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Old September 14th, 2005, 07:43 PM   #1
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What to use for background and how to light?

I've gotten some experience doing some green screen and a dozen or so interviews. I would like to branch out on my next interview and use a background stand. I was thinking of trying a totally black background so the background is basically invisible and the subjects really stand out.

1) Is muslin what I should use? Why not decorator fabric from a fabric store?
2) Will hanging cloth like a curtains (with the folds) be better than a roll or cloth that's hung flat?
3) How far would you estimate I'd need the background to be from the subject?
4) Any special lighting techniques or camera settings?

I'm lighting with 4 Lowel Omni and 2 Pro lights. Shooting with an XL1s.
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Old September 15th, 2005, 12:19 AM   #2
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In my opinion, 'black void' (my term) can be kind of boring.

If you do it, make sure the subject is seperated from the black void. You need to have a backlight or a rim light, otherwise it looks like their face melts into the void.

If I were doing a black void thing, I'd make the lighting dramatic to go with that (kind of like those police interview situations). And maybe throw some party/colored gels on lights from the side to add some modelling/interest to the interviewee's face.
Obviously this wouldn't be a very naturalistic effect, but black void would never look natural anyways.


Anyways, I don't think there's a right answer here. There are many legitimate ways to light an interview, and some things go in and out of vogue. 3-point lighting seems to be in vogue at film schools (although it's not that common in practice).

Quote:
1) Is muslin what I should use? Why not decorator fabric from a fabric store?
2) Will hanging cloth like a curtains (with the folds) be better than a roll or cloth that's hung flat?
3) How far would you estimate I'd need the background to be from the subject?
There's black fabric/velour stuff that just disppears on camera. In real life, your eye has much greater dynamic range than your camera and will see the folds and wrinkles.
Sorry, no idea where to buy it. Check the material for low reflection, especially specular reflections. Mirrors are close to 100% specular reflections... a good cloth example would be black nylon.
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Old September 15th, 2005, 04:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest House
I've gotten some experience doing some green screen and a dozen or so interviews. I would like to branch out on my next interview and use a background stand. I was thinking of trying a totally black background so the background is basically invisible and the subjects really stand out.

1) Is muslin what I should use? Why not decorator fabric from a fabric store?
2) Will hanging cloth like a curtains (with the folds) be better than a roll or cloth that's hung flat?
3) How far would you estimate I'd need the background to be from the subject?
4) Any special lighting techniques or camera settings?

I'm lighting with 4 Lowel Omni and 2 Pro lights. Shooting with an XL1s.

Dear Ernest,

1) Muslim is a little loose knit, you need something with a tighter weave.
2) If you want the background to "disappear" the folds won't be evident.
3) The more distance you put between your subject and the background the less you will see the curtain details; (wrinkles, etc).
4) I think the same lighting techniques you have used for green screen should translate to this application. Light from the sides and above...

Glenn is correct in advising you to make sure you have a decent back light and I would also suggest you light the ENTIRE subject so that if you zoom out you won't see a well lit face on top of an invisible body. Seen that mistake a million times....

Night night,

Steph
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