With a few words in 1918, in an ad in the New York Times, Fordham Law School did something revolutionary, it admitted women to its classes. “Courses Open to Women” was added in all caps between the class times and the fall term start date. Now, 100 years later Fordham Law is celebrating and I am proud to have helped them launch their yearlong festivities.
Originally envisioned as an oral history project, I filmed interviews with seven women alumni, one from each decade beginning with the 1950’s and through to the 2010’s. Each alumna will be featured in two videos, a long-form interview and a shorter teaser video, with staggered launch dates starting this week. Additionally, I created a compilation video featuring all of the interviewees along with mixing in archival images which led the kickoff event last week at the New York Historical Society.
Tech notes: This was a one-camera setup but shot in 4K to allow for reframing and punching in during post-production. I relied on my C300 Mark II with the CN-E 18-80mm Cine Compact-Servo Zoom lens.
In this type of scenario, interviews against white seamless, you want to light the background as evenly as possible. I also needed to factor in the age range of my subjects and that we wouldn’t have a makeup artist on set. All of which pointed to high-key lighting with only a hint of directional feel. As usual, I relied on my four Litepanels Astras as key, fill, and background lights.
The lights were modified with the key pushing through a Litepanels/DoPchoice Snapbag Big with the Magic Diffuser. This is a 23″ x 31″ source which when used with the Magic Diffuser creates a light much more akin to a larger source. The fill was a smaller Snapbag, 17″ x 17″, but with two full-grid diffusers on the front to soften the light.
I had a Litepanels Sola 4 fresnel light with a diffuser disc, seen above in the back to the left of the backdrop, as a backlight for each subject.
When you view the video you’ll see how well the combination of the larger softbox with its diffuser works. Subjects are lit but the shadows around their features, under their chins, and on their clothing remain very soft.
I often push my background lights through a small silk because I have found that it gets me to an evenly lit backdrop very quickly. I did that on set for this project along with using a flag to keep the light off of the subject.
Since my background was only 7′ wide and I had the space in the room, I shot between 73mm – 80mm for each interview. A wider focal length would have meant the subject being closer to the backdrop and potential issues with the width of the backdrop showing up sooner.
I shot in Clog3 in the Rec.709 space. This allowed for an efficient visual grade in post without the need for a LUT in my NLE.