I Need Soft Light and Don’t Know How to Make It!

Have you ever been asked to record an interview and you set up the Lowel or Smith Victor kit your school has had in the back room forever and notice that the talent is squinty and uncomfortable?

I tell you what, try sitting in that chair with that lighting set up and you’ll know where they’re coming from!

When recording interviews the whole goal is to make the interviewee (talent) be as comfortable as possible. They are so much less nervous and emote better onSoftLight camera. Think about it. Most of the time these people are not savvy to being on camera and you and if you have a crew come in, turn their office or room upside down with lights wires and tripods and then ask them a bunch of questions they are going to be concerned about how their answers might make them look awkward.

Here’s a neat idea – use soft light.

The softer the light, the more flattering it is on the talent. There are fewer hard shadows, you’ll also find their eyes open up because they don’t need to squint because there is a point light source nailing them in the eyes. The cheapest way to do this with your existing equipment is to go out and purchase some white and black foam core sheets. The pic to the right is from the Pro Video Coalition and shows the simplest set up. Use the white foam core to ‘bounce’ the light off of. The black foam core ‘cuts’ the harsh light so it’s not in the talent’s eyes and also absorbs the light being bounced so you can have a nice contrast on camera.

There are other tools that do this too – things like Flex Fills come in white, black, silver, gold if you want to warm up the light.. They are have ‘silks’ that you can send the light through essentially making a soft light.

Have a little more budget, there are tools like Lowel’s Rifa Light, Chimera’s to attach to existing fixtures, and even things like Kino Flo’s Diva fluorescent light which you just set up and turn on and you are off to the races. (They have a newer LED version called the Celeb, it’s an awesome light, but pretty spendy.)

It takes a little experimentation, and I would highly suggest you play with these techniques rather than experimenting in that important interview, but the reality is effective, flattering lighting just isn’t that hard doesn’t need to be expensive.

Once again for the readers of this I’ve posted the Arri Lighting Handbook for you to download for free. Yes Free. No obligations, no hooks, nothing to fill out, just a download of the pdf for your use. The URL for you to use is http://bit.ly/ltghndbk . It has pictures of setups and a diagram like the one above how they did it.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at