Lighting for Video Interviews


Definition

Visual anthropology allows anthropologists to extend their research to broader audiences through the medium of video and photography. Videography is a stylized method for producing high-quality images that can be disseminated through television. An important part of videography is on-camera interviews, which requires special attention from lighting techniques. Lighting can mean the difference between a professional-looking video and an amateur production. Understanding the basics of interview lighting can greatly improve production quality and provide a better chance of broader dissemination through television stations. The basic rules of 3-point lighting that are discussed here will create that professional image quality that television outlets look for, which can in turn grant the anthropologist a broadcast outlet for the video and heightened reach of the research covered.


Relevant Characteristics and Goals of the Method

On-camera interviews require specific set-up and lighting techniques in order to meet on-air quality standards. 3-point lighting is the most fundamental lighting technique and is routinely used in the television industry. 3-point lighting, as the name suggests, requires three lights to surround the interview subject, subsequently covering the interviewee with light from all sides. This method creates a three-dimensional effect of the interviewee, which makes the camera shot more visually appealing. The intensity of the lights and the color of the lights change the mood of the camera shot, and some of those stylistic decisions will be discussed here.

The purpose of this method is so that anthropologists can be competitive in video dissemination for broader public viewing. Television stations are inundated with content pitches, so having the best quality content possible improves the possibility of it being accepted by the TV station for air. The equipment, lighting standards, and traditional interview set-up style will be covered here.


Method Made Easy

The basic tenets of three-point lighting include three lights that triangulate around the interview subject to enhance the on-camera experience.
As the image denotes, the three lights are the key, fill, and back lights. The position of these three-point-lighting-300x300.jpg
lights will allow the subject to have optimal visibility on-camera. The key light is the main light
that will light the subject the most. This light is placed at an angle toward the subject, so that one
side of the face is completely lit and the other side has some shadow. The fill light is the
secondary light and is used to "fill in" the shadow that the key light casts on the face. This light
is not as bright as the key light, so it creates some dimension of the face. It should be placed on the
opposite side of the key light, on the other side of the camera. The backlight goes behind
the interview subject at an angle. This lights the head of the subject and creates a three-dimensional
image for the camera.[1]

Color temperature is an important attribute of the lights and should be taken into account when lighting an interview subject. Light temperature is measured in Kelvin. Indoor light, or artificial light, is measured at 3200K and looks more red. Outdoor light, or sunlight, is measured at 5500K and looks blue. The scientific details of lighting color temperature is beyond the scope of this entry, but it is important to know that all the lights lighting an interview subject have to match (either all red or all blue) or the interview will not look good. Indoor lighting is normally said to create a "richer" look of the interview subject, and is normally preferred. But, outdoor interviews are also accepted and blue color temperature can provide that professional look as well.[2]

The intensity of the three lights is also important when lighting the interview subject. Professionals use lighting intensity to set a mood of the interview. Harsh lighting, which involves a bright key light and a dimmer fill light, will create a darker shadow on the interview subject. This style is often used when the subject is discussing something dramatic or emotional. A brighter fill light in turn will create a happier, less intense mood. Lighting intensity is controlled by dimmers, which are knobs on a light that brighten and dim the light. Barn doors can also be used to control and direct the light. Barn doors are flaps that are placed in front of the light to direct the rays. Closing the barn doors around a light create a more concentrated light beam onto the subject. Opening the barn doors lets the light fill more of the space. Diffusion filters will also lessen light intensity and are placed in front of the light to soften the intensity.[3]



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Barn Doors

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Diffusion
















Interview Set-up and Standards

● The camera should always be eye-level with the interview subject.
● The camera should be at least two feet away from the subject (this varies depending on the style one wants to achieve and the depth of field one is looking to create).
● The interview subject should not look at the camera while answering questions; the interviewee should look at the interviewer, who is normally positioned right next to the camera and closer to the key light than the fill light.
● The interviewee’s chair should have no arms. It is best if the chair cannot move or swivel.


Advantages

There are several advantages to using 3-point lighting as a supplement to your other methodology. The professional quality of the interview can be used to create a visual ethnography for mass dissemination. The visual quality of the interviews through lighting creates a more compelling story of the interview subjects and therefore there is a greater possibility of wider audiences taking the time to view your material. In more utilitarian terms, the raw data from the interview can be accessed anytime through recorded video file. The environment of the interview setting can serve as a platform for the subject, showing that what they have to say has value and is important.


