How To Walk and Talk

by Walter Graff

So your talent needs to do some walking while your camera is at the other end of the room or hall. What can you do? There are number of ways to handle such a situation. Here is one where I try to use little in the way of equipment in order to do a lot.

In this scenario the head of the company is giving a short 30 second read. The context of his message is that his company has been in business for years, has the staff and the means to get your mortgage financed. He originally wanted to do it in his office but I asked him where the motivation was. Everyone has seen some guy sitting at his desk one hundred times. A bit of some movement would only add to his presentation. What better place then right in the middle of his office while work was going on as usual.

For me that meant having to set up a scenario that didn’t block anyone from working or walking, while being able to supplement enough light so that in the talents 20 foot walk, he would be lit relatively evenly throughout.

 I always believe simple is better and this is a perfect example. I am going to leave the fluorescent ceiling lights on because the office people need to see and these lights are going to light most of my walk. I am simply going to fill in the talents edges with some light. I don’t try to make it absolutely perfect so that at any moment the talent is in EXACTLY the same light. But I will make it close enough so that minor fluctuations are nothing more than what you would expect to see while watching someone walk in a well lit room. Remember that lighting is about extenuating what exists, not reinventing it.

Here is a diagram of the set-up.



Look at the walking path of the talent. Outside of the overhead lights that already exist, I have to decide what I need to fill in the sides with. First I have someone walk the path a few times so I can take a picture in my mind of what is missing.

I break it down in my head so I imagine left of the walk and right of the walk. In this case fixture “A” (see diagram above) is going to be a perfect light to make sure that from the camera angle, the talent is lit well. But in the twenty feet the talent is going to walk, “A” is not enough, as it will fall off in intensity for the beginning part of the walk. So “C” is going to pick up where “A” has trouble. “C” is a 50 watt MR16 that will do the job very well (seen circled in photo).  Looking at my lighting from the right side, I find that the overheads do a good job for the most part but needs some help. I take a 600 watt Omni “B” which I spot down and aim it into a silver flex fill “R”.



Fixture "A" is placed high to the ceiling with diffusion.


Fixture "B" and a reflector does what I need. Fixture "A" is just to the left of the shot here.
You can see it's spill on the ceiling above.


MR16 (circled on left) picks up the talent in the beginning of his walk.


I decided that a bit of light from behind rimming his head would give him a bit of separation and some dimension so I attached a fixture to the ceiling “D” seen below) and hid its glare from the camera lens with a piece of foam-core placed in front of the fixture so it could do it’s job while being flagged from the lens.



Notice the light that will rims the talent is being blocked from the
camera’s view by a piece of foam-core taped to the corner where the ceiling meets the wall.

And finally, I noticed that it was a bit dark in the room behind the talent. A window allowed me to see into it so I placed a 200 watt fixture in there (fixture “E”) and created a bit of light texture on the wall to bring the level up a bit.

In the sequence of the talent walking seen below, you’ll see that a few minor additions to the natural room gave me what I needed to have his illuminated throughout the distance he needed to walk while allowing the office to continue working as if we weren’t there. He remains relative to the room lighting, not falling into terrible shadow while also not being overly lit. The idea is to have a smooth natural lighting transition as he walks; not perfect but not unnatural.


Copyright 2013 by Walter Graff. This article may be circulated and shared as long as the following reference is made: 'This article appears courtesy of Walter Graff-'

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