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Help me pick a lighting kit for interviews.

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  • Help me pick a lighting kit for interviews.

    The budget is 4k.

    I am a newb to interviews although I know the basics.

    Should I go with a classic set up? Kino Flo etc

    What set up do you swear by?

    I want to get a look similar to this by Philip Bloom. I don't like overlit interviews!


    Of course I will use his set up as a starting point but just wondered what you guys thought.

    Here's Philip referring to the shot on twitter:
    Philip Bloom ‏@PhilipBloom
    "I needed 4 lights for the natural look! 1 litepanel key on left, dedo on front for catch, one on machine, one backlight"

    So any thoughts?


  • #2
    Personally I hate Kino Flo's, but I understand sometimes the lower wattage is handy. I just don't like what they do to some colors. Personally I love Tungston lights the best. HMI, Kino's, and LED's do weird things to the image sometimes.

    Check out Cool Lights


    • #3
      Whilst dis-continuous lights like LED's, fluro's and HMI's don't always have the flattest of spectrums in terms of their emission, we should also be mindful of the OP's requirements.

      It's someone that is new to doing this kind of work. In these situations you want the most flexibility to be able to rock into any environment and be able to deal with what you've got to work with. You need flexibility of colour temperatures and low power.

      Tungsten looks gorgeous and I really do feel the same way. But it's not a practical working light for these kinds of shoots most of the time. They take a lot more power for the light you get, plus if you have to gel them for correction...ick... I do love dedo's and own many of them. They are Tungsten, but they are so efficient that a little 100w lamp can be great for accents and kickers (like PB uses above).

      Dedo also make a great interview light, the Octodome. It's a 6' wide soft light that has a small profile. You can get a 1000w Tungsten or a 400w HMI for daylight. The HMI is going to be WAY beyond your budget. This is probably a bit expensive and specialised. GORGEOUS light though. worth every penny.

      Dedo's are CRAZZZY expensive, but they are the kind of lights you use all your life. I've had my Dedo master kit for nearly 20 years. I still use it. Lighting doesn't go out of date if you buy quality.

      If i were the OP, I'd be looking at Kino's and maybe a 1x1 LED. The Diva 400's are good and compact, and the tube design are more punchy than the standard kino tube. You can deal with Tungsten or daylight shooting by just switching the tubes.

      So without looking at the prices, it would be a Kino Diva or two, plus a say 2 dedos and a 1x1 bicolour Litepanel. Then I'd look at some extra cash for some lighting control. Definitely a couple of C stands, some floppies (though these are hard to carry in a normal car). You could also get some of the portable 4x4 or 6x4 frames and some showcard to use as a bounce. For brute force sometimes, a 2k Blondie can be hard to beat as well.



      • #4
        Thanks for the info! I haven't really checked out Dedos much. I will now. I'm happy to spend the money on kit that will last. The Octodome looks great.

        I'd prefer to go Tungston as much as possible and being in Melbourne the added heat is probably not a bad thing most of the time... At the very least it seems like some 100w Dedos are a good idea.

        I can see that buying lights could get addictive real fast.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Fluoro View Post
          Thanks for the info! I haven't really checked out Dedos much. I will now. I'm happy to spend the money on kit that will last. The Octodome looks great.

          I'd prefer to go Tungston as much as possible and being in Melbourne the added heat is probably not a bad thing most of the time... At the very least it seems like some 100w Dedos are a good idea.

          I can see that buying lights could get addictive real fast.
          Lemac are probably the best place to go for Dedo's.

          You might also be able to convince the sales people to allow you to try them out by renting them first. I know they've done this in the past.

          You rent the light from their rentals area and whatever that rental cost is, they deduct it off the sales price if you buy the light. Good way to test out if you're going to like the light in your situation or not.

          The great thing about the octodome is that it packs down very small but it's a BROAD big light source. Very very kind to your talent. and it's a circle rather than a square so it refelects a bit differently in people's eyes. I hate seeing that kino "line" as an eyelight.



          • #6
            If you do end up going with Kino's make sure you get some 1/8 green gel, especially if you get Diva's. That will allow you to correct the slightly magenta light that the Kino's tend to emit.


            • #7
              I bought the Lowel Super Ambi kit, that works perfect for all the small shoots I've been on, shorts or interviews, it gives you 6 lights to play around with along with several accessories and at roughly 2.2k its a great deal.
              Twitter: @mxbstudios


              • #8
                Okay thanks everyone. I will try renting first as JB suggested. Seems like a good plan. I've seen a Kino Flo in action but never the octodome. Be nice to try it out.


                • #9
                  I've noticed in some of my own work that the interaction of DOF and lighting can be tricky. Large-sensor cams make it relatively easy to throw backgrounds out of focus, which is often useful, but that can also lead to unintended consequences. For example, sometimes an interview subject seems too separated from the background, reminiscent of a green screen shoot. The result can make the subject appear superimposed on a background plate instead of in the space they're actually in.

