Which is the best Photoflex, Chimera, JTL or Lowel at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Photon Management
Shine an ever-loving light on you.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 4th, 2003, 01:39 PM   #1
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Posts: 1,137
OK, which is the better combination between Photoflex, Chimera, Lowel and JTL products if you are looking for a softlight?

Factors like total price, versatility, ease to assemble and others should be taken in consideration.

Please do not come with "it will depend on what you are looking for", or things like that. Positive and straightforward answers would be welcome.

My main concern is with the head and soft ensemble, not the tripods.

I am saying this because I fail to see why such a soft system will be more versatile than using a diffuser fabric of some kind (spunglass) in front of an open or fresnel light, properly barndoored, using simple wooden pins to hold them up front.

If you use softlight all the time or if you have a static light arrangement of some kind, that should be fine. But lighting situations are usually not a repetition of same light quality all the time.

Am I missing something here? This is a humble question I am asking, not intending to raise a debate over lighting preferences.


Carlos


Carlos
Carlos E. Martinez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4th, 2003, 05:06 PM   #2
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 120
Carlos,

Of those you mentioned I can only comment on the Photoflex and Chimera, and my comment is: go for the Chimera. The working life of the Photoflex soft box I bought was poor in comparison to that of the Chimera stuff I have. (Oh, and I love my medium pancake lantern).

I also have a GTV Novalight (www.gtvlighting.com) which I am very impressed with (well, it comes from my home town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England). It wins out in portability, versatility (up to 3 kW) and speed of setting up (once you have a bit of practice!).

As far as the comparison with a diffuser and fresnel/open, I guess that the answer is about the ease and simplicity of control for the size of the source. If you clip spun to standard barndoors you wont end up with a very big source. If you use a separate frame, you will get spill - unless you set flags. Then if you want to add an eggcrate... On the other hand, a fresnel brings its own type of controllability. Different.

So, in a crazy nutshell:
Big sources, light everywhere - bounced open/fresnel or direct softboxes
Big sources, controlled light - softboxes
Smaller sources, precise control of source size - fresnel either bounced or diffused.

Best,
Helen
Helen Bach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4th, 2003, 06:44 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Northridge Ca
Posts: 734
Carlos, if you read the thread on this site regarding the JTL Everlight Kit, then you will note that I always said this was a kit for those on a tight budget. Three lights in a carry case for the same price as one Chimera with lamp and stand. Is one JTL light the same quality as the Chimera? Absolutely not. They use lighter weight fabric, thinner rods, less expensive diffusion material. Will you be able to do good work with the JTL lights? Absolutely. And if you add a good fresnel to the mix, like an LTM Pepper 400 watt with accessories, you have an fine kit for well under one thousand dollars (close to $800.00) that will give you good service, if you handle with care.

OTOH, if you are well-heeled, and expect to give your kit some abuse, you should definitely step up to the Chimera quality level. Chimera is professional level gear, designed to withstand the rigors and abuse of professional work. It really is not fair to compare the JTL kit to Chimeras, much less the Novelight. If you have those deep pockets, I can point you to some other excellent high end products.

There are plenty of postings of user reactions to the JTL kit on the web. I believe you will find the great majority to be favorable. And in my opinion, I don't believe you can put together anything in a three light kit from Lowel that matches the quality.

Wayne Orr
Wayne Orr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4th, 2003, 07:41 PM   #4
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Boston, MA (travel frequently)
Posts: 837
Hi Carlos,

>>>>>>>> I am saying this because I fail to see why such a soft system will be more versatile than using a diffuser fabric of some kind (spunglass) in front of an open or fresnel light, properly barndoored, using simple wooden pins to hold them up front.

- You may want to consider that there are many ways to create soft light and there are many manufacturer solutions out there available to do this using many different types of fixtures.

Many photographers like to use a very large "soft box", rather than a smaller source such as a piece of spun clamped onto a set of barn doors as you describe. Many photographers feel that the larger the soft source, the more "beautiful" the light. Check out the size of the soft boxes that some of the high end photogs use.

Of course, you'll get varying opinions from various people, depending upon their applications and comfort level.

