I'm using three LED lights for interview recording - do I need a light box for them? I am mostly doing seated interview recording. Portability is important as I'm travelling for most of these interviews so skipping the diffusion would help, but I'm happy to include them if they're going to make a big difference.

I'm shooting with a GH4 and three LEDs (Savage Lumiunous Pros) so they're dimmable and switchable between 3200K and 5600K.

Any advice for someone who's a bit of an idiot about this stuff is really welcomed!


Depends on how big the panels are, I'm assuming these are LED panels. Really, you only need 2 lights for the subject, and 1 light if you want to stylize the background. You can use a foamcore if you need fill. You want the panel or box to be as large as possible. I shoot most of my interviews with a 1.2K ArriSun HMI, but it uses a large Chimera with grid. So it's very very soft. Then boom a joker either over head or from and hitting the person's face on the short side of the frame. This gives a nice cut out, and the soft light from the Key Light is perfect. If you cant get your hands on a large softbox, depending on the output power of your LEDs, bounce. The best lighting, and nearly all lighting in Hollywood, is bounced light. Bounce your lights off a board, carry different sizes with cookies, and cutouts, make some dots to shape the light. For background, a single 1K tungsten lamp will do, you can gel it, or wrap it black wrap, poke holes in the black wrap, tear it, to create patterns, or natural shapes. If portable is key, you want your lights to be as high output as possible, smallest package... this means HMI, with LEDs, my biggest reason for not jumping over, is you have to carry a lot of extra grip equipment to get the lights where they need to be... because the output is a fraction of what an HMI puts out.


Scrim or trace is good over LED panel lights, even just to get rid of the fringes in the shadows. For softening the light source the further away from the light source you hang the diffuser the better, because it makes the apparent light source bigger and therefore softer, even a few inches makes a difference.

My 'fits-in-the-carry-on-luggage' 3 point interview set up is this: I have a LED key (a flexible LED panel - really recommended for doco work) and a couple of strips of card that I tape to it that hold the scrim out 10cm or so from the panel, it works well as a small soft key light for interviews. For fill I usually use a folding circular reflector, and if needs be I aim another LED panel at it. Then I also have a small DedoLight spot which I use as a rim or 'hair' light or to add spots or slashes of light to the BG.

Also remember to look for natural lighting. It can be problematic, like when there is bright sun outside and a dark interior, but if you use windows and practical lights as sources intelligently and then augment with what you have in the kit you can get good results with less gear, and you get a more verité look than a Hollywood style lighting setup.

As CoinRocket said, bouncing is better, but generally LEDs don't give you enough grunt to be any use as a key light when bounced. A 1.2K HMI is an order of magnitude brighter than a battery powered LED.

There also inflatable softboxes that win as far as portability goes. I haven't used them but I've seen good reviews.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.