflecting the lights.

i would then use a reflector as fill creating a flat look w/o much contrast but their youngish qualities will look more vibrant.

if i use a 650 fresnel as key, i can barn door/snoot the light allowing me to control the spill. i would then use a 250 bounced for fill.

both would have a 150 watt has hair/backgrd light.

i am concerned that the lighting tweaks between interviewees will chew up my time and leave me less time for the q&a.

so, softbox or fresnel?

or perhaps another thought?

thanks in advance.

be well

rob
smalltalk productions

Last edited by Rob Katz; November 10th, 2011 at 08:31 AM.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 08:23 AM   #2
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

Softbox will be more forgiving and flattering. Two Lowel Rifa 44EX would be better than one+reflector.

HOWEVER, your Softbox is daylight so you are mixing color temps with your hairlight and maybe the ambient light. Thats a problem. If you can't put in a tungsten bulb then I would go with the Fresnel. Some diffusion gels attached to the barndoors with some C47s will soften it some. You can do the same thing to the hairlight.

Rosco E-Colour #251 1/4 White Diffusi 102302512124 B&H Photo
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Old November 10th, 2011, 08:44 AM   #3
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

lee-

thanks for the quick reply.

i can easily swap out bulbs and put in tungsten.

2 small softbox...that is a lot of light in a small space.

i fear that small room will really get warm.

again, thanks for the thought.

be well

rob
smalltalk productions
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Old November 10th, 2011, 09:03 AM   #4
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

Sounds like you should get the Rifa with Flourescent bulbs balanced for Tungsten if you are concerned about heat. Working in NY dealing with small spaces is typical. Sometimes having a harder key would help with the background. Also easier to deal with glasses. Try and get some scrims if you use the 650 so you can knock it down a couple of stops without changing the spread. Frankly you are a bit ambitious trying to get this much done in this short a time. Either way should be workable but sounds easier using the 650 as key as far as the background is concerned.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 03:06 PM   #5
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

No question, that room will heat up but you'll have the worst of it. I find talent can go 10 minutes before starting to melt.

I presume you know about scissor clamps for the hung ceiling instead of stands.
Matthews Drop Ceiling Scissor Clamp with Baby 429678 B&H Photo

I prefer the Lowel design but and they come in a two pack:
Lowel CM-20 - Scissor-Mount for Drop-Ceilings CM-20 B&H Photo
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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:01 PM   #6
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

I would also go with a softbox and a reflector for fill (fewer lights, less heat). A white/silver reflector and it's distance to subject will allow you to control the contrast. Good quality c-stands will allow you to adjust the lights to minimize glare from glasses. In a pinch, have them remove their glasses when glare is severe.
I would further recommend shooting into the corner of the room, giving you more room on each side of the talent for the lights. Your hairlight will probably need more frequent adjustment. Keep it on a dimmer, have some blackwrap and diffusion handy and a chair nearby so you can adjust it quickly.

I do these kind of setups all the time and can share some recent setup photos if it helps.
Attached Thumbnails
to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel-img_0653.jpg   to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel-img_0654.jpg  

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Old November 12th, 2011, 11:50 AM   #7
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

Whoever designed the parameters of this gig is kinda clueless.

The key is the time you have with the people. To say that 10 minutes per person is inadequate to conduct an interview is like saying that 30 seconds is too short a time span in which to cook a turkey. It's glaringly obvious to anyone who has even the slightest familiarity with the subject.

So if you're going to be put into a situation where you are likely to fail unless you alter the entire game.

Don't stress about the lighting or the camera operation. Set up your lights the best you can. Use the camera histogram to get the highlights on your subject right, then lock it off and don't fiddle with it. Period. Put EVERYTHING on AUTO. Put your mic on a boom just out of frame and then forget about it. You don't have time to "tweak" anything. Period.

Trying to achieve perfect "60 minutes" lighting in a situation like this is nuts.

So think about what you CAN do to possibly get something out of the people you will talk to in their 10 minutes of fame.

This will NOT be about the lighting, camera, audio or setup. It will be about your ability to get people to open up on camera and talk to you - and you have a stunningly inadequate amount of time in which to do that. So all you can hope for is to have the best possible plan going in.

Your first question to them MUST be something they can answer easily. Have them give you their name and spell both parts. (It's useful for on-screen attribution, but that's the SECONDARY use) the first is to just get them TALKING to the camera. Period. Then ask them a modestly deeper "info access" question like "what city were you born in?" Tell them you're doing it "for audio levels" whether that's true or not. Just get them talking. And the INSTANT they do - your job is to KEEP them talking. So taking your eyes off theirs for a SINGLE SECOND that breaks the conversation is FAILURE.

Then gently (but quickly) steer the conversation toward 1 or possibly 2 pre-determined questions that will get you some small chance of getting the material you need.

That is about the best you can hope for in 10 minutes.

Good luck.
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Old November 13th, 2011, 08:21 AM   #8
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

For really small spaces, also consider bouncing a light off the wall. Any tungsten would work for bounce. Sometimes it's hard to get a softbox in there without getting it too close to the talent. And still allowing enough depth of field between the subject and the back wall.
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Old November 13th, 2011, 08:23 AM   #9
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

Ooops. Just saw that you're using a black background, so bounce won't work. Too much bleed onto background.
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Old November 22nd, 2011, 11:13 PM   #10
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

Use the softbox and get a bigger room :)

I find direct light far too harsh for faces. I use softboxes and then run a cutter to cut back the spill when in tight locations.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 07:10 AM   #11
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

@Tim: What is a "cutter"

@Rob Katz: Can you update this thread? How did it go? What did you use? Can you show any results?
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Old November 24th, 2011, 10:22 PM   #12
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

@Les - A cutter is something used to block light from falling where you don't want it. Like a 4x4 floppy etc.
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Old December 5th, 2011, 10:29 PM   #13
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

"@Rob Katz: Can you update this thread? How did it go? What did you use? "

I actually ended up as the DP on this shoot and it turned out very well.

