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Old September 23rd, 2009, 09:35 AM   #1
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Interview Demo Reel

I decided to put together a demo reel of just interview footage, for times when potential clients want to hire me for these kinds of shoots.

All of these were shot with an EX-1, and about a quarter of them were done with the Letus Extreme. While I like the Letus, I actually find I can get a nice shallow DOF with just the EX-1 alone (under certain circumstances) and in those cases I prefer it without the adapter.

Anyways, you can check it out here:
Filming Interviews Benjamin Eckstein

(As a side note, I have been noticing that Vimeo has had changing playback speeds recently. Sometimes I hit play and the buffering keeps up with my playback and other times (like this morning) it just crawls and it takes awhile to load the entire 2-minute video before playing back smoothly. I notice this with other people's videos too on Vimeo, although the ones on their homepage load VERY quickly. I really like Vimeo for it's picture quality but may have to go to something else (not sure what?) if this doesn't improve.)

Thanks,
Benjamin
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Old September 24th, 2009, 04:38 PM   #2
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You have to have depth (long rooms) in order to get a great interior setup. Looks like you did. The last farmer was in the documentary "Food, Inc."... did you produce that?

One thing I've done lately is to purchase about 10 cucoloris's and a half-dozen Tiffen filters for my interior interviews. Nice when you find yourself in an empty hospitality room in a hotel.

Last edited by Brian Barkley; September 24th, 2009 at 04:39 PM. Reason: typo
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Old September 24th, 2009, 07:57 PM   #3
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Brian, good eye, that was Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, who was in "Food Inc" (and "Fresh"). I am working on a documentary called "Farmageddon" (which you can read about here: Life on the Farm Benjamin Eckstein) and he is one of the subjects in it.

Having space to shoot interviews definitely helps and I do usually strive for finding that, but sometimes it doesn't work out. The first shot was done in a narrow conference room so I wasn't going for depth but loved the colorful wall of post-it notes and shot it a bit wider for much of it. Cookies are definitely nice to have in your kit. I make mine out of black wrap (which is also an essential tool) by just cutting shapes and patterns. It is cheap and easy to make. When I ended up in a bland conference room for the second to last shot in the video, I just used the white wall with a pattern splashed on it, and it was pretty effective, if quite simple looking.

Thanks for watching Brian!
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Old September 25th, 2009, 03:16 AM   #4
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The lighting quality is superb, as is the framing of your subjects. Sound is also faultless.

In short I like what I see.
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Old September 25th, 2009, 06:52 AM   #5
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Vincent, I'll take that! Thank you.
FWIW, I have had to work at this. When I look back at interviews I shot when I started in this biz I cringe. I apparently liked weirdly colored backlights back then. Don't know why. Big nose shadows too.
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Old September 25th, 2009, 08:07 AM   #6
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Benjamin, I have about 10 of the Chimera Window Patterns ... I love them, and they are reasonably priced. They have saved my but on many occastions.

CHIMERA Window Patterns
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Old September 27th, 2009, 08:14 AM   #7
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Brian, those work well and are versatile. The blackwrap trip is a great one if you are traveling and cannot lug around the Chimera frames, or if you want to do something that is not in one of those patterns.

They definitely are great tools for breaking up a background. It's also good to not always rely on those, because there are times when a patterned/textured background is not the right look for the job, especially if you are going for a more "natural", less "lit" look.

Benjamin
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Old September 28th, 2009, 07:47 PM   #8
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I have interviewed approximately 80 people for my current project. Most interviews have been conducted in emptly hotel reception rooms with blank white or yellow (ugh) walls.

An ugly yellow wall is natural, yes, but the various cucoloris patterns saved my butt. They turned something ugly into something attractive. I also rented plants, lamps, pictures, etc. which helped.

Also, as I mentioned, the right Tiffen filter enhances many interviews, especially with older people with imperfections in their faces.

I like the challenge of interviews in lousy locations. An interview in Times Square, or on the Las Vegas strip looks great. But it looked great long before I arrive. All I do is turn the camera on.

I once did a project in the Grand Canyon. Point the camera anywhere and you get a great shot. It is sometimes deceiving to make an audience think you are a photographic genius in the Grand Canyon. I don't buy it.

Same thing with editing, which is my expertise. Great material can bring you and Academy Award. However, I like the challenge of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
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Old September 28th, 2009, 08:52 PM   #9
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Definitely agree with you Brian, part of the fun of this job is the challenge of "polishing a turd".

But it certainly doesn't hurt (and I never turn it down) to work with attractive locations, actors, crew, gear, etc. If it looks great but wasn't hard to do, you can still take credit for it!
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Old September 29th, 2009, 01:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Eckstein View Post
the fun of this job is the challenge of "polishing a turd".
Never tried this :-0


The key to your shots is simplicity, I have seen so many head shots where the subject is competing with a background distraction. Your shots have great framing, your subjects are in the right position for easy viewing. There is a lot that is right with all the shots. I will use your clip as reference for my next shoot.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 06:16 AM   #11
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Thank you Vincent. That means a lot!
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Old September 30th, 2009, 08:13 AM   #12
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I must agree with Vincent. Your framing, lighting, background, composure, audio, etc. Everything was near perfect. Congratulations!

Some of the worse cases of the above is seen on national broadcast. All the major networks, including CNN, FOX, etc constantly break rules. Bad framing, lighting, etc. You'll see split screen with 2 people having a discussion. One is in focus, the other out of focus. One looks like Hi Def. The other looks like a home movie. One face looks natural. The other one looks purple. The lighting and camera people at these networks look as if they work for the government, not private companies. My take . . .
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