Bringing Veterans’ Stories To Light

For the past several years, Houston Grand Opera has been telling a story they call Veterans Songbook – an initiative that gives voice to the stories of Houston-based men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. To tell the final chapter of their story, HGO needed the help of about fifty Houston-area veterans, Lynn Lane – the official Photographer of the Houston Grand Opera, and three Rosco Silk 210 LED soft lights.

The project resulted in a music video for composer Mark Buller’s “I am a Soldier.” It features a series of black and white “video portraits” of veterans of all backgrounds, races, and ethnicities who span in age from WWII to present day.

Lynn’s interview station at the VFW Hall

I wanted to capture the raw, real emotions of these men and women in a way that would speak to other veterans,” said Lynn. To accomplish this, he captured impromptu, ‘silent interviews’ with several veterans at a local VFW event.

It was a challenge to shoot in such a crowded and loud event space. His curtained-off setup was stationed just off-stage of a live DJ. He shot on a Canon 5D Mark III and used two Silk 210’s set to 5500K at full to light his white backdrop. A third Silk 210 served as his key light, which he kept at the same color temperature at about 80%.

Every veteran was recruited at the event, and Lynn spent two minutes shooting each silent interview in an attempt to capture a few brief moments of raw emotion that would resonate in the final video.

Lynn used a Silk 210 as his key light and two other Silk 210s to light his white backdrop

This was Lynn’s first project shooting with the Rosco Silk LED fixtures, but he’s looking forward to the next opportunity to use them. “The Silk 210’s provided bright, consistent and even light without getting hot or blinding the interviewees,” said Lynn. “ I appreciated the ability to control color and intensity, especially for some of the older veterans who were all comfortable sitting under the Silk 210.”

The premiere of the “I am a Soldier” music video

Lynn’s final video premiered on Veterans Day, 2017 to a large audience at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. It was accompanied by live performances from the voices featured in the Veterans Songbook.

Visit the Houston Grand Opera’s website to learn more about their ongoing community and education programs. If you’ve got an interview project coming up, be sure to explore the Silk 210 page on Rosco’s website to learn more about the LED soft lights that Lynn Lane used to illuminate the silent interviews featured in Houston Grand Opera’s “I am a Soldier” music video.

Guest Author: Sara Leeper
Sara Leeper is founder & owner of Walk the Moon Media, where she serves as storytelling consultant, writer, producer and video strategist. Sara transitioned into video production after more than a decade in Public Relations working both in-house and on the agency side with a focus on content development. Her career portfolio includes strategizing for companies including Red Bull, Disney Store and Nestle Crunch. Most recently, she was a communications manager at General Motors and oversaw media relations, social media and events for the western US.