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Interview in boardroom - any advice?

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Gilles GagnonInterview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 9, 2011 at 1:00:14 pm

hi everyone,

I will be interviewing an executive in a boardroom of the 22nd floor of their building. The room has large windows on one wall with a view of the city.

Should I use this as a background? will this work? glare? or should I use a wall as a background?

The "talking-head" style interview will be edited down to 2 minutes or so for the web.

Any tips (or links to tips) on shooting and editing this video such that:
1. it's not a boring talking head for 2 minutes
2. I get an interesting, professional composition/frame. (i'm shooting HD with a videocamera, not HDSLR, so I don't think I'll be able to create a shallow depth of field.

Thanks!

G

Gilles


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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 9, 2011 at 3:37:21 pm

Since this is a talking head, the star of your video will be the audio, so you want to make sure that you've nailed your audio setup (which you may well have all planned out), as far as riding gain - do you have an audio person as part of your setup - and are there any problems in the room as far as ambient goes. Is the room "ringy", are you using a lav mic, or a boom? Stuff like that.

As far as video goes, be very aware that there's going to be a trade-off with the color temperature of the window, not to mention the brightness, versus the color temperature of your lights. Generally it's a matter of matching one to the other - either gel the whole window with a warming gel (if you're using tungsten lights), or gel your lights to match the window (in which case you lose a fair amount of brightness in your lights). If you're using CFLs with a 5500k color temperature, you might be able to get away with matching it to the window background, but test it during your setup - you don't want to have to mask and grade the footage in post.
Also take a look at what the stop range of your camera/lens combination is, so you don't have your background blow out. I've sometimes had to put neutral density gel over several panels of windows because the brightness far outweighs anything I could get from my lights. One other thing to thik about is time of day. The color temperature is going to be changing, especially if your shoot involves multiple takes.

There are lots of things to think of here, but it mostly boils down to getting the skintones looking right, then making sure the talent stands out from the background, and that it's not distracting. You also want to decide on whether you need a three light setup, and whether there's room for the rim lights, as well as where they can be placed to not show in your shots. Then making sure the background isn't too bright for your lights. Then matching the color temperature of your outside to your inside, no matter how you do it. You will most likely want to get at least a slight falloff of the background in terms of focus, not an extreme one, since then the background won't be recognizable.

You should also think about camera movement during the interview. If you've got two minutes to cover, you may want to think about some pickup shots with over the shoulder reactions (if you want yourself in there as the interviewer - that depends on the style, and the client's preference). If the context of the interview is the company, or its' products, you may want to cut in some b-roll footage, because two minutes can be deadly boring, unless the speaker is really, really interesting, or a known celebrity in his/her industry. If this is pretty tightly outlined, you can plan in advance for where your cutaways will occur, and then add some camera movements (zooms in from maybe a waist shot to a head and shoulders shot, etc.), but don't get yourself trapped by zooming in, and then having nothing to cut to, so you can get back to your medium shot. It's all a matter of planning - and being ready for the unexpected. Good luck!

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Gilles GagnonRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 9, 2011 at 5:35:32 pm

Thansk Joe, very helpful.

The mix of colour temp will be a problem as I can't gel the windows... too many and too big. I don't have that many gels for my lights either. Hmmmm... this will be interesting. I'll continue my research.

Thanks again,
G

Gilles


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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 9, 2011 at 11:30:18 pm

Is there anywhere nearby you can rent HMIs cheaply? That would pretty much give you a daylight match.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Noah KadnerRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 10, 2011 at 5:32:10 am

Or gel the windows with ND and CTO. Depends entirely on how large they are.

Noah

Call Box Training.
Featuring the Panasonic GH2 and GoPro HD Hero.


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Bill DavisRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 10, 2011 at 5:08:30 pm

If you can't fight the light - use it. Position the subject so the window light is the key. Fill with reflector or active sources with CTB.

OR

Close the drapes.

