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Old November 21st, 2007, 10:46 PM   #1
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Light recommendations for hotel interiors?

I'm an underwater videographer branching into shooting topside. I have a job coming along shooting hotel videos such as this one.

I already have a Sony Z1 HDV camera, a good Miller tripod and a Bolex Aspheron wide angle lens.

But I don't have a light. The producer says I need a "red head" light for this type of work.

Can anyone recommend a decent light for me to get? I live in Thailand so preferably I'm looking for something I might be able to get in Bangkok or order from B&H or Adorama.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 11:15 PM   #2
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Don't we all love it when producers tell us what kind of lights we need to have?

Ranting aside, a redhead generally is a 1k open-faced fixture. It specifically refers to a specific 1k fixture by Ianiro or Strand, but I've heard it thrown around for Arri 1k's as well. The Lowel DP light is a comparable model, but I've never heard it referred to as a "redhead."

Anyway, from the video you linked, it's hard to say what you need, if anything. That video didn't seem to use anything other than available light (but I could be wrong). If you're shooting boutique hotels, you should definitely carry something around with you as many of them have "mood lighting" which really means dark as heck.

Do you want something on-camera or something with a stand?

~~Dave
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Old November 21st, 2007, 11:34 PM   #3
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Thanks Dave.

I think I need something on a stand, not camera mounted.

We're talking around 20 hotels. I'm definitely going to need lights at some point.

I've found an Ianiro dealer in Bangkok who sell their Varibeam Redhead. Also a shop in Bangkok that sells 2 Chinese-made lights made by Fokon: An 800W tungsten light with a stand and barn doors (no daylight filter) for USD223 and a "Kino Flo" type light (4 x 55W flueorescent, switchable for 2 or 4 bulbs) including stand for USD668.

What do you think?
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Old November 21st, 2007, 11:35 PM   #4
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Richard Andrewski cruises this forum and I'd be interested to here what he would say... I'm thinking his 575 watt hmi fresnels might be the ticket.

If you are looking to boost dark parts of the rooms, you need lots of light to compete with outdoor light, and it needs to be daylight color temp. Tungsten lamps don't have the per watt lumen output, so unless you use really LARGE instruments, 2-10,000 watts its hard to get enough light. And you have to stop them down further with CTB to match the daylight color.

So hmi's, or maybe daylight fluorescents, seem to be a likely choice, and Richards' are very inexpensive compared to say Jokers' or Arris' hmi's. I'd be interested to hear what others say, as taking on the sun on a low budget is always a challenge.
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 12:57 AM   #5
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Thanks Eric, I'll be interested to hear what Richard recommends.

I also had this quote from another Bangkok company:

REDHEAD:
ianiro : varibeam 800w USD611 (+ tripod manfrotto)
..........varibeam 1000w USD669 (+ tripod manfrotto)

FLOURESCENT:
visio : S5502(dimmer) USD803
.........S5504(dimmer) USD1083
photonbeard : highlight 110w USD1513
................................220w USD1914
................................330w USD2306

I would welcome any more views.
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 03:43 AM   #6
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Hi Nick,

Hmm, to me the sample video certainly didn't seem to exhibit modeled or motivated light, did it? But then the camera work and editing was also so-so, locked down tripod with lots of quickie pans. However I liked the use of practicals on the last segment.

Aside from this light or that, reflectors, gels, diffusion, modeling, etc, before you go out and buy a ton of lights be certain you know how many amps are available at your 20 hotels. Remember, the wattage of your lamps equals the voltage times the current. Too much current and you'll trip the circuit breaker (or worse - what's that smell???) And in my experience, older hotels often have very limited power available in the rooms.

Good luck, Michael
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 08:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Hope View Post
Thanks Eric, I'll be interested to hear what Richard recommends.

I also had this quote from another Bangkok company:

REDHEAD:
ianiro : varibeam 800w USD611 (+ tripod manfrotto)
..........varibeam 1000w USD669 (+ tripod manfrotto)

FLOURESCENT:
visio : S5502(dimmer) USD803
.........S5504(dimmer) USD1083
photonbeard : highlight 110w USD1513
................................220w USD1914
................................330w USD2306

