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Old January 30th, 2010, 03:52 AM   #1
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Working with What I've Got

Hello,

I have an upcoming shoot to demonstrate a rehabilitative device in a bedroom setting. I have a tight budget for the shoot and have to try to make due with the lighting gear I have on hand. What I’m looking to do is amply light the mattress surface of a king sized bed, and several feet around it as the model will stand alongside of the bed between demonstrating rehabilitative movements. The model would require proper lighting as well.

I currently have the following: plently of stands and reflectors/ holders, (5) Photoflex Starlight heads, (5) 1000 watt bulbs plus several 500’s. I have (2) of their “Whitedome” softboxes which have removable side panels providing diffused light from the entire softbox.

I also have a large sized standard Photoflex softbox and a medium as well. Most of my shoots are ‘run-and-gun” and I usually take the two preassembled medium “Whitedome” boxes with me set up with gang rings which accommodate two 1000 watt bulbs (each box 2000 watts total).

For most of the testimonial, talent, subject or “B” roll stuff I shoot for my work, these generally do the trick - occasionally I use an extra small softbox for hair lighting (500 watts). I have an overhead boom and a couple of low wattage fresnels for gels, etc. I also happen to have a couple of 1000 watt on-stand halogen worklights and some diffusion fabric (the actual material from which the “Whitedomes” are made). I’ve never used these things for video, but I feel I may need the wattage boost for this shoot.

We are going to rent a high end resort suite for the shoot, which will have 9-10 foot high ceiling. I thought I would suspend the large softbox over the bed as high as possible for starters with 2000 watts. Next, I thought I’d direct the two “Whitedomes” proximal to the shooting area and maybe fill with the diffused halogens. I will have a total of 6000 watts with which to work; if I must, I can purchase an additional cheap halogen light and add another 1000 watts or two.

I don’t have the exact dimensions of the room in which we’ll be shooting, as we’ve not yet procured it. I’m preparing in advance so I have an idea of how to orchestrate the set on shoot day. Once I get the full room dimensions, I’'ll take snapshots of it and create a lighting schematic on my pc to have with me on the shoot.

I will also have an intermittent portable track dolly on set as well which will be set up in front of the bed.

Any suggestions would be tremendously appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

Steve
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Old January 30th, 2010, 04:13 AM   #2
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I'd be surprised if you could run 6k watts in a hotel room unless you're bringing your own generator.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 06:09 AM   #3
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Jim.

I've thought about that and we have the juice issue covered. My project partner is extremely tight with the resort owners; they'll accomodate us as needed even if running extension cords outside of the suite is necessary. As well, we're talkin a high-end, multi room suite (this 'ain't gonna be no' Motel 6!!) which I'm sure will have independant circuits in every room. Heck, here at home I can run 4K in my master bedroom on the same circuit; I think I'm on a 20 amp breaker up there.

BTW...just for guestimation's sake, the shooting area will be approximately 20x20-25X25.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 04:48 PM   #4
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Just as a thought,it might be a good idea to have a talk with the resort electrician and be sure they understand what you'll need.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 06:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Marshall View Post
Heck, here at home I can run 4K in my master bedroom on the same circuit
Impossible. MOST you would be able to pull would be 2400w on a 20amp circuit, plus or minus about 10% for the built in variance in the breaker.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 07:55 PM   #6
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Yup - Amps = Watts/Volts. It's the law (of electrical engineering, that is)

I always just divide Watts by 100 and get a reasonable safety margin to allow for other things like something else plugged in (Camera, other lighting, sound gear, PC's, room refrigerators, voltage drop due to extension cords, etc)
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Old January 30th, 2010, 08:27 PM   #7
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As I've previously stated, I'll have the juice I require on the shoot. (Jim) I'll take you up on your suggestion to confer with the resort electrician. Could someone please be so kind as to answer the original question now?

BTW...I popped my service panel earlier - didn't realize my master bedroom has a double 20 amp breaker as it's a fairly large room and loops to the hallway lights/chandelier; hence my apparent ability to run to 4K lighting - whoops.

Now about lighting that set....
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Old January 30th, 2010, 09:16 PM   #8
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Hmmm. How much of the room do you have to light? And will you just be working on one side of the bed? Any windows in the picture?

May be off base but I was wondering about bouncing a few softboxes off the ceiling and using one of the others (or maybe whiteside with one or two skirts off as sort of a lantern) from the camera side of the talent. It would be awfully flat lighting but I suspect dramatic lighting is not what's called for - just enough light to clearly see what's happening and enough of the surroundings to make the high-end room worthwhile.

Maybe use color instead of lighting/contrast to separate elements???

Just thoughts FWIW. All depends on the concept you have in mind for the shoot.

Last edited by Jim Andrada; January 30th, 2010 at 10:13 PM.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 08:15 AM   #9
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Jim,

Thanks for your input so far. Truth be told, this is clearly a shoot which begs for a soundstage set with overhead grid lighting. The problem is the closest available locations are either Philly, or NYC and not a cheap undertaking at that; budget, time and logistical constraints make this proposition non-viable for this project. It’s not just my partner and I who will have to get to the set; we have several participants/models, etc. to consider. This will be a 45 minute DVD (plus or minus) and to get this right will take nearly a week’s shooting (I’m the entire crew – director, script writer, voice-over, set-ups, camera, lighting, dolly operator, post, graphics, DVD creator/author, etc., etc).

All things considered, we are essentially relegated to the aforementioned set for better or worse. My partner on this project is bankrolling the hotel. Because he is tight with the owners of said resorts he’ll get a killer deal on a week’s rental and carte blanche on our needs, e.g. adequate electric service for the lighting. In fact, the owner is a former Olympian who will make an appearance in the video.

