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Old December 29th, 2006, 03:09 PM   #1
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Feedback on Interview Lighting

Here is a still from an interview that I shot recently, I was looking for feedback on the lighting. Any feedback is welcome, especially suggestions for next time to make the lighting better...

Thanks
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Old December 29th, 2006, 03:19 PM   #2
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I wouldn't put your talent in a black blouse with a black backdrop. ditto for her black/burgundy hair, needs some kind of halo or backlight IMHOP.

Btw, anyone have a link for tips on lighting dark skinned people? I've heard dp's comment on the subject--and the comments are never some Politically correct rhetoric like "Light them the way you'd light any person". apparently there are issues.
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Old December 29th, 2006, 04:31 PM   #3
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Like what Brian is saying, you could try separating the subject from the background by either:
A- Adding some backlight to the subject.
B- Adding light to the background. Use a different color backgrop, or cast light onto the b/g. You can play around with patterns or gradients of light if you want.

Quote:
Btw, anyone have a link for tips on lighting dark skinned people?
Usually the problem is that the dark skinned person is against a really bright background (and you want to keep detail in that b/g), or he/she is wearing a white shirt (which will blow out if you want to see detail in that person's face). You can change the wardrobe around to avoid the white shirt situation- grey-ish colors can appear white on camera.

You could also use a scrim to cut down the exposure on a subject's shirt but not their face. Basically, just place more light on their face but not their shirt, or the background.

http://msegrip.com/mse.php?show=prod...ducts_ID=26008

There are other scrims which slide into the light.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...u=71635&is=REG
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Old December 30th, 2006, 12:33 AM   #4
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I think the advice to not have a black blouse on a black background is good, but I could see the blouse anyway so it was lit properly. I think I might change the background light and maybe fill a bit more as there is a fairly deep shadow on the talent's left side (camera right).

Relating to lighting people with darker skin tones:

Light them like anyone else is generally correct.

There is an interesting exception with people with VERY dark skin. I hope to get someone like that in a production some day so I can get this ability: VERY dark skin can get a property like a black reflecting pool. The dark reflecting pool makes almost mirror images on the surface of water and really dark skin can also achieve this high reflectivity. It can not make a mirror image, but nighttime lighting of a dark-skinned person can be very interesting. The shape of the face can be shown without revealing the face at all by creative use of back lights or "kickers". It also works at night with light–skinned people, but the effect is not so total.

This lighting was shown/explained to me by an austrailian DP who gave a seminar last year in Hawaii, but I have forgotten his name. He had some clips shot at night with a native Austrailian (aboriginal?) actor and the look was very dramatic.
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Old December 30th, 2006, 01:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
...Relating to lighting people with darker skin tones:

Light them like anyone else is generally correct.

There is an interesting exception with people with VERY dark skin. I hope to get someone like that in a production some day so I can get this ability: VERY dark skin can get a property like a black reflecting pool. The dark reflecting pool makes almost mirror images on the surface of water and really dark skin can also achieve this high reflectivity. It can not make a mirror image, but nighttime lighting of a dark-skinned person can be very interesting. The shape of the face can be shown without revealing the face at all by creative use of back lights or "kickers"...
Yeah, the way I've tried to explain this is that we're defining the shape of the face with shine. Most often, this is going to be produced with backlights, kickers, and sometimes side (ear) lights. If you look at some print ads featuring models with very dark skin you quickly see that this has become the convention.

The alternative is not so good - you can make someone's color anything you like with creative lighting and camera work, but to keep a really dark skin dark you end up working only with highlights & shine.

For example, below is a photo of Forest Whitaker playing Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (in The Last King of Scotland). His skin was dyed darker for the role - you can see in this shot that the shape of his face is represented mostly by shine.
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Last edited by Seth Bloombaum; December 30th, 2006 at 04:08 PM.
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Old December 30th, 2006, 10:36 AM   #6
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you could probably get away with a minimum of making sure the hair light falls on both shoulders.

To make her "pop" from the background, hit the background with the complementary color of the predominant brown/red/orange in the rest of the scene. Blue would probably do the trick. Throw a cookie on that background light and you're good to go.

http://www.digitaljuice.com/djtv/seg...&searchid=3200

I love these series BTW. These guys cover all the good stuff in an easy to follow manner.
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Old December 30th, 2006, 04:11 PM   #7
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Interview tips

Hi Kevin:

Not a bad shot but it could be improved tremendously with just a few small modifications. I am a documentary producer and cinematographer and I light and shoot hundreds of interviews a year and once you pass your first few thousand interviews, you learn what works and why.

1. We always tell talent to try to wear jewel tones. Because our clients tend to like warm backgrounds, I am usually working to make the BG orange/red/amber/yellow. Place a nice jewel tone blue against this and you have the makings of a nice look. I agree with the other posters, black person with black clothing and black BG have no zing or contrast. Bad combo.

2. IMHO, black Duvetine is a cop out. It's what you do when you have no time to make a real location look good. Not a criticism, I shoot plenty of them but make sure you are shooting against black because it is what you really want, not because you were too lazy to light a good looking set. I know that sometimes, you have no choice. We have a pretty ugly stage here and when there is no budget or time to dress a set, up goes the black. It's just that it's the same thing that everyone does, therefore unoriginal and boring visually.

3. Get a good hairlight/rim light on your talent! I use a 300 or 150 watt Arri, armed in on a C-Stand with a 40" arm. Especially with black BG, no hairlight makes them disappear into the BG.

