Monday, July 17, 2006

Katie, how's the lighting?

The Rachel Ray interview wasn't nearly the biggest shoot I had a hand in over the last few days. At the Ritz Carlton on Sunday morning I supervised an interview with Katie Couric, our new CBS Evening News Anchor and Managing Editor.

It might have been the biggest shoot I've had all year. This was a huge deal for my station and it absolutely needed to work out well.

Hmm. I keep starting this post over. I can't help it, I keep writing myself into a corner speculating about the decision that went into hiring Katie Couric and how I think she's going to do at our network.

I'll try to stay focused.

It was an important shoot. I understand you might have one or two things more critical happening in your life. Sure, I get that. Family health and well being? Way higher priority in the grand scheme of things. I don't think anybody would argue the point. That wasn't the kind of importance attached to this shoot.

Photo by Marvin Stone

The company wanted this interview to look good. They rented special HD gear for us.

That wasn't all.

We had two lighting guys and a freelance sound guy in addition to myself and two other staff photographers to shoot the interview. We had a makeup person, a field producer, and half a dozen people in the room (I couldn't even tell you what most of them were for).

The crew start time was 7:00am. That almost gave us "network time" to set up for the interview. Katie wasn't going to be available until after 11:00am.

We managed to get the room ready without a lot of drama. The two photographers made some suggestions and even brought some of their own gear to help tweak the look of the interview.

I think that probably made the biggest difference in the success of this shoot.

Thank goodness the lighting looked right.

It seemed like everybody who walked into the room took a peek at the monitors to make sure everything on camera was perfect. It could have gone really bad if we weren't ready. That's not the kind of pressure most people enjoy.

I don't let it bother me. I like to stay calm and it helps most often when everyone else is in panic mode.

I know some people might want to hear something more gossipy, but there's nothing more to it and I'm happy for that. The truth is, Katie was nice and the interview was quick and painless.

We weren't her first stop that day and she still had a full schedule to keep.

It all went well. I don't know if anyone else feels the same as I do, but it's always a good feeling after the work is done (no matter how important the shoot), when it's over it just feels like another day at the office.


Ozzie said...

Absolutely. Even us barbarians like to come home and feel like it was just another day. Sometimes we need that.


Widescreen said...

BeFrank, I would have liked to see a shot of the final frame. There seemed to me, a rather lot of overkill on the lighting for what looks essentially like a MCU shot against a plain wall.

I understand the importance to make things look good, but that much gear seems a good way to justify the expense.

Dont get me wrong. I have done a lot of 'big' shoots, so I know what I am talking about. If you think the means justified the end, then so be it.

beFrank said...

widescreen - Justify? Not at all. This interview was requested at an executive level. They wanted it to look better than the average local news interview. They decided to budget enough people not just to accomplish that, but to insure it.

None of that is meant to say a general assignment news crew can't make a scene look good, but there is a difference between what we do daily and what can be done when the time and resources are available.

If you're saying, you can do 'big' shoots better with less of either, you're welcome to it.

Also, you should understand, the lighting gear belongs to the station. It wouldn't matter if we set up one light or fifty lights, the expense would have been the same.

I'm willing to entertain the wording of your question this once, but you've visited my blog enough to know that I try to go about my job with integrity. I didn't "get you wrong" at all.

You asked if we cheated our company.

You could have easily questioned the technical or artistic merits of the lighting on this interview. Supplying a conclusion that suggests we needed to "justify" anything was out of line.

You have your own blog and there are plenty of forums where personal attacks are acceptable.

It's not welcome here.

marv3 said...

Hey Widescreen what market do you work in? MSU that a puplic acsess channel that real understands lighting and techniques. That shoot was much more than just an interview. it was an IMPORTANT interview. Go back to shooting city councel meetings and leave the lighting to the big boys.

beFrank said...

"not so" big lighter - I see where having a flame war over this might appeal to someone with nothing better to do.

Not interested.