Also, do NOT try to move the conference table. In modern boardrooms, these are typically "wired" with phone/data, etc and so are kinda "rooted" to their position.

Boardrooms are typically a pain in the ass location. since they're seldom flexible to configure and almost always have a large fixed object in their center.

Here's a still from a setup I did in a law firm in southern California recently. The idea is that you have to see what you have to work with, then use the room's geometry and position subjects so they work with whatever you find on location.

This was lit with nothing more than 2 LED 600s - one to bring the background group up and one as a key on the "window side" for the partner to bring him up as the central subject. Given time and budgets of yesterday, I would have done something more interesting with the "black hole" side of the room, but today, we're lucky if we're given time to even light the main subject half-way decently.

Sigh.



"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Gilles GagnonRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 11, 2011 at 1:53:46 pm

thank you all for your valuable input.

Yes, they are very large windows... a wall of them!

Good point about NOT moving the table Bill.

I like the idea of using the natural light that's available.

1. Any tips on making the subject "stand out" from the background if using light from windows?
2. Have you guys ever used a green screen in this situation?
3. Any tips on making an interesting background?
4. Have you ever tried shooting something like this with the window/skyline in the background? I was always taught NOT to shoot with a window as a background. any thoughts?

Always learning,

cheers,
G

Gilles


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Mark SuszkoRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 11, 2011 at 3:30:50 pm

For the head honcho, the aricraft-carrier-sized desk and big window view is a status symbol. They tend to insist on it, unless you can come up with eqwually cool-looking shots. If you have the right tools to keep those in the shot, you should. But a backlit window shot is one of the very hardest things to do right, when you don't have adequate time, tools, or budget.

You already got great and detailed advice, so I'll take another tack with suggestions for what to try if you can't do it the "right" way, but they insist on the window anyhow.

Set up the window shot without the chair and person in it, expose so the view out the window is properly exposed (the interior will look too dark, that's okay) and roll off several minutes of this shot, locked-down. Now, without moving the camera, add the chair and guest, adjust the iris setting to get a good exposure on the talent, and and do your shot. In post, you can composite these two layers and have a great amount of control of the window. You can even add in fake DOF effects. But a huge down-side of this is that it really only works with locked-off shots; shots with camera motion - zooms, pans, tilts, all the tricks that help make a shot "sexy" - you can't do those and keep the composite working, not without a heck of a lot of tracking and rotoscope work. Which you can't afford, or you'd have lit the room with HMI's to begin with.

A variation on this technique would be to shoot an unblocked, straight-on high def still of that window view, then block the window with green paper and expose the room normally. Only composite the window back-in during post. The re-positioning and scaling of the window in this context will be much less challenging than doing that to an entire room.

As far as the DOF issue, boardrooms have to be relatively big or long, so placing the camera at an extreme opposite end and zooming-in should work pretty well, though it restricts your framing and motion a bit. I have done shots in hotel rooms where to get the DOF control I needed, I put the camera and tripod way out in the hall, and zoomed in thru the open doorway. The audience will never know.


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Gilles GagnonRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 11, 2011 at 3:46:51 pm

Thanks Mark,

Great feedback. Very clever idea re: composite. Thanks for pointing out the drawbacks though. I think I'll skip on using the window as a background.

With a 1/3" CCD (HD), To get some DOF I understand I must move the camera far, Zoom in and keep the subject away from the background.

A. From your experience, how far should the camera be from the subject?
B. How far should the subject be from the background?

I know there is no exact answer to this but any guidance will help. :)

Gilles


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Mark SuszkoRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 11, 2011 at 4:03:36 pm

http://www.digitaljuice.com/djtv/detail.aspx?sid=48


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Gilles GagnonRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:48:42 am

Thanks for this video Mark. Quite helpful.

My challenge is that I don't have the vast amount of space behind the subject, as it is in the video.

