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Photon Management
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Old October 8th, 2004, 08:44 PM   #1
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Come the 27th of this month, I have to (get to?) videotape Natalie Coughlin (she of the 5 Olympic Gold Medals fame) at the local fairgrounds. Nothing but incandescent and metal halide bulbs in the ceiling. No stage lighting at all. This is a BIG even for this little town and the City Council has hired me to record the event.

So, I've got two Mole Richardson 2,000 watt Fresnels that I want to use by placing them at the rear of the pavilion about 75 feet away from the stage. Should have a spot about 15 feet in diameter at that range. Maybe a bit less. I'll probably have to open the focus up a bit to make certain the city celebrities at the high table all get their mugs on the video (I'm joking, they are all great people).

Problem is I need to get the light high so I'm not blowing light directly into her eyes and I also don't want to light up the audience at close range right in front of the lights. So up they must go.

However, the fairgrounds pavilion will allow nothing to be hung from the ceiling because of the foam insulation sticking to everything.

When I look around for high light stands, one comes across the 12 footers made for DJs and even some bridge bits. Not too expensive but I don't know how sturdy they would be with 25 pounds of hot light at the top.

The really good stuff, event girder systems are way too expensive for this gigórented or purchased. It is possible I might be able to borrow a sissors lift from which I can hang the lights. Possibly I won't be able to either.

Any suggestions?
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Old October 8th, 2004, 10:33 PM   #2
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75 feet...that's quite a throw.

The scissor lift was a good idea. A cheaper way to go that is more cumbersome would be construction scaffold; you can built up perhaps two 8 foot sections and work the lights right off regular height stands.

Even at that height, it's not going to be a particularly pretty look, just blanket illumination. That being the case, is it possible to place the lights at the side, about 15 degrees in front of the subjects? You wouldn't need high stands for this. You still get wide coverage, the shadows sort of cancel each other out and the nice thing is the subjects don't have harsh light in their eyes. I used to do this for events many years ago, it's not a bad way to go.
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Old October 9th, 2004, 12:46 AM   #3
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75 feet is indeed quite a distance.

I hadn't thought of construction scaffolding. That might work very nicely if I can have the room to put them up. They are going to try and stuff 1,000 people into a 1,400 person room and feed them all. Aren't there some triangular scaffolding bits that can be used? Seems to me I've seen them somewhere.

I also just wandered out into the garage and sighted my old and very big Hercules Tripod. Big enough for a very large camera. Mabe if I pulled the center column I could slip a very long mast in its place. Know where I can get another Herc for free. Of course then adjusting the lights on top of a mast would be a giant pain.

If I use the scaffolding I can get the 30 degree included angle between the lights. All I need is to raise the general ambience on the stage an f-stop or so. Just enough that a PD150 or DSR-300 will not require much gain.

I suppose I could put a one or two 100 watt NRG Varilights on the cameras (which will be closer than 75 feet to the front) and pick up a bit of light that way too.

Darn. There was a guy on ebay that had four 20 foot hydraulic masts that were used in the LA olympics. Collapsed they were 4 feet high. They had a large hydraulic pump to raise them. Only problem was it would take three men and a mess-cook to move any one of the items. Not too far away either.

I'm a little afraid of placing lighting on the podium as I think we'll get the ghost story effect.

Brain storm! (it is late) All I need is another MR-16 (42 led) LED array and I could put them on thin stands and high enough to light the speaker without blocking the view. I built one that is no larger than a 5-battery flashlight head. A six-pack of AA cells would run each one all night.

My wife just reminded me that the LEDs won't light the folks at the high table. OK, back to the Moles.
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Old October 9th, 2004, 07:25 PM   #4
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Mike, if you have a company in your area that does stage/theatre lighting rentals, ask them if they have any "stage tree" stands available. These are very heavy duty pipe stands that screw into a heavy weight base. You can attach various lights to them with the use of pipe clamps, and I am sure they would work with your 2K's. You can also attach an arm or two to them to hang a number of lights. But if you are only using 2-4 lights, just stack them "up the tree" They are often used with par cans, and placed at the edge of the stage in the corners, with the lights crisscrossing the stage and often some aimed at the audience. You pile sandbags on them for stability. They are a very cheap rental item, but you will probably want an assistant. I believe they come in twelve and eighteen foot lengths.
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Old October 20th, 2004, 06:53 PM   #5
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Got the lights. Uh, wow. I think I can light a cigarette at distances up to a block. Not bad for $150 each (plus $34 for a new lamp). The seller has 300 of them I think he said.

So I open the package and there is the light and it's bracket. Oh Oh, it isn't the mount I expected. I don't know what I was thinking. I thought it would use the same type of mounting pin as other, smaller lights. Nope, this sucker is large and the pin is mounted in the bracket.

Fortunately a buddy gave me an old pair of good speaker stands. They have too large a pole to fit into today's PA speaker butts but the pole is just exactly the right size to take the collar of the bracket. Like it was made for it and I have a good swivel too. Life is good again. The lights will be a bit low but I won't have to worry about anything falling over or trying to stretch the city budget any further.

Tried the lights out at the venue I'll use them in next week. As they claimed, the wall outlets will feed 17 amps with no problems and the lights illuminate the far wall (80 feet away) just at the correct level. The illuminaries on stage will be, well, illuminated just like they want to be.

