How to Setup, Light & Shoot Interviews
Every now and then, another training DVD based on camcorder shooting techniques or lighting techniques will appear, and the first question we ask ourselves is “will it be any good and what will the production quality be like?” Well I’m here to tell you about this latest training DVD from across the pond.
It’s entitled “How to Setup, Light, & Shoot Great Looking Interviews”. Although this DVD was filmed and produced in the USA, don’t let that put you off. Playing this DVD on UK PAL DVD players and television sets simply looks fantastic.
The DVD was written and produced by Doug Jensen, who is a professional freelance cameraman and DoP. Doug has been lighting and shooting documentary and film-style ENG productions for over 20 years for clients such as: NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, CNN, BBC, TNT, Discovery, Sci-Fi, History Channel, Animal Planet and many more, so what he doesn’t know about lighting people in interview situations isn’t worth knowing.
Right, so we have somebody who is at the top of their game presenting the programme and carrying out the demonstrations, but what about the actual content? If you want to learn more about lighting people in interview situations, you simply won’t find a better training DVD on the face of the planet. Lets face it, most lighting involving people usually means lighting them ‘head and shoulders’ style, along with other possible establishing shots.
Doug demonstrates all the tips, tricks and techniques for lighting people in interview situations perfectly. The DVD encapsulates everything you need to know about interview lighting in 60 minutes very nicely; he leaves nothing out. Doug talks about the equipment, which does not include fancy expensive gear, just bog-standard kit that is readily available. He also covers locations and how to choose them, choosing the best angle once there, the back light, the key light, the fill light and the background light and how they should all be placed for the optimum results. The all-important topic of depth of field and exposure is also covered in great detail. Many people forget the importance of depth of field, which is critical if you are to achieve decent shots; Doug explains this fantastically. White balance is covered, but Doug explains about the use of Warm Cards, after seeing this demonstration I’ll never use a white balance card again with digital camcorder formats; this simply has to be seen to be believed. White balance cards were really designed for old-fashioned tube-based TV cameras from yesteryear. Today’s digital formats ALWAYS give people a cold bluish look if you use a white card for balancing, this makes them look like they have just got out of the freezing cold sea after a swim in December. By using one of the three warm cards this horrible cold look vanishes and the skin tones take on a more natural colour and because of this, the resolution appears to be more ‘high def’. I can’t explain it, but it just looks sharper, you can see the pores in the skin and the colour saturation is amazing; the warm card part alone is worth the price of the DVD.
Doug also covers the use of filters and discusses and demonstrates the effects of using the lens at different focal lengths, windows, practicals, eye glasses, kicker lights, make-up, and of course composition, which in my view is by far one of the most important aspects of any production. Doug covers composition very well, explaining and demonstrating the rule of thirds, head room, looking room and much more.
For those who are interested in the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff, the DVD was filmed on a combination of Sony XDCAM HD, Z1 and Betacam camcorders. The production value of this DVD is of the highest order; brilliantly shot.
The DVD cost just $40, which (with current exchange rate) is a mere £23 in UK money. This is a ridiculously low amount to pay for what you get. You would pay £350 for a two-day training course covering everything Doug covers in this DVD, and the DVD doesn’t have any interruptions from the one person who seems to ask tons of questions and demand the instructor’s time on 2-day training courses either.
I can’t say enough good things about this DVD, I only wish I’d written and produced it myself. I picked up plenty of tips from it and I’ll never light an interview the same way again. I guarantee that after watching this DVD your productions will take on a much more professional look.
My copy turned up here in the UK just 3 days after I emailed Doug for a review sample for DVuser, so postage from the USA is pretty fast these days. Oh, and Doug, if you think I’m sending this little gem back, forget it ;)
I’ve been lighting interviews and small scenes for many years now, but I picked up some great gems off this DVD that I will never forget. It’s certainly changed the way I’ll light people from now on.
The light Kit
Choosing the location
Choosing the best angle
Exposure & depth of field
What else can I say, 5 out of 5 stars; brilliant, amazing, fantastic, quite simply the best training DVD I’ve seen in years.
To order online visit: www.vortexmedia.com
Buy your copy today, no really, drop this magazine and get online and order one now! Are you still here? go on order it now! why are you still reading this? the review is over, go get online and order the DVD now!…
©2006 Nigel Cooper
Company: Vortex Media
Product: Training DVD
Title: How to Setup, Light & Shoot Great Looking Interviews
Reviewed by: Nigel Cooper
Review Date: 15-11-2006