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How to light an interview for people who hate light and camera gear?


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#1 David Mawson

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 07:31 AM

My girlfriend is working on a project with high functioning autistic people. (She's HFA herself.) They're being asked to talk about subjects that are very personal to them and a lot of them hate bright light and have big problems with people invading their social space. Autistic people also often have strong ideological feelings about what they see as insincerity - so the use of intrusive lighting gear to create what they might see as a lie could be a problem. But most of all I want to avoid

 

- Bright, concentrated lights

 

- Complex looking set-ups

 

- Intimidating gear close to the subject's face

 

- Long set-up or take-down times

 

I also need a soft, friendly lighting look. And we're shooting in the UK, so window light is about as unreliable as it gets. Interviews can be shot entirely seated and the camera will probably be a Fuji XT2 or Sony A7 series.

 

At the moment this looks like my best bet

 

https://www.provideo...ing_setup-ever/

 

...But I'd love to find a way of not having those 4x4's close to the subject. (Also, any flags and reflectors etc have to fold away so the entire set-up can fit in a single case that looks reasonably like "civilian" luggage.)


Edited by David Mawson, 22 May 2018 - 07:36 AM.

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#2 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 08:01 AM

You have a relatively sensitive camera there. Shoot in all-natural (no) light and guilt trip any DoPs who criticize your lighting.

I'm putting that overly bluntly but it'll work.

 

The only other option I can see is silking a 6x6 butterfly frame and blasting a 1 or 2k far back so it's soft and not too jarring.

As for set-up time... let's see what you're made of lol


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#3 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 08:05 AM

Sort of catch 22 as you need the source to be close, if the light is small.. or a bigger source further away .. for the light to be soft.. to me the diagram you have is actually a bit of a hassle to set up..  and the light in question is a tungsten light that will get very hot..you need 2 stands or more for the 4x4,s.. 

 

I would use one LED light ... something like an Lite panels Astra with a soft box.. smaller box and close or a bigger box and a bit further away ..  run off battery if you can.. little to no heat out put..  ¾ angle key.. you will get some wrap around.. I wouldn't bother with the  black/negative fill  if you want least gear.. that diagram set up your subject is wedged between two 4x4 .. they will feel very constricted.. . 1 LED light/1 soft box /battery power.. you can move it in or out very quickly.. minimum fuss..

 

I see that set ups is from 2011.. things have moved on a bit since then.. there are also LED light "blankets" you can just hang from a wall now.. don't even need a stand..  and camera,s are alot faster now too.. no way you need a 650W tungsten light..


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 22 May 2018 - 08:09 AM.

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#4 David Mawson

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 05:17 AM

You have a relatively sensitive camera there. Shoot in all-natural (no) light and guilt trip any DoPs who criticize your lighting.

I'm putting that overly bluntly but it'll work.

 

Macks - I'm considering it as an option. But even with an A7s... this is the UK we're talking - often the NW UK. And some of the shoots will probably be in winter. Some of them may be in ***Scotland*** in winter, and the only reason that vampires don't overrun the streets of Glasgow 24 hours a day at that time of year is that they can't stand the taste of deep fried Mars Bars in their blood.


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#5 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 05:23 AM

Do rooms in Scotland not have any electrical room lighting as it is?


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#6 David Mawson

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 05:25 AM

Sort of catch 22 as you need the source to be close, if the light is small.. or a bigger source further away .. for the light to be soft.. to me the diagram you have is actually a bit of a hassle to set up..  and the light in question is a tungsten light that will get very hot..you need 2 stands or more for the 4x4,s..

 

Sorry: I should have said that I wasn't planning on using that exact light. It's the overall set-up. Ie

 

- Light bounced off the reflector to make it big and soft

 

- Flag to protect the interviewee from distracting light and increase contrast

 

- Those small tweaks to the flag with white paper

 

Re stands, I was planning on using large folding reflectors or stitching together something custom. It's indoors, so no winds. There's no problem putting together something out of instamorph and kite spars to hold them up while looking less intimidating than a normal stand.


