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Ray Farkas effect

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Bob Cole
Ray Farkas effect
on Jan 21, 2008 at 6:55:52 pm

A client wants me to videotape some interviews at a big (very big) company reunion. I was reminded of the "Interviews-50 Cents" series by Alex Chadwick, which I first saw on Slate.com.

I've learned that they were produced by the late Ray Farkas, who used a similar technique on many other projects, including a series of interviews with New Yorkers after 9/11.

In "Interview-50 Cents," the reporter and an interviewee are sitting at a card table right in the middle of some busy setting while three cameras record the discussion (with wireless audio) from at least 25 feet away. The sounds and sights of the setting are very apparent, but the subject becomes unaware of the cameras very quickly, because they are so far away.

I'm curious as to whether any of you have tried something like this, and what the unforeseen "gotchas" might be.

Bob C

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Boyd McCollum
Re: Ray Farkas effect
on Feb 7, 2008 at 5:23:58 am

I'd never seen these interviews, so I had to google them. I like the concept.

Off the top of my head, I'd suggest having a dedicated sound guy with good mics - gotchas include interference and picking up too much ambient noise.

I'd make sure that you have the focal length on the cameras to get the tight shots you want from a distance. Also you'd want to have some type of communications worked out between the camera crew, not to mention deciding on your angles and coverage. A good PA would be helpful.

A good location scout to maximize the available light would be good, though in the ones I saw, it didn't seem like they were too worried about matching lighting across the cameras, in fact, almost the opposite. You'd also want to make sure you set up in an area that has good movement, where people will travel through the shot, rather than stop and gather.

Anyways, those are just some things off the top of my head. It looks like a great technique to use.


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Bob Boccaccio
Re: Ray Farkas effect
on Mar 14, 2008 at 8:56:43 pm

Bob,

I had the great pleasure of working on 2 of Ray's projects. One was for "America's Most Wanted" back in 2003. We found real people, put mics on them and backed the camera off. Usually shooting 'through' something for the foreground. Ray would give them a topic and then join the camera to listen on headphones. Amazing stuff. These people almost 'volunteered' to talk on camera. A lot had to do with ray's personality. Hardly anyone ever turned him down. We got bites from people at a farmer's market, coffee shops, while shopping for a new car.....

One of the most interesting techniques I have ever seen. Hoping to talk more clients into do ing it. Just haven't had much luck!

Be sure to view this, if you haven't yet.

http://mediastorm.org/0003.htm

Bob Boccaccio, SOC
Baton Rouge, LA

http://www.boccaccioproductions.com


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Bob Boccaccio
Re: Ray Farkas effect
on Mar 14, 2008 at 9:00:54 pm

PS---

Most of Ray's work was done single camera. NO lighting! At least none for the 2 projects I worked on. Not feasible and people are aware of the lights. We shot everything at +9 db. Even daylight stuff.

Bob Boccaccio, SOC
Baton Rouge, LA

http://www.boccaccioproductions.com


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Bob Cole
thanks! and microphone?
on Mar 15, 2008 at 1:46:03 am

Wow -- just this week I ran into someone else who raved about working with Ray Farkas. I think your previous note was interesting, when you mentioned that it wasn't just the technique, but his personality as well, a point which I hadn't seen mentioned a lot elsewhere.

I think we all know someone who has that ineffable ability to relate to people. What a great skill to have for an interviewer.

Thanks for the insights... and great link too.

question: how did he mic the people? Hidden lavaliers? I know the "fifty cents" interviews show a table mic, but the NYC after 9/11 show no mics at all.

Bob C

MacPro 2 x 3GHz dualcore; 10 GB 667MHz
Kona LHe
Sony HDV Z1
Sony HDV M25U
HD-Connect MI
Betacam UVW1800
DVCPro AJ-D650


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