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Brian Luce November 22nd, 2008 04:15 PM

what size softbox
 
For a single talent shoot, to get the most flattering light, what'd be a good size? I found a 24"x24" for sale on Craig's. But it seems kind of small. Hdv format.

Dan Brockett November 22nd, 2008 05:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brian Luce (Post 967550)
For a single talent shoot, to get the most flattering light, what'd be a good size? I found a 24"x24" for sale on Craig's. But it seems kind of small. Hdv format.

Hiya:

For head and shoulders talking heads, I prefer a small Chimera which is 24" x 36". For larger or full body length, you need a medium 36" x 48" or even better, a large, which is something like 4' x 6'.

2x2 is okay for head and shoulders but not really for anything bigger.

D

Brian Luce November 22nd, 2008 10:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dan Brockett (Post 967564)
Hiya:

For head and shoulders talking heads, I prefer a small Chimera which is 24" x 36". For larger or full body length, you need a medium 36" x 48" or even better, a large, which is something like 4' x 6'.

2x2 is okay for head and shoulders but not really for anything bigger.

D

Thanks for the info. To clarify, there's probably no such thing as "Too big" with softbanks right? Bigger means more diffusion.

24x24 really seems too limiting.

Bill Davis November 23rd, 2008 01:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brian Luce (Post 967641)
Thanks for the info. To clarify, there's probably no such thing as "Too big" with softbanks right? Bigger means more diffusion.

24x24 really seems too limiting.

Actually, 24x24 is useful for a LOT of things. Just probably not for full sized adults unless you're shooting something like facial details and can get the bag REALLY close to the surface you're shooting.

Two concepts to master.

The size of the softbox works in conjunction with the distance you want to rig it away from the subject. The farther the box from the subject, the larger it has to be to get the same quality of light.

But moving away with a larger box also means you need a stronger light source since light falls off over distance relatively rapidly.

So for a small kid's head shot in a relative close up, your 24x24 might be just fine. It's also great for small copystand work, shooting jewelry, figurines, and a lot of other small stuff.

But yeah, it's likely gonna be too small for a standard adult talking head where you want the whole upper body lit smoothly.

As most of us long timers keep saying, if one kind of light did everything that's what we'd all own.

But we keep hiring those damn expensive grip trucks, precisely because "one light fits all" is never gonna be the way things work in the real world.

Good luck.

Shaun Roemich November 23rd, 2008 08:10 AM

Brian: keep in mind one more thing that is counter intuitive: softboxes are designed to work CLOSE to the subject. The light actually becomes MORE directional the further you back a softbox off from the subject.

Dan Brockett November 23rd, 2008 10:47 AM

Yes, I shot some tests a few years back where I lit a head and shoulders talking head with a small Chimera, then with my medium, both close up on the subject from about 2 feet. In every case, the medium provided better wrap around the face and, of course, a softer light quality.

Of course, you do need a larger light to provide even coverage inside the box. I typically use a 650 with my small and a 1k or 2k with my medium.

YMMV

Dan

Brian Luce November 23rd, 2008 11:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dan Brockett (Post 967803)
Of course, you do need a larger light to provide even coverage inside the box. I typically use a 650 with my small and a 1k or 2k with my medium.

You put the 650 inside the 36x48? Or do you use the 1k for that one?

Dan Brockett November 23rd, 2008 01:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brian Luce (Post 967813)
You put the 650 inside the 36x48? Or do you use the 1k for that one?

Hi Brian:

No, I use the 650 for the small and a 1k or 2k for the medium. I supposed in a very dark room, you might get away with a 650 in medium but it would be pretty wimpy and I doubt if you would get enough foot candles for the average 1/3" chip HD camera.