I would welcome any more views.
You might contact me offline. I think you'd love a 575w HMI for that kind of work. And/Or our new 4x55 plastic portable. You can get both pretty reasonably. The only variable I don't know but would have to check is shipping from China to Thailand but how bad could it be? It's not that far...
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 10:16 AM   #8
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One of my oldest clients is a travel marketing company that among many related areas specializes in marketing programs for resort destinations, this include Hyatt, Hilton, Marriot, Windham, etc. I started freelancing for this company in 1990 and weíve been doing on the average a dozen destinations each year, thatís over 200 resorts. In the last 12 months we shot 19 resorts in 13 countries, mostly in the Caribbean and South America. Budgets over the years have been shrinking and we went from a crew of ten and 3 cameras to just the producer and me. For those few times when we do resorts here in Florida I can drive my van to the location and I get to use anything that I need but getting to most places require air travel and that means traveling with the bare essentials. Over the years we got it down to a science, all our lighting needs, 5 lightweight stands included, fits inside a Pelican 1650 case, weights 75 lbs and we pay $25 of overweight charge. Inside the case we have two Lowel Rifas 55/66, 3 Arri 300 Fresnels, 3 Arri 150 Fresnels and one Kobolt 200w HMI, 2 large collapsible reflectors, plus gels and a few grips. No dimmers, we use ND gels. For these jobs timing is everything, we work with a very specific schedule. All exteriors are done before 10am or after 4pm. Interiors that requires the outdoor to be included we time it with the end of the day when the exterior light will match the brightness of the interior. The rest of the day we do detail shots (food, service, etc.) and interior facilities such as business center, kitchen, bars, etc. We take advantage of any existing light, keep in mind that those lights are placed there with specific decorative reasons by the designers; we use our light to enhance areas that need help and to control the contrast of an image.

You can see a few clips here http://nino-g.com/demos.html unfortunately I havenít updated this site in years, something that Iím planning to do soon, I hope. But it will give you an idea of what weíve been doing with resorts.
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 11:17 AM   #9
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Hi Nino,

Excellent post and website video examples demonstrating you're a true pro! Loved your camerawork, editing, music score, voice-over, and yes - great lighting!

Many thanks for sharing, Michael
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 12:29 PM   #10
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http://www.studioscotland.com/hilton.htm

In the promo for Hilton Dunkeld in Scotland we used Arri 2k, 1k, 650w heads / diffuser panels and a couple of Red Heads - we had a day and a half to shoot, the weather was giving us a hard time, the schedule was tough going as many of the events were in various parts of a very large estate. In the example you linked to I would have used a decent digital stills camera for all the static shots, this would give better/quicker contol over lighting with corrections made in photoshop and with any tracking being added in post. The time saved could then be used to get better moving shots with the video camera. If your doing this yourself Nick you really want to try and streamline your workload or you'll end up wiped out....

All the best with your jobs....

Regards: Stu
www.studioscotland.com
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Old November 24th, 2007, 12:13 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the advice. It's all noted.

Here are pictures of the Fokon Chinese-made lights I can get quickly from Bangkok. I'm pretty sure I'm going to order the fluorescent unit so I have something in time for the first 3 jobs which are 1/2/3 December. Any thoughts or comments?

I asked the same question on the very helpful Sony Vegas forum.

I'll also be taking along a load of screw-in fluorescent bulbs and will probably build a "Nanolight" fixture for 6-8 x 20W or 23W bulbs as an extra tool for future jobs.
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Light recommendations for hotel interiors?-coollight1.jpg   Light recommendations for hotel interiors?-800watt3.jpg  

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Old November 24th, 2007, 05:54 PM   #12
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That first fluorescent is like the coollights.biz CL-455 which I have used. A big daylight-balanced fixture is extremely handy if you don't have a lot of crew. A light like that is great for filling in an area that has natural daylight. The large source makes it have indistinct shadows like a softbox so it doesn't give itself away in your shot easily. I got two lights in one from that light since I bounced light off the barn doors for hard light on the subject and aimed the rest at a wall to create a soft fill. Use a few lights to make your background pretty and the big fluorescent and one backlight can take care of your subject. If you simply need to fill a subject backlit by a window, put a light diffusion gel over the big fluorescent and move it in close to make it strong enough to combat the sun.

Make sure you get fluorescent lamps that are the appropriate color temperature for your location. If you have lots of tungsten already in the location that you want to use, you may need to use 3200Kelvin fluorescents. If you have a fair amount of daylight coming in, you can use daylight fluorescents and maybe some gel to get the other lights the way you want them to look.
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Old December 2nd, 2007, 09:40 AM   #13
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Done 2 days and thought I'd give some feedback, not just on the lights but on some of the rest of our kit, much of which is being used intensively for the first time.

The Fokon "Kino Flo" type 4x55W fluorescent light is working well. We're mostly using it in bedrooms as a fill light, with the windows supplying most of the light. The clamp isn't very good and doesn't feel that secure. We also need to get a case for the head as we can only fit it in a large suitcase. Thinking of getting the local wetsuit shop to make a 7mm neoprene case for it unless someone has a bright idea. We'll make a case out of plastic pipe for the stand. We also need a gel to match it to tungsten for darker shoots. Anyone know what colour/number gel that would be?

