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Old February 5th, 2008, 01:10 AM   #1
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$500-$1000 lighting budget question

I'm a newbie to the scene. Been working on a video project with some outstanding high school students in my area. We have been trying to get the city (Daly City in the Bay Area Ca,) to adopt a tobacco retail license to make tobacco merchants pay a yearly fee to help fund enforcement of tobacco laws, cause kids have easy access to cigerettes where i live. Anyway, i've been filming thier progress over the last 2 years, and am at the point of editing. I have taken basic film production classes, and a semester on final cut pro. My agency also landed a huge equipment grant which i convinced them to spend on decent video production stuff. So we got the panansonic dvc 30, an audio tecnica mic, a wireless lav, a bunch of accesories, final cut pro, and couple of mac computers. Anyway your basic amatuer stuff.

Now that i have been editing this video, i realize i need to get interviews with the kids about their experience, and get some good sound bites to lay over the video as narration and spread their "talking head" interview throughout the video. So i'm thinking of setting up a "studio interview" in one of our larger counseling rooms and need help with figuring out what to get.

this is my idea, but i would like feedback. i would like a black background lit through some color gel, and basically use a 3-point lighting arrangement using a gold reflector for a fill light. My boss has given me a $1000 budget but would prefer me to spend less if possible. I was thinking about getting the following (click link to see my BH wish list)

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/WishList/2273A705D9&BI=28

Am i on the right track? what about the Lowel Go Jet set which comes with 2 v-lights and 1 pro light. Another option was to buy the Britek stuff, but i've been reading other threads and see that people dont advise. Should i also invest in soft box or can i make do with bouncing off an umbrella?. Do i need all this stuff, should i get more. I was gonna just buy a black sheet from bed bath and beyond for my back drop. I know my agency, which is a social services agency providing counseling services, would like to do more video stuff in the future, but i dont think it will be that much. Meaning should i go with this lighting set up which puts me at about $850, or go cheaper, or spend a tad bit more.

thanks in advance! would also love any other comments about style and tone about my documentary relative to making my video about teens being leaders in their community inspirational.

Last edited by Etan Zaitsu; February 5th, 2008 at 01:33 AM. Reason: updated
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Old February 5th, 2008, 02:24 AM   #2
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I think you would be better served with this Lowel kit:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Pro_55_2.html

This has the Rifa 55 soft light and a Pro light.

One note... make shure any new Lowel Rifa light you get is the Ex version. The non-Ex Rifas are no longer made and would only be available if old stock. The Ex version has a removable socket that can be replaced with a flourescent. You probably don't need this option now, but your light would be out of date if it didn't have the option.

The Rifa 55 and pro light would give you more options than the kit you picked and would be perfect for your interviews. You may also want to get a 40 degree egg crate, but not necessary right now I don't think.

The reflector for fill would be fine. You also need a stand and a holder.

Recently I have helped on several occasions to put together packages for different video setups. I think you want to get your basic setup for your purpose, and then add little things are you find you need them.

There are many, many ways to go. But for what you describe I like the Lowel kit I linked above. It has two popular, versatile and useful lights. It packs up small. It sets up fast.

You can save money initially on a refector by using foam core. Foam core is also easier to setup usually than a flexible reflector.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 02:48 AM   #3
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I'd first try finding an interview location with good light. You can do a lot with a simple sunlit window and a reflector. Many times with lights, the KISS principle gives you some of the best lighting.

For a soft key light, maybe add a tota-light + umbrella or if you really want to spend the money, a Rifa EX light. Personlly, I'd skip the Lowel Pro Lights and start looking at some 200-650 watt fresnels for harder / accent lighting. I own 3 Pro lights, but find my fresnels much more useful. Like Jack mentioned, don't forget to factor in a reflector holder and light stands.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 04:15 AM   #4
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Yes, you can get some very nice results with natural light and a reflector.

This can be inside near windows or glass doors or outside in open shade, with back light using the reflector for front light, etc.

These kinds of setups often look nicer than a mediocre interview setup with lights. In fact, there are so many interviews everywhere that are lit with soft lights, etc., they often look dull, boring, even old-fashioned, and often have a fakiness to them.

Try some natural settings, use the side of a building for a fill light reflector and you main reflector as the key, etc. If you get one of the combo reflectors you can try the white disk overhead to block the sun and get very nice filtered light.

Shooting interviews outside you can sometimes get nice deep backgrounds, that add production value and bring more realness into the picture.

I agree that the fresnel lights, in addition to a soft light (like the Rifa) would be most useful. One advantage of some of the Lowel gear is the light weight and ease to pack and carry. But this isn't really the main concern of yours, I don't think.

Richard A. at cool lights has some tungsten fresnels at a cheaper price than the Arris:
http://www.coollights.biz/advanced_s...resnel&x=0&y=0

He also has a softbox setup, this with flourescent lamp:
http://www.coollights.biz/advanced_s...oftbox&x=0&y=0

Here's the Lowel Rifa EX by itself at B&H:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...box_Light.html
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Old February 5th, 2008, 12:16 PM   #5
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Great advice

Thanks. I will look into the other buying optiong regarding the softbox's and fresnels. As far as the outside and natural light issue... most of the video content is shot with natural light in outside settings. I was hoping to add some contrast, and show the kids in a different, more professional light.

I would like to know more about using or not using an umbrella for a key light. Do people not advise it because my light will spread everywhere. Will using a soft box allow me to have more control? what about using only 2 lights as some have suggested versus using 3. I feel with 3 and a reflector i can light up my back ground. If i get only 2 lights then i may not have that option.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 02:41 PM   #6
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If it's just individual interviews, you might want to go here and look at a couple of fluorescents: http://www.coollights.biz/cl255-cool...ight-p-30.html .

These are $169 each, and add about $60 more for a stand. Under $500 for two sets. You can switch between daylight and tungsten bulbs if necessary. If you want a third light, a Lowel V-light might be OK.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 04:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etan Zaitsu View Post
I would like to know more about using or not using an umbrella for a key light.
A softbox and fresnels will give you the most control. Umbrellas are inexpensive and light, but scatter light all over the place. The cool lights will give you similar light to a softbox, but with much less heat.
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