[SMAPP] – basic interview lighting tutorial

By April 3, 2012 Uncategorized 13 Comments

we are one week closer to the launch of SMAPP and as our update of the week we wanted to share a tutorial on interview lighting.

there are so many different ways you can light an interview and while story is always important, interviews more than anything else often come with the constraints of time, space, and gear. traveling for A Game of Honor we had to be able to light an interview with whatever we could fit into one 70lb suitcase (which inspired a whole separate tutorial on what’s in that suitcase). if you’ve done your share of interviews…

…you’ll be all too familiar with showing up and having a room that would be a tight fit just to hold all of your gear, let alone setup and interview in it. with almost every interview we feel like we could use one more stinger, one more light, an extra five minutes to tweak the setup, or an extra 5′ feet to reposition the talent and camera. however, through working within these constraints we can learn to do much more with much less. half the tricks we know about lighting have all come from having to figure something out while on set, and having to do so quickly. the more we understand light, how it works and how we can work with it, the more we can make the most of whatever time, gear, and space we might find ourselves in.

we hope you enjoy our first lighting tutorial on basic interview lighting. our next lighting tutorial we will be sharing shortly will show how we light the same scene three different ways to create different moods.

P.

[vimeo video_id=”39681309″ width=”640″ height=”360″ title=”Yes” byline=”Yes” portrait=”Yes” autoplay=”No” loop=”No” color=”00adef”]

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13 Comments

  • Chris says:

    For a new company, the Profoto is somewhat out-of-range in terms of price, do you have a lower end model of tungsten lights you prefer/recommend often? Thanks SMAPP!

    • Patrick says:

      absolutely. the Lowel pro lights are the best bang for the buck out there. at $99 each and 250watts i would pick up a handful and then add modifiers (gel packs first and foremost) and you can light a heck of an interview

      P.

    • P. says:

      absolutely – try the Lowel Prolights. at $99 they are an amazing value and at 250watts i would grab a handful with a filter pack and you can do a ton with them

      P.

  • Stuart says:

    This is the perfect timing for this video. I’ve been trying to figure these little things out. One thing I’ve always struggl with is subjects who wear glasses and how best to deal with reflections as well as the position of the boom mic. I always have to figure out what to do with shadows. Most shoots have been in settings with home decor that create lots of shadows. Sometimes it’s good but most times it’s a burden. Any thoughts or lessons learned you’d be able to share? Thanks for this great tutorial.

    • Patrick says:

      for the boom, we have a whole tutorial you can look at when SMAPP launches. definitely start by always booming opposite to your key.

      for glasses, those are always tough. flags just out of frame can help reflect black back in, or work the key light higher to avoid seeing it reflected. you can also try having them tip their glasses slightly more forward than normal thereby reflecting more of the ground which is usually darker

      P.

  • Joe says:

    I’m interested in learning how to light/work with ambient lighting specifically for found backgrounds, like hallways or gyms, where it might require lighting on the subject but not be very bright or high-quality lighting behind the subject. Would you light the entire room? Try to balance the background by using very low power settings on your lights?

    • P. says:

      when working with ambient light it is great to break it down into two parts – background and subject. look at how you can add or remove ambient light to the background through the use of doors and blinds. knowing this helps as you decide how much light to use as your key and fill. when you approach lighting your subject think about adding but also taking away. removing ambient from the subject with a flag can often help you get much better shape in the way you want (by then adding in your key and fill). but you are right on the money, balance is key so you get the right feel. if the key is too bright then the background often feels very dark and the subject feel isolated. if the key is too dim then the background often blows out and can become distracting.

      P.

  • P. says:

    for the boom, we have a whole tutorial you can look at when SMAPP launches. definitely start by always booming opposite to your key.
    for glasses, those are always tough. flags just out of frame can help reflect black back in, or work the key light higher to avoid seeing it reflected. you can also try having them tip their glasses slightly more forward than normal thereby reflecting more of the ground which is usually darker
    P.

  • Roger87654 says:

    I love your work . What exact lights do you guys use ? I do a lot of documentary and I wanted to see what the best setups are . I’m getting ready to buy some lights now and wanted some recommendations.

  • Ho Zhen Jie says:

    I have a question P.

    The Profotos that you used in this tutorial, what power rating are the modelling lamps at?I’ve considered a set of Profotos to double as strobes and video lighting, and was wondering if the default modelling lamp that comes with the D1s are actually sufficient for a 4-point setup as you’ve shown in the tutorial.

    Also, are these the same lights that you carry on location, when you don’t have a 3rd party doing the lighting?

  • […] few weeks ago we released a tutorial on basic interview lighting and how you can quickly achieve the look you want with just a few lights and modifiers. once […]

  • Nick says:

    What lens would you suggest for an interview like this with a shallow DOP?

  • […] has a great blog about lighting your subject. Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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