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Old November 30th, 2007, 09:54 AM   #1
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Beginning Lighting Kit

Hi!

I'm about ready to purchase the beginnings of my lighting kit and I thought I'd run it past you guys to see what you think. These lights will be used primarily to light instructional videos at first - the proceeds from this videos will allow me to add more lights and other equipment as needed.

3 Altman 650L Fresnel Lights
3 Chimara Daylight Junior Plus 1 Softboxes (these are the extra deep ones for use with fesnel) - 1 36x48 (for fill light), 1 24x32 (for key), and one 12x16 (for hair light).
2 Regular light stands and 1 boom stand (for hair light).
3 sets of barndoors.
A bunch of 650 and 300 watt lamps.
Full double, full single, and half single scrims.
Assorted gels.
1 fabric grid for 36x48 and 1 for 24x32 softbox.
Speedrings for Daylight Junior/Altman 650L.

What do you think?
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Old November 30th, 2007, 05:38 PM   #2
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I personally don't think the softbox on a fresnel is a great idea. The softbox reflector is a big parabola in effect. The parabola as a reflector is at its best when the bulb is open on all sides (even if covered with a glass protection beaker) and placed at least roughly in the sweet spot of the parabola. Something like the starlight type fixtures. A fresnel only allows light to escape from its front through the lens. Yes, it works but its not the most efficient setup in the world for getting all of the light out that you're using current to generate.

Also, yes a softbox can be used as a hairlight but its perhaps not the best when you want real rim definition. A good 150w pepper fresnel is great for that. I see you were talking about getting 300w bulbs so you could use those in the 650's to make them into a lower wattage rim light.

Other than that, the choices seem pretty good.
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Old November 30th, 2007, 09:22 PM   #3
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Thanks!

What you said about the rim light makes sense - I'll do that instead of the third 650L.

I would agree with you about the fresnel, but it seems to me that fresnel lights would be more versatile. Also, not to long ago, Mike Curtis posted notes on his blog from a pro DP's session he attended, and one of the things that intrigued me is that the DP said she would never use open-faced lights - it just isn't done for some reason. At least, according to her.

Anyway, I'll think about it. Thanks!
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Old November 30th, 2007, 10:29 PM   #4
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That is just one person's opinion - and a kind of odd one at that. Pro DPs use ALL sorts of fixtures all the time. If you need proof, go through the American Cinematographer archives (www.theasc.com). You'll see/read about the big guys and gals using everything from enormous fresnels, to Kino Flos, to Arri Blondes, even Ellen Kuras using nothing but clamp-on photofloods in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

Also, I agree with Richard about not putting a fresnel in a softbox. If you're woried about versatility, open-faced fixtures are versatile as well. I think you would have a well-rounded kit with a mix of fresnel and open-faced fixtures. Consider it.

Good luck.

~~Dave
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Old December 1st, 2007, 12:03 AM   #5
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Most film DP's have crews and gear, (not too mention a lot more amps of power), at their command that you will not have, so their choices are going to be somewhat different. So don't get too caught up in the opinions of DP's. What we all have in common is how light behaves, just as true on a smaller scale as a larger.

Softlights are good for broad, even, illumination without hard shadows. For General room/set illumination as well as giving lighting facial features without glare/shine or deep shadows, softlights are great. Open Face instruments with softboxes are the norm. You could use either larger open face or fresnels, shoot them into a silk framed a few feet away, and also get lovely soft light. Either way, and especially with the second way, that 'broad' light means that it is hard to 'cut', softlights tend to 'spill' over a broader area. BTW, some open face lights can be focused into looser or tighter beams.

Fresnels are capable of an even tighter beam, also variable. And with their barndoors, their spill is easier to control. If aimed at faces, w/o diffusion, they can leave hard, dark shadows or glare spots. They are also great for light splashes with fairly defined edges, on back walls. Small ones are great to produce 'glare' on hair and shoulders, rim lighting to seperate subjects from walls.

All this to say that open faced instruments, when used as part of a light kit, are just as important and versatile, as fresnels. So feel free to add a few to your kit, and know that you won't be limiting, but actually expanding your lighting options.

Also, check the weight of your Altman fresnels, vs. say, Arri fresnels. Altman makes good lights, but I've known them mostly for theater, they may not be as 'portable' as lights made for video. And believe me, the weight of light kits becomes a big logistical issue, no matter how big and strong you are.
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Old December 1st, 2007, 06:29 AM   #6
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I'd have to agree with the open faced lights...

Open faced lights, when used properly are fine. Especially open faced ones like Redheads, or your basic Lowel Omni that can spot and flood.

Don't sell the farm to use a fresnel on a background. You cut it, and most of what you bought the fresnel for is useless.

People in my profession (ENG) rave about my lighting, but all I have are a Lowel DP, umbrellas, a couple of Omnis, and that's it.
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Old December 1st, 2007, 10:30 AM   #7
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I think the Altman fresnels are great. The portable kits aren't like the theatrical lights at all.I bought a set some years ago, two 650s and two 300s. They cost just a little more than the Arris but I liked them better because of the stands and the way the lid opened for changing bulbs. Mole Richardson also has similar small fresnels now in an equivalent kit for a bit more than the Altmans.

Also I agree about using fresnels with softboxes. You can, but you're really better off with an open faced light.

I routinely use a variety of different lights, including fresnels, open face Lowels, fluorescents and HMIs. There's no one kind of light for everything.

