On Friday, March 1st it was just another usual day at the office, editing projects, checking and replying to emails, until I get a call from New York City. On the other end is someone claiming to be from The Wall Street Journal. My first thought, great another telemarketing call, but after a couple minutes I could tell this was going to be different. “Hey Rod, this is **** for WSJ, you were referred to us, we’ve seen your work online and like your style, are you available to shoot an interview piece for us?” After of a few seconds of silence, I was able to move my mouth again, “Of course I’d be interested!” We chatted over schedule, format, and details for the next few minutes and ended the call knowing I should be expecting an email with all the details. At that time I still didn’t know who or what I was shooting, just to be in Austin Monday morning.
That evening I received the email with details for the shoot. I was to arrive at a location off E. 6th Street, meet with the reporter, find a location, and begin setting up an interview with a CEO. I quickly copied and pasted the address into Google, and there it was, LiveStrong Headquarters. I was excited, and nervous. I knew Lance Armstrong had recently stepped down minutes before his interview on Oprah and they were in the middle of re-branding from Lance Armstrong Foundation to Livestrong Foundation. Back to Google, “CEO Livestrong”, first result, Doug Ulman. I continued reading a few articles and watched a couple interviews, he seemed like a sharp, driven guy, who is a 3-time cancer survivor himself, positively helping the foundation after the Armstrong fallout. I was even more excited now, but had to wonder, would the reporter bring up Lance, or would she concentrate on the foundation and plans for the future?
Although they requested only one camera, I decided to bring two for a medium shot and a wide shot. My main camera was a Canon 5D Mark III with a 50mm 1.4 attached, and the wide angle was shot with a Canon T4i and a 16-35mm lens attached. I shot at 1080/24p with a custom Neutral picture style, Prolost Flat, hoping the editors at WSJ would do some light color correction in post. As always, I practice double system sound, capturing the reference audio (which they used in their final product to my dismay) with a Rode VideoMic Pro on top of the 5D, and a Sennheiser G3 Wireless kit with lavaliere microphone attached to his coat, going into a Tascam DR-40 located by the camera. For this project I brought along a small light kit. I went with (2) 900 LED light panels. I didn’t know what kind of space I would have, or if I would have access to power. These light panels have turned out to be my go to, travel lights. They are extremely light, no need for heavy c-stands, setup in seconds, emit very low heat, and can be battery powered. The folks at the Livestrong Foundation were very accommodating allowing me to choose a spot I thought would work best. I decided on an area off the main entrance, although I knew there was potential for noise with the main door so close. I setup two chairs directly across from each other, one for Mr. Ulman and the other for the WSJ reporter who arrived from NYC the night before, Vanessa O’Connell. The two lights were situated 180° from one another, the key light, in front and on the right side of the talents face, and a hair/rim light behind and to the left, at about 50% power. The interview was quick and to the point, lasting about 10 minutes, which was great because it meant I only had one video and audio file to contend with in post. After saying our goodbye’s it took me about 10 minutes to breakdown and I was back on the road to San Antonio. Once back in the office I backed up the files and uploaded to my FTP for the editors in New York to download.
All in all it was a great shoot, I wish all interviews were this easy. Mr. Ulman was very articulate, extremely gracious, and passionate. Vanessa, the reporter, came prepared with her questions that were thoughtful and meaningful to the topic. They are doing some wonderful work for cancer patients and cancer survivors at the foundation. If you or someone you know is currently battling this disease, please visit the Livestrong Foundation were you can receive free one-on-one support.
To view the Wall Street Journal finished product, please click HERE. My version of the interview is below…
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens
Sennheiser g3 Evolution Wireless Audio Kit
(2) 900 LED Light Panels with Wireless Dimmer
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