The 23W curly-wurly CFLs are only available here in 2700K (more yellow than tungsten) and 6500K (more blue than daylight). They're mostly Philips "Tornado". Nevertheless we assembled quite a kit of them and various leads, festoon lighting, etc. etc., much of which is going to be ditched tomorrow when we pare the kit down to basics. Biggest lesson learnt so far for this sort of shoot is to keep the amount of kit down so we can carry it all around from shot to shot between 2 people and not leave bits of it lying all around the hotel.

Something you guys may be interested in... Instead of building a "flower" of curly-wurly CFLs we bought Philips Econotone 65W fluorescents, one at 4000K and one at 6500K. The 4000K one has been very useful for supplementing light in bedrooms as its colour temperature sits between the tungstens and daylight. They also make a 45W one but the 65W one is great. We couldn't get a china ball/paper globe for it anywhere here so I'll have to bring one from abroad.

Most of the lighting in the hotels so far has been low voltage dichroics, so we haven't been swapping out any lights. Time is rather rushed for doing that anyway and I'm not confident with the safety of some of the local wiring either.

My Bolex Aspheron wide angle lens has been a dream for this job. Super wide angle for tight bathrooms etc. and straight edges stay straight because of it's aspheric shape. During pans and tilts it does give a virtual point of rotation that is in front of the camera, but I'd rather have that than curvy edges towards the edge of the shot. There's plenty of discussion of this lens on these forums. It does need an adaptor making to fit on video cameras such as my Z1.

My Miller Solo legs have been brilliant. Light and stable, quick to set up, and can get into all sorts of odd shaped corners and territory. I'm not so sure about the Miller DS10 head. It's OK but perhaps not as smooth as it should be. Never had a fluid head before so it's hard to compare but it just feels a little rumbly at moments. Maybe it just needs running in more.

My Manfrotto 521Pro zoom controller has been working great, especially for slow zooms, but the rubber pads fell off on just the 2nd day of use and we've lost one of them. If you buy one of these pull the 4 rubber pads straight off and superglue them back on.

The Z1 has performed well, especially the transition function. Got a couple of cool rack focus details and slow zooms using the transition function and I've been using it for bringing details into focus from out of focus. A bit cheesy but gives the editor another option.

I have some homemade A4 "warmcards"... Pantone PMS 290C, 2707C and 283C printouts which I got off the net somewhere. The 290C is nice for warming shots up a bit. The others have been useful for getting white balance nearer to tungsten in some situations so we don't jump harshly from "white" to "yellow".

I also have a 4"x4" Expodisc that I bought for use underwater. It no longer gets used for that but it's been quite useful for this job. It tends to give a slightly warmer balance than the outdoor preset MWB on white.

Now all we need to do is speed up a bit and get better at dealing with harsh shadows. The strong sunlight here in Thailand is a bit of a nightmare for shooting exteriors.

Thanks again for everyone's help!
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Old December 2nd, 2007, 10:35 PM   #14
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Nick, nice reporting. I guess finding high CRI fluorescents at the right color temp can be a challenge...

I hadn't seen the threads on the Bolex Lens. Can you post a pan/tilt shot of it working in a small space? I'd love to see it in action of a Z1. Sounds like you're getting into a good groove with your lighting, I wish you continued good luck.
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Old December 3rd, 2007, 06:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Hope View Post
Now all we need to do is speed up a bit and get better at dealing with harsh shadows. The strong sunlight here in Thailand is a bit of a nightmare for shooting exteriors.
You asked on the Sony Vegas group if they agree with my statement of "go inside between 10 and 4", now you answered your own question. Iím sure that the sunlight in Thailand isnít any worse that it is in the Caribbean or here in Florida. Dealing successfully with the sun is a challenge and requires a lot of planning. When is my choice, particularly with the Z1, the mid-day hours are off-limit to my camera, if I can help it that is. For 20 years weíve been shooting these resorts with Betacam however traveling with the big camera has become a pain. Early last year I told the client that if he wants me to continue doing these projects we have to light the load that I have to carry. We tested both cameras side by side and although the Z1 wasnít as good as the Betacam it was sufficiently good and we decided to go with it. The problem with the Z1 is that is has a high color saturation and contrast and a lower brightness range. All this means that it's a pain to get good shots under contrasty conditions. Solution 1, avoid situation where the brightness range exceed the capability of the camera, solution 2, Tiffen makes a series of low contrast filter made specifically for this problem. I have them and they really work. If I decide to continue working on these projects most likely weíll be using the new Sony PMW-EX1.

As far as wide angle lens goes, the Sony WA made for the Z1 gives a slight fisheye effect on the edge of the picture; the Schneider Optics WA attachment (Century) has no distortion.
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