Limitations

There are some important drawbacks about this method. The expense of the video equipment may be prohibitive. Even cheaper equipment can run thousands of dollars to reach the professional grade quality that is necessary. Special skills are required to use this method, so time and practice is needed to learn and perfect the lighting techniques. Not everyone will agree to being interviewed and thus alternative forms of research dissemination will have to be used in some cases.


Examples of Good and Bad Interview Lighting

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Good Lighting Technique














bad Lighting Technique
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Good Interview Lighting Tutorial

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Method in Context

Using videography in anthropology has the ability to extend its reach and impact broader audiences. With more people becoming aware of the research of anthropologists, the chance for effecting change increases. This method is a highly effective way to represent important points of research findings and to get more people involved in creating solutions. Elizabeth Bird used video interviews to create testimonials of the massacre that took place in Asaba, Nigeria during the Nigerian civil war. Her interviews were posted online so diaspora populations of Nigerians and the broader public could access these narratives and learn about the massacre that was never acknowledged by the Nigerian government.[4]


Online Resources

Mediacollege.com, "The Standard 3-Point Lighting Technique." Accessed November 9, 2013.
http://www.mediacollege.com/lighting/three-point/.

"Video as a Replacement to the Ethnographer."Anthrostrategist (blog), May 12, 2012.
http://anthrostrategy.com/2012/05/12/video-as-a-replacement-to-the-ethnographer/ (accessed November 10,
2013).

http://lowel.com/edu/: This Website provides many tips on interview lighting and is a major brand in professional camera lighting.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com: This Website sells professional grade audio, video, and lighting equipment and is a popular source among professionals for buying equipment.


References

Bird, Elizabeth S.
2011 Reclaiming Asaba: Old media, New Media and the Construction of Memory in On Media Memory:
Collective Memory in a New Media Age. In On Media Memory: Collective Memory in a New Media Age. Motti
Neiger, Oren Meyers, and Eyal Zandberg, eds. Pp. 89-103. England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cyber College/ Internet Campus, "Color Temperature." Last modified May 02, 2013. Accessed December 13, 2013. www.cybercollege.com/tvp028.htm.

Heider, Karl G.
2004 Seeing Anthropology: Cultural Anthropology Through Film. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Kubota, Kevin
2011 Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photography. Indianapolis:
John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Riviera, Diana
2010 Picture This: A Review of Doing Visual Ethnography: Images, Media, and Representation
in Research by Sarah Pink. The Qualitative Report 15(4):988-991.

Robert, Nulph. Videomaker, "Light Source: In the Mood? Creating Mood with Lighting." Last modified Dec. 01, 2000. Accessed December 13, 2013. www.cybercollege.com/tvp028.htm.


Further Reading

Forte, Maximilian. "Sour Chutney: The Ethnopoetics of Exploitation, Transplantation, and Violence." Zero
Anthropology (blog), April 19, 2009. http://zeroanthropology.net/2009/04/19/sour-chutney-the-
ethnopoetics-of-exploitation-transplantation-and-violence/ (accessed November 10, 2013).

Forte, Maximilian. "Dis Location: Arrival as Independence." Zero Anthropology (blog), June 14, 2009.
http://zeroanthropology.net/2009/06/14/dis-location-arrival-as-independence/ (accessed November 10, 2013).

Kindon, Sara
2003 Participatory video in geographic research: A Feminist practice of looking? Area 35.2:142-153.
  1. ^ mediacollege.com, "The standard 3-point Lighting Technique." Accessed December 13, 2013. http://www.mediacollege.com/lighting/three-point/.
  2. ^ Cyber College/ Internet Campus, "Color Temperature." Last modified May 02, 2013. Accessed December 13, 2013. http://www.cybercollege.com/tvp028.htm.
  3. ^ Robert, Nulph. Videomaker, "Light Source: In the Mood? Creating Mood with Lighting." Last modified Dec. 01, 2000. Accessed December 13, 2013. http://www.cybercollege.com/tvp028.htm.
  4. ^ Bird, Elizabeth S.
    2011 Reclaiming Asaba: Old media, New Media and the Construction of Memory in On Media Memory:
    Collective Memory in a New Media Age. In On Media Memory: Collective Memory in a New Media Age. Motti
    Neiger, Oren Meyers, and Eyal Zandberg, eds. Pp. 89-103. England: Palgrave Macmillan.