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Silas Barker January 23rd, 2017 11:54 AM

Lighting For Interviews / Talking Heads
Hi all!

First, this forum has really been helpful throughout the years, thanks for taking the time to help me out!

Currently I have some Britek 300/600 watt Tungsten Lights with soft boxes that look pretty nice for interview / talking heads shoots. I recently bought a few extra ones because some of my 10 year old ones were going out. Realized I might want to look into LED too.

A few years ago I bought some Ikan LED panels but they don't diffuse like a softbox unfortunately so I returned them. I like how cool they were and the color temperature adjustments.

What are people using for talking head lighting set ups these days? The Britek bulbs don't last super long and its $20 a bulb. Looking for a longer lasting set up. Open to LED but not sure if its able to perform like a softbox. Thanks in advance!

Oren Arieli January 23rd, 2017 12:47 PM

Re: Lighting For Interviews / Talking Heads
1 Attachment(s)
I'm a big fan of point-light sources, the monoblock style lights with COB (Chip On Board) technology. If it's got a Bowens mount then it's even more versatile, since you can add on dozens of affordable modifiers. Fresnel lights are nice for the throw, but for diffusion, I like the Alzo Digital 3000 series, CAME-TV has a Boltzen line that is affordable, as does Aputure Throw on a softbox and grid and you've got a powerful, beautiful light.
My recommendation is to go with daylight balanced if you're shooting on-location at offices. Most of them have windows, so you won't have to worry about gelling your lights to match incoming daylight.

Somewhat of an older review I did of my Alzo 3200 here: I now have their higher CRI ultra-low noise version.

Michael Liebergot January 24th, 2017 11:42 AM

Re: Lighting For Interviews / Talking Heads
1 Attachment(s)
I purchased some edge lit FLAPJACK LED lights from FOTODIOX a couple of years ago and love them.

They are small, ultra compact, cool, and soft.

I posted this a few years ago but thought that I would copy and paste my experience with them.

I had a simple black limbo interview to shoot in a small boardroom today so I brought along a pair of new Fotodiox LED Flapjack 300R lights to try out and was very impressed with the outcome.

Nice soft light with plenty of output for a closely lit interview.

Since these lights don't have much throw then they also helped with light spill onto the back backdrop, which was only 2 feet behind the interviewee.

I am attaching a picture that is untouched to show the outcome of the shoot. The only issue I had was that I brought the wrong hair light which was too hot even turned down all the way.

Since my previous purchase I have also picked up the smaller Flapjack C200S for on camera and hair light purposes. Love them.

Now for lighting for interviews they are great. For lighting rooms and such, not so much as they have a lot of spill and are not strong enough to light up backgrounds. For traveling they rock.

Attached Thumbnails
Quest for the lightest light kit-wwii-interview.jpg

Doug Jensen September 20th, 2017 05:37 AM

Re: Lighting For Interviews / Talking Heads
Here are a few examples (both indoor and outdoor) that were shot a couple of weeks ago during an interview lighting workshop I was teaching in Maine. Most of the setups were done with my Litepanels Astra 4X and my Astra Soft. The goal of the class is for the students to learn simple techniques for setups that can be accomplished by one person in about 30 minutes with gear that can be carried on a cart.

Steven Digges September 27th, 2017 12:29 PM

Re: Lighting For Interviews / Talking Heads

I always enjoy your posts. Even after more than 25 years of image making and interviews I would love to attend one of these work shops. Unfortunately my bucket list is still long.

In my experience these are the two most difficult interview issues to overcome. They are sometimes as emotional as technical. I am sure you cover these two things but I have to ask?

Male subjects - bald or balding heads. Lighting? Powder/makeup? Talking the subject out of the inappropriate hat he wants to wear? Or shooting with the hat on? Men can be incredibly sensitive about this.

Female subjects - I learned a long time ago that many females feel they have at least one "bad" feature, be it real or perceived. Often they do not mention it to you on set so I try to look for it. When shown the finished work the very first thing their eye goes to is that feature to see how you handled it. These days I find myself shooting without a makeup artist more often than not. Other than traditional soft lighting techniques do your workshops cover difficult facial features you want to be careful with?

Kind Regards,


Ed Roo September 27th, 2017 02:50 PM

Re: Lighting For Interviews / Talking Heads
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This is how I set up for my monthly veteran oral history interviews. Key light: Litepanes 1x1 daylight flood. Fill light: Litepanels 1x1 daylight spot. Hair light: Litepanels 3" ENG.

Doug Jensen September 29th, 2017 05:09 AM

Re: Lighting For Interviews / Talking Heads

Originally Posted by Steven Digges (Post 1936830)
In my experience these are the two most difficult interview issues to overcome. They are sometimes as emotional as technical. I am sure you cover these two things but I have to ask?

Thanks for asking, and it'd be cool to see you at one of my workshops someday.

I absolutely do cover the kinds of issues you have brought up in your post. A good interview setup is about more than just plopping down a few lights in the right places and pressing record on the camera. Make-up, bald heads, eye glasses, nervous subjects, reluctant subjects, wardrobe, putting the subject at ease, and how to get the soundbites you need from the subject, are all topics that we cover during the class. In fact, wrangling the subject so we can get what we want from them begins even before they walk through the door and sit down, and it continues right up to the moment the lights are turned off.

Ben Johnston October 6th, 2017 01:33 PM

Re: Lighting For Interviews / Talking Heads
1 Attachment(s)
Cheap bank of fluorescent tubes (Kinoflo immitation), with big diffusion panel in front (inside of a 5-way reflector). Not much output with the diffusion, so needs to be quite close.

Bounce for fill. Small LED for hair light.

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