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Old April 30th, 2005, 06:55 AM   #1
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Advice for a (cheap) basic lighting kit?

Hey,

I'm new to any sort of lighting for video. I'd like to pick up a basic/starter lighting kit, but I have no idea what to get. My budget is abou $500. Could someone here point me in the right direction? Thanks!
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Old April 30th, 2005, 07:01 AM   #2
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Have you looked around this lighting forum? Your question has been asked a lot
of times already. Besides the budget (which is good to include!) it is also a
good idea to tell us what you will be using it for:

- fictional work
- interviews
- run and gun (ie, on the streets)
- wedding productions
- night and/or day shooting

etc. etc.
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Old April 30th, 2005, 07:12 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Lohman
Have you lookd around this lighting forum? Your question has been asked a lot
of times already. Besides the budget (which is good to include!) it is also a
good idea to tell us what you will be using it for:

- fictional work
- interviews
- run and gun (ie, on the streets)
- wedding productions
- night and/or day shooting

etc. etc.
Thanks. I'll look around some more. I guess I just didn't search well enough to find anything!
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Old April 30th, 2005, 07:29 AM   #4
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Well, I looked around a bit and couldn't really find any particularly relevent threads.

I really have no idea where to start--if I can get something basic for about $250, that would be ideal.

I'm looking into something like this

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=298604&is=REG

Does that look like a decent starter package? I need something decent for a range of uses. I will probably mostly be lighting interviews, but I'm also shooting an indie film this summer that I need to light. It should be noted that our last indie film used absolutely no video lighting--just natural light. What I'm saying is, with our small crew we can't get too complex with the lighting. We need something basic that someone with no experience in lighting can work with.

I know the bit I mentioned above is cheap, but I really just need a starter package (that doesn't consist of Home Depot work lights, like I'm using now) and that looked like a good way to get started for relativly little money. Tell me what you think! Thanks.
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Old April 30th, 2005, 07:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
We need something basic that someone with no experience in lighting can work with.
The quality of lighting in the movie is going to be the result of how experienced that someone is... If you bought a $4000 lighting kit, and you gave it to a person who's never lit a movie before, and you gave $30 worth of worklights to Barry Sonnenfeld or Bill Pope, the latter would produce better results.

What do you mean by basic? A low quantity of lights? No barn doors?

Lights in general are pretty simplistic. The actual phsyical use of them, and setting them up for the most part isn't difficult. There are the occasional problems, but most of the time spent lighting (if you don't set up lighting diagrams before hand) is figuring out where the lights need to go and adjusting and perfecting their light for the shot.
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Old April 30th, 2005, 08:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Mitchell
The quality of lighting in the movie is going to be the result of how experienced that someone is... If you bought a $4000 lighting kit, and you gave it to a person who's never lit a movie before, and you gave $30 worth of worklights to Barry Sonnenfeld or Bill Pope, the latter would produce better results.

What do you mean by basic? A low quantity of lights? No barn doors?

Lights in general are pretty simplistic. The actual phsyical use of them, and setting them up for the most part isn't difficult. There are the occasional problems, but most of the time spent lighting (if you don't set up lighting diagrams before hand) is figuring out where the lights need to go and adjusting and perfecting their light for the shot.
Our problem is budget. We can't bring in a professional gaffer for the film, so I'm just trying to figure out what lighting I should pick up that I could work with. Though I'm starting to wonder, if we don't have a professional gaffer, would we be better off with NO lighting, just using natural lighting like last time?
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Old April 30th, 2005, 08:18 AM   #7
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Do you have a university near by? Post some flyers about your movie asking for someone interested in being a Director of Photography (and it would be a plus if they had their own kit).

Natural lighting may be advantageous in time, but your movie will suffer if you limit yourself entirely to that under all circumstances. It can work well at times, but during other times the contrast ratios and overall lighting will suffer because it wasn't controlled.

This movie, I made with natural lighting + 1x $10 worklight.
http://transcendentfilms.com/files/ufo_Scored.mov

It has alright lighting, but I couldn't have done
http://transcendentfilms.com/misc/reshoot1.jpg or
http://transcendentfilms.com/misc/reshoot2.jpg without a lighting kit.

