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interview lighting for two to three subjects


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#1 Ruby Gold

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Posted 19 December 2007 - 05:12 PM

Hi all. For the digital video productions I've shot (I'm using DVX100b), I've only used my basic Lowell kit and only lit single-subject interviews with pretty classic three or four-point lighting. I feel fairly confident within that set-up, the lighting has looked good, nice modeling, etc.

However, I now have some shoots coming up that will be interviews with two or three people and I'm totally clueless about how best to arrange and light them so that I'm not casting one person's shadows on another, etc.

I'm sure I'll have to rent other lights in order to make this work, but I'd greatly appreciate suggestions and/or useful links regarding simple/best ways to arrange and light two or three folks in an interview set-up.

Thanks to all for any help you can offer!
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#2 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 19 December 2007 - 07:10 PM

Assuming that the interviewer is off camera (sitting to the right or left of lens), I'd arrange to have chairs that allow the interviewees to be as close to one another as possible. It is easier to do a multi-person interview with 4:3 framing. 16x9 gets tricky if you need clean singles, so chair placement will vary depending upon your aspect ratio.

Once that's done, I like to use a backdrop stand ( http://www.calumetph...om/item/MF6095/ ) to hang backlights (hairlights), generally 300w ARRIs on dimmers.

For front key light, I use two or three 650w ARRI with small Chimeras. Depending upon the room and how far you have to place the lights, you may have to go with 1Ks. With that many people in the situation, there isn't much room for creating dramatic shadows so the lights should be more or less straight on.

Use Cstands and 4x4 solids to flag the spill from your background. You may also need "toppers" over each Chimera. Of course this varies depending on what you need the background to look like, so that extra spill may actually help.

If you need the light to look less flat, you could shift the keys over to the interviewer side of camera and add another unit or two on the other side for fill. But you run the risk of those shadows if there happens to be a "mover" in one of the chairs who just can't sit still.

Needless to say, with three people in the chairs, you should have at least one lock-off three shot for safety and hopefully two other cameras anticipating answers for the closeups.


Oh, and also be aware of what the Sound Mixer is doing in terms of timecode and where the tracks are going. Theoretically he could run two of the mics to one camera and the third to another camera, but the better solution is to have a separate multi-track recorder. In that case, the Audio Mixer will drive the timecode on all cameras, so you'll need extra BNC to wire them all together. And it doesn't hurt one bit to do a real slate when everyone is rolling just in case there is a problem with timecode.
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#3 Xavier Plaza

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 01:36 AM

Hi Ruby, all depends what kind of mood do you want to reach. If you wanna light for an interview for 2 or 3 people I would use a Kino Flo (4bank 4ft) over the camera or a couple 4bank kino flo on each one side... I think your key for this kind of setup is use your source with diffusion or bounced that helps you to avoid shadows on your subjetcs... Then if you want you could add a kickers or backlight or whatever you want...

Xavier
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#4 Ruby Gold

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 02:33 PM

Thanks you guys for the suggestions.

Because I'm fairly ignorant--having only done basic 3 and 4 point lighting set-ups for one-person interviews with just a key, fill, hairlight and sometimes background light, and because what I have in my kit (and the only lights I'm familiar with) are an Omni, Tota, Pro and small Rifa--can either of you (or anyone else) point me in the direction of some good sites/tutorials to help me educate myself around the type of set-ups you're describing? Of course, I get the gist of what you mean, but have no experience with using any of the set-up/lights you've described.

Thanks again for the help.
Ruby
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#5 Daniel Sheehy

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 03:42 PM

Thanks you guys for the suggestions.

Because I'm fairly ignorant--having only done basic 3 and 4 point lighting set-ups for one-person interviews with just a key, fill, hairlight and sometimes background light, and because what I have in my kit (and the only lights I'm familiar with) are an Omni, Tota, Pro and small Rifa--can either of you (or anyone else) point me in the direction of some good sites/tutorials to help me educate myself around the type of set-ups you're describing? Of course, I get the gist of what you mean, but have no experience with using any of the set-up/lights you've described.

