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Old March 14th, 2007, 08:58 PM   #1
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Catch light in interviews

First of all, I'd like to thank you guys for being so willing to answer my stupid questions (and my not so stupid ones :). It's been a blessing to have such knowledge waiting for me.

I have just been made aware of the importance of catch light in the eyes of an interviewee. I had never really thought about it before - took it for granted.

What's the best (and relatively easy?) way to create catch lights in an interviewee's eyes?

Thanks a bunch

Brian
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Old March 14th, 2007, 09:25 PM   #2
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I can only speak from my own doing and it might not and probably isn't the best way to do it but...
If I'm using my softbox lights which I use almost exclusively for interviews I take a Bescor on cam light with a 100W bulb (this light can be run off of AC with the 100W bulb) a piece of toughspun on it and place it right next to the camera on a stand set to the height of the persons face-that is if they are looking into the camera. A small adjustment here and there generally puts a nice catchlight in place. Of course if they are wearing glasses then you have a different set of challenges but assuming they don't have glasses on this system works for me. Of course if the camera is more than about 6 feet back for whatever reason then the light has to move in towards the subject-I try to keep it no more than 6 feet out - 4 is better for straight up no fancy look lighting. BTW, it will also help lighten shadows on the neck lighten the shadow from the keylight from the nose and will even make the cameraman better looking. OK maybe not but a low power catchlight can help in many ways. Perfect solution, probably not but honestly, I learned to light portraiture like this 35 years ago and old habits die hard especially when they work. I should also mention that a lot of times I shoot interviews with 1 600W with a 24" softbox kinda flat and newsy but sometimes the client wants that 'man in the street' look so the small light really helps-even when I'm doing a 3 light setup key,fill and hair/background the little 100watter comes in real handy.
HTHs
Don
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Old March 14th, 2007, 09:52 PM   #3
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There really are a lot of ways. It depends upon the effect you want. Do you want the circle ring light effect? Most often its really inexpensive to do that (or you can spend big bucks if you prefer to get the same effect). Just get a circle fluorescent of whatever appropriate color temp to match the rest of your lighting and put it around the lens of your camera. That's the "ring light" effect. This is a much less subtle effect though. The other way is the more subtle effect mentioned above.
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Old March 14th, 2007, 11:29 PM   #4
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Thank you. Another question: Dont people move around a lot during an interview? Does the light actually catch their eye the whole time? Is this ever a problem?

Don: Thank you. This sounds good. I'll try it out. Thanks a lot. :)

Richard: Thanks for your response. I'm not sure what I want. I want it to look fairly natural, though artistic isnt out of the question at all. I like subtle. But whatever adds that zing of life that a catch light seems to give to the face. Thanks again.

Brian
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Old March 15th, 2007, 05:26 AM   #5
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Yes people move around some more than others. I've had folks that I want to duct tape to the chair. In that case there isn't much you can do about it and as a shooter when you have people like thta you have 2 choices, 1) tell them to HOLD STILL PLEASE! and 2) widen out the shot a bit so they don't fall out of frame in which case you probably wouldn't see the catchlights anyway.
Me I like the duct tape :-)
Don
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Old March 16th, 2007, 12:40 AM   #6
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Don,

Duct tape it is. I'm off to find a roll now. ;)

What's the maximum/minimum/ideal distances between catch light and eye?

Also, I assume you want the light right on eye level?
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Old March 16th, 2007, 07:26 AM   #7
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kinda depends! Hows that for a definitive answer ;-)

Variables are-how strong a light are you using-how much control do you have with it (IE barn doors or a snoot or nothing at all) is the subject wearing glasses or not and if so what type of frames (years ago there were 2 popular models heavy plastic or wire rim John Lennon style-both were a bit** to light IMO) sometimes if the subject is wearing contacts they can throw you off a bit-you need to play around a bit to get the desired look as there is no 100% hard and fast rule. A word of caution-watch out for a double catch in the eyes-sometimes the key light will give you that catch but we go ahead and load up a light just for that purpose and then there are 2. Doesn't look real.

