Production Equipment Archives - SkEye Studios
How To: Lighting a Video Interview

How To: Lighting a Video Interview


Videos require stories, stories require story-telling, and story-telling, well, it requires lighting. Wait? What? Let us explain, at SkEye Studios we ask a lot of questions: How do you make an interview stand out? What is the most important part of an on-camera interview with a subject? Does three-point lighting really matter? What is three-point lighting?

The Experiment

Who doesn’t like experiments? Besides, why take the advice from experienced greats like Errol Morris? He has only won several Academy Awards and Best Documentary Film a couple times 😉  Prior to the production of our latest project with iTech Painting (Lead Paint PSA), we decided to spend a few hours in the studio experimenting with lighting an interview. We asked ourselves, is three-point lighting really necessary? And, is one of the lights more important than another?

Key Light

  1. the main source of light in a photograph or film.
Key Light Example

Arguably one of the most important lights on an interview, this is the main source of light in an interview. If you don’t have a key light you probably won’t see too much of the subject. If you only have one light, this would be the place to use it.

Fill Light

  1. a supplementary light used in photography or filming that does not change the character of the main light and is used chiefly to lighten shadows.
Key Light Example

The fill light is more optional than the key light. It is used to reduce the amount of contrast on the subject’s face. It is typically set up directly opposite of the key light and farther away from the subject to evenly spread the light across the scene.

Hair Light (also known as back light)

  1. illumination from behind.
Key Light Example

The hair light (which is nearly synonymous with the term back light) is placed behind the subject around 3 feet above their head. It is arguably one of the coolest and most interesting lights on the set. It has the ability to make you look like an angel, but if it is not used properly it can cause an unwanted lens flare. It is also the light you would use if you are trying to keep someone’s identity secret…as you can see from our screenshot.

All of this aside, the hair light, when used in conjunction with the other lighting, provides a very nice silhouette around the subject and makes them pop off the background. This is a very nice added touch to an interview as it adds depth to the shot.

Hair light

Using only a hair light might seem a little humorous, but it is quite useful if you are trying to protect someone’s identity.

No Hair light with Key Light

You can see in this picture that the set does not look as deep. The lack of light on the shoulders and hair makes the subject blend into the background more of the set.

Back Drop

  1. a painted cloth hung at the back of a theater stage as part of the scenery.
Key Light Example

Lighting the back drop is probably one of the most overlooked aspects when lighting an interview. This is because it is a very subtle addition to set. However, you will notice that it definitely adds another interesting element to the set of an interview. One common mistake when lighting the backdrop is letting some of the light spill onto the subject. It is very important that you use barn doors or flanges to focus the light onto only what you want to light.

Three secrets that take Documentary production to the next level

Three secrets that take Documentary production to the next level

For the production of the Scotty Smiley documentary, we knew that we needed top-of-the-line video equipment to bring out the best cinematic quality. To take a quick look at the results, here’s the teaser that we produced from shooting Scotty and Andy at the Coeur d’Alene Ironman.

Here’s a quick list of our most essential equipment and what enabled us technically to capture the stunning shots and interviews that are shown in the trailer for the documentary.

1. Panasonic Lumix GH4 – 4K Image at 24fps, 1080p at 96fps

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 11.02.56 PM
This camera is incredibly versatile and dynamic. It gives you the ability to capture footage in 4K at four times the resolution of 1080p, or you can switch to the “Variable Frame Rate” mode where you shoot in slow motion at 25% real time speed in full HD. When we pair this camera with a wide angle or telephoto lens, the results are breathtaking.

2. DJI Ronin M – Three Axis Gimbal Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.53.44 PM

The trademark of cinematic and professional looking footage is the stableness of the shot. The DJI Ronin provides just that and more! By mounting the Panasonic GH4 with the Lumix 7-14mm f/3.5, we were able to follow Scotty and Andy through bike and run portion of the Ironman with completely smooth shots, even when we are sprinting to just keep up with them.

3. Interviews in 4K with a Motorized Parabolic Slider. Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 11.09.03 PM

Behold the difference just some slight motion can make! Video professionals commonly shoot interviews with the camera positioned on a tripod. Other professionals have taken it a step further by mounting the camera on a shoulder rig to give the image a little more of a moving, yet slight shaky look. SkEye Studios has taken an even larger leap past these two standard shooting techniques. For the Scotty Smiley documentary, we decided to add the Red Rock Micro “One-man Crew” to our arsenal. This device moves the camera left or right along a parabolic track at a very slow speed; automatically changing directions when it reaches the end of the track. The results are remarkable. This slight motion makes the interview look more dynamic, and gives the interviewee that polished look when he/she says a line with emotion or conviction.

