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Old January 15th, 2007, 11:26 AM   #1
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Interview lighting

I am producing a family history video and will be interviewing my grandparents. I have been researching interview lighting techniques for a quite some time, but I haven’t found info on the look I’m trying to accomplish. If anyone has seen the “Band of Brothers” WWII HBO drama series, I am trying to accomplish the look of the interviews with the veterans; dark room with a soft light on the subject.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GUZR0MGQMw

I don't need the exact look as budget is an issue, but I'd like to hear what DIY solutions may be out there.
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Old January 15th, 2007, 12:19 PM   #2
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Pretty easy to accomplish, 1 500 watt with chimera soft box, I black background, don't light it, and flag the chimera to keep it on your subjects and off of the background. Also turn off any other lights in the room. Depending on the camera you have you can crush the black leveles a little to get the band of brothers look. Good luck.
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Old January 16th, 2007, 12:06 AM   #3
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I worked on a production recently were we used a similar setup. It was a piece for MLB and the director wanted a similar look to the one you are talking about except with a 3:1 lighting ratio. Since all the shots were head and shoulders it worked really well.

We only used two lowel DP's. One with moderate diffusion as the key, the other as a backlight and a 2' x 4' gold reflector fill to warm it up a bit.The only problem we had was people walking through our setup casting shadows everywhere.
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Old January 16th, 2007, 05:38 AM   #4
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Not lighting but a method of preparing for projects of a similar nature, might give you and others some tips.

http://www.pana3ccduser.com/showthread.php?t=4613
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Old January 16th, 2007, 08:03 AM   #5
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Budget solution, blast a 500w craftsman worklight at the back side of a white bed sheet 6-10 feet away to get a big soft light. Seat the interviewee 5-6 feet from the sheet Hang a Black backdrop behind the interviewee and give them some distance from it...flag what you can of the background once you've got your framing in the camera.
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Old January 16th, 2007, 09:59 AM   #6
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Thanks for the link.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Black
Not lighting but a method of preparing for projects of a similar nature, might give you and others some tips.

http://www.pana3ccduser.com/showthread.php?t=4613

As a pana GS500 owner, I visit that site frequently, but I hadn't seen that thread yet. Thanks for the link.

I'll probably go with the budget solution of the craftsman light, bed sheet, etc. That's the kind of budget I'm working with for now.
Is this the light?
http://www.amazon.com/Coleman-Cable-...0?ie=UTF8&s=hi
If anyone has any other "poor man" lighting solutions or a links to more advice I'd love to hear it. This forum is full of very professional folks and I appreciate all the help yall give me.
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Old January 16th, 2007, 12:02 PM   #7
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also to get that "look" .. you would need to bring in some black material ( or flags) to keep the bounce light off walls from hitting subject .. if shooting during day you woiuld need to black out windows ...

from what i could see ( reflection in glasses ) they used 4 bank kino flo ..
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Old January 16th, 2007, 12:46 PM   #8
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that's the light...nice tall stand too...:( I got 5 clearance craftsman lights that only had 4-5 foot stands.
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Old September 19th, 2009, 03:03 AM   #9
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I hope Jacob doesn't mind if I cut in on a thread that's a couple years old;

I'm also doing a family history video about my grandfather's life, and sort of had that "band of brothers" style in mind, sans black background.

The lighting kit I bought was from fleabay, as a courtesy being a new member, I'm not going to mention a seller or give any links except to a direct image of the lights hosted on photobucket;

Lights.jpg

The kit came with the following:
  • 2x soft boxes(19" x 27")
  • 10x 45w (5500K) studio light bulbs
  • 2x Built-in 5x Light Holder Lamp
  • 2x 7' light stands
  • 1x carrying case

looking at the band of brothers footage, it looks like they just used one key light, which often gave the men a sort of "hatchet" look on their faces, where one half was completely dark. I don't necessarily want that. So I'm thinking one key light set slightly above him off to the front side, and then the other soft box coming up from down below on the other side on a lower setting as a fill light.

So a couple questions with that: 1, is that a reasonable, amateur, low-budget lighting idea, and 2, how do I get grandpa to adjust to the lights? any tips on having him relax around them? i mean, they can be bright and intimidating...I was thinking of bringing them over to his house a day or two in advance, showing him how they work, and leaving them there so he can get used to "being around" them....is that a decent idea, not-necessary, or a bad idea?

Because this is just a "family film", I'm not going for HBO/Speilberg/Hanks production value, but I do want as pristine an archive as possible, and part of that will be to get decent lighting; but more than anything, I want an organic interview experience; I want it to feel to him like he's simply retelling his WWII stories after a family dinner while he sits in his easy chair surrounded by his family. I don't want this to be a stressful experience for him if I can help it.

