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Old October 21st, 2009, 08:10 PM   #1
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Lots of Back Light - Stand Mounting

Since I've switched to a Sony EX3 camera and the Letus 35mm adaptor it's given me a lot more flexibility with my lighting. With the older gear I worked with I always used the old rule of "keep the sun behind you" and lit with a strong key and fill, and a small backlight. Now I'm really starting to like the look of a strong back light and just a bit of a fill to bring the faces out of the shadows (or adjust the amount of fill to taste). Anyway, my question is....

I need to figure out a way to mount the back light so the stand isn't in my shot? I'm using open face Arri 1000wt fixtures. I'm not thrilled about the idea of buying some heavy duty boom stands and hauling around the associated sand bags. I don't mind spending the money, it's hauling additional equipment that I'm concerned about. Normally I fill the role of the entire crew (my back is killing me).

Seriously what are people using to mount a medium size backlight?

Doug Jensen, in his excellent lighting video recommends the Manfrotto 3398 boom stand, but I'd need to use sand bags.....right?
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Old October 21st, 2009, 08:58 PM   #2
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Mitchell, light stands with a boom are generally used to get overhead lighting for medium and close-up shots. For back lighting, a 1K in interiors should be able to be on a normal stand and far enough away and still provide enough punch. Try a light that has the ability to go from flood to spot. That is the drawback of most open face fixtures - they can't spot.

But to not get the light stand in your shot, you just have to block your scene and light creatively. Sometimes you have to change your shot slightly or hang the light from the ceiling somehow (wall spreader, clamps, etc...) Lighting setups for wides and close-ups are often different, bringing the fixtures in closer for the tight shots.

Punching light through windows works too. Then you are talking 2K fixtures, or HMI's, then you are getting into serious lighting, and expensive lighting. But, like anything else, you get what you pay for. Nothing in film or video is cheap.
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Old October 21st, 2009, 09:15 PM   #3
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Thanks Gabe. (Did we talk on a previous thread?)

Your comment about sand bags is kind of what I expected.....I need to just stop fighting it. hehehe

Being as how I've worked in a small town for 20+ years, I've had very little experience with how other people do things. Can you explain what you mean by "wall spreader, clamps, etc..."? Or is there a good source you could recommend where I could get some training? I never get to shoot inside a studio. Everywhere I shoot is on location. Conference rooms, inside people's homes, etc.... The point is, I can't clamp onto most things as they would get damaged. I've often wondered about those butterfly looking things you can put in a drop ceiling. But I was worried they wouldn't hold enough weight.

I learned how to light by lighting local news sets. Now I've got to almost unlearn that technique and try to light so the scene looks more natural/organic. Our Arri 1k's are actually "focusable" so you can dramatically change the brightness simply by turning a knob. I like everything about them EXCEPT for the heat they put out and the amount of amps they draw. I've been looking for something to replace them with, but that's a whole other topic. :)

I guess I need to bite the bullet and order a couple (maybe just one) boom stands and sand bags. Or maybe some additional light mounts if you have some good suggestions.

Thanks.
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Old October 21st, 2009, 10:50 PM   #4
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Mitchell, you have some options here.

1. If you are indoors, you can use spreaders. But this is only effective in you have rafters or a door frame or something similar to work with. Think of spreaders like furniture clamps in reverse. You have two clamps with flat pads, and a bar between them. You place the clamps between two fixed objects like a door frame, a wall, rafters, etc. And you can screw down the clamps so that they hold the bar tight. Once the bar is tight, you can use a specialized clamp to hold a light.

2. You can do "goalposts". Essentially this is the same idea without the fixed surfaces. You have two lightweight stands and a bar that runs between them. You place the bar high enough so it stays you of your shot. You then clamp your light(s) to that bar to get the lighting where you want and out of the shot.

3. You use a counterweighted boom. These balance better than the sandbagged boom stands, but are also more expensive.

4. You use a cantilevered boom. The mini-Max from MSE is an example. Pricey, but AWESOME, and I'd love one: MSE - Matthews Studio Equipment


The gear used to place and hang lights is called grip. There are a few US companies that make nearly nothing BUT grip gear, and there is a LOT of stuff out there man. I'll be happy to share what I've learned with you and give you some ideas about how to do certain things. I just held a lighting and grip seminar 2 weeks ago for a crew working on a local short film. Would have been ideal for you.
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Old October 22nd, 2009, 12:53 AM   #5
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Drape some cloth

When I noticed a light stand was visible in a reflection in a glass door, I gaffer-taped a large piece of cloth to the top of the stand, and let it spread out and drape down. The result was an indistinct "something" that looked like it might belong there. (Works best if that area is darker than the rest of the set.)
Ken
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Old October 22nd, 2009, 10:35 AM   #6
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Great advice! Thank you very much.

I wish there was a "grip/gaffer" book that showed all this stuff in use. :)
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Old October 22nd, 2009, 10:44 AM   #7
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Well,

I'll be using some (much) of this stuff in my gripping this weekend. We have several produciton stills photogs on the shoot, so I'll get them to take photos.
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Old October 22nd, 2009, 10:51 AM   #8
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Wow! That would be very helpful. Thanks Perrone.
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Old October 24th, 2009, 08:52 PM   #9
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sandbagless

Photoflex offers vinyl waterbags. Fill it up when you get there, empty on wrap.
I have 4. I think 1.5 gal, about 12lbs ea.

Paul Izbicki

3. You use a counterweighted boom. These balance better than the sandbagged boom stands, but are also more expensive.
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