- don
__________________
DONALD BERUBE - noisybrain. Productions, LLC
Director Of Photography/ Producer/ Consultant
http://noisybrain.com/donbio.html
CREATE and NETWORK with http://www.bosfcpug.org
and also http://fcpugnetwork.org
Don Berube is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 6th, 2003, 03:10 PM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Posts: 1,137
Thanks. Your comments are well taken.

Of course I was aware of the advantages of using large softlights, and my comparison with a spun glass clipped to barndoors were just teasing.

Fortunately all of you seemed to take it as that and provided generous comments on various techniques.

My sole comments is that all those units still look like a bit expensive way to get things done. They all seem to border the $1,000 for just one basic soft light, which I think is an awful bunch of money. Maybe the "budget" term is losing meaning.

But of course that may not have anything to do with nothing.


Carlos
Carlos E. Martinez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 6th, 2003, 09:52 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Northridge Ca
Posts: 734
"My sole comments is that all those units still look like a bit expensive way to get things done. They all seem to border the $1,000 for just one basic soft light, which I think is an awful bunch of money. Maybe the "budget" term is losing meaning. "

Don't quite follow your reasoning, Carlos. Even the high end (and worth it) Chimera can give you a single light package for just over $500.00. And as I mentioned, for tight budgets, the JTL Kit with three lights complete for $500.00 is a good deal, even if they are in the same league with Chimera.

Perhaps a little history is in order. Not too long ago, the established method to get soft light on your subject was to use an umbrella, if you were a professional photographer. In film, umbrellas were never very popular. Most DPs and gaffers would rig a 4x4 silk in a frame and bang a junior or a senior through it to get a nice soft source. Problem was, the light didn't just stay where you wanted it, but spilled around the edges of the silk and pretty much lit up everything around it. So, the grips would create a tent around the frame with black solids to keep the light from spilling everywhere. This takes time to pull off, but it is effective. Of course, when the director says, "lets move her three feet to the right," then you have to move this entire set up.

Enter Jordan Cronenweth, DP of "Blade Runner" and other films. He created what became known as the Croniecone, which was a hard sided box with a large sheet of diffusion, which could attach to the barn doors of a junior or senior. (Or whatever) He began using these fixtures everywhere, not just for close-ups, because they were easy to attach to the barn doors, and gave his light a nice soft look.

Today, Jordan's light devices are still created by lighting crews on their down time to use on sets everywhere. But while the Croniecones work great, they don't travel very well. Additionally, it is difficult to make the large sources you can make with fabric soft boxes. This is where companies such as Chimera and many others have been able to make a very nice business. Their gear collapses into a very portable kit that is easily transported for shooters on the go. But basically, they are all the same light, a large, soft source that is very flattering. You can do exactly the same thing with an Arri 650 open-faced light punched through a 4x4 silk, and add all the black solids and grip stands to keep the light from spilling everywhere. That is, if you have the time and nothing better to do. Or, you can get a softbox.

BTW, one thing that you can do with a softbox that is almost impossible to do otherwise, is move with the talent. You can walk along with the talent, your trusty assistant carrying the softbox and stand, and your softbox will give you beautiful light as far as your stinger will take you.

Wayne Orr, SOC
__________________
Wayne

If it was easy, they'd get a relative to do it.
Wayne Orr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2003, 05:35 AM   #7
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Posts: 1,137
Maybe my view is a little old fashioned, but a system which starts with $105 (B&H price) for a Chimera speed ring is not my idea of a budget system. $538.50 for a basic kit isn't either.

I couldn't find the JTL kit which would provide me with 3 complete soft lights for $500. On the other side, if the Photoflex's working life was poor, then how much can we expect of the JTL.

Sorry, but I won't accept the "you get what you pay" argument here. I expect to get a bundle for what I pay. Maybe $500 or $1000 is not such a large amount of money in the US, but it is elsewhere. And I think it should be in the US too. I bet it is to lots of people that want to shoot their projects and have just a minimum budget.

I am quite familiar with the Croniecones, but he wasn't in the "low budget group" I'd say. Cronenweth fed large lights into those cones, like 5Ks, 10Ks or HMIs.

Controlling a softlight is not that difficult if you use a crate up front.