Because of the limited space and Rob's (necessary) concerns about the room heating up, I used LED lights from both Cool Lights and Lite Panels. The Cool Light 1200 LED is daylight/tungsten variable and it was easy to match with the Lite Panel Micros which were left unfiltered for daylight. With the Cool Light as a main-light, the micros were great for hair and side highlights. There was lots of controlled light and no heat. The only tweaking needed between shots was to adjust for the subject's height.

The main light was diffused using tissue paper (again, no heat from LEDs), but a "cutter" or "gobo" (black flag) over the subjects head would have helped keep any light spill off the background, as the shooting area was even tighter than described. Still, as it was a black background, it worked out fine

Fortunately, Rob is a skilled interviewer, and he managed to get terrific responses from each of the participants in the allotted time.

"Whoever designed the parameters of this gig is kinda clueless. "

Au contrare, Bill, Rob is actually quite brilliant. His client laid out the parameters and rather than say "that's impossible, it can't be done" he's worked on a solution that would service his client and also get him paid. And he did it by asking tons of questions, which is how he learns.

"Trying to achieve perfect "60 minutes" lighting in a situation like this is nuts"

But we did it. Some gigs allow lots of time, like interviewing pharmaceutical reps, or the principal of your local high school, but for many, "you've got ten minutes" is a common war cry when you're filming a politician, rock star or sports personality. So, figuring out your lighting configuration in advance is actually a pretty smart move.

Finally " Put EVERYTHING on AUTO."

Honestly, this would have been a disaster on auto. The black background would easily fool the camera's sensor and overexpose the subjects. Audio on auto would continuously rise and fall picking up every ambient sound and possibly clip the first words of each speaker as it jumped to lower the volume.
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Old January 12th, 2012, 09:52 PM   #14
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oren Arieli View Post
I would also go with a softbox and a reflector for fill (fewer lights, less heat). A white/silver reflector and it's distance to subject will allow you to control the contrast. Good quality c-stands will allow you to adjust the lights to minimize glare from glasses. In a pinch, have them remove their glasses when glare is severe.
I would further recommend shooting into the corner of the room, giving you more room on each side of the talent for the lights. Your hairlight will probably need more frequent adjustment. Keep it on a dimmer, have some blackwrap and diffusion handy and a chair nearby so you can adjust it quickly.

I do these kind of setups all the time and can share some recent setup photos if it helps.
oren-

great illustrative pix. thanks.

from the pix those look like two or four tube flos.

which company did you buy and your thoughts on their quality of light and sturdiness.

thanks in advance for adding to the conversation.

be well.

rob
smalltalk productions
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Old January 12th, 2012, 10:00 PM   #15
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Re: to light talking head in small space-softbox vs fresnel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Fishbein View Post
"@Rob Katz: Can you update this thread? How did it go? What did you use? "

I actually ended up as the DP on this shoot and it turned out very well.

Because of the limited space and Rob's (necessary) concerns about the room heating up, I used LED lights from both Cool Lights and Lite Panels. The Cool Light 1200 LED is daylight/tungsten variable and it was easy to match with the Lite Panel Micros which were left unfiltered for daylight. With the Cool Light as a main-light, the micros were great for hair and side highlights. There was lots of controlled light and no heat. The only tweaking needed between shots was to adjust for the subject's height.

The main light was diffused using tissue paper (again, no heat from LEDs), but a "cutter" or "gobo" (black flag) over the subjects head would have helped keep any light spill off the background, as the shooting area was even tighter than described. Still, as it was a black background, it worked out fine

Fortunately, Rob is a skilled interviewer, and he managed to get terrific responses from each of the participants in the allotted time.

"Whoever designed the parameters of this gig is kinda clueless. "

Au contrare, Bill, Rob is actually quite brilliant. His client laid out the parameters and rather than say "that's impossible, it can't be done" he's worked on a solution that would service his client and also get him paid. And he did it by asking tons of questions, which is how he learns.

"Trying to achieve perfect "60 minutes" lighting in a situation like this is nuts"

But we did it. Some gigs allow lots of time, like interviewing pharmaceutical reps, or the principal of your local high school, but for many, "you've got ten minutes" is a common war cry when you're filming a politician, rock star or sports personality. So, figuring out your lighting configuration in advance is actually a pretty smart move.

Finally " Put EVERYTHING on AUTO."

Honestly, this would have been a disaster on auto. The black background would easily fool the camera's sensor and overexpose the subjects. Audio on auto would continuously rise and fall picking up every ambient sound and possibly clip the first words of each speaker as it jumped to lower the volume.

as the original poster, i want to thank all who responded and added their thoughts and experience.

as chuck fishbein mentioned, the shoot worked out just fine.

leds really offered the solution to my particular situation. chuck's 1200s provided a lovely key and the little lite panels added just the right accent light.

we shot on the ex3 so that 1/2" chip was helpful.

i have since purchased a fs100 so i truly look forward to seeing what light that super35 chip will actually need.

the bottom line: i was fortunate to have an experienced and generous pro behind the camera.

chuck and i have worked together several times and i always walk away from the shoot wiser and extremely satisfied.

be well.

rob
smalltalk productions
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