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Old October 5th, 2007, 09:07 PM   #1
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HID's for location shoots?

We have a long production series, with mostly outdoor shots, mainly using a single talent, and with greatly varied backgrounds and shooting conditions in Brazil.

We've been trying to use several big reflectors and a light homemade white nylon 3m x 3m diffusor to extend our shoot time windows, but are needing outdoor lighting badly.

Without controlling lighting, our Sony cams (mainly our V1) are pretty limited to "golden hour" work, otherwise our talent will have that "raccoon" look. Reflectors help, but are very limited, as is our crew.

Since shot angles, location times, and transport space are often limited (as is our "non-profit" budget), we've been racking our brains for acceptable solutions.

In studying available lighting, we saw a somewhat new tech on the market with HIDs, especially being used for high intensity lighting needs. A quick search here found a few posts on using HID's of various kinds.

We're thinking seriously of buying large diameter, truck auxilary lights and getting some good HIDs to try. Since we can easily charge 12v batteries on site with our production truck, and have a good number of light stands and heavier light tripods, it seems a small cart with 12v batteries and heavy cables could easily power several of these powerful lights for hours. We thought also of controlling intensity and spill with scrims, barndoors, and french flags.

After reviewing many options (generators, high voltage inverters, etc.) it seems like simple DC lights setups using HID bulbs in the 5000K<>6000K range could have the best cost/benefit ratio and work for us. Not pretty, but if it works, we don't care.

Comments? Bulb suggestions? Remember, this is Brazil, so our options could be different here...but we probably could get bulbs from the USA or Germany pretty easily.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Old October 5th, 2007, 09:26 PM   #2
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HID or High Intensity Discharge is not new at all. HMI is part of the HID family and has been around for quite a while. All sorts of high CRI metal halide variants exist that are used for everything from grow to aquarium lights that can be adapted to photographic use. One issue here though. DC is not commonly used to power the ballasts so that can be challenging to find. Whether you use AC or DC on the ballast though, its irrelevant to the bulb. The whole point of the ballast is to provide what the bulb needs converted from whatever line voltage it gets as input. So there are DC HID ballasts but you will have a hard time finding them. Most I know of have already been adapted into costly kits of HMI units like a K5600 or Arri pocket par for examples. The common use for DC of course is to run off batteries.

You can find some old military type spotlight surplus equipment sometimes that uses a DC source. This was an interesting link I got from somewhere recently:

http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...highlight=tank
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Old October 5th, 2007, 09:49 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick response Richard.

When I said "new tech with HIDs", I wasn't real clear and what I am refering to is the direct, drop in replacement bulbs for halogen lights now flooding the market like the Xenons. I do not think any of these require ballasts and run directly from 12-28v DC sources. These are "automotive" bulbs, but are being using in many different ways already, including interior lighting.

Sorry, there are no Army surplus stores here in Brazil...so it's either buy new lights or do without.

Maybe a little like these: http://xenoncar.com/
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Old October 6th, 2007, 03:12 AM   #4
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True, there usually isn't Army surplus anywhere but in the USA. Anyway, I know what you're talking about now. Most of those types in the headlight class are a pretty low CRI in the 60 range. I already looked at those a while back to see if it was an interesting DIY solution. I doubt you'd find it sufficient or interesting but you could always pick one up to try out. The color temperature is usually pretty high like in the 8000 to 10000 range so very blue. The price is usually not too bad but I think most of them do require a ballast though--even if its a really small one. You'll find these HID conversion kits which include a small ballast and yes, they do run on DC voltage.
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Old October 6th, 2007, 05:30 AM   #5
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You can get self ballasted HID lamps that run directly off 12V. Designed primarily for torches etc. Not overly expensive, haven't a clue about CT or CRI but I have seen at least one quite expensive camera light that uses them so I guess something suitable is out there. As Richard said though the ones used in cars do have an external ballast / ignitor and the whole kit is expensive.

But there's one other problem, not exactly a huge amount of light output either!

Lupo do a not overly expensive fresnel HID that uses a 150W lamp, they like to call it a "800", guess they mean equivalent to tungsten. These run quite happily off a cheap inverter. I do suggest using 24V inverters rather than 12V. All you need for battery power is either a 24V truck battery or two car batteries in series. Here's a link to the light:
http://www.lupo.it/eng/video/illumin...otdaylight.php

However if you're trying to provide fill against the sun even these would probably come up short. Smallest HMI I've seen used for this is a 800W unit, the Joker Bug from K5600 is a very good light but I think way outside your budget at $6K
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Old October 6th, 2007, 06:15 AM   #6
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OMG! What is the purpose of that tank searchlight? Is it for shining through a tank to see if it is fertilized? (like they do with eggs)

I know what you guys need. You need a 575W HID from coollights.biz!