I used to use my 1k Arrilite with the medium Chimera but problem is that the yoke on the Arris is nylon and definitely not beefy enough to hold up the medium's weight, it sags down toward the floor. So I hunted down both 1k and 2k globes that fit my Mighty Mole. The yoke tie-down on the Moles is metal on metal so when I want a 1k, I just fit the 1k globe to the Mighty and mount the medium. It will hold the medium Chimera in any position without sagging. And I also have the flexibility to put in the 2K globe onto the Mighty as well when I need more output and have a circuit that can handle it. The Mighty Mole 2K is a great tool, I have had mine for close to 15 years now.

Love Mole lights, they are great, just too heavy to drag around small shoots by myself. That's why I like the Arris when I am shooting alone or just small shoots with 1-2 other crew. I borrowed one from a friend once, the Mole lighting kits rock but are too damn heavy for me use alone. I am on the opposite end now, formulating a "Walter Graff" kit http://tinyurl.com/3bhsl2 so I can haul a lot of small and tiny, light stuff. The days of me going in and out a locations with 500lbs of gear on my Rock & Roller cart to shoot a few interviews are coming to an end ;-) Smaller, lighter and cheaper rules!

Dan

Steve Oakley November 23rd, 2008 09:35 PM

a 500W DP works great, and its more light then a 650 fresnel. you can always bulb a DP to 1K when you need it, but be careful about not burning the inner diffuser. open face works better in a chimera then a fresnel, especially if you need some CTB in there.

Curt Talbot November 24th, 2008 11:56 AM

Brian, you might be interested to know that the video 'How to Setup, Light and Shoot Great Looking Interviews' recommends a small photoflex silverdome with an eggcrate (16 x 22) as the key light. The video was recommended on this site so I ordered it and found it quite helpful.

I had been using large Chimera, 36 x 48, and happened to have an old 16 x 32 Chimera. I am not a pro but the small one seems to do the job well enough and is certainly much easier to use in a room with a lower ceiling.

Brian Luce November 24th, 2008 03:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Curt Talbot (Post 968335)
Brian, you might be interested to know that the video 'How to Setup, Light and Shoot Great Looking Interviews' recommends a small photoflex silverdome with an eggcrate (16 x 22) as the key light. The video was recommended on this site so I ordered it and found it quite helpful.

I had been using large Chimera, 36 x 48, and happened to have an old 16 x 32 Chimera. I am not a pro but the small one seems to do the job well enough and is certainly much easier to use in a room with a lower ceiling.

Do you place your softbank close to the camera? For the most flattering light wouldn't this be a better choice than the standard three point configuration? ie a big softbank and rim light only...

Curt Talbot November 24th, 2008 08:02 PM

I tend to follow the traditional wisdom on placement of the key light. I think if it is too close to the camera you will end up with a fairly flat light over the whole face. Of course, it depends on where the subject is looking. From left to right (or vice versa) I would place the key light, then the interviewer, then the camera. The interviewee would be square to the interviewer. That way, the shoulders would not be square to the camera and only one ear would be visible to the camera.

Like I said, I am no expert on this but this is the approach I follow to get a traditional news magazine look (using a small softbox helps keep the light low in the background).

Bill Davis November 25th, 2008 12:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brian Luce (Post 968424)
Do you place your softbank close to the camera? For the most flattering light wouldn't this be a better choice than the standard three point configuration? ie a big softbank and rim light only...

Brian,

Great looking video is all about creating the ILLUSION of depth on a 2 dimensional surface.

The TV screen is essentially flat. It's a 2 dimensional surface. It has width and height - but no depth.

When the light falls on a subject from from close to the camera lens, there are no shadows to speak of. So the nose, for instance, becomes just an indescernable skin thing in the middle of a field of skin things.

Move the camera to the right (or the left) and the nose creates a shadow which your MIND decodes - after seeing zillions of tall things cast shadows - as an indication that the nose stands out from the face. Bingo. The illusion of depth on a flat surface.

So it's fair to say that the arrangement of lighting which casts appropriate shadows, and the control of those shadows is what makes a flat picture appear to be more "real" - or more 3-dimensional.

This is the whole point of careful lighting. You want to give the scene a sense of depth and space - even tho you're going to be projecting that image onto a flat surface.