One Man Crew Example 3One Man Crew Angle

*Notice the Slight Change in Background between the two interview shots. Rick and Mary Ann Smiley Interview (Scotty’s Parents)

When we mount the Panasonic GH4 with the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 on the “One-man Crew,” you also have the flexibility of punching-in on this moving interview shot. As editors, this gives us the ability to change angles and distance to the subject when editing together clips and audio sound bytes; all with one camera!

4K Example Wide 100 4K Example Close 300








We can’t wait to show you the results in the documentary. Check out to donate to the documentary and stay up-to-date on the latest news.

Breakthrough in Drone Technology showcased at “NAB”

Breakthrough in Drone Technology showcased at “NAB”

Mid-April is like Christmas time for video professionals. Why? The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) hold their annual convention and trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Every year at this convention, the media world gathers to see what new tools big video technology giants such as Panasonic, Canon, and Sony will unveil. This year DJI, the most successful drone technology company for video professionals and consumers, stole the show. DJI unveiled the Phantom 3, which features an on-board stabilized camera able to capture 4K footage and send it simultaneously down to the drone pilot in a 720p HD Live Stream.

The results of the Phantom 3 are stunning. Currently, SkEye Studios owns both the Phantom 1 and the Phantom 2, which is our primary done for aerial videography and photography. The Phantom 2  carries the GoPro Hero 4 with the Zenmuse H4-3D Gimbal. The aerial footage that we are able to capture with this device is silky smooth. The shots that we are able to capture with the Phantom 2 are getting more and more epic with every flight.

We’re always trying to stay ahead of the game when it comes to aerial videography and photography. If you would like to take the aerial footage for your project to the very next level, we can always use our in-house drone: DJI Phantom 2. But if you would like to take the project to even greater heights, let us know and we can discuss acquiring a drone specifically for that project that meets your organization’s or business’s desires and expectations.

Take a look at some highlight reels of the drones that have recently become available.

DJI Phantom 3

Official Drone of SkEye Studios: DJI Phantom 2

Exclusively for professional use: DJI Inspire 1

Laidlaw Orthodontics boosts its website with video

Laidlaw Orthodontics boosts its website with video

If you thought going to the orthodonist was a boring and intrusive experience, think again! You haven’t met the team at Laidlaw Orthodontics in downtown Hillsboro, OR. This month, SkEye Studios had the exciting opportunity to bring the loving, caring, and enjoyable environment of this orthodontics office to life on video.

The video marketing package that we executed for them emphasized both the professionalism and hospitality of their office. After an efficient and effective turnaround with the product, Laidlaw Orthodontics is now fully equipped with a top-notch YouTube channel. SkEye Studios produced for them a Landing Page video, an Office Tour video, and a number of FAQ videos about orthodontic treatment. In the end, the videos not only captured the “what” and the “how,” but more importantly the “why.”
Take a closer look at the videos!

Working with children at Our Lady of the Lake school

Working with children at Our Lady of the Lake school

OLL - blogWe usually learn a lot from every video we make, and what better place to learn than at school? This month SkEye Studios took on several video projects for Our Lady of the Lake elementary and middle school in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

We learned that working with children is great, because they bring so much life and energy to our videos, but sometimes it can be challenging to capture that energy on video. In order to do so, we used our Panasonic GH4 camera to film the students as they were shooting some hoops, jumping rope, and playing badminton at recess and PE. The GH4 allowed us to film all this action in 96 frames per second, giving us some pretty awesome slow-motion footage.

We also learned how great the people are at Our Lady of the Lake, and that really helped the videos turn out well. We love working with people who are passionate about what they do, especially when that involves educating children. We look forward to future projects with the students and faculty at Our Lady of the Lake.

You can view videos and learn more about Our Lady of the Lake by visiting their channel.

Drone captures amazing video of nearly sixty thousand gathered in San Francisco for Rally

Drone captures amazing video of nearly sixty thousand gathered in San Francisco for Rally

This weekend we drove down to San Francisco, CA and attempted a new challenge: shoot a live event with nearly 60,000 people, edit footage from two cameras and one drone into a promo of the event, and upload the video to social media —  The catch: do all of it in 3 hours! We learned a lot from this event, and we hope to apply that knowledge to similar events that are coming up this year. Watch the video below (it has only been up for 2 days and already has 3,000 views!).

Also, checkout this excellent article written by Dustin Siggins in LifeSite News…