In any case I certainly agree that you get a beautiful light if you put about two feet between the light source and the diffusing material. That light is certainly much difficult to control.

My reasoning is not that complicated: I am looking for tools in different areas that can be used by potential shooting teams whose budget is much below the ones around.

That includes video cameras, audio equipment, lighting and editing.

In my opinion it's time for a new attitude towards shooting budgets without quality sacrifice.

In another thread of the DVInfo, I have been trying to find out more on some new three 1/6" CCDs cameras released by Panasonic, as an even lower cost alternative to the "DVX100 price range" types. In the audio thread I have insisted on the benefits of using MD portable units, like Sharp models, for location audio. For editing matters I have been waiting for FCP or Avid Xpress to allow using a DV audio track as a time code track synced to one recorded on an MD recorder, which now seems to be possible.

Lighting units that are affordable seem to be the next frontier. By affordable I mean less than $300 complete. Is that such an impossible task?



Carlos
Carlos E. Martinez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2003, 11:18 AM   #8
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Boston, MA (travel frequently)
Posts: 837
Hi Carlos,

>>>>>>>>Maybe my view is a little old fashioned, but a system which starts with $105 (B&H price) for a Chimera speed ring is not my idea of a budget system. $538.50 for a basic kit isn't either.

- Not exactly old-fashioned. I would say it is unrealistic more than anything. There is simply a limited amount of people who are going to buy these things so the manufacturers have to price accordingly. If it was more of a comsumer item which would sell hundreds of thousands of units, then the price would most likely be lower.

>>>>>>>>I couldn't find the JTL kit which would provide me with 3 complete soft lights for $500. On the other side, if the Photoflex's working life was poor, then how much can we expect of the JTL.

- The working life of PhotoFlex products is not poor. Let's clarify that. The quality inherent within PhotoFlex products is higher than that of the JTL products previously mentioned. Are you trying to design a system for yourself -or- for a group of students -or- for a group of professionals who practice proper equipment handling procedures?

>>>>>>>>My reasoning is not that complicated: I am looking for tools in different areas that can be used by potential shooting teams whose budget is much below the ones around... That includes video cameras, audio equipment, lighting and editing... In my opinion it's time for a new attitude towards shooting budgets without quality sacrifice.

- We can all certainly appreciate and relate to your thoughts regarding your desire to bring the minimum acceptable standard down to a new level in hopes of making video acquisition and production accessible to more people. Hopefully these people have some type of storytelling or production skills. I somewhat disagree with changing our attitudes towards shooting budgets. Experience dictates that a certan tool set is required to produce a certain level of craft. The tools we implement cost a certain amount of money to produce and that's the way it is. Creating and designing a budget with the intention that it be as cheap as possible is flawed in my opinion. It is too inhibiting as far as craft goes. I don't want to feel inhibited in the field or on the set. I don't want to resign to not being able to get the shots needed for the story "because it's not in the budget". This means that you need to be resourceful. As far as cameras go, I wouldn't want to walk onto the set or arrive before the client with a tiny handycam. The lenses on these handycams are not of the level of quality or performance required to produce the look I want to produce. That right there is the deal breaker for me. I don't want to be limited by a tiny image plane. I want as much capture as I can get. Why limit yourself so much? It's self-defeating and wastes far too much creative energy.

>>>>>>>>I have been trying to find out more on some new three 1/6" CCDs cameras released by Panasonic, as an even lower cost alternative to the "DVX100 price range" types.

- Are we to assume that you are going to expect these tiny 1/6" CCD handycams to perform just as well and produce the same quality images as the DVX100? If you cannot afford the price of a DVX100, then perhaps these lesser cameras could be considered an alternative, however, I might suggest that you should consider charging for your services. Please do not state that the DVX100 is expensive. It is not expensive, considering what it allows you to do. These cameras are groundbreaking because they offer a level of performance at price points never before obtainable. To bring the cost down any further would mean sacrificing something. There is a certain cost of R&D involved to the manufacturers for them to be able to continue to produce this stuff. It also costs money to manufacture the product. It also costs money to provide support. It also costs money to compete in the marketplace amongst the competion. The goal of the manufacturer is to be able to produce a large enough quantity to meet public demand with as high a level of consistency as possible, while still maintaining some type of profit to allow them to repeat the process. Consumers are always clamoring for newer, faster, better, etc... This requires a great deal of R&D and R&D is expensive, a lot of labor and a high degree of technical knowledge is required. These people need to get paid. Some manufacturers spend millions of dollars per day, 365 days per year in R&D.

