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Suggestions for Background Interviews?

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Neal Sickles
Suggestions for Background Interviews?
on Feb 4, 2011 at 11:34:29 pm

I'm putting together a small studio and I'm not sure if I should get a collapsible set up or a background support kit.

I'm planning to shoot my subjects sitting down, mostly. I'd like to use a green screen so I could create my own backdrops, but would also like the option of using a colored one. Would a 5x7 collapsible be large enough or would you suggest 8x16, or a support kit?

Any suggestions would be appreciated or if there is an article you could point me to that would be great.

Thank you,
Neal


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Rick Wise
Re: Suggestions for Background Interviews?
on Feb 5, 2011 at 12:49:00 am

The bigger the better. On a 5x7 you will find yourself going off the edges all too soon.

Much depends on the size of the room. As a rule of thumb, it's usually best to get the subject substantially away from the backdrop so that you can soften it by relatively wide-open exposure. And for that you need a wide (and tall) backdrop. If the room is only 10' wide, I'd still go for something bigger than that so you can drape it to taste.

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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john sharaf
Re: Suggestions for Background Interviews?
on Feb 5, 2011 at 12:54:50 am

The narrowest seamless paper rolls, used in still photography for portraiture backgrounds is 9' wide, plus some real estate for stands to hold it up, although you can also wall mount it. You really need more width, especially if you intend to light the backing properly.

JS



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Neal Sickles
Re: Suggestions for Background Interviews?
on Feb 6, 2011 at 2:02:55 am

John Sharaf? THE John Sharaf who was the amazing DIT on the HotelPlanner.com commercial I produced last year? Great to see you on here and thank you for your suggestion!

Hmmm... I think I'm going to go with the collapsible assortment. I'm looking at the 6x9 greenscreen, and a 6x7 black and white for starters. I'm looking at the Lastolite brand. These seem convenient and durable enough, but I could be wrong. If I want to go bigger I'll go for the full set up systems and rolls.

Thanks for everyone's your input!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Suggestions for Background Interviews?
on Feb 7, 2011 at 3:55:23 pm

If you're keying, you don't technically *need* it more than a couple inches wider than your talent, the rest of the scene is done using masking and mattes in post. IF you want in-camera background effects, then wider is always better. Rose Brand in New York sells extra-wide cloth for ther best price I've found.

If you only want to carry one background, I would suggest cloth or photog's paper in a medium gray color. By gelling your lights, you can then make this appear any color you want, and by varying how *much* light hits it, you can make it look like anything from pitch black to blizzard white. Add a fist full of gobo patterns and you can also give it some "texture".

Digital Juice sells a nice portable folding green/blue screen called a Chromapop; one of those plus some additional fabric the same color to lay on the floor, will handle a lot of one-person shots of bust to full-body type, in the field or studio. Get a c-stand or two with some arms to hold it up, decent lights, and you're in business.


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Neal Sickles
Re: Suggestions for Background Interviews?
on Feb 8, 2011 at 2:44:37 am

That's great info. Thank you, Mark. I was wondering if that was possible using a gray backdrop. I'm glad you validated that for me. Is it possible to then use a 6x7 gray collapsible and effect it with lighting or would you suggest using a background system?


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Mark Suszko
Re: Suggestions for Background Interviews?
on Feb 8, 2011 at 3:46:18 am

Ultimately I think it has to be up to you. The darker and more matte-finish the paper or cloth, the more light you have to hit it with to lighten it. More lights = more weight to haul and more power to use. I guess the really cool thing to have would be two sheets of the photo paper, one black and one gray, rolled up back to back on one tube core. This I think can be accomplished for less than $150 but the roll is long and will take up space awkwardly in the vehicle. Not impossible, just awkward if you're on-the-go. If you can find something like the chromapop or a Wescott collapsible in the size you want, with gray on one side and white on the other, imagine how that white side can be used as a bounce sometimes, and the gray as any color. The Chromapop folks have a butterfly system that's based on the same pop-up technology and may be worth a look for outdoor work.

One nice thing about cloth, especially muslin, is that you can deliberately scrunch it up to wrinkle it, and side-light that for some nice texture effects. Then you can steam or iron it flat again later. Photog paper scrunches nicely too, but only once. Some guys can afford to trash $50 rolls of it in a single shoot, but we're poor so we make it last as a long as we can.


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