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Softening Faces for Interview

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Bill @ UGA
Softening Faces for Interview
on Dec 18, 2007 at 10:01:17 pm


I am working on a project which features a lot of interviews with elderly men and women. I would like to soften their faces a bit and would like some advice. Do you use filters in front of the camera...if so, which ones...or do you prefer plug-ins during post (I'm using Final Cut Pro)...again, specifically which plug-ins? I want to be subtle about it.

{I'm shooting with a Sony DVcam DSR570 and a matt box now, but hope to swap to XDcam in HiDef by the summer. Same questions above will have to be addressed for HD when I get there...}

Thank you.

-- Bill

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Tom Matthies
Re: Softening Faces for Interview
on Dec 20, 2007 at 7:15:46 pm

I almost never filter the camera (for diffusion anyway) these days. It's so easy to do it in post that I don't run the risk of doing the softening while shooting and having no option to remove the effect.

There are MANY plugs for Final Cut that will do what you need. I often use Joe's diffuser to soften up that too hard video look. Boris FX has some nice plugs. Eve Tiffen, the filter manufacturer has gotten into the software business with a pretty complete set of plugs that emulate their glass filters. Do a Google search on the subject and you'll find many plugs that will do what you need.
You can eveh make a do it your self version by duplicating your video layer, adding a blur or defocus filter to the top layer and then using the blend mode in FCP you can get some very nice softening effects for free,

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Mark Suszko
Re: Softening Faces for Interview
on Dec 23, 2007 at 2:51:57 am

Two things you can do at the source are: use flatter more diffuse lighting more from in front, and turn down the detail level in the camera.

If you are lucky you have a separate 'skin detail' level control in some of the newer cameras, use that so the rest of the image looks focused. I'm of the opinion all the modern cameras are way too sharp as they come from the factory, and simple experimenting with the detail level control gives you live, interactive results. When you get values that work, record them or otherwise lock them into a memory setting to save time the next time you need them.

When I have older ladies come to the set, and they freak out seeing themselves in the monitor while someone sets focus with an XCU, I can talk them off the ledge by showing them what I can do with a simple flick of the detail switch: then they treat me like GOD.:-)

Use a big softbox: the light will wrap around the face and fill in the wrinkles. Very flattering for interviews.

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Vincent Becquiot
Re: Softening Faces for Interview
on Dec 23, 2007 at 11:21:33 pm

Watch some of 60 minutes interviews if you want to see actual post diffusion and glow abuse.


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