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Old December 25th, 2008, 03:33 PM   #1
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Cheap Lighting kit for documentary interviews?

Hi Everyone,

I'm doing a documentary right now, and conducting interviews indoors. I'm looking for a dirt cheap lighting kit simply for lighting the subjects I'm interviewing. Any suggestions? My budget is constrained, so I'm looking to buy around the $300-$700 range. Any suggestions? I'm shooting on an XH A1. Thank you for your time.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 03:43 PM   #2
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It doesn't get any cheaper than fluorescents from skaeser.com. The lights you need depend on the situations. Fluorescents are nice for interviews because they're cool, don't pull much power and you can get either 3200 or daylight bulbs. Coollights.biz has some fluorescents too that are very reasonable if you get the 2-bulb non-dimmable units. Softboxes are nice but a bit of a pain to set up and tear down in a hurry if you have to move fast. Fluorescents don't have much throw but are very nice for lighting interviews.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 07:44 PM   #3
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Some other low cost options:

- Lowell Tota-Light + Umbrella
- 250-400 watt fresnel
- Lowell Ego Light - accepts everyday flourescents
- China balls
- Lowell Rifa Light also accepts flourescents
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Old December 26th, 2008, 05:55 PM   #4
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Bill and Michael,

Thank you for your suggestions. I have been researching them all day, and I'm thinking about going with the Lowel Tota-Light+Umbrella. More specifically, I'm thinking of getting the Lowel Tota-Pak. I'm only lighting one person at a time for these interviews, and feel it will be enough if I place it far enough in back of the camera to diffuse it. What are your thoughts? Am I cool beans? :-)

Thank you once again for all your help.

Kareem
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Old December 26th, 2008, 06:47 PM   #5
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Also, do you feel a camera-mounted light could get the job done as well? I'm looking at the NRG VARALUX PROFESSIONAL. Any thoughts?
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Old December 26th, 2008, 06:59 PM   #6
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Also, do you feel a camera-mounted light could get the job done as well? I'm looking at the NRG VARALUX PROFESSIONAL. Any thoughts?
If you would like your subject to look as bad as you could possibly make them look with a light, then this is a terrific option.

If you want to flatter your subject at all, then you will never, ever, choose this.
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Old December 26th, 2008, 07:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Kareem Dimashkie View Post
Bill and Michael,

Thank you for your suggestions. I have been researching them all day, and I'm thinking about going with the Lowel Tota-Light+Umbrella. More specifically, I'm thinking of getting the Lowel Tota-Pak. I'm only lighting one person at a time for these interviews, and feel it will be enough if I place it far enough in back of the camera to diffuse it. What are your thoughts? Am I cool beans? :-)

Thank you once again for all your help.

Kareem
The further away you place the light, the less soft it will be. With a tungsten light like the Tota, the closer you place the light, the hotter the person will be. I'd give the average person 3-4 minutes before they get uncomfortable and begin to sweat.

Buy a fluorescent setup. Seriously.

Buy this:
Lowel | Rifa-Lite EX55 Softbox Light Kit, LB40 Soft | LC-95LBZ

And this:
Lowel | Rifa eXchange Fluorescent 3- Lamp Module | FLO-X3 | B&H

And some compact fluorescent bulbs, and you'll be golden.

You can put this light 3 feet from your talent and they'll never feel any heat. folds up small, comes with a stand and diffuser, easy as can be.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 01:50 AM   #8
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PBL QL-1000 Quartz Halogen Light

Has anyone had any
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Old December 27th, 2008, 02:04 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
The further away you place the light, the less soft it will be. With a tungsten light like the Tota, the closer you place the light, the hotter the person will be. I'd give the average person 3-4 minutes before they get uncomfortable and begin to sweat.

Buy a fluorescent setup. Seriously.

Buy this:
Lowel | Rifa-Lite EX55 Softbox Light Kit, LB40 Soft | LC-95LBZ

And this:
Lowel | Rifa eXchange Fluorescent 3- Lamp Module | FLO-X3 | B&H

And some compact fluorescent bulbs, and you'll be golden.

You can put this light 3 feet from your talent and they'll never feel any heat. folds up small, comes with a stand and diffuser, easy as can be.

Wow. Thanks Perrone.

Me being a total lighting noob, I have a few more questions. Please forgive my naivete...

1. What is the benefit of the Rifa eXchange Fluorescent 3- Lamp Module?

2. Why do I need compact flourescent bulbs?

Thanks again.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 02:27 AM   #10
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The Rifa lights come standard with 500w, 750w, or 1000w tungsten bulbs. Also known as hot lights. They have the same problem as the Tota. They get HOT. Softboxes need to be fairly close to the talent for best effect. From a couple feet to maybe 6ft. At that distance, especially in small rooms with low ceilings, these things get very uncomfortable in a hurry. I believe they run at 300-400F degrees.

