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Lighting Interviews According To Individual's Features

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Christopher McCron
Lighting Interviews According To Individual's Features
on Mar 6, 2011 at 10:58:43 pm

Hello,

I was doing some test shots today for some interview lighting while using different members from my crew. Some lighting looked flat on certain people, and it really popped on others. I was not surprised by this, but I was wondering if any one had any tips on lighting people based on individual attributes.

For example, hair colour, complexion/ skin colour, personality etc. I can obviously experiment, but I felt that asking you people in the lighting design pro forum might yield some techniques that I may overlook myself.

We are working on a micro budget, with DIY lighting. We have access to some photography equipment (umbrellas, reflectors, light stands, gels, background stands etc.), plus halogen / florescent worklamps.

Any help would be great.

Thanks,

Christopher


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Rick Wise
Re: Lighting Interviews According To Individual's Features
on Mar 7, 2011 at 12:11:42 am

You have put your finger on one of the key aspects of lighting well: every face is shaped differently and has different colors, including hair, skin, and wardrobe. There is only one answer to that predicament that I know of: look.

Look carefully. You can light following general guidelines, such as placing the key 45º further away from the camera than the subject's look, and 45º above horizontal. But that is just a beginning point. When the real subject sits into the shot, you may way to move the key even further than 45º left-right, up-down.

Because of the hair color -- or lack of hair -- you may want to increase or reduce the intensity of the back light, if you have one.

Because of the darkness-lightness of the clothing you may want to add or reduce light on that part of the body.

Because of the quality of the skin and the tone of the subject you may want to add more fill, or reduce it.

And so on. The more you do this, the more quickly you will find a good solution almost every time.

Looking so you actually see how the light plays on this face in front of you is one of the joys of lighting.

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
part-time instructor lighting/camera
Academy of Art University/Film and Video (grad school)
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Christopher McCron
Re: Lighting Interviews According To Individual's Features
on Mar 7, 2011 at 12:08:30 pm

Thanks Rick. I assumed there were no hard and fast rules as usual with lighting.

With regards to clothing, do you mean if someone has a white shirt (or any very bright colour), you may want to flag the light that is reaching their shirt?


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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting Interviews According To Individual's Features
on Mar 7, 2011 at 3:31:50 pm

[Christopher McCron] "you may want to flag the light that is reaching their shirt?"

Absolutely... whatever it takes.

When we use talent who are providing their own wardrobe, we always give the standard speech, "Color is good, no pure whites, no pure blacks, no tiny busy patterns, no big wildly distracting patterns."

Of course you can shoot those things and make them look good... but it's easier to get to that point if they are not wearing that.

Women are especially troublesome because seems they almost always want to wear black ("It's so slimming.") But it's not... it just makes them look like a big black blob on camera. We still groan over an incident five or six years ago... we had paid actors in a commercial shoot whom we could dress as we wanted, but the client was providing one of their employees to interact with them. Despite our instructions, she showed up on location wearing this weird ALL black neck-high head-to-toe sort of belted jet-black pantsuit thingy. Plus she was blond and veeeery fair skinned. She literally looked like some new Star Trek character... but we had to deal with it.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rick Wise
Re: Lighting Interviews According To Individual's Features
on Mar 7, 2011 at 6:13:42 pm

And for the situation Todd describes, soft light is your friend -- as it is every time you have significant contrast between dark and light.

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
part-time instructor lighting/camera
Academy of Art University/Film and Video (grad school)
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting Interviews According To Individual's Features
on Mar 7, 2011 at 6:21:21 pm

[Rick Wise] "And for the situation Todd describes, soft light is your friend"

Sure is. Of course as my luck would have it, that scene was a blazing full-sun exterior... and some of the wider shots logistically prohibited butterflies. Can't remember how we silked it, but got it done somehow.

Always the way, huh?

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Bob Cole
Re: Lighting Interviews According To Individual's Features
on Mar 8, 2011 at 1:44:34 am

Movie stars are movie stars because the camera loves them. Often the lighting is very atmospheric (and "wrong"), and it doesn't even seem to matter, because the camera loves them.

But for the rest of humanity, lighting is crucial. I've found there are good books for portrait photographers which would help you develop your skills. You may encounter people whom you will have to light from the "wrong" side to de-emphasize a facial deformity.

Posing helps too, esp. when the subject has an asymetrical feature (e.g. a nose that veers to the left or right) or a physical disfigurement. You may find that adjusting the eyeline, having the interviewer move up or down, left or right helps greatly.

Your camera probably offers skin detail settings that will make faces look smoother.

Then there's make-up. A great make-up artist can really help you.

Finally, there's editing. Lots of b-roll so we don't have to sit there studying this non-movie-star face -- and software like "Beauty Box" which selectively smooths flesh tones.

It's an endless, fascinating challenge. Enjoy!

Bob C


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Christopher McCron
Re: Lighting Interviews According To Individual's Features
on Mar 8, 2011 at 3:15:26 pm

Thanks for the wealth of information! If I have any specific questions or footage to share I will pass them along in the thread.


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