What do you do when you have a subject who squints in reaction to a normal amount of key? I needed enough light on the subject to keep a window from blowing out (the window was far too big for the gel I had on hand). The subject wore glasses, and had very deep-set eyes.
Raising the key to avoid eyeglass reflections and to minimize the squinting didn't work; it didn't get enough light into the deep-set eyes; bouncing light off a large reflector lost too much light to keep detail in the window. I wound up keeping the key low in height, and moving it off to the side, using a modest amount of soft fill from just the other side of the camera. It looked okay, not great.
What do you do with an interviewee who squints? One solution I've had some luck with was lighting the interviewer's whole side of the room, if only to minimize the apparent brightness of the key. That way the interviewee isn't looking at a bright key against a dark background, but instead is seeing a bright room, with a bright key that doesn't look that much different.
Curious how you handle this situation.
You may know all this: If you can carry with you a 6x6 silk, that will help you a lot. Place it as close to the subject as you can. The light that illuminates your silk would ideally be 45º off axis of the interviewee's look, away from the camera, and 45º above the eyes. Those angles are starting points. With a subject who has deep set eyes you may need to reduce the angles. With a very flat face you may want to increase them. Then fly a second light diffusion half way between the light and the silk. The object is to get a soft wrap into the shadow side, with the shadow-side eye illuminated and most of the rest of the face in shadow. Then bounce the key into the shadow side to taste. Such a setup is very comfortable for most people and should prevent squinting.
Try to position the interviewee so s/he does NOT have a window behind. But if you are forced to deal with a window, a clean 8x8 double scrim placed as far back as possible while still covering the frame will help knock down the background. Some overexposure out the window looks good. Sometimes you can place a large plant or some other appropriate object blocking a good part of the window. Consider sheers / drapes / blinds. You could also fly an ND gel behind the subject so that it reduces the light coming in the window. You say your gel is too small to cover the whole window -- so fly it closer to the subject at a place the covers the frame. Reflections of the gel can be a problem, but most such problems can be solved.
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
A very old trick we DP's use is to have your talent close there eyes and then look right at the keylight for about 30 seconds. This usually works. Also works very well for the sun.
Phoenix Video Production
Trick I used a time or two is to lock down the camera, shoot five minutes or so with the iris set to properly expose the window, letting the rest of the room crush down under-exposed, then forget the window, expose for the talent, fix it in post by matting and color correcting the properly exposed window over the blown-out one. Of course you have to re-do the two exposures each time you change camera angles, and you complicate matters a lot if the talent overlaps the window. And you'll get some interesting ambient light wrap from the blow-out you cover over. But when you have no other options left and the window HAS to be in the shot, this may help. All I can say is, it worked for me.
If the blow-out is pretty even, you might also get away with luma keying a replacement into it.
Ultimately, though, this problem is solved with a pencil, using it to either add to the bill for the HMI or gels you need to do it RIGHT, or to cross out the word "window" from the script:-)
It would be nice to have a bucket of some kind of paint you could paint over the window to gel it, let it dry in a few minutes, then wash or peel off later. Anybody heard of such a thing or did I just invent it?:-)
You may have just set yourself up for an easy retirement in your own island home with your "ND window paint". Put me down for a case.
Here's the best trick of all.
Whatever light you set up on the talent....
Set exactly the SAME light pointed directly at YOU the director. If you can't direct with that sucker shining in YOUR eyes, then how can you expect the talent to do their job under the same conditions?
(can you tell I used to do talent work in my early days?)
That said, one thing that does help. Brighten up the area behind the camera. As a talent there's nothing worse than being all lit up yourself yet the entire behind camera area is pitch dark. Your iris's want to open up to see in the darkness - but the bright key lights make them want to shut down to pinpoints. The result is squint city.
That's also why setting an equivalent light on any off-camera interviewer will make for a more natural interview. The questions will be coming to the talent from a person - not a black shapeless mass.