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Old March 13th, 2013, 04:15 AM   #1
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Interview tips

Hey all,

This is probably a pretty basic question, but it's something I've been struggling with today. I'm on a shoot at the moment which involves a lot of outdoor interviews with no control over lighting.

How does everyone set the iris when doing solo IVs in changing light (i.e. clouds moving across the sun)? Auto iris means a constantly changing aperture, which I find distracting when viewing the interview. And setting a fixed aperture is only good until the next cloud moves over the sun and causes an over-exposed/under-exposed image.

It can be difficult when the camera can't be constantly monitored.

So, any tips? And while we're at it, any other general tips for solo IV shooters?

Thanks all :)
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Old March 13th, 2013, 04:43 AM   #2
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Re: Interview tips

Hi Jody

The obvious answer is to take them out of the open into a shaded area. Yes, that has it own problems but you are in a more controllable environment. Throw in a battery operated light (if needed), and away you go.

Often, doing interviews, particularly with inexperienced clients, they have no idea about what is required to pull off the shot, but then, that's your job. Find the best location that lets you do what you have to do.

As a solo shooter you have a zillion things to worry about (concentrate on audio first), eliminate the obvious.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 06:12 AM   #3
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Re: Interview tips

+1 for Neil. A shady area with a battery powered light works a lot better than an open area and the sun and clouds beating you up. Bring a reflector or foamcore to help bounce some light back to the subject and if it's windy turn the subjects back to the wind to help knock down the wind noise. don't forget sandbags to weigh everything down.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 12:33 PM   #4
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Re: Interview tips

Yep, shade... typically more controllable.

If shade isn't available or looks terrible, then I re-position to make the sun a ~3/4 backlight... the subject and background elements then have their shaded sides showing, which can have the same effect. Add bounce as needed or possible... or just expose for the shade. That way, if the sun dims, it's only dimming your backlight.

Auto iris in partly cloudy conditions is (as you describe) death. No. Manual iris, and (IMO) occasional adjustment is simply unavoidable. Also, no harm in retaking points or quotes as possible/necessary if they're lost to abrupt and severe light changes.

A few other tips & things I use in such situations:
- Shoot from a slightly higher angle to show more of the ground and less of a blown-out sky (yet still try to keep eyeline level with camera... not always easy)
- use a collapsible silk (a la' the versions from those handy, inexpensive 5-in-1 reflectors) to soften and even out a sun keylight. Shooting solo, if I can't carry a stand about (read: usually), I sometimes set the camera on sticks, make sure I can see the monitor/LCD, position with the sun at about a 45 degree angle to my back, and then "Hollywood" the collapsible silk up and to my left (while monitoring camera and audio and conducting the interview). Obviously this carnival stunt is only practical for short sound bytes, but it's worked.

Collapsible silks, by the way, are one of my favorite runabout tools. They can turn virtually any strong, hard light source into a wonderfully flattering soft light... tungsten worklights, auto headlights, sun, spotlights, heavy duty flashlights, you name it. Plus they're cheap as heck and easy to pack & carry.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 05:11 PM   #5
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Re: Interview tips

Before you select your outdoor interview location, make sure you're not on the Hamilton flight path.

I was doing narration/interview connected with the first train to run in Australia, at the Steam Museum here.
It was the day of the arrival of the first Qantas Jumbo here. The thing flew around Sydney at low level and destroyed my talk.

Cheers.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 03:53 AM   #6
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Re: Interview tips

Thanks for all the tips guys.

I shot another 2 interviews today. I ended up sitting the subjects under a tree then finding a background that wasn't too bright. The end result was good, easy to expose and it looked great.

Another 7-8 to do tomorrow, so I'll get lots of practise :D
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Old March 15th, 2013, 02:41 AM   #7
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Re: Interview tips

Auto-iris is not ideal, but if the lighting is changing and causing the iris to shift, well the change in lighting would have rendered the scene unusable anyway. If you can't avoid the sunlight then I still feel you are better off using AE in shifting light, that way at least everything in between the lighting changes is properly exposed.

Ideally though, I like to shoot in the shade and avoid getting too much direct sunlight falling on the background (though overexposed backgrounds are often easily masked with a subtle vignette in post, if it is something like grass or a building - not so easy for brighter backgrounds like sky or water).
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Old March 16th, 2013, 04:43 PM   #8
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Re: Interview tips

There is a lot of good suggestions here. Several mention reflectors but I don't think anyone said fill light to do a similar thing. Add your own light to the scene. Any light you can. From on camera for absolute run & gun to a Lowell light on a stand if you can pick your mark each time.

The light is not just for fill to take away the harsh shadows. It is to help with the difficulties of changing light you are discussing. The sun is hard to compete with. But if you can't reflect it then even something as crazy as a tota or omni light into an umbrella (corrected with a simple filter in the square Lowell frame) can be used right there in broad daylight with moving clouds. The idea is balance, cut down the extreme changes the moving clouds cause. Some times there is no good replacement for good ol high wattage tungsten.

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Old May 14th, 2013, 01:44 AM   #9
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Re: Interview tips

I have been using a Litepanels Sola 3 for about 18 months. I don't put it on the camera but use it sometimes as a key, sometimes a fill to even up the shadows. It works particularly well in open shade to make the subject 'pop'. It is LED, equals 250w and I use a Swintronix PowerBase 70 D tap battery. I hang the battery in a small cloth bag on a lightweight stand, a $65 Lowell. This all folds up in a small package and is highly portable. Warning: The light is about $700, the battery about $279. But if you do a lot of Q&D outside interviews it is a must. It has a high utility value and has paid for itself many times over. It is set for daylight,(you can always use CTO inside) focuses from flood to spot and dims without loosing color temperature. Because it is LED, I can run it for several hours on one battery.
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Old May 15th, 2013, 01:54 PM   #10
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Re: Interview tips

Kevin hit it on the head, silks. Check out the pictures in this thread.

Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

You can bounce some additional light in if you want to add some punch. We wanted this scene to be intentionally flat. A key is to try to position the shot so that the background isn't too hot. A silk an some C-stands can do wonders.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 11:27 AM   #11
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Re: Interview tips

As mentioned a no power solution, very versitile - Three 5 in 1 reflectors to use as a:
- Reflector (silver, white, gold)
- Silks (reflectors with a silk center)
- Negative fill (reflectors with black cover)

And maybe a sun gun/led with diffuser, hopefully on a stand but on cam will do.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 11:40 AM   #12
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Re: Interview tips

If you don't have another pair of hands, and the wind isn't a problem, I was going to suggest using a diffuser umbrella on it's stand without the light. We use it since we already have it and it helps even out the lighting.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 12:02 PM   #13
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Re: Interview tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Benda View Post
If you don't have another pair of hands, and the wind isn't a problem, I was going to suggest using a diffuser umbrella on it's stand without the light. We use it since we already have it and it helps even out the lighting.
Folds easily too! Hmmm I think I'll pick one up. Good idea!
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