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Sawyer Thurston

Roundtable Lighting / Pancake Lighting

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Hi All,

I'm prepping for an interview with three individuals on one side of a table. As we are doing it in their offices and space is somewhat limited, my thought is to use a china ball or pancake above and between all of them. I worry if I lit from more of the side, as they speak they might shadow each other as they talk/move. So my thought is to use a Chimera 35" pancake with a skirt for the key. Then a pair of two foot kinos above and behind for a little bit of backlight. The example below doesn't include the backlight but you can imagine.

Anyway, does this sound right? In my example I liked how it's still soft and flattering. There is actually a tutorial associated with the picture, but they were setting up a similar set up that didn't look quite as flattering as this.  In plenty of other examples, it looks sort of harsh and toppy. Do you think that's just because in many cases it's too high / not far enough in front of them? As I haven't used a china ball or pancake before, I'm not sure if there are small tweaks that you feel make a world of differences.



Maybe I'm overthinking a simple shot, but I thought I'd see what others thought. Thanks guys!

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Hi Sawyer,

I've done this type of roundtable lighting by hanging 4x4 kinos as keys and it worked out very well.  1 unit per 2 people with some 216 on it gives a nice uniform soft key.   In my testing I found that using a china ball or pancake can be too harsh and sends too much light straight down onto the table and when it gets raised up it is suddenly too toppy.  The Kinos can be dropped low to just above frame line to give a nice eye- light while not blowing out the table top.  

Round tables are tough - I'd love to hear what other people have done.  

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