>>>>>>>> I have insisted on the benefits of using MD portable units, like Sharp models, for location audio. For editing matters I have been waiting for FCP or Avid Xpress to allow using a DV audio track as a time code track synced to one recorded on an MD recorder, which now seems to be possible.

- Double-system recording has been recognized as standard best practice for decades. It is always a good idea if possible. If you are using lower-end cameras that do not allow for TC jam-sync, then of course it becomes difficult to capture identical TC between recording devices in the field - and even more difficult to resolve the two devices together in playback during post. It's still possible to do using additional pieces of equipment such as this one http://www.spcomms.com/ltcexport.

The reality that digital audio recording devices such as MD already record and playback at a consistent-enough speed to allow for drift-free lip sync when synced to the video track in post. Ok, you may see a drift after about 10 minutes or so. This is not all that difficult to adjust when editing. Most people do not record shots that last longer than 10 minutes. For those that do, resolving the audio track to the video track is still possible by playing the MD disk in a deck that allows for external control. One question at this point would be are you using any type of timecode slate procedure?

Bear in mind that recording LTC on an audio channel poses new problems if using a low-end recording device. Lower-end recording devices typically utilize preamps which are not entirely discreet enough between channels to prevent the highly-transient LTC audio from bleeding over to the next track. Certainly, this is something to be aware of.

- don
__________________
DONALD BERUBE - noisybrain. Productions, LLC
Director Of Photography/ Producer/ Consultant
http://noisybrain.com/donbio.html
CREATE and NETWORK with http://www.bosfcpug.org
and also http://fcpugnetwork.org
Don Berube is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2003, 12:10 PM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Albany, NY 12210
Posts: 2,650
Don,
I guess this thread has gotten a little off track, but I'm very interested in this timecode device. I've never heard of recording time code information to one of the stereo tracks. What do you use to "read" the time code after it has been captured?
Marco Leavitt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2003, 12:59 PM   #10
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Posts: 1,137
Thanks for a very thoughtful answer, Don.

Let's state one thing from the beginning: can we take the concept "client" out of our equation? Client implies an industrial documentary or a commercial mostly, and even if that's the way many filmmakers survive, not many think that is what they want to do. On the other side there is also many people that want to make films and do not have the resources to.

The low-budget projects I am talking about will never have a client. My concern is only with the final product quality. My only demand is that it may be shown in a theater's big screen, in film or video, with a quality that is good enough for people not be distracted by it.

As I see it, it may be our role to teach how to use other tools better or find where is the breaking point before a certain equipment tell-tales its limitations. I don't see why that necessarily has to be inhibiting. It's here where being resourceful can pay off. Why has it to be self-defeating? Accomplishing a job that would "normally" not be done can be very satisfying too.

I am not trying to design or build anything myself either. If possible I want to find something which is already built and maybe used for our purposes.

Of course these people we are talking about would have a minimum of storytelling and production skills. But my experience as a film student, many years ago, as a professional later and as a rental company more recently showed that many, many people go away from this trade not having been able to tell a story they wanted to tell.

What I want to bring down are production prices, not the standards. Maybe technology can achieve that, though perhaps with a little help from us old eagles. Of course you may say my view is unrealistic, but I faced that way of seeing things in the past many times and simply proved I was right. As I said it only requires an attitude to think things in a different way.

What do you consider a lower-end camera? Absolutely all DV cameras are not prepared to output/input time-code. This device you are talking about, which was being developed the last time I read about it, may certainly be very useful for double system audio. Their LANC interface is even better.

It's a different system which I am proposing. Recording LTC TC in audio channels or handling TC slates is certainly an area I know a lot about. These are all questions that should perhaps be discussed in the audio or editing forum. I just mentioned them as examples of how to face "quality low-budget" problems as a whole and not only on certain areas.

