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Lights and temps

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Lights and temps
on Jan 28, 2007 at 5:31:19 pm

I'm looking into shooting 1-2 person interviews on location, outside, and in homes or office locations. 15-60 minute productions with interviews sometimes the dominant content and others as fill.

Will start shooting with HDV (Canon XH A1) and hopefully upgrade in 6-18 months rendering the Canon XH A1 to the B camera. Future dream (2-3 years) is mixing in some short indie and more involved documentary projects with higher end camera. However,for the here and now am looking to light the interview subjects as described above.

Will stay in disk based digital format (non tape) for delivery and archive. Delivery will be both SD and HD (720p and occasional 1080p) via DVD and maybe other digital format for computer playback on HD TV's (wma, qt etc.) May have 2nd backup/archive to HDV tape (uggg). Will output occasionally to old standards of tape, but hopefully not too often......

Currently I have some Lowell tungsten lights and two 2'x 2' High Speed fluorescent fixures that are daylight balanced (6-55W Dulux L tubes per each fixture) (don't know if these can be dimmed). Have rigid eggcrate diffuser and barn doors for these.

I have limited hardware other than lots of light stands and a few white boards for reflectors. I'll need grip hardware, reflectors, gels, 2 tall light stands. 1 boom light stand, and backgrounds. $$ needed here.

I just read a thread here from Ty Ford wanting to add lighting for around $1500. I am asking many of the same questions and considering some of the same ideas that were discussed in that thread as well as using $1500 as a ballpark budget. I'm not locked into that number, but it's a good fit for my budget. More is available if justified.

Misc info:
I will need some portability, but don't know if that's 20-80, 50-50 or 80-20 per cent of the time. Best GUESS is 50-50 right now. If I have to fly for interview, I would need to take a very basic light kit with me for small interview setups. Would rent/hire lighting help when $$ feasible. Most shooting will be 1 man and occasionally with 2nd person.

Anyway, would enjoy some dialog and some suggestions to the following. Keep in mind $1500 is my ballpark goal for lighting, but not locked down completely.

1. Is it a bad idea to make my primary lighting daylight based 5500-6000k? It seems like this might make life easier much of the time.
2. Is tungsten desired for certain artistic or lighting issues or is it because they are cost effective? Very confused on this subject. I would like to stay away from the heat issues with tungstens as some interviews will be long and I can't always fully control the temperatures.
3. In studio interviews, if I'm using daylight lighting, can I diffuse and control my 2'x 2' high speed fluorescents for the key light? Is this a good use for the lights? I will still purchase a small softbox for travel so will have it available for studio shots.
4. Any suggestions for the rest of the lighting hardware if #3 above is do_able? It's a given that I will have the following: the two 2x2 high speed fluorescents, small softbox, 42" reflector, and a small variety of background material(s)?
5. Brand name suggestions for daylight hardware and wattage is welcomed.
6. Alternative ideas if I'm wrong on my assumptions that I should be leaning towards daylight lighting for this work.
7. Should I just say "whoa nelly", and just add the basics, spend less, and learn how to light first? I have heard some folks say, learn with the Lowells and then move on. I understand I have the basics with the Lowell tungstens. (I would just need some barn doors, a snoot, & gels for those and a softbox). My preference is to move up a notch during my learning period. I know I can fix some things in Post. However I would like a shot at lighting it right during the shoot.

I'd go on, but I'm hoping you can sense my confusion and desperation. I would like to decide and order the stuff ASAP. Have 2 learning projects to start on. Finger is on the trigger, but confusion reigns. I hate spending money foolishly.

Thanks in advance........

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Bill @ UGA
Re: Lights and temps
on Feb 8, 2007 at 3:24:34 pm

Let me take a stab at some of your questions. You've got $1500 to work with, so the kit you read about in another thread is a good place to start. Whether you key with tungsten or daylight is up to you, but you should turn off overhead lights in offices when you can and always white balance manually. If you are balanced for daylight, any tungsten lamps will look "warmer," which can be a good thing if that's what you're after. Also, if you are balanced for tungsten, then daylight instruments or exterior light will look blue. You can use gels (check out the Rosco website) to change color temperature, but adding gels will also cost you intensity (i.e., brightness) of the light. If you have a good color monitor, calibrated correctly, use it. Take your iris off "automatic" when lighting or shooting. Auto iris is great but interviews are controlled settings so use the manual setting.

The more you shoot interviews...or anything for that matter...the more comfortable you become in your abilities and equipment. Don't plan to "fix" anything in post.

If you don't have much experience in interview lighting, and need a quick lesson, spring for the DVD "How to Set Up, Light and Shoot Great Looking Interviews" (Doug Jensen, Vortex Media). There may be others, but I've seen this one and it addresses your situation.

Good luck!


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