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Old February 16th, 2013, 01:07 PM   #16
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

+1 on the Lowell Rifa's. They are still the quickest setup for soft lighting that I've every used. I could literally set up three on stands, get them into rough place and be ready to do final set up with the subject in 5 minutes. There is a reason why a lot of the news crews around here still use them instead of LED's.
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Old February 16th, 2013, 05:39 PM   #17
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

I too use Lowell Rifa's for the key and a reflector for the fill.
Then set up a back/hair light and if i have time, a background
light and I'm done.
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Old February 16th, 2013, 10:44 PM   #18
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

I've got an Arri 3 light kit with 650 (& softbox), 300, and 150. Wish I had bought the 4 light kit, not just for the extra light but for the wheels on the case.

C-Stands and full, 1/2 & 1/4 CTO gels are a quick way to pretty things up. I like shooting 3100K with these lights using a 1/4 or 1/2 CTO on the hair light. I watched David Lynch's Twin Peaks series recently, and he virtually never lit with a single color tone. It's quick to set up (no fine tuning needed) and is great when you want to imply motivated, outside light. I use full CTO on the key with a low fill to emulate the effects of a TV or computer screen in a dark room.

One reason I would love to have LEDs isn't for fast setup, but for faster tear down. I set up lights first and camera last (as said before, the camera is the expensive bit), but I put away the lights last so they will cool.

I'm probably middle-of-the-pack in terms of speed. (Slower than a true pro; faster than a novice.) The things that slow me the most are: 1) unexpected room layout problems, 2) missing something, 3) changing my mind about something mid stream.

For interviews, I recently got stands and black & white muslin. When all else fails, one can go for the black background look, and simply find the quietest (rather than prettiest) location.

Oh, and one trick I've learned is to set your key and fill taller than one would by gut feel. That way you're set when it turns out that the talent wears glasses.
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Old February 18th, 2013, 11:40 PM   #19
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

My basic recipe is much the same as others have mentioned:
- look at the space
- set up camera
- lights: if no natural light to use, then usually some permutation of a Rifa 55 key, reflector fill, pro-light kicker and prolight set light. 1/4 and 1/2 CTBs on hand for all if needed. Sometimes I'll put the Rifa as a 3/4 backlight and key with a reflector (nice n moody). Lately I'm playing with shooting the Rifa through a 40" collapsible disk... Doing a lot of these (as I do) can become formulaic and boring, occasionally mixing things up helps make them not only tolerable but fun.


Last note, I can only recall one job in the past three years where I was given more than 45min setup.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 06:50 AM   #20
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

With all the great advice here I would add one more thing - practice.

Don't let a client shoot be the first time you do a particular setup. Give your ideas and kits a serious workout before your shoot. You'll look much more professional and take less time when you are on the clients time.
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Old February 23rd, 2013, 02:21 PM   #21
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

Great information above. To emphasize some of what has already been said:
- have more than you need and spares...you can always leave them in the truck/case
- dimmers are a great idea or have extra bulbs in multiple wattages
- get a look at the location at the same time of day
- have a set-up process
Couple of things I would add:
- know what gear you have and exactly how it fits together
- conceptualize several different blocking schemes that would work before you arrive...I've often not been able to use the planned location for a variety of reasons

But the biggest delay and distraction I've found is the client that wants to carry on a pleasant conversation while you set up. Concentration is the key for me to get everything right, fast and you can't really tell the person paying you to pound sand. Don't have a good solution to this yet:-)
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Old February 23rd, 2013, 10:16 PM   #22
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

Great thread, some really good ideas in here.

My biggest speed tip has been my cart:

Rolling Rack for video gear

It carries five LED lights, four stands, the monitor (which is already set up and doesn't need further setup - just plug in the cart), the camera case, the tripod, and a bag of goodies housed in a 24" toolbox. Additionally, the whole thing is 24" x 36" and will fit anywhere that is ADA accessible, which is pretty much anywhere these days.

Like most have said, I set up the tripod first, two lights (key/back), then any background lights I might need. If there is a lamp in the room, I generally put a dimmer on it and use it as a practical. Just dial it in until it's the right brightness. Sadly, most lamps now have CFLs, and while I do carry Edison bulbs, they are too fragile to live on the cart - so I have to run to the van.

Takes about 20 mins once I arrive in the room that we're shooting. I tell clients to leave an hour from when my van hits the parking structure until the first interview, which gives us time to scout a location or two, roll the cart in, set up, and hopefully have a minute to get some coffee.

As far as strategies - when we only have a few minutes in between interviews, we can't do much. Sometimes we are left with an hour in between subjects, and I try and make a little magic in those interviews, so they stand out. So every interview isn't the same shade of "meh".

I always, always use natural light in a room - windows, if possible.

