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Old June 26th, 2013, 06:04 AM   #16
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

i dont know if it's me, but if i watch a interview with this framing, subject to the right, it doesn't sit well with me!
I also notice that when I am photographing or filming, i tend to frame my subjects to the left.


the example test2.jpg is more appealing to me because you can see his eyes better, you can even see the catchlights, I think when we watch people a lot of our gaze falls on the eyes.
The head space is pretty ok to me the way is is.
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Old June 26th, 2013, 06:45 AM   #17
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathy Smith View Post
Hi,

I am setting up for an interview and can't figure out what looks really good or what is wrong with these. Can someone point out what I should change in this set up? How is the lighting? What about the framing? In the first image the head is just on the green background on the second image there are books behind, what is more pleasing? My head is spinning :(

Images attached
Thanks
Kathy,

You've already been give some excellent advice on this thread from other people, but I'll just throw in my two cents. Neither shots is as good as it could be, but for different reasons.

The shot on the the left has the better framing, but the key light is coming from the wrong side and the face is way underexposed by at least 2 stops. There is also no sparkle in his eyes, which is one of the consequences of being lit from the wrong side.

His face is exposed better in the right image, but now the lighting is too flat and the composition is all wrong. As Nate said earlier, it's all about balance and the rule of thirds.

A problem that is shared by both images is that the paper laying on the window sill just behind is left ear is too bright and distracts the eye from the subject. In general, you should try to avoid having anything in the frame (especially that close to his head) that is brighter than the subject's face. The rolled up paper, the book shelf, and the books themselves are also right on the verge of being too bright, but you can almost get away with those since they also have leading lines that bring the eye to his face. But if it was me, I'd do something to bring down the intensity of everything behind him. It could be just as simple as shooting at a different time of day if you have that flexibilty.

I think you said you are using fluorescent lighting and this is perfect example of why I'm against fluorescent tube lighting for interviews. Those types of lighting instruments really don't have the necessary control to keep the lights directed on the subject and prevent them from spraying all over the room. If that's all you've got, then try to find some way of flagging the spill from off the book shelf.

If you have control over wardrobe I'd have him wear a darker shirt to give the shot some contrast. Everything is pretty much the same in the shot right now. His hair, face, shirt, and the background are all about the same. A darker shirt or a sweater or jacket would add some needed contrast.

If there is space in the room to allow it, I'd want to add a nice little kicker on his left cheek so it feels like the daylight from the window is giving a nice little reflected highlight -- which almost never happens naturally but looks very natural and adds some zing to the shot.

The white balance is too cool. He would look healthier and more vibrant if his skin tone was a little bit warmer. I'd white balance using a WarmCard 1.

You're depth of field is already fairly shallow, but if your camera and lens are capable of getting it even shallower -- do it. The lens should be within one stop of being wide open, and the camera should be placed as far back as you can get it and use a longer focal length to keep the framing the way you want it.

And finally, no matter what camera you are using, you should try to get the framing correct when you shoot it and not rely on the crutch of "fixing" it in post. There no reason not to just shoot it right in the first place! :-)

How to Set up and Shoot Awesome Interviews with LED Lights

http://www.mainemedia.edu/workshops/...ing-interviews

I hope that helps.
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Old June 26th, 2013, 06:53 AM   #18
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathy Smith View Post
4. Also, how do you guys deal with glasses??? I think the guy I am shooting tomorrow wears glasses and when I tried glasses today I was having horrible reflections. I tried repositioning the light but it didn't d anything. I think I will just ask him to take them off.
I would never ask someone to take off their glasses if they normally wear them all the time. For one thing, the subject won't feel relaxed and at ease if they don't have their glasses on. Second, if the video is seen by people who know the subject, they'll think it is odd that the person is not wearing glasses. And third, for some reason, people who have worn glasses for years start to look like they are supposed to be wearing glasses even if you've never seen the person before. I don't know why that is the case, but it's true.

I can usually get rid of reflections by simply changing the height or angle of the key light. In a worst case scenario I might have to light the person from the wrong side to get rid of the reflections, but that is rare.

Also, if the subject is the company CEO, a politician, or someone else who might be interviewed often, I encourage them to get some glasses with non-reflective coatings. Of course, giving that advice on the day of a shoot doesn't help!

http://www.vortexmedia.com/DVD_ILDVD.html
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Old June 26th, 2013, 09:08 AM   #19
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Jensen View Post
Kathy,

You've already been give some excellent advice on this thread from other people, but I'll just throw in my two cents. Neither shots is as good as it could be, but for different reasons.