The 3 lamp module replaces the receptacle on the Rifa so that it can accept 3 normal base bulbs. Just like you'd screw into a lamp at home. This makes things nice because you could go out to the store and buy any bulbs off the shelf and put them in your Rifa. It also has an added benefit. You can purchase compact fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs draw far less power for the same light amount as their normal incandescent peers. Essentially 1/3 the power. So a 25w (or 27w) CFL bulbs gives off the same light as a 100w incandescent. But the REAL benefit is that those CFLs give off no real heat. So you can screw 3 of them into the fixture, and place the softbox so that it's just about touching the talent, and they'll never even get warm.

I bought some 2-way adapters today from Home Depot. They turn one receptacle into two. Because of the weird angles in that setup, you can't use all the receptacles. But I think I can fit 6 100w equivalent bulbs in my RIFA now. So I should have the equivalent of 600w of power, with nearly no heat given off.

One more benefit of the CFL bulbs. Tungsten light (what comes stock with the Rifa, and most cheaper pro lighting kits, is rated at about a 3200K to 3500k temperature. Normal daylight generally falls betwen 5000K and 5600K. At least according to Hollywood. The CFL bulbs are available in a variety of color temperatures. This lets you match either other tungsten lights you might buy or daylight simply by screwing in different bulbs. So if you have to shoot in a room with a window, you can simply screw in some daylight colored bulbs. With the other tungsten fixtures, you'd have to break out the gels.

Those large hot lights have their place. Like when I have to light up a stage or a large room. But for a sit-down interview in an office or a small space, fluorescent is the way to go when possible. Beautiful soft light, no heat.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 04:01 AM   #11
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Given your budget you should invest in a couple of reflectors for your "fill lights". I would get a "silver" reflector disc and a "soft gold" one. You will probably want a brace for the reflector to attach to a stand as well.

To speak to the florescent pitch. While I largely agree, I would not want to show up with just a florescent kit. If you want an eye light or a kicker a Lowel Pro does well and they aren't too expensive.

The idea of taking a Rifa and doing the florescent mod is a really good one IMO although the great thing about stock Rifas with tungsten bulbs is they are super compact and have a lot of throw. "Throw" and "punch" are not things you generally associate with florescent rigs.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 04:35 AM   #12
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Given your budget you should invest in a couple of reflectors for your "fill lights". I would get a "silver" reflector disc and a "soft gold" one. You will probably want a brace for the reflector to attach to a stand as well.
Absolutely agree with this. No light better than free light. And reflectors emit no heat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Stone View Post
To speak to the florescent pitch. While I largely agree, I would not want to show up with just a florescent kit. If you want an eye light or a kicker a Lowel Pro does well and they aren't too expensive.
Agree here also, but if you are balancing to daylight, and trying to soften that Pro light with a bit of diffusion, you are going to run out of lumens pretty fast. I generally take my DP lights, which lets me keep that heat away from the talent. I don't work with pros so working distance is important to me.

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The idea of taking a Rifa and doing the florescent mod is a really good one IMO although the great thing about stock Rifas with tungsten bulbs is they are super compact and have a lot of throw. "Throw" and "punch" are not things you generally associate with florescent rigs.
I think you'd be surprised how much throw you can get out of a Rifa with 500-600 equivalent watts of fluorescents in there. Certainly enough to light a complete small office should the need arise. Or hold up well against an unshaded window. Taking it outside is another matter. But even then, since it's so cool, you can use it for close fill. A reflector could be useful as well, but they don't work as well under silks. Fortunately, I don't do much outdoor work.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 01:57 PM   #13
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I think you'd be surprised how much throw you can get out of a Rifa with 500-600 equivalent watts of fluorescents in there.
I know there is another Rifa in my future, probably a 66, so I am looking forward to this. Thanks for the pitch Perrone!

For those that haven't used Rifa's they are simply amazing units. Setup and strike time is less than a minute, they look like a closed umbrella in your bag along with your small light stand and you get beautiful forgiving soft light. No suitcase, C-stand or Pelican required.

Perrone, how do you store/carry the Rifa with the florescent fixture in it?
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Old December 27th, 2008, 03:38 PM   #14
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While I agree with Perrone and Andy that reflectors are a wonderful solution AND provide heatless, free light, if you only get two (or a reversible one) make WHITE one of the colours. Silver and gold are HIGHLY specular and add a colour tint to the light being reflected. White produces a much more "normal" fill light. Gold is an effect (and a nice one when used correctly) whereas white is your utility player.

PS. I love my Rifa 55EX and I'm still running tungsten FOR NOW... A softbox is a FANTASTIC lighting solution for lighting people. My "usual" three point solution is:
1. Key light - Rifa 55 w. 500 watt lamp
2. Lowel Pro Light (250 watt) bouncing off a Lowel Silver umbrella
3. Lowel Pro light with barn doors & possibly coloured get for hair/back light (again 250 watts)
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Old December 27th, 2008, 03:52 PM   #15
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Perrone, how do you store/carry the Rifa with the florescent fixture in it?
I don't. They go in a tupperware box. Only problem is now that I've gone from 3 100w daylight bulbs to 6, I'll need a bigger box!
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