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Interview shooting - looking for black void effect

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Nate Compton
Interview shooting - looking for black void effect
on Apr 7, 2009 at 6:07:28 pm

It's actually a really simple thing I've been tasked to do:

Shoot an interview with some big-wigs in front of a "black void" background. Same style you've seen before I'm sure, but I have limited time and resources to pull it off. Need help with:

1.) Should I do this on a green-screen and key-replace the green with black?
2.) Should I do this with a simple black backdrop and light it normally?
3.) What kind of clothes (suit, but what colors) should I ask my talent to wear?

Thanks guys... I'm an editor turned videographer, and now I'm flying solo, so I need any help you can offer. Thanks!


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john sharaf
Re: Interview shooting - looking for black void effect
on Apr 7, 2009 at 6:53:57 pm


No need to use green screen, you'd only make the lighting more complicated and risk poor edge quality.

Based on the size of the grouping, you'll need an appropriately sized black backing. They come in 8x8 and 12x12 solids from grip supply vendors. easy to hang with a 8' or 12' piece from a frame set, two stands and grip clips. Mafers are a good device to tighten on cross member and lock into c stand head.

Then light conventionally being careful to use backlight to separate subjects from backing, especially black hair. if it's in your control to request that they don't wear black suits that would help too, otherwise use care with fill lighting to make sure there is light on the dark suits and in the fall of from the key on the faces.

Even though the effect you desire is limbo, sometimes adding a strong light source on the black backing can help create a three. rather than two dimensional effect. A Source Four leko is good or even a small HMI which will create a blue/black effect.

I'd recommend you have a helper to setup the large cloth.


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Rick Amundson
Re: Interview shooting - looking for black void effect
on Apr 7, 2009 at 7:09:27 pm

If it is a true black limbo you want, be sure to keep the subject as far away from the backdrop as possible. Also, flag the key and fill lights off of the backdrop to eliminate any spill.

Rick Amundson
Screenscape Studios
Bravo Romeo Entertainment

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Ben Ferrer
Re: Interview shooting - looking for black void effect
on Apr 9, 2009 at 6:30:53 pm

If you are using a soft source such as a Chimera, consider using a grid or eggcrate to flag the spill. A large solid by itself won't be enough to keep the light from "wrapping" around the flag and spilling onto the background unless you are able to work at very great distance from the back.

My preference for black limbo interviews is a small or medium Chimera with an eggcrate rather than a KinoFlo with a grid. Although I love my Diva 400 for daylight interiors, I find it a little more difficult to control spill when shooting black limbo because of the way the grid is designed and mounted.

One other consideration is to set your gain to -3db, if your camera has this capability. This will reduce the appearance of noise in the dark areas of your image, however you will lose overall sensitivity and some shadow detail. But this can be managed with opening up your iris or a slightly brighter key and fill.

Here is a good article about camera gain.

I hope this is helpful.


Ben Ferrer
SF Bay Area

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