The shot on the the left has the better framing, but the key light is coming from the wrong side and the face is way underexposed by at least 2 stops. There is also no sparkle in his eyes, which is one of the consequences of being lit from the wrong side.

His face is exposed better in the right image, but now the lighting is too flat and the composition is all wrong. As Nate said earlier, it's all about balance and the rule of thirds.

A problem that is shared by both images is that the paper laying on the window sill just behind is left ear is too bright and distracts the eye from the subject. In general, you should try to avoid having anything in the frame (especially that close to his head) that is brighter than the subject's face. The rolled up paper, the book shelf, and the books themselves are also right on the verge of being too bright, but you can almost get away with those since they also have leading lines that bring the eye to his face. But if it was me, I'd do something to bring down the intensity of everything behind him. It could be just as simple as shooting at a different time of day if you have that flexibilty.

I think you said you are using fluorescent lighting and this is perfect example of why I'm against fluorescent tube lighting for interviews. Those types of lighting instruments really don't have the necessary control to keep the lights directed on the subject and prevent them from spraying all over the room. If that's all you've got, then try to find some way of flagging the spill from off the book shelf.

If you have control over wardrobe I'd have him wear a darker shirt to give the shot some contrast. Everything is pretty much the same in the shot right now. His hair, face, shirt, and the background are all about the same. A darker shirt or a sweater or jacket would add some needed contrast.

If there is space in the room to allow it, I'd want to add a nice little kicker on his left cheek so it feels like the daylight from the window is giving a nice little reflected highlight -- which almost never happens naturally but looks very natural and adds some zing to the shot.

The white balance is too cool. He would look healthier and more vibrant if his skin tone was a little bit warmer. I'd white balance using a WarmCard 1.

You're depth of field is already fairly shallow, but if your camera and lens are capable of getting it even shallower -- do it. The lens should be within one stop of being wide open, and the camera should be placed as far back as you can get it and use a longer focal length to keep the framing the way you want it.

And finally, no matter what camera you are using, you should try to get the framing correct when you shoot it and not rely on the crutch of "fixing" it in post. There no reason not to just shoot it right in the first place! :-)

How to Set up and Shoot Awesome Interviews with LED Lights

The Art of Lighting and Shooting Interviews | Maine Media

I hope that helps.
Thanks a lot Doug. I will try to change this a bit today. You said that the white balance is too cool another person said his face is too warm. I don't have that WarmCard for today so what should I change? Change the bulb to daylight and change white balance in camera?
I am already against the wall/corner of that room on a diagonal and the f.stop is 2.8, I don't think I can blur it more. I am using Kino Divas lite which were recommended to me but now I feel like I should have gotten something else.
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Old June 27th, 2013, 05:59 AM   #20
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

Hi Kathy,

If you don't have access to set of WamCards you could experiment using Offset White on the camera, but if it was me, I'd want to have a good monitor nearby so I could evaluate the results. Another option is to warm it up in post, but I'm not a big fan of grading files that are only 8-bit. WarmCards would be the best way to go.
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Old June 28th, 2013, 09:12 AM   #21
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

Kathy: FWIW...I'd suggest combining the two images. Stick with the interview subject with the window in the background, but move your screen left key light up a bit more, as in the 2nd image where the books are behind the head.

Use the light coming from the window as the backlight/fill, but key just a little stronger from screen left.

Also, while you have nice separation between the subject and the background, for a small office, I would recommend experimenting with a slightly higher f-stop, and give yourself just a bit more depth of field.

The overall look is a little flat, so you may want to push the contrast a bit in post, and perhaps fly in a small hair light on a C-stand to do a little line of separation on his head and shoulders from the flat window background light. And, now that I that Doug chimed in, +2 on the Warm Cards. Makes all the difference on skin tones.
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Old June 28th, 2013, 10:39 AM   #22
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Cantwell View Post
i dont know if it's me, but if i watch a interview with this framing, subject to the right, it doesn't sit well with me!
I also notice that when I am photographing or filming, i tend to frame my subjects to the left.
This is very much a western convention where we tend to have the "good guy" moving left to right so placing the subject on the left connotes positive while subjects on camera right are generally considered negative or create more tension.
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Old June 28th, 2013, 11:03 AM   #23
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Cantwell View Post
I also notice that when I am photographing or filming, i tend to frame my subjects to the left.
Either side of the frame doesn't make any difference to me. It's dictated by the physical location more than anything else.
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Old June 28th, 2013, 04:51 PM   #24
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

