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Old October 29th, 2003, 01:51 PM   #1
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Advice needed for shooting in nite clubs/bars

I'm starting a documentary on Halloween that will almost all be shot in clubs and streets at night. I was wondering if anyone had advice on buying a little light to shine in peoples face. Preferably with some control, barn doors, maybe focus, external power. I want it to be flexible. I've looked a little and found most to be really expensive. Just wondering if there was a brand or model that a lot of people are using. Willing to spend 200-300. Also like the flexibility of either having on the camera (dvx 100) or holding.

Any advice at all would be great. I did tests yesterday and the footage was really dark, and I used regular 60i mode, and had the gain on high. It's really hard because a lot of the light coming from the wall so everything is back lit and as you know there are always multiple colors lights in clubs. Thanks
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Old November 5th, 2003, 08:07 PM   #2
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Advice needed for shooting in nite clubs/bars

Hey,

Try the Smith-Victor 950. I got mine (including shoulder battery pack) from B&H for around $200. It comes with a swing-in diffuser, dichroic filter, "kind of" focuses, uses bulbs up to 100W, and you can use it hand-held.
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Old November 8th, 2003, 09:44 PM   #3
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Well, the S-V doesn't look as slick as the Frezzi, but my God it's less than half the price!! I can't say anything about a difference in quality, cuz I've only had the Frezzi for 3 years, while I've got some S-V lights that have been around for 20 years. Actually, I even have a couple of still-working Smith-Victors I inherited from my late father-in-law who used to use them for photographing my wife and her brothers when they were babies (over 40 years ago).

I do a lot of shooting in bars and clubs, and one thing I like about the Frezzi is the little dimmer knob on the back. While shooting run-and-gun in bars, you can fine-tune the power to just what you need without blasting people whose eyes are accommodated to the low light. Wouldn't want to do without that feature now that I've got it.
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Old November 8th, 2003, 11:00 PM   #4
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Natch' you can put a lower power bulb in the S-V before you head out the door (and the cap on the hand grip unscrews so you can keep spares in it if you feel like changing bulbs on the fly).

My other best suggestion would be one of the Lowel Pro or I-Lights. A little more expensive -- just south of $300, if memory serves -- but I know one of them is focusable and dimmable. Plus you can get a raft of swing-in accessories -- everything from diffusers and dichroic filters to full and half scrims.

Of course, by the time you add all the bits and pieces you're potentially talking a LOT more money.

Come to think of it, I'm sure someone out there makes a scrim for Frezzis, and if not you could always pop it in a little softbox like the ones PhotoFlex makes for on-camera lights, that'll take care of the glare and give you nice soft light to boot.

While I'm on the subject, I'm gearing up to do a lot of the same kind of shooting you're doing, and found on my XL1 I just put it full manual mode (leave the gain on 0), open up the aperture and let it go. The footage comes in really dark, too, but it's easy to lighten if you play with the Levels in After Effects or the Color Corrector in FCP. I rescued a bunch of footage I thought was garbage that way. Try it, you might be surprised.

JF..
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Old November 8th, 2003, 11:04 PM   #5
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Just out of curiosity I just checked B&H and Chimera has a whole bunch of softboxes for Frezzis. Why not try one of them?
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Old November 9th, 2003, 05:59 PM   #6
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Actuall, JF, I already have a Frezzi softbox made by Frezzi for the Mini-Fill, it has the correct size mounting ring for the light and folds up very flat. If something happens to it (like it accidentally gets left behind on a shoot) I'll look at the Chimera as a replacement.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 04:50 AM   #7
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I just order the Paglight C6. I hear Pag makes good stuff. Least happy about the whole deal is if you want the accessory dimmer
it'll be $130!
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Old November 13th, 2003, 07:33 PM   #8
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Hey all,

Well I got desperate and went out and dropped a nice chunk of change on a cool lux propack with a soft box. It worked pretty good but damn expensive. Using 25, 50, 75 watt bulbs. Thanks for all the advice. Think everything was about $400. Anyway, probably could have done worse or better. Thanks for all the response
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Old November 14th, 2003, 12:36 PM   #9
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Dave & Nate,

I'm sure the Pag and the Cool-Lux are gonna be fine.

As for lamenting the expense, well I don't think anyone was feeling worse than me for shelling out what that little Frezzi cost me, but I got over it very quickly when the jobs all went well (and got easier, especially with that dimmer) and when I think about how much I get paid to do this--and how relatively little I have had to invest versus these big production houses with their high-dollar Betacam fleets, I feel pretty fortunate.
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Old November 14th, 2003, 10:07 PM   #10
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What type of work do you mostly use the light for? Another expense I'm gonna have with the Pag is barndoors and a softlight diffuser. I wouldn't go this route unless I felt I had to. A lot of guys in my line just use a Sony 10/20 watt light. It has two little lights and is run by a battery attached to the back. Just too narrow of a beam and too glarry for me. Costs about $100 for the light and another $100 for the battery.
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Old November 15th, 2003, 08:52 PM   #11
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General purpose, Dave.

In bars and clubs and such (or most any event video with low ambent light) it is my key light...the dimmer makes it easy to regulate just enough light so your subjects don't squint, cringe or bolt. The add-on soft-box adds to the smoothness of the lighting and limits the max brightness.

Other times (when ambient lighting is adequate or I am using studio-type lighting) this becomes a face-fill light which also adds a little catch-light in the subject's eyes. It's pretty versatile with the 50-watt bulb. So far I haven't been motivated to get the barn doors or dichroic filter, etc. for it.

One thing is, it will plug into any 12-volt source. I tend to use it with a little Bescor lead-acid (about $45) plus I have a larger (7.2 AH) lead-acid in a Porta Brace waist pack for when I want to be sure it will go all night. Or if mains power is available I can plug it into one of those cheap 12V bench power supplies with the cigarette lighter plug.
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