Lighting is one area of video production that is inherently subjective; what’s right for one project may not be correct for another. Much like individual cinematographers will have their own styles, likes and dislikes, so to will video production companies. There are many ways to light a subject and many different lights to choose from, which one you use and where you place it is up to you. So here is our go to lighting setup for the majority of our corporate interview work.
Before I begin I think it’s important to state that when I walk onto set I don’t always start with the key light, for speed I sometimes set a general ambient exposure for the room and then light from there. In a corporate environment I don’t want the area behind my subject to be too dark, or on the flip side of that, too bright. Despite this my choice of key light remains the same. I tend to use a 650w tungsten fresnel with a 2x3 Photoflex Medium Softbox set at about 45 degrees around our subject. I love using soft boxes for interview work, they create a nice even soft light, and are reasonably easy to control without the need for too much grip equipment.
For a fill light I tend to go one of two ways depending on the size of the room we’re filming in. Back when Warpline Films first started I was using LED lights for my interviews, and while LED technology has come along way over the last few years and is very energy efficient, I’ve found myself moving away from them and back towards more traditional tungsten units. Why? Because the light from a lot of the LED panels is harsh, cold and unflattering. That being said I do still use our LED’s, but now I tend to bounce one of our 1000 LED panels into a 48” circular white reflector to soften it up and fill in the shadows. However, if I have more space to play with, it will often be another 650w fresnel bounced instead - I prefer the look, colour and texture of the light coming from tungsten units when lighting people’s faces.
Finally we move onto our backlight. I’m a massive back/rim light fan, some people find it distracting but personally I love it; it feels vibrant, cinematic and stylised - something I’m very interested in. Drab images, even interviews really don’t register with me. Here I tend to use a 300w tungsten fresnel, gelled with .6 ND to bring the intensity down so as not to massively blow our subjects hair (blond hair can be a nightmare).
Now, going back to what I said previously, depending on the size of the room will depend on whether I need to add a fourth light to bring up the background, something I may have done first of all. If this is necessary I will often drive another 650w fresnel or an 800w redhead into the ceiling to bring up a balanced ambient in the area of the room behind the subject. Depending on the space will depend on which fixture. If my subject can be placed a fair distance from the light it will be a redhead - you get more light from an open faced source, but spill can sometimes be an issue. Occasionally a 2K blonde is called for, but rarely. To finish off I’ll often add a flag or use black wrap on the side of the light nearest the subject to stop any spill thaht there may be.
James, Creative Director & Director of Photography