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Old January 15th, 2010, 06:04 PM   #1
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Lighting choice

Hey there-

We'll be launching into a production requiring a number of single-person interviews (head and shoulders shots). We're really not set up lighting-wise right now so we're looking for advice on which way to go.

All of these interviews will be done on the road (most likely a one man crew) so portability is helpful. They will all be conducted indoors... generally in people's homes. As little clutter and setup as necessary would be good. Not sure how well we will be able to control environments. Future video projects will also typically be "head and shoulders" type shoots.

We will be using a key, fill, hair light, and background light (possibly with cookie)

What we have already:
1-Britek GY-650 (2025) with optional softbox
2-clamp work lights 250w each (ala the hardware store)
1-4' foot reflector

We've considered using the work lights and Britek (with gels if situation demands) for hair light and background w/cookie. We would like to stay away from getting more hot lights if possible.

We've thought about getting a couple of fluorescent light fixtures with the biax lamps like coollights or alzovideo sells (2 bank and/or 4 bank)... no need to dim them. If we went that we would purchase both 3200k and 5600k lamps and switch them out as necessary.

The other option is to go with LED and use the appropriate gels. But not sure how well they would mix with other light sources.

Our budget is roughly $600-$700

What do we need to be thinking about as we move forward? And what direction would you go if you were us?

Thanks

Kent
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Old January 18th, 2010, 09:54 AM   #2
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Could really use your help

Hey again-

Posting on a Friday evening wasn't the best timing to ask a burning question. It's been a long weekend waiting for much-needed help. But alas... it's Monday now. Sure could use your input. Any takers?

Thanks

Kent
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Old January 18th, 2010, 11:16 AM   #3
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Kent, there's been a lot posted here on lighting for interviews so try searching for "interview lighting" and "basic light kit."

A very good place to start in terms of getting equipment ideas is the Vortex Interview Lighting DVD. The first two chapters of the disc explain how to build a solid kit for about $1500. I think $600 might be a little "lite" no pun intended.

Also have a look at this link:
Light Kit

You mention that you are doing a "production," which to me means you are a professional and/or aiming for a professional product. I would not show up for a pro gig with work lights from the hardware store. But that might be my hang-up.

You also mention Coolights, which get excellent reviews. I'm seeing them used more and more (based on behind the scenes footage); however, keep in mind that fluoros can Only be soft lights. With a hard light, you can always soften it with a diffuser.

I use:
1) Lowel Rifa 55 as my key: Lowel | LC55EX Rifa-Lite eX 500 Watt Softbox Light | LC-55 EX

2) Lowel Pro light as second source about $120 from B&H.

3) White foam core for reflector.

With the necessary accessories (egg crate and lamp for Rifa; barn doors and lamp and stand for Pro) you'll be at around $800-900. I'm still deciding on my 3d light for hair/background. I may go with a cool lights. Of course, if you'll be mixing sources you'll need to gel down the tungsten so that adds about $25 for gels.

I'm not familiar with the Britek, does that function as a large soft source?

That's my .02. There is no "correct" answer and as I mentioned before this has been asked alot so maybe that's why no one responded yet.

Bob
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Old January 18th, 2010, 12:31 PM   #4
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Hey Bob-

I really appreciate your input. FYI, the Britek is a 600w focusable hard light. We've got barn doors and a soft box for it too. We have used this for a soft key light before. It works great, but it takes up a lot of space... and I don't like the heat and low lamp life. I understand your concern about showing up with work lights. They are small 250w clamp lights. We're okay with putting them to work as a hair light or bgd light if necessary.

Your kit sounds pretty compact. If 3 lights and a reflector would work for us, that would be great. We know we want key, fill, hair, and bgd covered.

What's best given our need to be relatively portable is what we're trying to figure out. Because we're not shooting in people's homes we're not counting on a lot of room or flexibility. Flos and LEDs seem to make sense. Can you mix them with pleasing results? How well do they mix with other light sources?

Hearing from people like you is helping educate us and think through our options. From what you said, it sounds like you feel LED is strong enough for a hair light. I was wondering about that.

Kent
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Old January 18th, 2010, 12:58 PM   #5
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For interview lights you could also look at Cool Lights LED's. They make a nice inexpensive portable LED256 that may work as well as its bigger brother the 600. There's a thread here that talks about them:

Cool Lights 'interview kit' recommendations?

I don't have the LED's but I do have their Fresnel's and they do a nice job. I"m thinking about getting a couple of the LED256's so that I could be portable and not require wires if needed. I've got a couple of outdoor shots coming up and power may not be available. Being able to be on battery would be a great advantage. I just need to see if the budget can handle it.

The Rifa lights are great but are a little more bulky. I use to have a couple of them but moved away from them and more hard lights for movie productions. Now I find I may be getting back into interviews.

Garrett
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Old January 18th, 2010, 01:24 PM   #6
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With the Cool lights LED256, does anyone know if it's bright enough to use as a key for a head and shoulders shot or is it better as a fill?

What about something like their 2-lamp biax portable flos? Is that plenty for key?
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Old January 18th, 2010, 03:02 PM   #7
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I find the 256 incredibly powerful. I have used the 256 with the plastic diffuser filter as a key light before and it worked very well (this was on the road so I had to take my most portable light). Although I would not want to solely rely on that one light as a key in a lighting kit. I have a 600 that I use with the softbox as a key light for almost all my interviews.
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Old January 18th, 2010, 05:12 PM   #8
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You might take a look at the video blogs over at thec47.com.

Jem has a bunch of examples using the Cool Lights LEDs, I believe. Look through the posts for Nov & December. He usually tags them with what equipment he used.

My little kit is pretty portable. The Rifa comes in its own duffle bag and the Pro light could easily fit in there, but it would be cramped with a second stand. Something I forgot to mention: The Rifa can take CFL bulbs with an adapter. It cuts down on the heat tremendously.

From what I've read, mixing sources can cause headaches. I don't do it because it's not worth the aggravation to me to figure out how to correct for the different sources. So when I'm interviewing someone in a room lit with overhead fluorescents, I shut them off and just use my lights.

Don't forget to bring a white card or a set of warm cards to white balance for the light.
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