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Old June 4th, 2006, 04:30 PM   #1
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documentary interview lighting...

Hi sorry to bug everyone with such a basic question but what sort of lights in terms of watts would i need to light up interviews?

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Ismail
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Old June 4th, 2006, 09:20 PM   #2
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Ismail, what camera, and are you lighting just one subject or multiple people? How portable does the setup need to be, how does it travel?

Most people consider the lighting of a single interview subject for use of classic three-point lighting (which frequently takes 4 lights).

Assuming some prosumer mini-dv camera:
A small fresnel or open face for key light, with some controls like barndoors & screens.
A medium soft box for fill, or, sometimes this is also replaces the key with a reflector for fill.
A small fresnel with controls for backlight.
An open face (or other) light for the background. Possibly a focussing light with a cookie (pattern) to through on the background.

If you read about lighting kits on this forum, you'll find posts about kits from Lowel, Arri, Altman, Dedolights, Britek and Dynaphos...

Classically these kits have mostly 500-650w lamps, but frequently you only need 250-350w (each) for lighting for mini-DV prosumer camcorders in small spaces.

But there are a lot of ways to answer such an open question, depending on what you're lighting, where, and with what budget.
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Old June 5th, 2006, 12:15 AM   #3
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really depends on the budget. I get good results from lights that cost me $15 a piece. But I couldn't light a big set with them.
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Old June 5th, 2006, 04:02 AM   #4
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Hi

I'm shooting on a a pd170 and they are individual persons i am interviewing
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Old June 5th, 2006, 11:18 AM   #5
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I'm shooting with GE soft white flourescent screw in bulbs in ACDelco clamp lights from a hardware store. I'm getting about 120 watts worth of light from a single light, but can run 3 on the same amount of power a 100w incandescent light would draw. clamp these to a $50 light stand and you've got good lighting for cheap.

They also generate almost no heat, so your interviewee will stay more comfortable in front of the lights. For more diffusion you can clip parchment paper or white fabric in front of them without worrying about a fire hazard.

I would spend a little on getting a boom for the hair light though as a truly DIY setup will generally not include a way to get light up and behind your interviewee without getting a stand in the shot.

You can get foamcore (2 pieces of tagboard with foam inbetween) from an art supply store to act as a bounce card and if you get a couple, you can spray paint one silver on one side and gold on the other for a reflector that works better and looks more professional than the car window sun screens. A black one or two is a good investment as well to act as a flag to cancel out reflections getting into areas you want to keep dark. These sheets are about $10-$15 / 4'x2' sheet.

These can clamp on using standard Hardware store spring clamps to just about any stand you've got laying around. These are great if you're in a hurry and have a window nearby. You set the talent near the window so the light hits one side of the face, and use a board to reflect it to fill the other. The color temperature stays the same with a white board no matter what you're shooting so there's no choosing what to white balance to!
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Old June 6th, 2006, 06:27 AM   #6
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There are many posts on this subject. Search and you fill find. You'll also find many helpful How-To articles on the web. Here's a link to a site with several. Checkout the one entitled "Beyond 3-point Lighting"

http://www.bluesky-web.com/new-page6.html

Lastly, go get a copy of John Jackman's book entitled "Lighting for Digital Video & Television". It explains the fundamentals of how and why. There are also some "standard" setups and explanation.
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