I’m quite happy with my new lights and soft boxes, which I used for the first time this week while shooting some interviews in Montreal. I can carry them in a small box and they only take about 15 minutes to set up. They’re tungsten and not quite as convenient as LEDs, but to purchase LEDs that look as good would have cost ten times what I paid for these.
We shot the interview in a conference room. The white projector screen was already there and wasn’t in the shot. We just used my black backdrop and shot the head and shoulders of the doctors we were interviewing.
I positioned one light slightly closer and aimed it more directly so that it would act as the key light. The other light was aimed a little off to the side, still on the subject, but indirectly. This worked well as a fill light.
Looking at the footage, I was pleased. The only thing I would like to change would be to add a third light, a hair and shoulder light. I’m keeping my eye out for a lightweight light with low wattage that I can mount on the bar of my backdrop with a clamp and then aim down on the subject to create some definition and highlights. It needs to be compact, though. I like to have a kit that I can carry in one load because I work alone and often have to park quite far from the location. Added trips to the car take up a lot of time and energy and it means I’m likely leaving some equipment unattended.
Another first for this shoot was using a wired lav. I have always used a wireless lav because that’s all I’ve had. Moreover, the actual mic for my wireless kit has a Sennheiser-specific jack that I couldn’t plug into a camera or Zoom H4N. A while ago, however, I bought a Rode lav and three switchable jacks–Sennheiser-type, headphone type and xlr. You can find them on the Rode website. The mic requires a tiny bit of phantom power, but really tiny. Even the A7S provided enough.
The reason why I wanted to start using a wired lav was that it has advantages if you don’t need to be mobile. It’s lighter to carry than a lav+receiver. There is no radio interference issues. It doesn’t require batteries. And most importantly is sounds better. As is turned out, it worked well. However, my wire is JUST long enough. I probably need an extension. It just occurs to me now that I could have used an XLR cable as an extension because I had an XLR jack on the mic in order to be able to plug it into my C100 mk ii. I could have plugged the mic cable into an xlr cable and the xlr cable into the camera. Next time.
I did have one problem with the Rode mic. Since I didn’t have any play in the wire I couldn’t route it off to the side. This meant that it was close to the feet of the subjects. One fellow was twitching his foot as he talked and hit the wire. Surprisingly, this created a huge burst of “static”, making that bit of audio unusable. These Rode lav cables are very thin. Perhaps this audio-fragility is one of the drawbacks of such light cables.
Fortunately, I’ll able to try out my small modifications (xlr cable, third light) in a couple of weeks when we do part ii of the project.