http://www.coollights.biz/clmf0575-fresnel-p-64.html

You should also investigate using what I believe is called a scrim over the talent whenever possible. A big frame with a light diffusion cloth above the scene will bring down the sun and soften it so it doesn't make harsh shadows. If you bring a bit of reflection in from the side, it makes it look like a nice sun highlight and it doesn't blind the talent. You can imagine that you need a very large frame and appropriate support to accomplish this task, but it is definitely possible. You also may need to light the underside of objects in the background so their shadows don't seem unusually dark compared to the talent's soft shadows. Fortunately, the inanimate objects won't be bothered by having a silver reflector on them.
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Old October 6th, 2007, 11:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault View Post
OMG! What is the purpose of that tank searchlight? Is it for shining through a tank to see if it is fertilized? (like they do with eggs)

I know what you guys need. You need a 575W HID from coollights.biz!

http://www.coollights.biz/clmf0575-fresnel-p-64.html

You should also investigate using what I believe is called a scrim over the talent whenever possible. A big frame with a light diffusion cloth above the scene will bring down the sun and soften it so it doesn't make harsh shadows. If you bring a bit of reflection in from the side, it makes it look like a nice sun highlight and it doesn't blind the talent. You can imagine that you need a very large frame and appropriate support to accomplish this task, but it is definitely possible. You also may need to light the underside of objects in the background so their shadows don't seem unusually dark compared to the talent's soft shadows. Fortunately, the inanimate objects won't be bothered by having a silver reflector on them.
Richard, your Cool Lights system looks interesting, but not much info there and it's apparently available on the middle of Oct? Is it a focus fresnel that goes from spot to wide or what? Also, need some specs to know what we'd be getting. Keep us posted...

As I mentioned above, Marcus, we are already using a large "scrim" (never thought of it that way!) and reflectors, but need the extra lighting for after 9pm/before 4pm to extend our shoot times a bit. Plus, there are many situations where the scrim/reflectors can't be used.

Bob, the 6K Joker Bug is just too much $$ for us, but I'm sure we need some good "fire power" to really do much good.

It's just too bad, it seems there aren't some better DC bulbs out there for what we need. DC is so much cheaper, easier to obtain, portable, big batts are easy to recharge and can output some very high amp rates. We do have some invertors, but the size needed for the lights mentioned could drive up our costs significantly.

We could carry several smaller lights so as to gang them for more power, but would need them to cover the closeup<>medium-close ranges for our talent. We are not really trying to do much more than get rid of unwanted shadows on the talent, as these 48 halfhour productions are more about her. Locations provide movement and interest, and help to focus the attention on what the talent is saying, but since it's a cross between a documentary/film/teaching session, her lighting is the most important.

Keep the suggestions coming, we're all ears!
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Last edited by Stephen Armour; October 6th, 2007 at 12:32 PM.
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Old October 6th, 2007, 01:09 PM   #8
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Bob, one more thing. That K5600 Joker Bug (or any other system from them) sure seems like a lot of money for what is basically a $330 bulb with ps, cords, diffusers and enclosures! $2K power supply ballast for an 800 watt bulb? Heavens! $250 for a 25ft extension cord? Not me. Cost/benefit seems pretty steep. I'm sure they are very nice, but then again, they better be VERY nice for that much money. Like ARRI...

Cool Lights could have some possibilities in this overpriced field! Okay Richard, you make 'em right and keep them reasonably priced and they'll certainly come...
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Old October 6th, 2007, 04:32 PM   #9
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You might want to look into threads here about a battery-powered HID light from Sam's Club. I believe they are 35W HID and probably run for an hour or so on their internal battery.

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=88725

I somehow misread your post and got stuck thinking you only shoot in golden hour due to the "racoon" effect. I see now what you are really looking for is a light to substitute for the sun when it is not cooperating.

Have you experimented with a tungsten light and some CTB to figure out how much light you need for your setup? I would guess that you should divide the gelled tungsten by about 8 to figure the necessary HID. I am using the 4x efficiency of HID and the fact that full CTB seems to cut the light in half. Tell me if I'm wrong if a 150W HID is not more powerful than a fully gelled 1K.

"big batts are easy to recharge and can output some very high amp rates."

