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Lighting One plus One AKA ‘The Mears Double’

I’m about to start work on a documentary which will contain a lot of contributor/presenter interviews. As most of these interviews will take place in peoples houses, offices and such like so thinking about how to light them with a minimal foot print is always beneficial!

One option is to just use natural light, although this can work – trying to get it to work on a one plus one (i.e. so both the interviewee and interviewer are adequately lit) is very rare!

My thoughts went to my quick and easy interview lighting setup outlined here..  where you light a interview by bouncing a hard light off of a piece of polyboard with another piece of polyboard for fill/contrast.

Interview lighting

I’ve used this approach quite a bit, along with a ‘on the hoof’ method using reflectors instead of polyboard!

So..  is there a way I can apply this to a one plus one? So to light both the interviewee and interviewer sitting opposite each other?

I could apply this setup twice, once for the interviewer and one for the interviewee, but that would take up quite a bit of space are require two lights for the keys… Although that is fine I want to keep this ‘low profile’!

Next I considered whether it was possible to angle the ‘key’ polyboard, such that I could bounce one light into it and then in turn angle the polyboard to bounce the reflected light onto both the interviewee and interviewer.. To keep it low profile it would require a smaller piece of polyboard than 4×4 to be able to manage this… something like a 2×4 would be ok – with a join in the middle to allow it to be angled.

Based on this I came up with the following plan.. you would place the cameras on the ‘fill side’ over the interviewee and interviews shoulders.

The Mears Double Draft

The side view would look like this…

The Mears Double Draft

So.. in theory it should work… but in practice does it?

I went and picked up another piece of polyboard I could cut up into something close to a 2×4 (actually it’s turned out slightly less than 4 and slightly more than 2 but hey!)

Using the polyboard spikes and spigot I angled the polyboard with something close to a 45 degree angle between each side and lined up the 650W Fresnel to fill the poly! I then adjusted the ‘fill’ polyboard (another piece of 2×4) to suite and added a quick dedolight 150W dimmed down with 1/2 CTB as a backlight to finish the shot… so what do you think?

The Mears Double

Ignoring the slight glare in my glasses I think it has worked fairly well! Especially considering there is only one light doing both key and fill on the interviewee and interviewer! Plus an added bonus to this approach is that you will get the same exposure on both subjects due to the symmetrical nature of the setup! Great!

Another nice thing is this setup helps keep the key light off the background, hence I managed to create quite a nice amount of separation between me and the curtains which were only a couple of feet behind me (which you can see in the pictures below)!

Mears Double – Photo 1

Mears Double Photo 2

So there we go! In a tongue in cheek way I’ve called it the Mears Double! Let me know if you want/have given this setup a go!  I’d love to see what people can make of it!