Any tips to that end? Any and all lighting tips will be appreciated. I've got a 20' corded Audio-Technica lav mic that I'll be trying to use, provided the 20' unbalanced cord doesn't give me any hum with the fluorescent lights; if it does, and i'll be sure to test it in the room beforehand, I'll be changing audio plans, but that's for a different thread entirely. I'm mainly concerned about the lighting situation here.

I picked this thread because it really relates to the same subject as the OP, I hope it's not seen as me 'hijacking' the thread, since it's been dead and buried for so long.

Thanks in advance for any tips you can share!
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Old September 19th, 2009, 10:32 AM   #10
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H Matt,

I think the "hatchet" look is because the key was placed pretty far off axes with the camera. If you rotate the key to be a little more in line with the camera you'll get more even lighting across the entire face. In stead of bring in another flo light coming in low I'd first try to bounce some light for fill. That will give a much softer fill and might be enough to give the desired effect. You could also use a small Chinese lantern as a fill and hang it close to your grandfather opposite side of the key.

Those two techniques may also help with your second concern. Lighting for video is much brighter than most people expect so for a while it is somewhat intimidating to someone who isn't use to it. I've filmed quite a few interviews with subjects who aren't use to being under lights. I've found that most people get use to the lights after about 15 minutes so I always give them at least that long of being under them to get comfortable. Also, have your grandfather sit in his most comfortable chair. That may mean moving it it the shot location but that should help. Have your interviewer sitting in a casual location as if your grandfather were talking directly to them. That way he will also give the same facial expressions as if he were "just retelling an after dinner story." Have the interviewer silently interact with him by changing their facial expressions naturally and nodding their head. Again, that makes it feel more like a conversation even though they won't be saying anything.

Finally a couple of very small things. In this situation, dark set, I like to wear dark colored clothes. That when I have to move during the interview it is less noticeable to the subject. I'm not a big fan of lav mics for sit down interviews. If they are wired the interview subject seems to have an unconscious feeling like they are tethered to something. And wireless mics are just very strange for most people when they are sitting. So, for sit down interviews I always boom my shotgun. And finally, turn off your tally lamp on your camera. I can't tell you many times in my early interviews I noticed the subject either glancing or staring at the little red light.

Good luck,
Garrett
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Old September 19th, 2009, 12:30 PM   #11
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Many thanks for the tips!

On the topic of mics, was initially leaning toward a Rode VideoMic, but went with the lapel for a couple reasons:

1) the sound of the Rode VideoMic...I scoured the web for reviews and there were two things I always noticed in the sample clips that were recorded: 1) it picked up more of the room acoustics than I liked; and 2) the sound almost had a 'harsh' feel to it, that I just couldn't put my finger on. the Audio Technica ATR-35S, on the other hand, sounded much better to me. cut back on the room noise, and recorded voices sounded more natural.

2) size / intimidation factor. I went back and forth considering which one I personally thought would be more distracting to him, a tiny clip on mic with very small and light wire going to the tiny HG10 camera, or a shotgun on a boom just a couple feet from his face. I determined that small mic + small camera might be less intimidating.

Don't get me wrong i'm not dead-set in my ways or anything, I'm just taking you through my logic process.

having only one light running with a reflector for fill might make things less intimidating as well instead of both lights running at the same time, I like that idea. The lights I got take five, 5500k CFL bulbs, and on the back they have five discreet switches so I can adjust the intensity that way if I need to.

*Edit* PS- I forgot to mention , my grandparents actually live right across the street from my house, they built a house directly across from ours back in 2003 so it's very easy to go back and forth, leave equipment over there, etcetera. It gets to be a little bit like "Everybody Loves Raymond" now and again but at 83 years old, it's nice to have them close by where we can look in on them.
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Old September 19th, 2009, 08:28 PM   #12
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I've never used the VideoMic so I can't really comment on the amount of room noise it picks up. I typically use a Sennheiser shotgun and boom from above with the mic just in front of the subject so it is usually out of the field of vision. That way too if the the subject adjusts in their chair adjusts their clothes it isn't as noticeable. I have used the NTG-2 and noticed that it does seem to emphasize the highs a little more than my Senn. It might just be the general characteristic of Rode mics.

You should do whatever you are most comfortable with.

That's pretty cool that your grandparents live so close. My only living grandparent lives about 1 1/2 away so I don't get to see her very often.

Good luck,
Garrett
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