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Video settings for simple interviews.

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Igor Vukojevic
Video settings for simple interviews.
on Apr 6, 2013 at 11:23:28 pm

My first post. :D

I have a web design company, but we also make a lot of videos. 80% of it is just animation/editing/post-production, which is easy, but every once in a while we have to actually shoot some video footage. We rent equipment and hire operators to help us with it which makes it look great, but we finally decided to buy some basic equipment and shoot ourselves. Instead of renting Cannon 7d and 5d, we bought T4i, tons of lights, and we're still waiting on some background paper, microphones and some other stuff.

In the meantime - we took some shots with a few different lighting set ups and there are some things that bother me. Mainly the fact that some of the footage comes our looking grainy:

What camera setting controls that element and how? Since we're using some cheap fabric for the background, will the paper make a difference when we set it up?

We have tried several different lighting set ups, since we're still playing around:

- Test 1

Test 2

They didn't really give us what we wanted, but then again, I don't think they're too bad. I think that the test number three had the best result, so we made a little video explaining what it looks like so that we can maybe get suggestions based on that.

This idea came from Wistia ( ) but I'm still battling that issue with the grainy background.

In addition to all that, I think the skin of the actor is a little too bright.

So, where do we go from here?

(PS.I bought a microphone that attaches to the camera, but we usually rent a shotgun microphone and zoom digital recorder. I am getting those next week, so that should take care of the backround noise problem.)

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Rick Wise
Re: Video settings for simple interviews.
on Apr 7, 2013 at 12:06:19 am

I'd say you are off to a good start. I only played version 3, since that's the one you like.

Exposure: you seem to be setting the camera to auto expose. That's something you never want to do as something in the frame may cause the iris to either open up or close down, which doesn't look so hot in the middle of a take. If your camera has a Zebra setting, set it to 70%. Then manually adjust the iris until with a Caucasian subject there is just a hint of Zebras on the hot spots of the face, usually a bit of forehead, maybe bridge of nose, maybe cheek bones if they are prominent. Now leave the iris setting alone.

Light placement: try lifting your key light quite a bit higher, about 45ยบ above horizontal, and tilting down. Try playing with a bit or "ratio:" the fill side not as hot as the key side. Try moving the key around a bit until you get a look you like. (Meaning, more to the side, or closer to the camera.)

You do seem to have a light on the back of your narrator (you perhaps?) which you don't identify. For your hair and jacket, the intensity of that back/rim light is good, but for someone who is bald or has gray hair it would be way too intense. The light on the background is a separate light.

The major rule is: every face and every costume is different. You have to look at how this person looks in this light, and then adjust accordingly. You might want to add a light blue (maybe a 1/4 CTB) to the back light if your client has silver hair. Or, if he/she has reddish hair, perhaps 1/4 CTO.

If you can add a good critical monitor to the set you will have a much easier time of making those judgement calls.

On this screen I do not see "grain" on the background. I trust that it's there. I don't know if that's because there is grain in the background or your camera is adding some because you have it on auto and it's pumping up the ISO.

Which brings us to ISO setting. You do NOT want to use auto anything on that camera except possibly focus, and even then you may get in trouble. Probably the cleanest, grain-free setting will be around ISO 400. If you install Magic Lantern on your camera, you can set the ISO to 360, which will be even cleaner. However, I find 1250 is still darned good. At ISO 360 or 400 you may not have enough light. I'm not clear just what lights you are using.

Try working with the manual settings and play with light heights and positions, and come back, if you like, for more notions.

Rick Wise
San Francisco Bay Area

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Igor Vukojevic
Re: Video settings for simple interviews.
on Apr 8, 2013 at 4:04:32 am

wow, thanks for the response.

All of the camera settings were set on "auto", so yeah, I realized that the light levels were going up and down as the guy was moving around.

The first thing I will do is play with the ISO settings to see if that takes care of the problem with the background. Looking at some other videos here below, it looks like I used much brighter lights than I should have.

It doesn't look like I have Zebra setting option on this camera, but I do remember the camera operator mentioning it when we were renting Canon 5D. I think I will have to do some more research on the exposure and how to manually set it up.

It looks like I have a lot to do. It's fun and frustrating at the same time :D

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