August 3, 2015 at 8:16PM

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Netflix Chef's Table: Interview lighting setup

I'm curious what everyone's thoughts are on the lighting setups used for the interviews in this documentary series. I know they definitely had many different setups throughout the series. I wish I had taken screen shots of the interviews I was particularly impressed with but off the top of my head the episode on Dan Barber I remember being really nice. Most setups have what appears to be a fairly evenly lit setup on the subject (with no harsh/deep shadows), but still seem very specular and crisp.

Any thoughts? I have a project coming within the next week and I'd like to get my on location interview lighting setup game on point with some ideas/inspiration from Chef's Table.

4 Comments

Any links to online promos that demo the lighting you are talking about ?

August 3, 2015 at 10:25PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30201

So is this what you're talking about ?

Chef's Table - Season 1 - Massimo Bottura
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pY6IvkQm2Q

Looking at this one and a few others it appears that they have a loose formula to lighting their interviews, which is...

1- Go with the ambient light for background lighting and fill. ( this could be tungsten or daylight balanced depending on when and where the interview is shot )

2- Light your subject with same color of light. ( tungsten or daylight )

3- Side light your subject with a flagged off soft-light. ( this could be done with a egg-crate grid )

4- Use edge lighting from the rear as your fill light, and have it knocked down about 2 F-stops or more.

It's a fairly easy formula to follow provided you have the right lights for this. ( I would probably go with a diffused LED light with a good CRI rating and use barn-doors to flag the light off the rest of the set )

August 3, 2015 at 10:40PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30201

Thanks Guy. Actually the one you pulled as reference of chef Massimo Botura is one of the scenarios I didn't like too much. It looks more "standard" and a lot harsher on the key.

Here are some screen grabs I made of a few I remembered looking nice.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/vvcx8m8066t78mq/Screenshot%202015-08-04%2012.52.21.png?dl=0
– This one might be natural window light as a key, but I wanted to get some second opinions. If this is lit or supplemented the natural with a light, what do you think they are using? It has such a beautiful natural wrap around the face, but somehow still feels crisp and not too muddy on the shadow side (obviously there is a bit of a edge light we are seeing that is helping that).

https://www.dropbox.com/s/01ljxrhxepl3iyf/Screenshot%202015-08-04%2012.49.52.png?dl=0
– This one is clearly more lit. But again, the key has such a nice wrap and falloff. What do you think is being used here? For some reason I am convinced that something like a Kino Celeb shooting through a 4x4 opal or 250 or something wouldn't look this good.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/cm2ikh4rioesqd7/Screenshot%202015-08-04%2013.0...

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fgk75j3otsqco4r/Screenshot%202015-08-04%2013.0...
– A bit more stylized, and a touch harder edge on the shadows compared to the top three, but still getting some nice wrap, and obviously they have done a great job balancing with the practical lighting and using some warm fill on the right.

I guess my main question is more what are they using for a key light? If they are shooting through anything or bouncing into anything it seems like it would spill a lot more. But to get such a nice crisp but even wrap around the subjects face seems hard to do with a single direct light with an eggcrate etc.?

August 4, 2015 at 2:19PM

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Bryan Tarnowski
Photographer/Cinematographer
92

>>>But to get such a nice crisp but even wrap around the subjects face seems hard to do with a single direct light with an eggcrate etc.?

Screenshot 2015-08-04 13.00.23.png

This looks like a fail to me. No catch lights at all in his eyes, and it looks like they are mixing tungsten from above with daylight from the side.

Screenshot 2015-08-04 13.01.38.png

This one is better. It looks like flagged off soft light that is reasonably large ( see the big catch-lights in the eyes ) and with a color balance that's leaning towards daylight. This could be a soft-box with a narrow egg-crate, or possibly a metal portrait reflector with a narrow grid. ( like a 22 inch Mola reflector with a 10 degree grid )

Screenshot 2015-08-04 12.49.52.png

This looks like a daylight balance light source through a diffuser panel. If you check the shape of the catch-light in the eyes you can see a round-ish shape that flares off to the side. ( easy to do with a diffusion frame )

Screenshot 2015-08-04 12.52.21.png

Easiest one of the bunch. Daylight balanced soft light from the side. No catch-lights, but he's wearing glasses, so catch-lights aren't really possible.

August 4, 2015 at 3:17PM, Edited August 4, 3:20PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30201

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