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Old November 22nd, 2008, 05:15 PM   #1
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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.
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 06:10 PM   #2
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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
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 11:18 PM   #3
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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.
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Old November 23rd, 2008, 02:17 AM   #4
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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.
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Old November 23rd, 2008, 09:10 AM   #5
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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.
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Old November 23rd, 2008, 11:47 AM   #6
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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
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Old November 23rd, 2008, 12:13 PM   #7
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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?
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Old November 23rd, 2008, 02:28 PM   #8
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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
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Old November 23rd, 2008, 10:35 PM   #9
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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.
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Old November 24th, 2008, 12:56 PM   #10
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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.
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Old November 24th, 2008, 04:13 PM   #11
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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...
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Old November 24th, 2008, 09:02 PM   #12
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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).
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Old November 25th, 2008, 01:59 PM   #13
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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.
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Old November 25th, 2008, 02:59 PM   #14
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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.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 08:16 AM   #15
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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?
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