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Thread: Lighting issue on interview footage! :(

  1. #1
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    Default Lighting issue on interview footage! :(



    Hi all,

    I interviewed Steven Nott, the guy who tried to alert the UK about the threat of phone hacking back in 1999. I haven't finished editing yet, and to be honest, I shot the footage to be a part of a documentary, so it is difficult to put a video together with only him in it!

    However, I can see that the light in the shot seems to get lighter and darker, and I have no idea why? Has anybody experienced this before? The only things I can think of are:

    a) It is just my laptop, and you can all see it fine (ideal!)

    b) I maybe had the focus on automatic, and maybe slight movement caused the camcorder to change focus and thus light?

    c) There is something wrong with my camera (NOT ideal)

    Does anybody have any ideas on what the problem might be?

    Thanks in advance!

    Mike

  2. #2
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    My initial suspicion was that the light at the scene is changing. Either clouds, moving net curtains or something outside the room.

    If you're sure it's not one of those then the only other cause I can think of is that auto-exposure was left on and it's "hunting". Since his movements seem to affect the effect, I suspect this is the case. .

    (Just a composition aside: Personally I would have had him looking frame left in this composition.)

  3. #3

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    If you can you should really re-shoot that, the lighting issue isn't great but the framing is just wrong.

    Sometimes breaking the rules can work, but I don't see it with this.

    I wouldn't have went quite the same way as Rob on this one, I'd have kept him facing the same way and shifted the camera a bit to create the necessary talking/looking space in front of him.

    But both would work. The alignment of the vanishing point on the couch would give a different feel depending on which was chosen, but the most important thing is that both would offer that important space in front of the subject instead of the dead space behind with his face crammed up against the edge of the screen.

    David.
    Last edited by david walsh; 08-02-2011 at 12:23 AM.

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    The reason why I wouldn't just pan the camera is because the light is coming from frame left (his right). If you leave him on frame left (as he is now) looking into the shot then the light comes from behind him and puts his left side of his face in shadow because he's looking away from the main source.

    It's nearly always best to have the subject looking into the light unless you're after a particular effect.

  5. #5

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    the light comes from behind him and puts his left side of his face in shadow because he's looking away from the main source.
    You've swayed me to favour your direction here. But if doing that I'd reposition the couch to change it's perspective. It's too close to being straight on this shot whether it's to be closing in or opening up anyway.

    I had actually switched off to thought on the natural light in this scene as I had though, but not mentioned as I should have, that I'd block out the windows and re-lighting the scene properly.

    David.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for your comments, guys.

    I have a lot to learn still … I am thinking of putting myself together a check-list to work through when on a shoot, because I tend to get caught up in the conversation and situation, and miss important points in my preparation.

    The interviewee here was quite nervous, and I was talking to him to put him at ease, and I totally forgot to manually check my white balance, doh!

    In future, I am going to set my focus to manual, as I am sure from your comments and my own thought process that the camera was trying t re-focus on his movement; thus creating the lighting issue.

    In terms of lighting generally, I thought this was OK. He was to the left of a through lounge, and there were open French doors to the left of the frame (his right) and a big window at the far right of the room, which I think has stopped any shadowing on the right side (his left) of his face.

    I took my lights with me to Wales, just in case there wasn’t enough natural light, but I decided that the natural light was good. Was that a bad call do you think? Apart from the focus issue, I think the scene is well lit – which could be beginners ignorance on my part I realise!

    Thanks again for your input.

    Mike
    Last edited by MikeTV; 08-02-2011 at 09:57 AM.

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    No, it's not at all too close to being straight on. Simply positioning the interviewer to the left of the camera, instead of the right would get the subject to turn and improve the lighting and composition of the shot.

    It's not at all necessary, nor desirable, to shut off all the light (which is next to impossible anyway) to get a nice soft lighting from a direction which would work quite well.

    You've got to work with the tools you have, and in this case he had a lovely soft light source from the window. Anyway, Mike also has some problems with changeing exposure and I suspect that it's an auto exposure issue.

  8. #8

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    I'm not keen on lines being almost straight on, either straight on or more of an angle to create a directive line.

    You definitely need to work with what you have, but as mentioned before even the movement of the sun and clouds can cause issues. When shooting interviews like this, especially when they can take a long time, I'm 100% in favour of blocking out the natural light and taking complete control.

    David.

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    Thanks Rob.

    It’s interesting that you say I should have been to the left of the camera, not the right, because that is where I naturally plonked myself initially. However, two things moved me to the right. Firstly, being on the left would have placed me between the main light source from the French doors and the interviewee. I was worried that any movement from me may have compromised the lighting.

    Secondly, the interviewee would have been looking into the light and I was conscious that he had told me the light streams through those doors later in the day, so I didn’t want him to suddenly start squinting if the sun had moved into his line of sight.

    Thanks for the feedback, very interesting.

    David, I’d be really interested to know what you mean when you say I have ‘broken the rules’ if you have time to elaborate?

    Thanks all!

  10. #10

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    It's simply just looking room, you want to leave the extra space in front of the subject rather than behind. This way the subject is looking into the space between him and camera.

    This isn't so much a rule, but if you compose a background elements perspective, such as the line of the couch at an angle then you can create an opening or closing perspective in that space, either drawing the subject into the camera, or sitting him further back.

    This can depend on content as to what is desired. For this subjects manner/content I think having the perspective naturally vanishing into the distance would work best, while fighting the natural perspective and drawing the line in towards the camera for a more intense content can help create a different feel.

    David.

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