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#7 David Mawson

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 05:27 AM

Do rooms in Scotland not have any electrical room lighting as it is?

 

The shoots will be in day time. I'd consider blacking out windows to avoid mixed lighting too intrusive.

 

And shooting with an inconsistent lighting look, high ISO, and mixed lighting sounds like a recipe for a disaster, even with an A7s.


Edited by David Mawson, 23 May 2018 - 05:28 AM.

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#8 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 07:22 AM

 

Sorry: I should have said that I wasn't planning on using that exact light. It's the overall set-up. Ie

 

- Light bounced off the reflector to make it big and soft

 

- Flag to protect the interviewee from distracting light and increase contrast

 

- Those small tweaks to the flag with white paper

 

Re stands, I was planning on using large folding reflectors or stitching together something custom. It's indoors, so no winds. There's no problem putting together something out of instamorph and kite spars to hold them up while looking less intimidating than a normal stand.

 

ah ok got it.. yes bouncing will do the same.. but harder to deal flagging off the background and its just move actual "stuff" around your subject .. which you you say could be a problem..and set up time.. a battery powered LED with a soft box and a built in grid is about as basic as you can get.. as long as they are not right next to a white wall you shouldn't need the neg fill.. just have it classic ¾ portrait Rembrandt  position and you,ll get some warp around but won't be flat.. 


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#9 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 07:26 AM

Do rooms in Scotland not have any electrical room lighting as it is?

 

Usually you want to be turning them off for interviews .. except maybe some back ground practicals.. but relying on the electric room light I dont see as a good idea.. I,d rather risk natural light through a window in that case .. 


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#10 David Mawson

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 01:15 PM

 

ah ok got it.. yes bouncing will do the same.. but harder to deal flagging off the background and its just move actual "stuff" around your subject .. which you you say could be a problem..and set up time.. a battery powered LED with a soft box and a built in grid is about as basic as you can get.. as long as they are not right next to a white wall you shouldn't need the neg fill.. just have it classic ¾ portrait Rembrandt  position and you,ll get some warp around but won't be flat.. 

 

That's excellent. I started with that plus a reflector for fill and a rim light, then when I found the set-up I posted, I never considered that I could get the same outcome by simplifying the LED softbox system. And I could still carry a combined reflector and flag and get someone to hold it or tape it to something in an emergency. Thanks!


Edited by David Mawson, 23 May 2018 - 01:15 PM.

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#11 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 07:08 PM

Fortunately,in my opinion anyway , the style for lighting interviews generally has gone towards a much more natural look.. rather than the 5 light .. eye, rim,hair, side..fill.. overly light look of the past in TV.. helped by the introduction of s35mm sensors I think.. also bringing an end to the dreaded video slash on the back ground.. !..

 

I often shoot interviews with one light .. I have lite panels Astra,s..1 x 1. (the older lite panels are not strong enough to get through a decent soft box)..I have a medium size DOP Choice soft box with a collapsable 40 degree grid.. which I run off a battery when possible.. but any of the newer LED lights/softbox would work..  but a soft box that only makes the "source " slightly bigger than the actual light itself.. won't make it a soft light.. "softness" is determined by size of source compared to subject.. so if your light has to be a bit away from the subject you need a larger soft box.. if you want you could have a back/side light on the opposing angle of your key.. but personally I would never use more than 2 lights on the subject for "normal" interviews .. and one is often the nicest look..


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#12 David Mawson

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 03:52 AM

Thanks - that helps a lot too! The other thing I'm discovering, coming from stills land, is that cheaper LED systems with decent CRI often have nasty fan noise...


