Lighting Interviews

By September 25, 2011 Tips/Techniques No Comments
Set up for lighting interviews

There are two main styles for approaching interview lighting.  What we’re talking about here is a single person talking head– where the interviewer is off camera.  The two styles are Documentary and News.

News is quick.  You’ve got a deadline and no time for pretty.  You’ve got to get the content and get it fast.  Or, you purposely want it to have the feel of news, although you have all the time in the world.  Or you need to get a bunch of interviews in a very short time.  This style is usually one light, probably on the camera.  There are a bunch of lights made for this.  My DP Ron Gonzalez has just gotten a ring light.  It’s like a circle flo.  What this does is give the person a circle instead of a dot reflection in their eyes.  You might think it doesn’t matter, but it really does make a huge difference.

Variations can be a bounce or reflector of some sort.  You’re moving fast, most likely outdoors, and you have a third hand– pop the flex fill in and you’ve got some better lighting.

For the Documentary style, this is where you take the time to make it pretty.  Used to be three point lighting– key, fill and back (or top).  And maybe even a slash on the background.  One style, again one that I’ve seen Ron do, is to use a china ball as a key, no fill and a back or top light.  And maybe something hitting the background.  This newer style is doable now because of the DSLR and narrow depth of field cameras.  You don’t need as much light if you’ve got a fast lens and you can make “pretty” happen fairly easily.

But you better not be in a hurry.  You can still get quantity by just “working the clock.”

In other words, I’ll shoot the first interview, and then just rotate the set a little, tweaking the lights.  At some point, I’ll probably need to do a major turnaround, so it’s still not as fast as news.

You can check out Recent Work.  You’ll see documentary style lighting on Holt Lunsford Commercial, but you’ll see news style on Parish Episcopal School.