Thanks again for the help.
Ruby

A lot depends on how you're going to shoot the interview. If you're just going to keep it wide, showing the group at all times, then you just treat the group as 1 subject and light as normal.

If you are going to shoot both group shots and individual closeups, then you have more on your plate. It's not as difficult as you are worried it'll be.

This site has some diagrams that you might find useful: http://www.cybercollege.com/tvp034.htm
You won't need to use individual key and back lights, place you key lights such that each light acts as the key for a couple of people. Similarly with the other lights.

Edited by Daniel Sheehy, 20 December 2007 - 03:44 PM.

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#6 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 04:23 PM

Thanks you guys for the suggestions.

Because I'm fairly ignorant--having only done basic 3 and 4 point lighting set-ups for one-person interviews with just a key, fill, hairlight and sometimes background light, and because what I have in my kit (and the only lights I'm familiar with) are an Omni, Tota, Pro and small Rifa--can either of you (or anyone else) point me in the direction of some good sites/tutorials to help me educate myself around the type of set-ups you're describing? Of course, I get the gist of what you mean, but have no experience with using any of the set-up/lights you've described.

Thanks again for the help.
Ruby



The units themselves are fairly inconsequential. I've accomplished my "standard" setup with Omnis and Totas before and no solids available. It is a little more challenging, but not impossible.

The basic gist is to do what you do for one person, but expand it for multiple subjects. I think the most I ever had to light at once was a panel of eight or nine. I covered it with four cameras... the "A" camera was on a dolly approximately fifteen feet from the nearest subject. The key lights (1Ks if I remember correctly) were fitted with Chimeras and placed directly behind the track. It was slightly underexposed (we were shooting wide open) but I knew that going in and it worked for what I was trying to do. The "proper" way to do it would have been to use 2Ks and scrim them if necessary or stop down.

My hide wide camera was locked off on a stand set up directly behind the track. The other two cameras were cross shooting off to the sides to pick off singles or two-shots.

You essentially do what you normally do for one person, but use more (and possibly more powerful) lights.

Here are some pix of that multi-person shoot I am talking about. You'll see the key lights behind the dolly, backlights set up behind the main row and single backlights set up behind the people on the ends. We had to use solids to flag the backlights from the flanking cameras. I didn't use Chimeras on key lights because I needed the extra stop or two, so I used 216 instead which created a slightly more directional light. That necessitated adding solids to flag and direct each light toward "zones" in the panel. And of course, there are various lights hitting the background elements.

http://0097456.netso...ix/DSC00414.JPG
http://0097456.netso...ix/DSC00415.JPG
http://0097456.netso...ix/DSC00424.JPG
http://0097456.netso...ix/DSC00426.JPG



The only thing missing in this setup was atmospheric smoke, which I asked for, but the Producer turned down due to "budget." Nevermind that we went four hours into overtime which I was told there was no budget for either. <_< Never believe them when they say they don't have the money for small extras. They almost always do, but won't tell you.
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#7 Walter Graff

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 08:17 PM

There are some very simple methods to accomplish this that require nothing more than what you have and mimic 3 point scenarios. Here is one I use all the time for network interviews using Lowell lights. This illustration is not to scale and light placement is only for rough in. You'd have to make sure your stands are out of the two camera shots.

Basically you are lighting your two sides of the room with two keys, fill and back, but only using four lights. You will use barn doors and aim fixtures in a way that shares their purpose. By that I mean that a back light is/could also be a key light.

First, fixture number 1 is a key light for your interviewees. Being that is it also over the upstage shoulder of your interviewer, it can be manipulated to spill on him/her/them to be a backlight/kicker for the interviewer. And fixture number 3 becomes your interviewers key and can also be used, depending on how much spill you allow to be a upstage backlight/kicker for your interviewees. #2 and #4 can become fill lights for both sides and also can be left to spill so they too become back/kicker lights for both sides.