The camera questions I also mentioned as examples, and should also be discussed not here but in their respective fields. Let's only say that I just argued on what can really be achieved when a knowledgeable person handles a certain tool.

I certainly do not agree with "that's the way things are" as a way to look at things. Things are what they are until you can look at them in a different way.

My concern is also for those projects that never got to be made because the energy in that case was they money to achieve them. And I am saying this with the utmost respect to what you are saying.

My questions tried to be related to lighting equipment, in this case large softlight boxes. Perhaps there's no way or no interest to design more affordable tools.


Carlos E. Martinez
Carlos E. Martinez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2003, 03:07 PM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Northridge Ca
Posts: 734
"My questions tried to be related to lighting equipment, in this case large softlight boxes. Perhaps there's no way or no interest to design more affordable tools. "

This is just not true, Carlos. As in all types of gear, be it cameras, or microphones, or lights, there will be different levels of quality, and the user should expect to pay (and will) different prices at these different levels.

I said, the Chimera are the top of the line (with a few esoteric exceptions) when it comes to softboxes. But if you cannot afford to pay top prices, there are reasonable substitutes for less money, including the JTL Everlight Kit. Why you cannot find it is amazing, considering all the space it has been given on this forum, as well as others. Anyway, here is the direct link to the manufacturer's site: http://www.jtlcorp.com/kits/10.html You can find the kit for sale at various on-line sites, including Adorama. For some additional info on working with the kit, including still images, you can go to my page at : http://www.digitalprods.com/LSmontage

I don't expect that you will believe this, but I found the Everlight Kit at my local camera store, and in checking it out, I felt this might be a good alternative for those who need to keep down their expenses, and still want to do good work. I get nothing out of hawking this kit, save a rather cheesy tee shirt they sent me. Actually, there is nothing wrong with the tee shirt, other than it doesn't look as cool as some from other manufacturers. But it gets the job done.

Wayne Orr, SOC
__________________
Wayne

If it was easy, they'd get a relative to do it.
Wayne Orr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2003, 03:54 PM   #12
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Posts: 1,137
<<<-- Originally posted by Wayne Orr :
This is just not true, Carlos. As in all types of gear, be it cameras, or microphones, or lights, there will be different levels of quality, and the user should expect to pay (and will) different prices at these different levels.

I said, the Chimera are the top of the line (with a few esoteric exceptions) when it comes to softboxes. But if you cannot afford to pay top prices, there are reasonable substitutes for less money, including the JTL Everlight Kit. Why you cannot find it is amazing, considering all the space it has been given on this forum, as well as others. Anyway, here is the direct link to the manufacturer's site: http://www.jtlcorp.com/kits/10.html You can find the kit for sale at various on-line sites, including Adorama. For some additional info on working with the kit, including still images, you can go to my page at : http://www.digitalprods.com/LSmontage

I don't expect that you will believe this, but I found the Everlight Kit at my local camera store, and in checking it out, I felt this might be a good alternative for those who need to keep down their expenses, and still want to do good work. I get nothing out of hawking this kit, save a rather cheesy tee shirt they sent me. Actually, there is nothing wrong with the tee shirt, other than it doesn't look as cool as some from other manufacturers. But it gets the job done.
-->>>

Wayne,

You are absolutely right on the Everlight sounding like an amazing kit. I must say I didn't quite get what I got for this basic combo.

And I am aware that you may or will get different levels of quality according to what you pay.

Of course I also believe what you found out about this kit and that it might help many people that was short on money.

Just two things I would like to know:

1) What lamp do the heads use? Are they universal types?

3) The fans for higher watt lamps are included?

4) Aren't those fans noisy? Location mics may pick it.



Carlos
Carlos E. Martinez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2003, 05:50 PM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Northridge Ca
Posts: 734
"Just two things I would like to know:

1) What lamp do the heads use? Are they universal types?

3) The fans for higher watt lamps are included?

4) Aren't those fans noisy? Location mics may pick it. "

Carlos, all these questions and many more are answered in various threads on this site, such as: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?s=&threadid=7629
At the end of that thread you will find a note from Will Fastie, who was an original doubter of the Everlight Kit, but has since found it to be a very workable kit for the money. He shares a lot of info about the bulbs you can use in these lamps.

