March 23, 2015

Here Are a Few Easy, Great Looking Ways to Light an Interview with Inexpensive Gear

Interview lighting doesn't have to be bland, nor does it need to cost a lot of money.

Our friends over at the Slanted Lens recently put together a quick tutorial that walks us through five different lighting setups for one or two person interviews. And the best part is that the gear used for their shoot is all insanely affordable.

Now, I'm personally not a huge fan of the flat-ish lighting in a few of those setups, and the white background doesn't help much either, but inexpensive lights like those from Photoflex, Westcott, Lowel, and even super cheap Asian knockoffs can all produce fantastic results with a little bit of wrangling and ingenuity. The key thing to remember is that it's how you shape the light that matters, not necessarily the light itself. For that reason, things like mirrors, reflective umbrellas (which produce an even spread of slightly soft light), softboxes, reflectors, bounce boards, and even simple sheets of diffusion are all going to help you achieve the light that you want regardless of what kind of light fixture you are using.

With that in mind, here's Ryan and the Film Riot crew with another simple, great looking interview setup that is way more dramatic and stylized than the examples above. Plus they share a tutorial on how to build a DIY bounce board.

The key takeaway from this lighting setup is that it can be both aesthetically-pleasing and cost effective to create multiple sources out of one light as opposed to investing in multiple cheap lights that are harder to modify. This way, you can invest in a nice, powerful light fixture or two, then change up your bounces and modifiers depending on the mood you need to create with your lighting. Obviously you can't always get away with using one or two lights for every situation, especially when you're working in larger spaces, but it's a great place to start for beginners and intermediates because it forces you to be creative and thrifty with the way that you modify the light.

What are some of your favorite inexpensive tools and methods for lighting a great looking interview? Share them down in the comments!     

Your Comment

7 Comments

a little underexposed - use the shiny side of the board or move in your backlight and put a flag over the head so the hairlight isn't so strong

March 23, 2015 at 8:10PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1412

.....or lower the backlight so it provides a more direct bounce and less top light.

March 24, 2015 at 1:57AM

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Howard Roll
Boss
209

@filmriot Let's keep it real. If you want to say "hey here's how to make a $20 bounce" cool. Let's not pretend that there's not at least 3k worth of lighting and grip in this simple setup.

March 24, 2015 at 1:46AM, Edited March 24, 1:46AM

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Howard Roll
Boss
209

Maybe you should watch the video again. When hRyan uses a C-stand or Kino, he actually says other alternatives that are very much cheaper. He isn't pretending about anything. In fact, he even tells you the clamp is 4x the amount of the bead board.

March 24, 2015 at 10:06AM

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Brett McLemore
Video Producer
97

Great lighting setup of you're trying to obscure the identity of your subject for witness protection reasons.

March 24, 2015 at 10:19AM, Edited March 24, 10:19AM

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Hursty
74

Sorry, I am not liking this setup.

March 25, 2015 at 11:57AM, Edited March 25, 11:57AM

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Paul Newton
Director
145

Instead of using cheap umbrella lights or unpredictable cheap LED's and whatnot, buy one good light (arri T1 or 650, mole baby, kino diva/celeb/4bank...whatever) and a couple decent stands. Buy a china ball or two and some diff & duv. Then upgrade your lighting as you can afford, one piece at a time. No offense, but that umbrella lighting in the first video looks horrible. It's also too close to the backdrop, the subjects probably shouldn't be spilling shadows onto it from the key. To each his own, I guess.

April 6, 2015 at 7:56PM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
1897