Great lighting takes time. Ask yourself about how good you want the movie to look.
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Old April 30th, 2005, 02:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Mitchell
Do you have a university near by? Post some flyers about your movie asking for someone interested in being a Director of Photography (and it would be a plus if they had their own kit). .
No university near by. I'm in northern michigan...there's NOTHING up here! :-)
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Old May 1st, 2005, 06:47 AM   #9
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Some people get some work lights on stands and work with that. There are
basically two types of lights, hard and soft.

A hard light casts narrow beams of light (usually) and produces hard shadows,
edges and contrast. The soft lights usually give a pool of light that is diffused,
works great on people (especially women, hehe). They usually have some
form of diffusion material in front of them (also look at china balls, see article).

There are also two "basic" color temperatures for the bulbs. Tungsten (indoor,
around 3200K) and outdoor (around 5600K => cooler). You can get gels to
convert one color temperature to another, so you can use indoor bulbs to
match the bluer light coming into the windows from outside.

However, color temperature is less important with video since you have a
white balance option (which the film camera's don't have, you choose an
indoor or outdoor film stock and work with lights and gels etc.).

Also see this article on the site:

http://www.dvinfo.net/articles/lighting/spears1.php
http://www.dvinfo.net/articles/lighting/spears2.php

You can also check our "read about it" (books) forum to get some tips on
which (good) books are out there for cinematography and lighting.

I did a search for you on the board. I limited it to this (lighting) forum and
entered the following as the keyword: cheap

I got the following links (among others) back in the first 3 pages of results:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=19944
(same one as the article? This was even as a sticky on top of this forum! How
did you miss this one?)

This one is running at the same time as yours: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=43511

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=37863
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=37712
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=31943
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=34572
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=28908
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=32334
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=29627 (what to get first)
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=29326
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=7629

Good luck!
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Old May 1st, 2005, 08:22 AM   #10
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Couple of quick errata on Rob's post:

1) Daylight (outdoor light) is 5600K, and tungsten is 3200k - so the bluer light is actually a higher colour temperature, although subjectively one thinks of blues as cooler and the more orangey tungsten light as warmer.

2) I wouldn't say colour temp was less important with video at all. It is a *little* less hassle to change, but with film you only need to add a filter or change the stock to do the same.

The main issue with colour temperature (in either format) is not to mix the two - this is where CTO and CTB come in, as Rob mentioned. (unless of course you want a blue or orange light for effect - daylight bulbs will do an excellent moonlight effect and can be good for simulating the light thrown by TV's, for instance).
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Old May 1st, 2005, 08:24 AM   #11
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Dominic: thanks for that. I've edited my post and corrected the color
temperatures. My bad. I basically meant what you say under point #2,
it is still important, but much less of a hassle to work with.

Good points!
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 06:16 AM   #12
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No worries Rob - heartily agreed!!

Cheers mate!...
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Old May 5th, 2005, 09:49 AM   #13
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"Great lighting takes time. Ask yourself about how good you want the movie to look." Brian makes an excellent point.

I can drive to work in any working car. But if I want certain things from my car such as speed, handling, or superior gas mileage, I need a car with specific components. I can't compete in NASCAR with my average driving skills and my 11 year old Pontiac.

Professional results require specific skills and tools. Should this stop you from making your film? Hell no. Just don't expect a Vittorio Storaro look to your movie.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 10:05 AM   #14
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I would look at the JTL Everlight kit... I got one from a popular auction site... 3 softboxes for under $500 along with a bag and backdrop... works well for me for a good range of stuff - interviews, films, etc.

That was before I knew about DV Info and it's sponsors... I'm sure they have similar things, but I can't point you to any...

Good luck.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 03:11 PM   #15
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guerilla light it

If you can't sacrifice $, guerilla light it. Here's what I'd consider: Borrow shop lights from friends and neighbors. Save your cash for gels. Borrow (or buy if you have to) difussion, flags & relfectors (foam board) and other methods of light control . You'll end up going under budget (hopefully). Spend what you save on some good books on lighting. I don't have any recommendations on books, but search the forum.

Don't be afraid to guerilla. Just remember the audience doesn't see what tools your using. If you monitor what you do (use a TV if you don't have a field monitor) and you educate yourself on technique, you'll exceed your expectations.
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