Don't forget that a battery has it's amp rate at it's native voltage and not in line voltage. Also, the amp rate on a lead-acid battery is for a slow draw (20 hours). If you discharge a battery quickly, its total power available is cut in half or worse. I have a 55 amp-hour 12V battery (deep cycle marine - 49 pounds weight) that will only run 300W for half an hour before risking damage. That is a lot of weight to lug around for so little energy. A regular car battery would be even worse. If you can recharge it easily, it becomes much more useful. Just remember that lead acid batteries need time to recharge gradually. If you are doing multiple small shoots in a day and driving around for a few hours between, a battery system may be a good idea. Once you establish how much light you really need, I'm sure a solution will be easy.
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Old October 6th, 2007, 08:03 PM   #10
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The Cool Lights 575w HMI fresnel acts just like any other fresnel (or I wouldn't have called it one). It's got a fresnel lens and a focusing mechanism for wide to narrow spot. It uses a regular Osram type HMI 575wSE hot restrike bulb. The way it's shaping up now, we'll have two versions. The $699 version will be our "semi-pro" one with a small and lightweight electronic ballast that has some fan noise and a long cable so you have to place the ballast in another room. The $1399 version comes with a larger electronic ballast, that drives either a 575w or 1200w head, and is silent. Both are flicker free at any shutter speed. Both operate off of 100 to 240v 50/60hz. Both use the same type bulb but bulb is not included at these prices. The main differences are in the ballast and ignitor. Since the ignitor is in the lamp head, that necessitates two different versions because ignitor is matched to ballast and we have two ballast and ignitor sets here. The lamp fixture looks the same in both models except that the cable has more conductors in the pro version.

So, if you buy the $699 version you have to be okay with placing the ballast in another room. What you find is that the more expensive ballasts have more circuitry and they get heat sinking usually from a case that has lots of heat sink fins and is a bit heavier. They may have added features (like ours of driving two different types of heads too.

The smaller, less expensive lightweight ballasts have less components and a more abbreviated design but make up for their lack of heat sinking by using a fan. That's the choice you make. At least we do have a 35 foot cable so you can place the ballast in another room. It's just an extra responsibility and inconvenience to have a lower cost solution. At least we give you a choice whereas the others don't. Even our most expensive "pro" silent solution is around 1/4 the price of the equivalent from an established HMI player.

Worried about reliability? Well even with the current solutions, a backup wouldn't even be thinkable at the prices they charge. And HMI's are more complex than tungsten for sure with more "moving parts" so-to-speak--like a very complex and expensive bulb and a ballast that has a great deal of stress of added heat and high (range of 4kV) startup pulses. With our solution you can buy two and still have saved 1/2 the price of the competition. Some things to think about that weren't possible before--no one allowed you that choice. The best you could do is rent a unit and they assured you that it would be working, have a bulb that works and if it doesn't they would replace it with one that does. Heck, we'll even just sell the semi-pro ballast separately for $480 and the pro one for $1200. Then you have just a ballast backup if you worry about something failing at a key moment. The only active component in the lamp head is the ignitor and while it could fail, the bulb and ballast (in that order) are the more likely culprits in any failure. Some of the other equivalent ballasts go for $3000 or more separately so it's good to keep some perspective on that.

We also have a $399 silent and flicker free 150w "CDM" fresnel like the one Bob Grant mentioned earlier. I wouldn't rate this as a 800w equivalent but being more realistic it's like a 650w equivalent. It's even in the same fixture type that our 650w tungsten fresnel is in. So yes, it's focusable also. That fixture includes a bulb in either tungsten or daylight color at your choice. I view this as a super combination with one or two of our new plastic flos for a great lightweight and cooler alternative to tungsten fresnels and tungsten softboxes.

Feel free to ask any other questions if I missed something.
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Old October 6th, 2007, 08:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Grant View Post
You can get self ballasted HID lamps that run directly off 12V. Designed primarily for torches etc. Not overly expensive, haven't a clue about CT or CRI but I have seen at least one quite expensive camera light that uses them so I guess something suitable is out there. As Richard said though the ones used in cars do have an external ballast / ignitor and the whole kit is expensive.

But there's one other problem, not exactly a huge amount of light output either!

Lupo do a not overly expensive fresnel HID that uses a 150W lamp, they like to call it a "800", guess they mean equivalent to tungsten. These run quite happily off a cheap inverter. I do suggest using 24V inverters rather than 12V. All you need for battery power is either a 24V truck battery or two car batteries in series. Here's a link to the light:
http://www.lupo.it/eng/video/illumin...otdaylight.php

However if you're trying to provide fill against the sun even these would probably come up short. Smallest HMI I've seen used for this is a 800W unit, the Joker Bug from K5600 is a very good light but I think way outside your budget at $6K
Interesting to know about the self-ballasted HID's. I haven't seen those around in my travels. Have to see if we can look those up and find out more about them.
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Old October 7th, 2007, 08:12 PM   #12
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Here's a couple of types of self ballasted and they are expensive:

http://www.toolcity.com/index.asp?Pa...WPROD&ProdID=3

http://offroadlighting.com/lightforce/240hid.html

Thanks for the info on your lights, Richard. Still look pretty good!
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Old October 7th, 2007, 10:51 PM   #13
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Thanks for the links. I see now. This is really like a disposable fixture with the ballast incorporated. Or perhaps you can replace the bulb. It's hard to tell. Xenon really gives the best distance throw of any technology and its why the best new stage spotlights use Xenon and some others use HMI which is also not bad in throw.
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