You might also want to get gel holders for the fresnels, although you can just drop in a circle of diffusion gel without the holder if you want.
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Old December 2nd, 2007, 01:03 AM   #8
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Bill, good to hear about the Altmans-I didn't realize they make portable kits and it certainly wasn't a slam against them.

Another valuable addition to a beginners' kit, even before you get anything else, might be to get a couple of good books on cinematography and give them a good read. I'm sure there are a few threads at dvinfo that will cover the subject. John Jackman and Blain Brown are 2 authors I can recommend right off the bat.

Good luck with it all!
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Old December 2nd, 2007, 03:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Stoltzfus View Post
Thanks!

What you said about the rim light makes sense - I'll do that instead of the third 650L.

I would agree with you about the fresnel, but it seems to me that fresnel lights would be more versatile. Also, not to long ago, Mike Curtis posted notes on his blog from a pro DP's session he attended, and one of the things that intrigued me is that the DP said she would never use open-faced lights - it just isn't done for some reason. At least, according to her.

Anyway, I'll think about it. Thanks!
If I had a choice between an open face light and a fresnel I would normally take the fresnel but for softbox use, I think the open face is the way to go, or just skip the hot light softbox and go to fluorescent which will give the same soft effect. You really need both fresnels and soft lights to be able to handle a variety of situations well.
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Old December 2nd, 2007, 07:17 AM   #10
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Ok, that makes sense guys. So, I guess for my first lights, I'll do a 150w fresnel and two 650w open faced lights. Can most open faced lights be lamped down?
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Old December 2nd, 2007, 09:22 AM   #11
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Dale,

One thing that has not been mentioned about open-faced lights is that they cast double shadows because there are two light sources, the lamp and the reflector. This is not bad just something to be aware of. With a Fresnel the lens combines these two sources into one source thus a single shadow.

I use Altman Fresnels except for the 150 which is an Arri. I use a separate softbox light from the Fresnels.

The kit I use the most contains one (1) 650, one (1) 300, one (1)150 watt light with one (1) softbox light with a 500 and a 1000 watt blub. I travel with a 36x36 softbox, however I have softboxes from 24x24 to 36x48 that I could use and interchange as needed.

I have barndoors and scrim sets for the Altman Fresnels and use blackwrap for the 150.

I carry and and full CTB color correction and some Opal for diffusion. (other gels in the gellyroll)

For stands, I carry two (2) 10-foot heavy-duty stands a lightweight 7 foot stand and small 36 inch stand.

Bill
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Old December 2nd, 2007, 08:46 PM   #12
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Thanks, Bill - that's very helpful. Well, off to B&H to rethink my order list!
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Old December 3rd, 2007, 09:27 AM   #13
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Ok, here is my redone shopping list:

Arrilight 1000 with 1000w and 600w lamps, scrims, 24x32 video pro soft box.
Altman 650L fresnel with 650w and 300w lamps, barndoors, and scrims.
Arri 150w fresnel with lamps and barndoors.
Asst color correction gels and a few sheets of Rosco 1/4 white diffusion.

Stands are two Impact air cushioned light stands, and one Avenger boom stand w/sandbag.
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Old December 3rd, 2007, 02:50 PM   #14
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Dale, here's my two cents worth, and it is just another opinion, but first, a little of my background. I've been through an intensive two year film program, where we used a mixture of open and fresnel light fixtures. I then went into corporate video production, and would borrow my buddy's Lowel kit. Eventually we moved away, and I rented Fresnel kits while saving up for my own, and at NAB 2005 looked over all the light kits. I decided upon the Arri D4 Soft bank kit, and I love it. Again, its just my opinion and I'm not saying others who post here are wrong, but i find the fresnel lights WAY easier to work with. I've heard people say "light is light" and justify that they can make Home Depo construction lights into a "kit". I think that's crap. I've gone that route too, and the Lowel, and the Arri kit just seems far superior. I find it very easy to set up a really nice lighting scheme, and the results always seem way better than what I would get with open faced kits, even stuff like Lowel. I don't find putting the softbox on the 650 an issue, but I don't think it "improves" the lighting by using a fresnel with the softbox. It just makes things a bit more versitile because if you opt not to use the softbox, you've still got a 650 fresnel to work with.
The Arri Kit is really well made, the spot function actually works as opposed to some of the open faced light kits out there where the spot/flood function is useless. For me, good lighting is about being able to control the light, and the Arri kit just makes it that much easier. If I had to do it again, I wouldn't hesitate to buy the Arri Kit. I can't say the same for my buddy that bought the Lowel kit, he says he wishes he went with the Arri. But that's not to say that Lowel kits are bad, they can do a great job, it just takes more time and effort. I usually find that time is precious on set, so I appreciate how I seem to get "immediate" results with the Arri kit. I always hated those Lowel "Tota" lights though, that just seem to blast light all over the place. Next thing you know, you're using a couple of flags and C-stands just control the light, which defeats the point of having a small "portable" kit.

With the Arri kit my only cautions would be is that it is:
bigger
heavier
more expensive

None of these factors come close for me to out-weighing the benefits.
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Old December 3rd, 2007, 02:57 PM   #15
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Bert,

What you say is helpful, but a bit confusing at the same time. Are you arguing for Arri vs Lowell, or are you saying that it's ok to use fresnels in a softbox?

I think you are saying the later, just want to be sure.

Once question that did occur to me is this: if using fesnels in softboxes is impractical/unheard of, than why do most of Arri's soft bank kits do exactly that? In fact, I was looking for a kit with a low and a medium wattage fresnel, a medium or high wattage open faced light, and a soft box, and I couldn't find such a thing. Go figure.
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