Kathy,
I do believe that there are a lot of different ways to skin a cat in this case. Personally I find eye direction and body angle make a huge difference in the way someone looks in the interview. In this case having the face and body opening out towards the camera seems to make him flatter and falling out of the frame. I would pull him farther from the window and closer to the camera if there is room. Rotate his body a little clockwise so his gaze doesn't end up into the lens as much. Unless of course he is delivering a speech to camera.
As others said there are lighting issues which you may not be able to deal with in this environment easily. ND 9 on the window would give you a better shot at controlling the light so he pops a bit more without it being artificial. If he were brighter you could have a darker background without losing the daylight feeling. You might have to use ND on the lens to get back to the Depth of field F stop you like. Of course if the weather is partially cloudy you may have things change over the course of an answer let alone a long interview.
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Old June 29th, 2013, 02:20 AM   #25
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

I will not comment in detailon the lighting. There are better and wiser than me in this department.


My personal preferences in this would be along these lines :-


Is the interviewee a recognised authority on his subject?

If so, my preference would be to give him some dominance by positioning the camera itself lower.


Is the interviewee reacting to a set of questions by a live interviewer?

If so, then his eyeline is going to jump from camera to interviewer. If this is a reaction to a rehearsed question, then I would give the interviewee a target person to address and offset the framing for normal noseroom.


Is the interviewee defending a topic, how do you want to slant this?

If I want to assist the interviewee, then I would position the camera in the less dominating lower position. If I want the interviewee to be the defensive loser, then I would position the camera high where you are to dominate.


Is the interviewee addressing the viewer directly to-camera as if host, anchor or narrator?

If so, my preference would be to position the camera lower, to re-inforce an authority he may have. I would compose him centrally in the shot and frame tighter on him, maybe after a wider establishing shot where he can be anywhere in it.


On actual lighting, I would like to see the interviewee set apart or highlighted from the environment he is in with areas of the surrounding office darker. I would also like to gel the window view darker. I would like to see more feature definition in his face, a harder key and soft fill. The window view might be nice to have but I think I might prefer the darker more textured background the entire bookshelf may provide if it is larger enough, move the camera so that the window light is from the side. I would want to set the camera further back and frame in closer with a longer lens to soften the background books. I realise that it might be a tight space and you may already be shooting through a doorway to get back far enough.

Maybe you can achieve some separation of the subject from the environment later with a softer darker vignette.


Please heed the advice of smarter more competent people than I who comment here.

Last edited by Bob Hart; June 29th, 2013 at 02:30 AM. Reason: error
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Old June 29th, 2013, 02:39 AM   #26
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

I think the composition as others have said is fine - the question I have is the background v foreground. The person is wearing pastels and has my colour hair, but the background is more saturated - the out of focus red, blue and green draw the eye. So I'd keep the setup, but give the person a better shirt, and replace the vivid colours behind him. The outside greens are good, but the blue and green books have to go!
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Old June 29th, 2013, 04:31 AM   #27
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

Some guidelines I use that may be helpful:

1) If possible, avoid anything sticking out of the subject's head at mouth level and higher. Ever.
2) Increase the light on the subject when your background is bright. This is happening in your second sample.
3) Put ND gel on the window so it's as the eye sees it instead of blown out as the camera sees it. Adding light on the subject will help but nothing is like ND
4) Tip the ears of glasses up 1/4 - 1/2" to get rid of glare
5) Compose subjects looking across the lens
6) Camera at eye level. Put it slightly above when you want to hide the under chin flab in a shadow.
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Old July 13th, 2013, 07:44 AM   #28
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

Sorry about the long reply but I don't think there's a simple answer, or at least not one that I can come up with. To start the subject body should be turned toward the inside of the image not outside as in the samples. Composition of course is the main reason, second is much easier to keep him within the composition. Everybody moves around, nobody stay still during an interview, but if he faces the inside he will move into the image and still stay within the composition, in the way he is sitting now if he moves he will go outside the image. Also trying to maintain the rule of third on a head and shoulder interview in most cases is impossible, a slight move and he is outside the rule of third. Use fixed chairs with arms not a rolling or swiveling one. Adjust the composition depending if the subject stay in one place or moves a lot. If he moves a lot go wider, give him room to move around, if he stay still then push-in and go closer. They don’t usually move around when talking but they do so it in between questions, that gives you time to make adjustments. We normally go wide and tight and vary our shot in between questions so the interview can be edited without having to use b-rolls or having to go with jump-cuts. It’s better to see him move within the image then seeing the camera constantly moving in order to keep the subject within a “proper” composition.