I am considering hiring an assistant to go on more shoots, to have 2x as many hands - but haven't been able to justify the cost increase yet.
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Old February 23rd, 2013, 10:32 PM   #23
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

cart looks ok. i have the standard multicart/rocknroller that everyone in the industry seems to have. with the shelf system, looks basically the same as the linked cart, plus extends longer and has large no-flat tires. had a local awning company build some canvas bags that hang over the handles to carry tripods, light stands, etc. granted you cant really have the shelf and bags at the same time.

anyway, i think the main issue is mistakenly trying to accomplish what a four man crew can do by myself. i need to stop doing that. im not going to be able to flag every light just right, create every accent on the background, etc. i just need to get key, fill, edge/hair light and bg light in place, get em looking reasonably decent and shoot. if a more polished look is required client needs to allow more time or allow more budget for more crew.
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Old February 24th, 2013, 12:12 AM   #24
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

The only thing from your OP that struck me was the c-stand with the boom mic. For my money, it's too much crap to carry for too little benefit. I can put on and hide a wireless lav in 30 seconds. I use rechargeable AAs that give me all-day performance, and charge them before every use. I wear headphones during the shoot. I have two wired lavs as backups (and of course a shotgun and stick mic should things go really south), but I use the wireless lavs 95% of the time.
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Old February 24th, 2013, 12:45 AM   #25
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

And that is certainly a valid point. I guess it's one of those things where once you know something, you can't un-know it. Just like I can get too tweaky with lighting because I feel I know what looks good, I also know (or at least believe) that my boom will always sound better than my G2 wireless (barring noise issues in the room--I'm talking sound recording quality in general here). Better enough in the CLIENT'S eyes (ears?) to justify the time/effort to set it up? maybe not. So this would be another place to restrain myself, like with the lighting. The boom is, again, me seeing something on one of the multi-person crew shoots I work on, thinking it's a good idea, and trying to implement it myself when I'm alone, even to my own detriment.

I can always make the lav Plan A and have the other as backup if there are interference issues. I do NOT have two lavs, but of course I use headphones.
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Old February 24th, 2013, 03:09 PM   #26
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

Something you might consider instead of the C-stand to save space/weight would be one of the half-height mic stands used for drum kits. I have one that I put the shotgun mic onto and then place it in front of the talent, below and out of the shot. I've gotten good results and no need to use a sandbag.
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Old February 24th, 2013, 03:44 PM   #27
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

Great in THEORY. However, let's keep in mind who the clients might be in these situations. On those 4-man crew gigs, we are generally working for an energy giant who is EXTREMELY focused on safety. So we double bag every single stand, tape down every cable/velcro every cable if carpet, etc. etc. I know and you know if you're careful you can get away without bagging the boom stand and probably several other common light stand setups as well, but you do not want to pull that on THAT kind of set. It seems these days everyone except private individuals has the same attitude as well. What I mean is, that accounting firm is just as likely to be safety-focused as the multinational oil corporation.

PS I swear I do not love arguing with people; just for some thing there are very strong arguments for doing things a certain slow, bulky, inefficient way.
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Old February 24th, 2013, 06:31 PM   #28
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

Maybe you should consider if you are lighting too much for a certain gig. I mean if they only pay for one man and 30 minutes time - why should you be giving them a perfect Hollywood-like lighting setup?

I work eng a lot, and often have to setup interviews very quickly. My experience is that I can mostly do it in five minutes using natural light, maybe the on-camera light and a F&V LED on a super clamp as a hair/edge light. The result is not as good as I could do it with more time, but with a little practice I got to the point where I don't think I have to be ashamed of my results when you consider the five minutes I had for lighting.

You don't have to do it in five minutes of course if you are not with an eng team, but you still need to re-think your lighting strategy. If you only have 30 minutes and you are alone ,then certain things just cannot be done, so don't try to do them! :)
Keep it simple, try to make it more of a documentary style - in most situations you can find a very simple solution that doesn't look all bad. Of course this doesn't always include the subjects favorite backgrounds (they always want that brightly sunlit thing in the background while standing in the shade, I know...)
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Old February 25th, 2013, 01:07 AM   #29
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Heiko Saele View Post
Of course this doesn't always include the subjects favorite backgrounds (they always want that brightly sunlit thing in the background while standing in the shade, I know...)
I swear to God, last week I was booked for a half-day to shoot several interviews. Show up to find they have booked us into a conference room with three glass walls (two facing outside, one facing a room full of cubicles), the last wall was a plain grey with nothing on it. This room had one huge table and 10 Aeron chairs. Not so much as a potted plant or a Gideon's Bible in this room. I really had to pull a save out of my arse.
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Old February 25th, 2013, 11:38 AM   #30
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Re: nice lighting, by yourself, short etup time. . .HOW?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom More View Post
But the biggest delay and distraction I've found is the client that wants to carry on a pleasant conversation while you set up. Concentration is the key for me to get everything right, fast and you can't really tell the person paying you to pound sand. Don't have a good solution to this yet:-)
Have you tried headphones or earplugs? Earplugs will reduce the volume of the conversation but won't necessarily keep it from distracting you. With earbuds, you could play some instrumental music. That might take your mind off of the conversation but won't keep others from speaking to you. Headphones are the most aggressive solution. Not only can you play music but they are like a sign that says, "I can't hear you!"

The risk is that your employer might have the attitude of, "I'm not paying for you to listen to music." But if you explain that it makes you more productive, it could work. Just remember to take the phones off your ears and put them around your neck when it's time to interact.

When shooting events solo, I use a single, sealed earphone for monitoring audio. I felt that headphones isolated me from the outside world and put up a social barrier to those around me. That's a bad combination when trying to get strangers to give interviews, but it could be a great combination when you want to concentrate.
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