4. More frontal fill. With this woman's freckles and other skin imperfections, she would benefit immensely (as would most us) with some really nice underlight soft fill. Great for filling wrinkles, eye bags and other forms of humanity. I work with a lot of "actors of a certain age". It's funny but when you light a lot of these actors who were in films in the heyday of Hollywood, they KNOW what makes them look good. Place the camera higher than their jowl line, soft frontal fill, nice big catchlights in the eyes, nice hair light, etc. I have heard certain female talent direct the gaffer and or DP on adding fill, which side to photograph them from, etc.

I kind of dig it and am not usually offended when they request this, after all, they were lit by the greats of our business and after you are in front of the lights for decades, you know intuitively how the lighting will make you look.

For soft frontal fill, try a 300 watt fresnel, tightly barndoored to reveal just a tight spot beam, full spot, about 8ft above camera, opposite your key source side. Shine the light down onto a piece of 3x4' white foamcore at the feet of your talent. If necessary, angle it up toward their face with a full apple.

Voila, instant beauty treatment for women but it does pretty well on men as well unless you are trying to emphasize the "ruggedness" of a man's features.

5. I find with a Chimera as a key, I am usually too far off axis if I am not getting any catchlights. Don't be afraid to use your key source perhaps 30 degrees off camera angle rather than the closer to 45 degrees that many use. Once again, depends on what you are going for. If you do end up being closer to 45 degrees from camera with your key, I sometimes will use an Arri 150 with barndoors, mounted on a 40 arm/C-stand to place the light directly over camera lens. I will soften with a piece of light diffusion and run it on a dimmer. This is often called an eye light as it will place catchlights in the talent's eyes. Using it on a dimmer also adds a bit of warmth and additional frontal fill. Once again, not trying to blast the talent with this light and not trying to blind them, just use it for a small effect.

You have a good start, just keep shooting and learning and your interviews will look awesome. It just takes time and experience.

All the best,

Dan
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Old December 31st, 2006, 04:44 AM   #8
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Another vote against a black background...

You need a laugh? Here you go.

About 9 years ago I had a gig shooting a professional speaker in Long Beach at a convention of high powered doctors. The speakers was a woman psychologist. When I got there to pre-light the stage area had a lovely set of 8' tall almost butter yellow folding screens between fake plants as the stage dressing. Not the worst background I've seen. She arrived, looking nice, but since she was on the heavy side, she had selected an elegant black valour dress with a bright red scarf at her throat. She looked very professional and I suspected someone told her basic black would be "slimming" and the red scarf would ad a touch of drama and color. I cast a wary eye on the dress knowing I'd lose detail, but looking at the yellow background, I figured I'd get a clean outline and could live with it.

Literally halfway through her introduction - with my camera rolling - two stagehands came out and (insert drumroll here) struck the yellow screens leaving the house.... BLACK VELOUR DRAPE as her background.

The entire video ended up looking like a Jay Leno "Beyondo" gag - with the bright (blood) red scarf wonderfully enhancing the "headless" effect.

Just another day in professional video.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 05:27 AM   #9
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Dan, THANK YOU!! - I've emailed you too.

Bill .. oh yes . .. In the world of Chroma Keying, would you call that "Black-Screening"?
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Old December 31st, 2006, 01:23 PM   #10
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hEY Dan that was cool. I cut and pasted it to my "video notes" folder.

About the sample footage here--it does indeed look like a disembodied face adrift in the dark reaches of the universe. That's terrible, right? Actually it isn't IMHOP. Interview lighting should tie in to the topic. If you we doing a doc on UFO's, perhaps this lighting would work, though if that was your topic i'd throw a few shadows on her face, unbalance the light.

I read some lighting tips by W. Graff on interview lighting, as I understood it, the "Old School" technique for flattering light for women is to throw soft light on the talent from nearly the same axis as the camera. Maybe Dan can comment.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 01:37 PM   #11
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Dan's advice is excellent, but I am not sure I know what he means by "jewel tones?" Pastels?
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Old January 1st, 2007, 01:20 AM   #12
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Thanks for the advice everybody. Yes I was disappointed when she showed up in the black blouse and I knew we would be shooting against a black background. I thought the backlight was strong enough but general consensus here seems to be that it wasn't, correct? I was afraid of blowing out the highlights around her. Should I have broadened the beam to more fully cover each shoulder and pumped up the intensity a bit more? Perhaps placing the light more behind her, and less on top of her?

As for the color I threw on the background, is the general consensus that it was not dramatic enough? I did have a light shining on the background with a red filter and a random pattern cookie in-between. Should this light have been brighter to more clearly define where she stops and where the background begins?

As for the key light, I was trying to imitate some looks that i've seen on tv of late. Several interviews I've seen on tv lately seem to almost be hatchet lighting (cutting the interviewees face in half down the middle). I do see now what you mean by intensifying the fill and/or bringing the key around closer to camera. It's more dramatic than flattering the way it is, and maybe I should've focused more on flattering.

Thanks again for the input and happy new year to all...

Kevin
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Old January 1st, 2007, 11:40 AM   #13
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What's the easiest way to get a simple black background?
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Old January 1st, 2007, 02:04 PM   #14
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black fabric draped over 2 stands with a crossbar, clamps all around.
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Old January 1st, 2007, 02:05 PM   #15
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Bruce, I shoot on location so I was interested in a portable solution. I bought a roll of seamless paper from the local still photo store ($44) and a stand system that fits nicely into an included case ($159). The stand system takes about 15-20 minutes to set up, but it's pretty easy, even for a one man band operation. I can get other rolls of paper in just about any color, or if the mood hits me, muslin can also be used off of the same stand system. The rolls I use are 10 ft in width, but I also carry a couple of 53" width rolls incase I don't have a large enough space for the 10 ft roll.

Hope this answers your question, Bruce.

Thanks,
Kevin
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