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#13 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 05:04 AM

Yeah its still sort of you get what you pay for.. I have the Astra that doesn't have a fan.. its 2 X the strength of the first generation 1x1 lite panels .. thats all I need..  bi color is also handy ..you can warm up the face a bit.. ..  maybe just rent lights if you dont want to shell out.. I bought mine as a set of two that came with the pelican case/stands etc.. from B&H...  very easy to work with.. your in the UK which is notoriously exp for gear.. the price in pounds is often the same as the dollar price outside the UK  !!  

 

Sorry if you know this.. but its surprising now many times you see it done wrong..  as a rule.. you want your subject looking into the light.. so you get a fall off on the non leading side of the face..  ie camera, person conducting the interview.. then the light next to them.. your on a full frame sensor camera too.. so getting the background soft (presuming you want to) will be pretty easy..


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#14 David Mawson

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 05:41 PM

Yeah its still sort of you get what you pay for.. I have the Astra that doesn't have a fan.. its 2 X the strength of the first generation 1x1 lite panels .. thats all I need..  bi color is also handy ..you can warm up the face a bit.. ..  maybe just rent lights if you dont want to shell out.. I bought mine as a set of two that came with the pelican case/stands etc.. from B&H...  very easy to work with.. your in the UK which is notoriously exp for gear.. the price in pounds is often the same as the dollar price outside the UK  !!  

 

Sorry if you know this.. but its surprising now many times you see it done wrong..  as a rule.. you want your subject looking into the light.. so you get a fall off on the non leading side of the face..  ie camera, person conducting the interview.. then the light next to them.. your on a full frame sensor camera too.. so getting the background soft (presuming you want to) will be pretty easy..

 

Unfortunately renting won't work out well - the plan is for quite a few short interviews on different days.

 

That's an interesting point about bicolour - something I hadn't considered at all.

 

And I appreciate the reminder!


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#15 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 02:29 AM

Yes I find I often just dial it down towards tungsten .. seems to work with some faces more than others.. pastey Scots it might be a good thing :)


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#16 David Mawson

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 05:45 AM

UK lighting prices are shocking. The best deal seems to be Aputure - good CRI, no reports of fan noise. I'm thinking of one of these

 

https://fenchel-jani...ran-528-review/

 

..If it's a bit anemic, I could aim two at the same diffuser or bounce. And it has some convenient softbox options, although they seem a little small -

 

https://www.aputure....products/ez-box


Edited by David Mawson, 25 May 2018 - 05:52 AM.

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#17 Chris J. Zahller

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 03:39 PM

Have you thought about setting up lights outside the room window to create your own daylight? This would work for ground floors only, of course, but that could be many of your interviews. A big rectangular softbox or a silk in front of a large LED panel should give you what you want.


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#18 David Mawson

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 09:19 AM

Have you thought about setting up lights outside the room window to create your own daylight?

 

I appreciate the suggestion, but no. Between rain - this is the UK - the need to put someone outside to stop gear being stolen, it really wouldn't be a great idea. Plus it only works if there is a window and you can the subject near it, in which case either of those two cameras could get the job done without lights. The point of using lights is to handle the worst cases in a way that gets a consistent look.

 

And psychologically, I think the problems are even worse. Gear on the other side of the window is still gear, but now you're shooting near a window and drawing attention from neighbours aimed at that window.


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#19 Mark Dunn

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 10:11 AM

Stills softboxes for portraiture come in a good range of sizes. They seem to be quite inexpensive nowadays and you can probably improvise the mounting.
I agree that the small Aputure one is hardly a softbox. More of a shoebox.

Edited by Mark Dunn, 29 May 2018 - 10:25 AM.

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#20 Tristan Noelle

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 06:17 PM

Have you thought about just putting a disclaimer in the doc? Something stating that the interviews were filmed in existing lighting conditions for the comfort of the subjects. I frankly found the fact that they would be sensitive to artificial lighting very informative.

Obviously you can feng shui the room: put a lamp in the right spot, with a suitably colored and powerful globe, or move to a setup with a window keying them in daytime, etc. But if it goes a bit noisy and you mix color temps, It may be worth it to get better interviews. Just a thought.

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