As far as subject screen direction goes usually these are producer requirements, if the interviews will be shown with other interviews in the same program then screen direction should be different form each other. This is also the very first question we ask because the entire background and lighting will be determined by screen direction.

Even thou I’m totally pro lighting I don’t mind the image on the left at all, it all depends on what the interview is for. If it’s for corporate, marketing or advertising I would say to make it more formal and light it like you would a fine portrait, but if its for a documentary then some of the fundamental rules can be broken in favor of a natural look. Even in motion pictures today I’m seeing more and more images of people with subject/backgrounds lighting ratio outside the traditional lighting rules, all intended to give a more natural look. Once you visually introduce lights in the image, like the image on the right, then you have to go by the book and do it right.

On an average interview we do for feature or documentaries it take us 15 minutes to light the subject, then for the next two or three hours we work on the background. On “Sport Century” series on ESPN Classics a decade ago we used one single light on the subject and as many as 16 lights on the background. Basically we resurrected the “Chiaroscuro” lighting style used by Renaissance artists and applied to our lighting techniques, this is also the style used in many motion pictures, the best application of this style is in the original “Godfather” movie. I posted on Youtube several years ago this very crude video about the basic principle of chiaroscuro, it was intended to be shown to student in a classroom.

From what I’m reading and seeing lately I get the impression that backgrounds is becoming a burden that must be dealt with as quickly as possible. Larger sensor cameras with wide apertures are all but eliminating backgrounds. This might be good in low budgeted corporate work but if you want to start getting into higher paid documentaries and features the background plays an important role, producers are becoming increasingly insistent that what’s behind the subject must also tell the story about the person being interviewed even before the caption comes on. If you are planning to move your career upward I would strongly suggest to start learning about creating and lighting backgrounds. On most interview today we use two cameras, a wider shot that include a background set and an extreme close-up cam of just the subject face. Separation and depth with the wide shot is achieved with a combination depth of field and lighting separation.

As far as controlling the output of a light goes, true that if you use a cheap large fluorescent light you will find it more challenging controlling its output when compared to a 12”x12” LED light. I use and extensively test all the lights available on the market today and be sure that even a 4x4 Kino Flo fluorescent is much more controllable than any of the popular sized LEDs. Of course by nature any 12 inch light will be less problematic to control than a 4 foot fixture, it has nothing to do with being an LED or fluorescent, it’s about the size of the light, but it’s the larger size of the light that give you a quality lighting. A good honeycomb grid in front of a 4’ fluorescent gives you full control of where you want the light to shine, sometime is even too directional and we have to change to a wider angle grid to actually give us more coverage. You must keep in mind when using LEDs, and I own 2 dozens of LEDS from every manufacturer from the cheapest one to the most expensive and use LEDs everyday, is that a LED fixture it is not a single light source like most traditional lights are, each one of those tiny LED bulb is an independent light source with its very own reflector. While on a fluorescent or incandescent light I can use barn doors or grids to control the output if you try to put a grid in front of a LED in order to better control it’s direction it will show the pattern of the grid in the image, if you close-in the barn doors too much is going to start showing bands of lights, the quick solution for this is to place a diffusing gel on in front of the bulbs in order to mix the individual bulbs right out of the source, of course this will also reduce the output of the light but with fast lenses today this shouldn’t be a problem. Some of the higher priced LED panels introduced at NAB this year have a diffuser built into the light.
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Old July 14th, 2013, 08:41 AM   #29
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Re: What's wrong with this setup?

That's a great video, Gino. Every time your narrator says "chiaroscuro" it makes me want to go back to Italy.

Of course, if I had a dime for every producer who, when looking at a subject I've set up in just that lighting scenario says "Hey, can we do something to eliminate that shadow on the side of his face?" I'd be in the Bahamas in my retirement villa right now, surrounded by empty Corona bottles.
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