I have some great shots of some of the Bob Costas shows I used to light using this method and you'd think I had an incredibly elaborate set up, but a search on this computer does not turn them up. They must be on hard drive in Mass. so can't share them.

http://www.bluesky-w...om/simple-4.jpg

This method works well because it allows for modeling while being efficient with fixtures.
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#8 Ruby Gold

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 09:34 PM

Thanks you guys--these are all great suggestions--really appreciate it.

I like the concept of treating the small group as a single subject (to some degree) in how you light them. Although I can imagine that where you place them and and if they move much can have a big impact on who gets whose shadows on their face.

Thanks again!
Ruby
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#9 Walter Graff

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 09:38 PM

Yes Ruby, easier is always better, especially in lighting from my experience. As for shadows and movement, it's not really a problem if they are in line with the lens. The key to knowing is to set up and have stand ins to make sure it works for you. Really in my case its a simple upstage key slightly off side of the center of the face so your fill really becomes a subtle addition. If it's flatter you want simply put your key in line with the camera and you'll have what you need for two to three people while having little issues with shadows.
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#10 Ruby Gold

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 09:50 PM

Cool Walter. Thanks for the encouragement.

The interviewer will not be on camera, so I will use and modify your suggestions accordingly. Seems I'll have to use a stronger key than I ordinarily use in order to light two faces properly, or just maybe use the barn doors as you suggested and make it more diffuse rather than focused. Still am not quite clear how this won't throw shadow onto the other interviewee, but like everything, it will probably make more sense once I play with it with stand-ins. Thanks again--
Ruby
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#11 Chris Keth

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 10:03 PM

Cool Walter. Thanks for the encouragement.

The interviewer will not be on camera, so I will use and modify your suggestions accordingly. Seems I'll have to use a stronger key than I ordinarily use in order to light two faces properly, or just maybe use the barn doors as you suggested and make it more diffuse rather than focused. Still am not quite clear how this won't throw shadow onto the other interviewee, but like everything, it will probably make more sense once I play with it with stand-ins. Thanks again--
Ruby


These kind of things will generally be waist-up and tighter so the shadows can just be thrown down below where they matter. If you do need full bodies, perhaps more room would need to be left between interviewer and interviewees.
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#12 Walter Graff

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 10:16 PM

Cool Walter. Thanks for the encouragement.

The interviewer will not be on camera, so I will use and modify your suggestions accordingly. Seems I'll have to use a stronger key than I ordinarily use in order to light two faces properly, or just maybe use the barn doors as you suggested and make it more diffuse rather than focused. Still am not quite clear how this won't throw shadow onto the other interviewee, but like everything, it will probably make more sense once I play with it with stand-ins. Thanks again--
Ruby



In a perfect world I would probably make a softbox above them and light them al la 48 hours. But with what you have it's really nothing more than a modified three point. Modified in terms of a less off axis angle of your key and fill. Diffusion is key to soft dispersion. And that will mean you will need some cutters to work on the spill factor. A few pieces of foam core will do wonders. I think as you said, you have to experience it to see how it can work for you. Perhaps try a set up beforehand. In the illustration below you can see that my key light is not as off axis as I might like it, but one has to make a minor adjustment due to the multiple talents. In other words, based on what you have to work with, you will not get an incredibly modeled look as you would with a single person on camera. But then again pretty much any lighting scenario in a multi-talent set up means you get a slightly flatter light than you would with one person.

http://www.bluesky-w...om/simple-5.jpg

PS don't forget to get lots of shots of them just sitting. I like to shoot these as we are waiting to shoot. I simply role off shots of those not talking during their talk before we actually tell them we are rolling so the cutaways you give them for edit look very much like you have a multiple camera set up going.
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#13 Kiarash Sadigh

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Posted 25 December 2007 - 11:08 PM

A very usefull tool in lighting more than one person is to have an eggcrate over your soft box...you can find them for your Riffas...or anything else like this:
http://www.chimerali...sp?productid=15
it works like a half scrim...meaning that the person who is farthest from the soft box ( this is the person your soft box should be pointed to) receives more light and the person who is sitting closest to your light receives the least...this way you're lighting them all evenly despite their distances to your source.
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