Forget the lamps with the fans. They are way too noisy to be used with sound recording equipment. The basic Everlight Kit does not have the fans included. The maximum wattage for these lamps in my tests, is 750 watts, if you open the top a bit to allow additional air circulation. Otherwise, they work forever on the included 500 watt bulbs. They will not work with 1K bulbs, or higher. (When they overheat, they shut down, unlike some other manufacturers' lamps.)

I am going to send you some additional info off list, because I sound too much like a pitchman here.

Wayne Orr, SOC
Wayne Orr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 23rd, 2003, 08:46 AM   #14
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Boston, MA (travel frequently)
Posts: 837
>>>>can we take the concept "client" out of our equation? Client implies an industrial documentary or a commercial mostly, and even if that's the way many filmmakers survive, not many think that is what they want to do. On the other side there is also many people that want to make films and do not have the resources to.

- It wouldn't be right. To imply that having clients means that you are not a true "filmmaker" is akin to nonsense. Let's be realistic. Some would say that you are only a "filmmaker" if you are actually shooting and editing with film! Honestly, even the highest end and most innovative artisans out there have client considerations to keep in mind at times. A filmmaker must know how to deal with a budget. As long as there is a budget involved and money being spent, there is a client. Perhaps it could be said that sometimes the client is you. Any artisan still has to be self-sufficient and pay their bills. The notion that you are only a true filmmaker if you do not have clients is not a realistic notion to be impressing upon a student. Everyone has to make their own way through this world and it's not going to be simply given to any person because one may think that they are artistically entitled.

>>>>The low-budget projects I am talking about will never have a client. My concern is only with the final product quality. My only demand is that it may be shown in a theater's big screen, in film or video, with a quality that is good enough for people not be distracted by it.

- This is totally understood. And, I am sure that you will agree that product quality is most defined by experience and seasoning - not by the tools used. Typically, the quality of the product is determined by how well it tells a story and how well it engages the audience. Now, there will always be a certain sect of people who will say "Maybe I am not trying to tell a story, maybe I am trying to be vague!" Ultimately, it still comes down to a person's skills in telling a story - or not telling a story for that matter.

>>>>As I see it, it may be our role to teach how to use other tools better or find where is the breaking point before a certain equipment tell-tales its limitations.

- That is not how everyone sees it though. Not everyone is in a teaching position. Some of us are artisan practioners more than teachers. Many of us need to rely on tools that have proven themselves to be strong performers with lots of value. Many of us cannot afford the time to try to find the cheapest solution. Many of us know from experience that the cheapest solution is not always the best or most valuable solution to use.

>>>>I don't see why that necessarily has to be inhibiting. It's here where being resourceful can pay off. Why has it to be self-defeating? Accomplishing a job that would "normally" not be done can be very satisfying too.

- We always try to be resourceful. Being resourceful pays off in many ways, I agree. Sometimes getting it right the first time takes precedence and on occasion you must rely on the most proven tool that allows you to get it right the first time. We don't always have the luxury of time to fish around for the cheapest or most resourceful solution. But, I do agree with you that when we do have the opportunity to be resourceful, it can be a very fulfilling feeling.

>>>>I am not trying to design or build anything myself either. If possible I want to find something which is already built and maybe used for our purposes.

- I am sure that, in time, you will find what you are looking for.

>>>>Of course these people we are talking about would have a minimum of storytelling and production skills. But my experience as a film student, many years ago, as a professional later and as a rental company more recently showed that many, many people go away from this trade not having been able to tell a story they wanted to tell.

- There will always be some of that element in every experience as long as you set limitations for yourself. If you ask yourself "why am I not able to tell the story I want?" and it has something to do with the tools that you are applying, then perhaps you have not yet crossed over from the pre-production to production stage or perhaps you are simply applying a saw when you would be better off using a hammer. Learning how to tell a story within any medium is a skill that takes years to learn how to do well. There is no magic pen, or magic camera. Dealing with the limitations is part of the challenge.