Lighting isn't easy. It's also not intuitive. Your eyes see in "stereo" since there's an offset between your eyes and that lets your brain decode distance and depth information. A camera is a single point of light capture. There's no depth unless you put specific depth information back into the scene.

Welcome to lighting for video 101.

M. Paul El-Darwish November 25th, 2008 01:59 PM

Window lights are supposed to fake ... windows!

So the light you get from a 'Soft Box' will vary in terms on the type of window it simulates. If If I have to fake a big panorama window I'm likely to line one side of the set with a number of boxes about 3' apart ( 4'WX6'H ). This allows for plenty of room for the camera to move in actions such as dollies and pans. The cheaper route is to bounce lights off flats or 4'X6' foamcore.As a rule, as the source gets smaller, the coverage gets smaller and the character simulates smaller and smaller windows. Obviously, if you're lighting an interview with talent cropped 3/4 you only need a 3X4 or 4X5 Max. I love my old softboxes and yearn for those hand new pop-opens like the Riffa Light.

Something I learned that may help you. MOST front diffusion is handled incorrectly if it's meant to simulate the sun trying to punch through slight haze. People are tempted to use too small a box with too dense a diffusion material. This kills the ability to simulate a combination spectral and diffuse light.

Better use the LARGEST box you can get and easy up on the front screen.

D.J. Ammons November 26th, 2008 07:16 AM

Bill & Everybody,

This information about softboxes has been very interesting. I have a new Wedding Videography business and am putting together the beginnings of a light kit primarily for shooting the bride getting ready and then for use in projects other than weddings such as interviews, web commercials, etc.

Before I read this thread I ordered a fotodiox C1600 light fixture to use as a key light. I ordered it because it has the capacity for 16 CFL bulbs (you can power up all of half) which should give an equivilent of around 1600 watts output.

However this fixture is designed to only handle the softbox made specifically for it by fotodiox and it is only 24" x 24". I am now wondering if the small size of this softbox is going to defeat having the 1600 watts output if the size of the softbox limits me to half body shots, etc?

Brian Luce November 26th, 2008 11:05 AM

I'm thinking for a swath of light that covers the full body, head to foot, it might be more cost effective to run an open face light through diffusion, a frame on a c stand. Would the main drawback to that be loss of control? The set is just a white cyc so maybe I can get away with it.

Bradley Helgerson November 26th, 2008 11:15 AM

Hey DJ, I have shot lots of bride preps with a Lowel Rifa (the 500 watt version) and had a lot of success with it. The thing I like most about it is that it sets up (and breaks down) in seconds and in weddings this is essential. It fits on a small light stand or can be hung using many kinds of grip clamps, etc . . . I have also shot lots of interviews with it and while it is somewhat small (24x24 I think) it still works pretty well. It is a great travel softbox.

The fotodiox one you mentioned looks like a pain and too fragile to me to lug around for weddings. Especially if you have an assistant breaking it down for you. I can just imagine breaking a couple CFLs in the bridal suite at the Ritz and everything comes to a screeching halt while housekeeping is summoned to remove the mercury contaminated mess left by the videographer. I have seen way to many high maintenance brides for that. :)

The flolight LED is another option you could consider. You can even run if off a battery. Although you will need some diffusion if you point it directly at the subject.

D.J. Ammons November 26th, 2008 11:33 AM

Bradley,

I have thought about the fragility of the cfl's. I am going to either find or DIY a case with foam holes to transport them in.

I had forgotten about the whole mercury thing though. Yikes! You brought nightmare visions to mind.

I really like the idea of the cool light the CFL's put out. I plan on using the 16 bulb fotodiox as the key light then two four bulb fixtures by another mfg. as the fill and back lights. Those two fixtures come with 55 watt cfl bulbs so put out about 800 watts of light with those bulbs. They have a larger 32" x 40" softbox. I would probably replace the 55 watt bulbs in the one used for the backlight with some 23 watt ones.


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