Interview Lighting With a Backdrop

A very common interview setup is to have your talent in front of a gray backdrop, usually a paper seamless. Single talent, talking to camera, it’s used in all different scenarios. I just shot one of these yesterday as part of a project for Adobe, but I’ve used it on TV shows, web content, and in commercials. In this breakdown, I’m using a spot I shot for Kia Motors USA as an example. You can view the full spot here.

Equipment Used

  • 9ft gray seamless
  • 2 Kino Flo 4′ 4-banks w/daylight tubes & floziers
  • 1 Kino Flo Diva 401 w/daylight tubes & flozier
  • 2 1×1 LED panels
  • 650W Fresnel
  • 1 cut of 1/4 CTB
  • 1 cut of 1/8 CTB
  • 1 cut of LEE 250 diffusion
  • 4×4 frame skinned w/opal frost

Method

Once you’ve got your gray seamless up, place your talent a few feet in front of it. We’re using a sitting talent here, so we put down a stool for them. To key, we’ve got both Kino Flo 4′ 4-banks at 100% intensity with daylight tubes and floziers on. The floziers take down the exposure by 1 stop while diffusing the light. I had both 4 banks right next to each other, about 2 feet from our subject at a 3/4 angle. To diffuse the light even further, I placed a 4×4 frame skinned with opal frost in front of the two 4-banks.

Another common way to key this would be with a 1.2 HMI through heavy diffusion, say a 6×6 of full grid. We didn’t have the option to do that in this location power-wise, but I did this exact thing for my recent Adobe shoot.

4×4 Kinos behind opal frost frame

For fill, I had my Diva 401 also with daylight tubes and flozier (also at a 3/4 angle on the opposite side), and was riding the dimmer based on our talent’s skin tone. Some of our talent needed a the Diva at 25%, some at 10%, and some off completely. I wanted enough light that they weren’t too contrasty (this was a commercial, after all), but not too much so they were flat.

I had two hair lights pointed at the talent from up high on each edge of the seamless; these were my two 1×1 daylight LED panels. Same thing, depending on talent we rode dimmers or turned them off. For women with big hair I’d want more light to play, while for bald men I’d want just the slightest kiss, or nothing at all if they had super reflective heads.

Finally, for a bloom of light on the background we had a 650W tungsten fresnel (we use a Mole-Richardson Tweenie) placed right behind the talent’s stool. It was around butt-level, so you’d see it if the talent wasn’t in frame, but otherwise it was blocked by their body once they were in. This was pointed at the seamless to give a spot of light around the talent, and we had a sheet of 250 diffusion and 3/8 CTB on it (1/8 + 1/4) to take some of the tungsten out, but still have it be warmer than the lighting of the rest of the scene. You could also do this same thing with a 650W LED equivalent (I used an LED mole tweenie most recently for this).

And that’s it! Do you do anything different when lighting interviews for a seamless like this? Sound off below and let me know!

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