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Old March 1st, 2008, 05:43 PM   #1
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Arrilite Advice For Interviews/Docs

I'm struggling to choose between these two Arrilite kits, which I intend to use primarily for interviews and (I know this isn't particularly specific) and for general use in producing documentaries.

Both kits include extras, but I'm more interested in the lights themselves

2 x 650 watt & 1 x 300 watt Junior Light-Weight Fresnel Spotlights

http://tinyurl.com/3aa3mn

3 x Arri 800w open face

http://tinyurl.com/2gy7mn

I'd love to hear from people who are experienced in producing documentaries think of either kit, and what they'd add or take away.

* I've been reading the boards here every day for the last few months and would like to say thanks to all who contribute. I genuinely haven't had to post until now because I always found the answer/valuable insights by searching.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 06:14 PM   #2
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Tough call, I'd say. One's got all fresnels, the other all open-faced. I think an ideal kit for what you've mentioned would be a mix. If you're set on Arri, there are kits they offer that have both types of lights in them. Look up the Arri Softbank kits. Those usually have some fresnels and an open faced light with lightbank. Also, it might be wise to get a kit with different sized fixtures, a nice variety. Those Softbank kits would fit that bill as well.

Good luck.

~~Dave
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Old March 1st, 2008, 07:31 PM   #3
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Thanks Dave - I was a little confused about why so many UK suppliers seem to be selling sets of three of this or that light, when most people seem to recommend a mix.

The Softbank kits are double my current budget and from what I can gather, only available from Germany, so I'll have to work towards developing a kit of that ilk. The eBay shop I linked to allow you to mix and match, so I think I'll get two fresnals and one open-faced, and invest in a top-of-the-range shower curtain for diffusion ;-).

I stumbled across this which should be useful to anyone buying a lighting kit (it's produced by Arri but most of the points they make about lighting apply across the board and it's an excellent introduction to lighting).

http://rtf.utexas.edu/pdf/equipment/arri.pdf
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Old March 1st, 2008, 09:22 PM   #4
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One 650 and one 300 fresnel and one open face would get you through lots of situations with no problems. Get scrims for all the lights, and gel holders for the fresnels; for the open face use C-47s and diffusion gel on the barn doors if you don't want to spend the money for a softbox.
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Old March 1st, 2008, 10:47 PM   #5
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Vinny, the mix and match option sounds good. Go for it.

Also, for diffusion, consider getting a multi-disc reflector, somewhere along the lines of 40" or around 1 meter in diameter. While the reflective surfaces come in handy, what I find particularly useful is that when you remove the reflective covers, you have a transparent disc - similar to artificial white china silk. I love the quality of light this gives when you shoot a light through. Very nice. You can pick up one of these for around $50USD, which, while more than most shower curtains, is a great deal for all of the options it gives you.

Also, to get that soft key, Walter Graff likes to shoot a hard light across the frame into the white side of a reflector, bouncing the light onto the subject. It's a very nice technique that I use a lot as well, and it yields some very pleasing results.

Try Photoflex and Flexfill. I'd recommend more, but I don't remember the other brands that make this, but there are quite a few.

Good luck.

~~Dave
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 04:50 AM   #6
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That's the first recommendation I've come across on certain brands of reflectors so thanks for that. I was close to picking up a cheapo one on eBay in the belief they'd all do pretty much the same thing.

And thanks again (this is turning into an Oscar acceptance speech) to Bill for the specific advice on what would get me "through most situations with no problems".

Both of you have given *exactly* the kind of advice I appreciate and echos what I have been told by people who actually do this for a living, some of whom travel only with one light when in Asia, Africa etc.

It seems that there's a big gap between what pros think you need and what armchair prosumers think you need for interviews and docs - perhaps surprisingly it's the latter who usually seem to go for overkill.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 11:25 AM   #7
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Actually I have shot lots of interviews with a single soft light. I'm using Flolights 500LEDs now instead of fluorescents for lots of shooting I do, and in many cases there's enough ambient daylight in the location so I can key with a single diffused light and let the ambient light fill. However, I never go anywhere with just a single light unless I have to. And while a set of 2 or 3 fluorescents or LEDs is good for lots of interview shooting, you wouldn't want that as your only set of lights. The 2-fresnel/open face combination, with color correction and diffusion gels, is the most versatile thing you can have.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 12:37 PM   #8
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Sorry for the sidestep, but Bill: Have background lighting and hairlights gone out of style or am I missing something?

Vinny, as to selecting fixtures for your kit; it is really a matter of what you need to get the look you want.