As soon as I showed the setup to the fairgrounds management, they said they will hire me to light some of their events. Maybe I should just become a Grip.
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Old October 28th, 2004, 10:52 PM   #6
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The event is over and the lights really worked well. I had the camera lens set at about 1.5 f-stops below max (instead of wide open and gain all the way up) and the skin tones are really great. Everyone kept coming over to look at the monitor and marvel at the picture.

Ended up placing the speaker/light stands on a 2 foot high stage module (stage is made up of 4 ft square modules that interlock.) The fairgrounds folks pulled two into place for me so I had a perfect angle onto the podium and the head table.

Two new groups, an university and the local Air Force Base noticed the lights and said they would hire me to light and tape their next events. Not bad for the investment. Who wudda thunk?
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Old October 28th, 2004, 11:04 PM   #7
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Hi Mike,

So what were the $150 lights you ended up using? Where did you buy them from?

Thanks,

=gb=
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Old October 29th, 2004, 12:38 PM   #8
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2,000 watt Mole Richardson Model 412 Solar Jr. Solar Spots

From Pyramid Films in Sun Valley, CA 818 768-5924.

Repainted and cleaned up with no internal asbestos wiring. Bulbs are relatively inexpensive at $35 each and accessories are also reasonable (barn doors, scrims, snoots, etc.

Just understand they don't fit on top of Lowell stands!
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Old October 29th, 2004, 06:25 PM   #9
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Don'cha love it when a plan comes together!

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Old October 29th, 2004, 06:45 PM   #10
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Especially when a State Senator, State Rep, County Sup, Mayor, all of the City Council, the Fire and Police Chiefs, University heads, Service Clubs, Chamber of Commerce, and many of the business and other government leaders are all in attendance and everything works flawlessly. Can you say, "Video career on the line in this town?"

Luck had a lot to do with it. At 5:30, with the event starting (she is signing photos, shirts, jackets, shoes, anything they want), the guy who was paid to bring the video projector and screen announces that he has forgotten the remote for the projector and it will not auto switch to the S-Video input that I'm shipping 100 feet down a cable (good cable, Belden) and suddenly we are a bit worried. I don't have 100 feet of composite cable with me and it's too late to go make one.

Fortunately he got back before the 7 pm start of the formal proceedings.

And my wife wonders why I want to OWN ALL of the gear I use!

BTW, at 100 feet, S-Video is a little fuzzy. Next time I'd buy a set of the long-line drivers that ship the video down twisted pair.
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Old October 29th, 2004, 09:16 PM   #11
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LUCK is spelled preperation and you were prepared. Good for you! I hope you get lots of great gigs from this.

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Old October 31st, 2004, 02:12 PM   #12
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That sounds pretty good Mike! Congrats on the gig. Do you happen
to have any pictures from the setup and such? Sounds interesting
to "see" how you all set it up.
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Old October 31st, 2004, 08:07 PM   #13
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I did take some pictures but they were of people and not the setup as such.

I do wish these forums had space for placing pictures for a brief time.

The hall was 200 feet long by 80 feet wide with an 80 foot by 20 foot vestibule centered on one of the long sides and fully open to the main room. Like a T with a very short but wide ascender.

The 2 foot tall stage was placed about 10 feet from the rear wall opposite the vestibule and it extended an additional 20 feet into the room. The podium was front and center with a table across the rear to accommodate 12 people for dinner.

Each light was placed at the corner formed by the joining of the vestibule and hall walls.

I had a double scrim on each light plus barn doors to help and control the light a bit. These lights have focus arrangements on them and I found I could light just the podium or adjust it for about a 100 foot width on the opposite wall. So it was easy to set up to light up the stage and not much else.

We drove the sound with 4 Mackie powered speakers fed through a mixer with a wireless microphone handling all of the input chores. Wired microphone for backup. Monitor feed to my DSR-300 for near-perfect sound.

Video was a DVD that I burned that had all the music and video on separate clips. Since I was out front handling a video camera, it had to be fairly foolproof since the backstage operator was not too experienced. A/B switch for the S-Video signal so we could project full-black with the video projector between the music and video clips (bad idea since the setup guy had it so it turned off after a short period of no video signal. But we were able to catch that during dinner and nobody noticed.).

100 foot Belden S-Video cable fed the projector and was driven directly by the output of my portable Sony DVD player. Slightly fuzzy at that distance and next time I'd probably buy a long-line driver that uses twisted pair cable for transmission.

The video screen was 9 feet high by 12 feet wide, placed at one end of the hall and was visible from the other end with no problems. We could only scrape up a 2500 lumen LCD projector but it was bright enough although I would have liked about 3500 lumens with DLP technolgy.

We were able to drape all cables along the top of the drape stands the fairgrounds put up along the back wall to cover up the ugly wall and hide the kitchen and bathroom entrances. We also taped the speaker cables to the top of the window frames on each end so we had no danger of tripping or someone stepping on the cables.

BTW, stepping on cables is a real risk. I had about 50 feet of S-Video cable taped to the floor at a Police Awards Dinner. The first woman up to the podium punched a hole in the cable with her high heel shoe. So I quickly strung composite video and the next awardee immediately kicked the cable in two! Sigh.
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Old November 1st, 2004, 04:20 AM   #14
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Thanks for the detailed explenation. If you need some space to
put pictures just talk to Chris, he'll help you out Mike!
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