>>>>What I want to bring down are production prices, not the standards.

Hopefully you are referring to the cost of the equipment and not the rates that people are being paid.

>>>>Maybe technology can achieve that, though perhaps with a little help from us old eagles. Of course you may say my view is unrealistic, but I faced that way of seeing things in the past many times and simply proved I was right. As I said it only requires an attitude to think things in a different way.

- Many of us "old eagles" are simply amazed at how much easier it is to tell a story and how it is all so much more affordable these days, compared to what our experience tells us what things cost in the past. It will never be free, it shouldn't be.

>>>>What do you consider a lower-end camera?

- Most any DV camera under $5000 is considered a lower-end camera. Hey now, don't get me wrong and take this the wrong way please. My idea of "high end" starts around $30K and up - and that is the "low end" of the "high end". I'm talking about feature set, performance, output quality and codec conversion properties. And, then there is the glass in front of the camera... Even though we are dealing with moving pictures - it's still photography, you know? Do I consider cameras like the PD-170, DVX100a or XL1S to be high end? Not exactly. They are great performers for their price and certainly produce an output that looks similar to what used to cost tens of thousands of dollars to produce in the past - but there still exists many higher end (and much more expensive) cameras that create much better looking pictures. Just the glass alone is expensive, that's because it costs a lot to produce with a high degree of precision. I want as high end as possible, why not? If someone offers me a $3000 solution that performs decently or a $30000 solution that really excels in all aspects, I'm going to reach for the $30000 solution if I can afford it. Why not?

Again, please do not get me wrong and take me the wrong way. I have a lot of experience with being resourceful using lower end solutions and I know where you are coming from, for real. When I first started many moons ago, the first video cameras that I used were expensive Ikegami tube cameras which output component onto 3/4" tape - this was back like 20 years ago. These were big, heavy and completely analog. Sure, we had to be careful not to burn the tubes, but when we respected the limitations of the tube, we made some really sweet looking images. These cameras had big image planes and big lenses with really nice glass. We didn't have the luxury of any under-$4000 cameras which output images which are percieved as similar. The under-$4000 cameras we had back then were crummy at best. We do have some very tangible under-$4000 cameras now, but the current state of high end cameras has really taken off and rocketed skyward, outputting images that exceed any of the high end cameras we had way back when I stated. I prefer the images that the high end cameras produce. Who wouldn't? Am I saying that the lower-end cameras do not suffice? No. Well, many times they do... But if there is higher end camera with better output and performance and if it is within my means, I'm probably going to want to use it. It could be said that the higher end cameras are much more transparent. That is what I want.

>>>>I certainly do not agree with "that's the way things are" as a way to look at things. Things are what they are until you can look at them in a different way.

- To a point. Then reality takes over and we deal with it. Like I said, if I can afford the higher end solution which is more transparent and outputs significantly greater quality and *performance*, I'm going to want to use it. I guess it comes down to just how much time you can afford to obsess over what is available. At some point you will have to commit to the process, choose a tool and go for it.

>>>>My concern is also for those projects that never got to be made because the energy in that case was they money to achieve them. And I am saying this with the utmost respect to what you are saying.

- Those projects that you refer to, it could be said that they do ultimately get made... in time, with persistence. OK, so someone new to digital storytelling comes along and pronounces "I have a story to tell and I want to tell it now!" So, let them find a way I say. The journey is the reward, you know? Some of the best stories ever told were the ones that took years to tell. If that person has the right amount of experience, then that person will find a way to tell the story. Give that person another decade or two of experience and seasoning and (hopefully, if they worked at it) they will be able to tell a much better story in a much more appealing and captivating way. My point is this: it is the person behind the camera that tells the story, not the camera or the tools used... That person is either a storyteller or on their way to becoming one. Man, I know that sounds cliche,,, but it is so very time-proven and true.

>>>>My questions tried to be related to lighting equipment, in this case large softlight boxes. Perhaps there's no way or no interest to design more affordable tools.