                  Not to pick on the Phil Bloom frame grab in the 1st post above (because overall I think it's a pleasant, clean look), but just to use it as an example, I wonder if I might like it better if the subject key light came from camera right. Then the direction of the key light would be on the same side as the light coming through the window in the background, as well as the light hitting the reel-to-reel deck in the background. This is very much personal preference, but it would be interesting to see that variation to see if it made the subject appear to be "in" the room rather than superimposed on a photo of the room.

                  Again, not picking on what Phil did. Just wondering what-if.

                  The frame attached below is from an interview I recently shot in Portland using my GH2. This was a low-budget shoot with no crew and zero lighting budget. So it was just me, my GH2, tripod & mic. I only had a few minutes to set up in this room, which thankfully had 2 large windows through which indirect light was coming into the room.

                  The room was, um, a challenge: The occasion was the subject's retirement, and his office was almost completely cleared-out of the "prop" type furnishings (paintings, sculpture, all but one plant, and so forth) normally there, but which the movers had taken away. The subject had just received a large white framed letter of congratulations from Oregon's governor, but it wasn't hung on the wall, just lying on the table. His desk was in a darker corner of the room, wonderfully cluttered with years of accumulated stuff (which might have been nice to show as "character"), but the available light was terrible there.

                  So, this is what I came up with, working with the light that was available. I managed to get the "key" window light mostly on the side of his face opposite the camera. I borrowed a white T-shirt (signed with "goodbye" signatures from everyone in his office) and propped it on the back of a chair to provide some additional fill on the left side of his face. I wanted the light to be relatively flat, but not too flat.

                  I'm mostly happy with the result, especially under the circumstances. The subject appears to be "in" the room, but with enough separation to yield some of the 3D effect JB talks about in an earlier post.

                  In any event, I'm really looking forward to the additional dynamic range and clarity that the BMCC will bring to my work. I especially hope the BMCC is less noisy and has less banding than the GH2. We shall see.

                  Thanks for a great thread. For me, lighting is a never ending learning experience. It's my favorite thing about video production.

                  frame grab 720.jpg
                  Last edited by Peter J. DeCrescenzo; 07-14-2012, 02:26 PM.


                  • #10
                    That's an excellent post of making do with what you have. The shot works, there is sufficient light differences to give some shape to his face and the composition is pleasing. That being said I think your example is great at showing why we often need lights to sculpt a scene and give it life. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with your shot and I'm sure it would have more than pleased your clients but artistically I think Bloom's shot is more pleasing. I see what you mean about the separation of the subject and his surroundings: you could imagine that the background shot is a projection, but I don't see a problem with this. I wonder if Bloom didn't have a second camera providing a wider angle of view? In any case Bloom is making a documentary about a band which lends itself to a more "abstract" approach. And your style suited the needs of your work and limited budget.

                    I'm so excited to be getting into lighting properly. My favourite directors such as David Lynch and Aki Kaurismaki used a highly stylised approach to lighting and now that high quality cameras are so cheap I can spend more money on lights!


                    • #11
                      The lighting is actually quite nice for such a (well, no) budget. Well done!

                      The bigger issue I see and I'm currently being frustrated with myself, is the "actual" resolution of the image. It only looks a bit better than SD. This is why I can't wait to shoot with the BMD camera. DSLR's are great for low budget stuff, but I want something that is sharp and has the ability to be graded. For interviews and similar types of shoots, this is probably fine, but for narrative and film stuff where everything you do adds to the perceived production value (film lighting, set production, actors), DSLR's just don't cut it for me. I want something that actually feels gritty, sharp and filmic (and that I can grade like I grade a raw photo). Bring on August! (hopefully )



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Fluoro View Post
                        ... I'm so excited to be getting into lighting properly. ...
                        Thanks for you kind words, Fluoro & Nick, and apologies for taking the thread somewhat OT.

                        BTW, if you haven't already seen it, check out the epic (pun intended) "ask him anything" thread with David Mullen, ASC on RedUser. There's a universe of lighting info there:

                        Likewise, David's very detailed production diary threads on (look for his name in the "started by" column):


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Peter J. DeCrescenzo View Post
                          Thanks for you kind words, Fluoro & Nick, and apologies for taking the thread somewhat OT.
                          Not OT at all. And thanks for the threads.


                          • #14
                            The kino's are great. I'm not sure about the cheaper alternatives. I have a few litepro panels in my kit - good for greenscreen. The problem with them is that for some reason they have highly
                            reflective barn doors which bounce light everywhere. I did a shoot recently and we hired a kit of actual kinos and they were so much better. Being able to rotate the light so it was vertical or horizontal plus the non reflective barn doors made it a much more versatile light. I think I might try replacing my barn doors but I think a large kino is in my future. Dedo's are fantastic, like John said expensive but you will use them all the time for modelling and highlighting.


                            • #15
                              my goto kit is the D4 arri kit.
                              Priced pretty reasonably for the quality and flexibility.