Gilles


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Aaron CadieuxRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:52:58 pm

Another trick to getting a shallow DOF, in addition to positioning the camera far away from the subject, is to blast the subject w/ enough light that you can throw on your darkest on-camera ND filter (if your camera has a built-in NDs) and shoot w/ you camera's iris wide open. The more open the iris, the more shallow the DOF will be. In order to keep the 2nd ND/wide-open iris partnership in-tact, you can physically move your key light further away from or closer to the subject depending on your exposure needs. To help, set your camera's zebra lines to 70. W/ 70, you should have a hint of zebra on the subject's face, which is the ideal exposure for human skin. Hope this helps.

Aaron



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Gilles GagnonRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:49:32 am

Thanks Aaron,

I'll definitely try opening the iris.

Gilles


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Steve KownackiRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:39:11 pm

Excellent advice all around. Most professional cameras will let you set the game at minus 3. That will allow you to get iris open a little bit more for the depth of field.

Aside from all the technical stuff don't forget about taking care of the client
If you have time budget you may want to go over early with your camera and experiment. Be sure to have the shot completely blocked and setup before the big wigs come in. You don't want to waste anyones time.

Steve






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Gilles GagnonRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 13, 2011 at 12:58:39 pm

thank you all for taking the time to provide your tips/advice.

I really appreciate it. I learned tons.

Gilles


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Steve KownackiRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 13, 2011 at 1:38:55 pm

Many boardrooms are controlled by an Exec Assistant, you need to befriend them too. And I'd take a good look around and look for any existing damage; photo document it and bring it to their attention before you bring gear in. We had an issue years ago where we were blamed for a scratch on a cherry floor and the photos we had ended that discussion.

What about shooting tighter shots using a net behind the talent rather than gelling windows or adding additional light to the subject? See the third image down http://efplighting.com/2011/07/27/outdoor-interviews/
Pretty sure this is done for White House shots too.

Hey, found a COW thread
http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/47/855423

Steve






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Aaron CadieuxRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 13, 2011 at 2:46:47 pm

Shooting the CEO of a large corporation is always interesting. Sometimes you'll have the "communications director" come in and "brief" you on what to ask, what not to ask, and how to address the CEO when he comes in. Almost as if you were meeting the Queen of England or something. Then, the CEO usually comes in with an army of butt-kissing yes-men who dote all over the CEO and tell him that he poops ice cream and that his flatulence smells like roses. And no matter how crappy of a job the CEO does, the yes-men tell him it was the greatest interview they've ever seen. It's all really pathetic. I could never work in a corporate environment regularly.



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Mark SuszkoRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 13, 2011 at 5:43:48 pm

Aaron, sweetie, this is never going to be a problem for you. :-)


But yeah, you're right that it is a highly "political" environment, and you need major diplomatic skill to get what you came for and not settle for one bad take to try and "fix in post". You need to know how to ask for extra takes while massaging egos, and how to make the changes you want sound like their own idea. You have to be a little bold and remind people that nobody wants to spend the money to do this a second time, so you need to get it right and get it professional-looking the first time.

The optimal situation is to get into the empty office in plenty of time to light and do test shots, so the grande' fromage can just walk in, do it, and walk out again. Because whatever your hourly rate is, a bigwig CEO is costing that much PER MINUTE of his time. If you have to come into the head cheese's office while he's in there already and set up while he tries to do business, that's very high stress.

Though I recall one gig where we had moved the guy's furniture around quite a bit to make the shots work better, as we set to putting everything back in the original locations, he said: "actually, what you've done here looks really good, better than what I had arranged, let's leave it as it is".

So maybe I have a second career in office decorating, waiting for me:-)


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Mike CohenRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Oct 21, 2011 at 1:38:12 am

This thread is why the COW rocks!

Mike Cohen


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grinner hesterRe: Interview in boardroom - any advice?
by on Nov 2, 2011 at 4:50:12 pm

I love using windows as backlights and backgrounds if the view is pretty. I just light accordingly.



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