It is easier to know what you may need if you've had some experience and/or have had a chance to experiment. 'On paper' there are no bad choices. But as a general choice, I'd have to agree with Bills first post for a flexible set.

George/
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 02:13 PM   #9
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George, I think you missed something I wrote above. Bill wasn't recommending using one light, but was responding to something I mentioned previously about people shooting in remote/frontline locations having to get by with one as that is all they could afford to carry.

The same people didn't recommend using just one light, but simply told me that it is possible to *get by* with one when circumstances don't allow you to carry more than one.

Thanks again guys. I'm looking at this kit as a starting point and intend to go for a mix with a view to building up my kit further as I go along.

At this point I'm more concerned with not buying anything I'll regret further down the line.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 02:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pryor View Post
Actually I have shot lots of interviews with a single soft light...
Quote:
Originally Posted by George Kroonder View Post
Sorry for the sidestep, but Bill: Have background lighting and hairlights gone out of style or am I missing something?...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinny Flood View Post
George, I think you missed something I wrote above. Bill wasn't recommending using one light, but was responding to something I mentioned previously about people shooting in remote/frontline locations having to get by with one as that is all they could afford to carry.

The same people didn't recommend using just one light, but simply told me that it is possible to *get by* with one when circumstances don't allow you to carry more than one...
When I travel (and I've been doing a lot of airplane travel for interviews recently) I bring two Rifa 500 (extremely light/small soft lights) and one Lowel Pro. Most interviews I use one Rifa for soft key, perhaps some reflector fill, and the Pro for back/hair. I bring an assortment of CTB gels and take as much advantage of ambient light as possible.

Frequently, I don't use a backlight/hairlight. The question for me is, "is the subject distinct from the background?" This may be so because of color differences, ambient light, or the addition of a backlight.

The next question is whether there is sufficient depth in the scene. This may be provided by the blocking of the subject in the environment, DOF of the camera, or backlights.

If the subject is sufficiently distinct from the background, and sufficiently dimensional, I don't use a backlight (but I always have one with me!)
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 01:53 AM   #11
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Sorry guys, I didn't intend to come over this smug and certainly didn't intend to question Bills craftmanship.

Just that with the convenience of LED lighting I think its become easy to just use one soft source to light the subject and 'forget' about the rest. In my humble opinion, lighting is just really important for the quality of the shot.

It does depend on what job your on and I know sometimes (maybe often) there is little time to prepare, so working with what you've got is a necessity but I believe it is seldom ideal.

George/
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 02:12 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by George Kroonder View Post
Sorry guys, I didn't intend to come over this smug and certainly didn't intend to question Bills craftmanship.

Just that with the convenience of LED lighting I think its become easy to just use one soft source to light the subject and 'forget' about the rest. In my humble opinion, lighting is just really important for the quality of the shot.

It does depend on what job your on and I know sometimes (maybe often) there is little time to prepare, so working with what you've got is a necessity but I believe it is seldom ideal.

George/
George, my early lighting experience was in a television studio where we practiced 3-point lighting plus base light on everything. Backlight is important, but why is it important? IMO, cutting distinctly against the background and dimensionality. A third factor can be glamor effects, especially highlights on women's hair.

What I'm saying is that I always travel prepared to backlight, and have plenty of time, and do backlight... but if the environment provides what I need I think it's a more natural look to go as ambient as possible and avoid backlighting.

I certainly agree with you that one soft source and forget about the rest is not ideal - we both want to design the image. I'm just using ambient and background selection as much as possible.

On the other hand, the classic back/rim/hair light is a look appropriate to a lot of programming. It really comes down to aesthetics and the look you're trying to acheive.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 04:25 AM   #13
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Sorry guys, I didn't intend to come over this smug and certainly didn't intend to question Bills craftmanship.

George/
I don't think you did come across that way. Just a little misunderstanding. I know I certainly don't read every word in every thread.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 11:09 AM   #14
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I still use traditional (Rembrandt lighting as we used to call it) lighting when appropriate, but I don't do all interviews to look the same. I go prepared for just about anything but try to use lighting that's appropriate to the mood we're trying to convey. There are times a single light works, many times it doesn't. I think the point about lighting is you have to know the rules before you can break them so you know how to break them effectively when the situation calls for something different.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 02:43 PM   #15
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I think the point about lighting is you have to know the rules before you can break them so you know how to break them effectively when the situation calls for something different.
An excellent point. I don't even see conventions as rules, but rather guidelines to start with. The only "rules" involved are the scientific laws (which, by definition, cannot be broken) involved; everything else is subjective.

Conventions and best practices arise for very good reasons, however they are never sacrosanct.
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