I suggest you take your lighting and get a "model" to sit for you for a while and play around with the lights-different placement-heights,bounce, no bounce ETC. Lighting can make ALL the difference and like audio a lot of us rush thru it just to get to the "fun" part.
HTHs
Don
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Old March 16th, 2007, 11:04 AM   #8
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A lot of the time, especially if you are using a softbox, your keylight will give you a nice catch light, and that's all you really need. As your key moves around, you'll eventually lose the reflection of the key in the eye and you can think about replacing it. The neat thing is that it doesn't take much to generate a nice catch light, and you can use all sorts of interesting things. We did a Christmas special one year and used a bunched-up short string of outdoor lights for a catch light in the host's eyes. Subtle, but neat. They did something similar in Lord of the Rings for Galadriel, but in a much more organized fashion of course.

And hey Don, I thought lighting was the "fun" part :-) At least on interviews.
Seriously, Don's suggestion of taking time to experiment is a really good idea. You can learn a lot by physically experimenting with light and shadows. Ross Lowel's book Matters of Light and Depth has suggested experiments if you're looking for guidance.
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Old March 16th, 2007, 11:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Orser View Post
First of all, I'd like to thank you guys for being so willing to answer my stupid questions (and my not so stupid ones :). It's been a blessing to have such knowledge waiting for me.

I have just been made aware of the importance of catch light in the eyes of an interviewee. I had never really thought about it before - took it for granted.

What's the best (and relatively easy?) way to create catch lights in an interviewee's eyes?

Thanks a bunch

Brian


Not sure if this was said yet, but personally I do it the same way you would with still photography. A large softbox up high and a silver reflector on a stand down low.
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Old March 17th, 2007, 07:49 PM   #10
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Don: Thanks again. I know, I know, theres never a solid answer for these things :). I will indeed try all this out when I get my HD110 (hopefully just a few more days!), and see what all works for me. Great tips. Thank you.

John: Could you explain what this setup is actually meant to do? Whats the reflector for? And how does the softbox actually reflect in the eye if its up high?

Ralph: Thank you. I'll try just using my key.
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Old March 17th, 2007, 10:16 PM   #11
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I agree with Ralph and John.
Eons ago when I was doing still work I shot 1 strobe on an umbrella and had either a silver or gold reflector as my "fill" light.

Brian the reflector will pick up the the light and do exactly as its called-reflect the light back to the subject and believe me it can do a great job and as Ralphso aptly pointed out with the key light set up right you can achieve very nice catchlights with that alone.
I guess it all comes down to:
1)how much gear you have
2) how much time you have
3) the type of product you're looking to put out (for newsy stuff-shine a light on 'em and roll it ;-)

Any and all of the methods given will work find the one that works best for the situation and you're set!

Don
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Old March 18th, 2007, 02:36 PM   #12
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Righto. Thanks Don. I think I'm starting to get this. It all depends... ;)

Thank you all for your help.
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Old March 18th, 2007, 07:56 PM   #13
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I like the keylight very soft, close to the camera and not too high (just a little above the eyes). With that setup you always get a nice catchlight right from the key - plus it's the most time-saving solution when you can't set up a fill and women love it because it makes them look pretty ;)
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Old March 19th, 2007, 10:49 PM   #14
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Great, thanks Heiko. Nice and simple. :)
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Old March 20th, 2007, 06:38 AM   #15
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While I agree with Heiko about it being very simple and quick to set up lighting that way it is also very flat lighting which will not show any detail to speak of - one reason it can be considered a 'pretty lighting'-again in my days of still work doing the magazine shoots especially of 'older' ladies (now I'm older also so I have to be careful) I would flat light them to knock down wrinkles in the face.
Today we call it 'news lighting'-this is typically how new guys light the talent for on location live shots-I light near the camera-a little above eye level (maybe) a piece of tough spun and fire away ;-)

Again not bad not good just another way-that's why I suggest the model even a wig head set up on a pole at the right height for a person, play with ALL the different ways to light it up and then you'll have them in your memory bank for when you need them.
Don
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