- Certainly there is an interest!
__________________
DONALD BERUBE - noisybrain. Productions, LLC
Director Of Photography/ Producer/ Consultant
http://noisybrain.com/donbio.html
CREATE and NETWORK with http://www.bosfcpug.org
and also http://fcpugnetwork.org
Don Berube is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 23rd, 2003, 10:10 AM   #15
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Posts: 1,137
Don,

First let me say that I am glad we can put our ideas in such a clear way.

From your comments, a different picture might be forming on what you are saying and what I am. That probably is because we are in different realities, country-wise. I'll try to put these things better through some small comments.

<<<-- Originally posted by Don Berube :
- As long as there is a budget involved and money being spent, there is a client. Perhaps it could be said that sometimes the client is you. Any artisan still has to be self-sufficient and pay their bills. The notion that you are only a true filmmaker if you do not have clients is not a realistic notion to be impressing upon a student. Everyone has to make their own way through this world and it's not going to be simply given to any person because one may think that they are artistically entitled.

We are involved in a very particular business, that deals both with art and industry, expression and money. So I do think the rules can be broken or bended as we feel like.

The "client" word was used in the context you had mentioned, as you were concerned your client would not be well impressed if you brought a "home-video looking" device on your set.

If YOU are the client yourself then you don't have to impress anyone. Just have the tool for the job, the one that works for you.

We are not discussing here what would be or not a "true" filmmaker. You may not have any other clients but yourself or only shoot for clients and still be a filmmaker. Filmmaking is doing a film, whatever the purpose, and I strongly defend the idea that a client is not part of this equation. If you don't think so it's only because these are just points of view.

>>>>
- This is totally understood. And, I am sure that you will agree that product quality is most defined by experience and seasoning - not by the tools used. Typically, the quality of the product is determined by how well it tells a story and how well it engages the audience.

We are telling a story with specific tools and they do define several things, not only product quality. Of course experience is also part of this picture, but we are talking here of people that are just beginning, so there is no seasoning and experience is only limited to just a few things done.

Whether that story or product will find an audience we never know, but we have to have that product done in order to see that.

>>>>
- Not everyone is in a teaching position. Some of us are artisan practioners more than teachers.

We are teaching here, in these Forums. People come looking for advice.

>>>>
- I am sure that, in time, you will find what you are looking for.

Well, I will certainly get to a way out.

>>>>
- Learning how to tell a story within any medium is a skill that takes years to learn how to do well. There is no magic pen, or magic camera. Dealing with the limitations is part of the challenge.

Limitations are one thing, stoppers are quite a different one. If the tools or the tool handling, or the attitude as I call it, prevent you from doing the job then there are two points of view: you blame the tools or blame yourself. What I'm saying is: why not look at the tools from different point of view? Let's take away the tool complications, let's make them simpler.

>>>>
Hopefully you are referring to the cost of the equipment and not the rates that people are being paid.

On many of these projects the rates are non-existent or they are all partners on the final product. If there's money involved, the rates are minimal and/or deferred. It's then when the equipment cost becomes a factor.

>>>>
- To a point. Then reality takes over and we deal with it. Like I said, if I can afford the higher end solution which is more transparent and outputs significantly greater quality and *performance*, I'm going to want to use it. I guess it comes down to just how much time you can afford to obsess over what is available. At some point you will have to commit to the process, choose a tool and go for it.

That is not what we are talking here, or at least not what I am talking. Maybe this is another different point of view matter. You talk about being able to pick your tool, when that is not the reality on the majority of low-budget projects. In the old times, if you had a Bolex you made it with it, if you had an Arri SR you used that. I'd say that on such projects the tool chooses you first.

So what do you do? You say: sorry, I can't do the job with that tool. Or you say: OK, let's see what we can get with this.

>>>>
- Those projects that you refer to, it could be said that they do ultimately get made... in time, with persistence. .... My point is this: it is the person behind the camera that tells the story, not the camera or the tools used... That person is either a storyteller or on their way to becoming one.

Wrong observation, in my opinion. Most of those projects never get made. Sorry, but I don't believe in the nature concept applies here: "Only the best will survive". Not after seeing such mediocre projects surviving and showing on film screens. In my opinion there might be fresher and refreshing projects not being done because of "affordability" reasons, very much related to tools.



Carlos E. Martinez
Carlos E. Martinez is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:42 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network