You point is well taken regarding separation using color; our models’ attire will be bright and vivid and our choice of room (this group owns a string of high-end suites in the area) will also be based upon high contrast colors, accoutrements, etc. I’ve been working on several presets on the XL2’s for the shoot which will also add punch.

The bed: We will need to show the full width and one vertical side at various points in the video. I plan upon using a lot of cuts including high tilt-downs, tracking shots, close-ups, etc. I’ll adjust the lighting for each portion of every individual movement relative to the camera’s perspective (keeping the tonal values as consistent as possible). I’m going to bring a backup PC on-set and I’ll import samples from each perspective shot into my NLE to compare to existing footage and make adjustments as necessary. I’ll also have a decent field monitor on hand with which to evaluate what the heck I’m lighting.

I’ll later crossfade the cuts together fluidly in post. I doubt I could properly light this set with what I have on hand for extended full wide shots, therefore well executed cuts (not unlike many broadcast exercise videos I’ve studied) properly synched and edited should deliver the same effect if all goes right. We’re not selling the room itself; we’ll simply utilize it for “ambiance.” The lighting should provide a natural even look to the set; the dramatic Hollywood stuff is overkill for this shoot, not to mention ridiculously impractical.

Windows: I don’t want to mix lighting; all windows and/or glass doors will be blacked out. Worse case we’ll shoot after sundown if there’s too much glass to cover.

I’ve considered the ceiling reflection lighting idea; however these softboxes provide poor intensive directional light with very short drop-off. I don’t think they’ll blast enough light to the ceiling to get ample bounce-back. This is why I considered suspending the large softbox overhead and filling in with the “lanterns” plus a kicker or two for drop-off areas.

Years back when I purchased all of my lighting gear, I was remiss in not picking up a few high wattage floods with barn doors. I’ve never needed to light a set like this, but those babies would definitely come in handy now for the exact purpose you’ve described. I’d even rent a few of them if there were such a place out here in no man’s land; but alas, I’ll have to make due with my limited arsenal of gear.

I’ve thought about mocking up poor man’s floods using the Home Depot work lights, by fabricating sheet metal snoots. I wonder if that might work for ceiling bounce-back lighting, supplemented with the lanterns, etc.; any thoughts?

Edit: Just had another thought. What if I could suspend the (2) medium “lanterns” overhead (2000 watts each) on the boom and use the large softbox w/ 1000 watts plus one or two diffused halogens on stands for fill/ model lighting? I realize the weight of the two “lanterns” may be a bit much for the boom so I thought about extending the length of the boom arm with electrical conduit, suspending the far end with picture wire tied off to a single hook screwed into one tiny easily patchable hole in the ceiling. Maybe?

Thanks,
Steve

Last edited by Steve Marshall; January 31st, 2010 at 10:11 AM.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 06:10 PM   #10
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Couple of random thoughts

1) Are you sure the room is as big as you seem to be thinking? I've stayed in some pretty high-end places over the years and was never particularly blown away by the size of the rooms - might have had a 3 or 4 room suite but the individual rooms were't so huge. Maybe a different story if you have the Presidential suite at the Bellagio in Vegas though.

2) Heat. 6kW or more in a hotel room will warm it up in a hurry. Is the A/C up to it?

3) Instead of worklights I might think about a bunch of floodlights washing the ceiling - maybe something like we used to use in the old el cheapo Smith Victor sockets for still photography.

4) Problem I'm having with a softbox over the bed is that if the talent will be getting out of bed and standing up (or vice versa) the upper body might go in and out of the shadow area - and the light would be coming from behind. Maybe a softbox or lantern more or less over the bed (a bit toward camera side of center???) and a lantern up close to the ceiling on the camera side of the talent - this could move around with varying camera positions.

5) And whatever else you'd need to give a wash to the ceiling for overall room illum.

Again, just thoughts FWIW - I've never had to solve a problem quite like this. And maybe rental of some floods - If I recall correctly you're only about 100 miles or so from Philly (I used to have a customer out near the NJ/PA line right off of I-78 not that far from Bethlehem)

By the way - maybe you COULD hang a DIY grid from the ceiling - it would only mean putting a few hooks into the ceiling (heat issues????) which I bet the facilities guy could patch up so you'd never see the marks. - hmmm maybe a bunch of fluorescents in cheap fixtures hanging overhead (color balance???)

Anyhow, best of luck with it!
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Old January 31st, 2010, 08:44 PM   #11
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Jim,

As the crow flies I'm 100 miles from Philly; unfortunately by asphalt it's nearly 2 hours each way, traffic notwithstanding, plus parking etc. I don't want to end up on an episode of "Parking Wars!" NYC is even further! As well, if we manage to rent a soundstage for say a week, we'll need to build a set too (unless see idea below).

My original idea was to try to rent studio space from the Cable Company locally and attempt to complete the entire shoot over a weekend. Unfortunately nothing large enough is available. Had that idea been feasible I thought we’d nix the bedroom set and just go with a bed and distant white set walls or curtains (dropping off to infinity) giving an ethereal feel to the video. It seems the studio proposition is way beyond our reach at this point. I’ve even considered filming the thing in a nice open field using “God’s grid lighting.” It’s too damned cold now and my partner is sold on the resort suite concept anyway (working with partners is never easy as I’m sure you know!).

I'm giving your DIY fluorescent grid idea some thought. I'll of course have to clear this with the resort owner(s), but it’s definitely an "in a pinch" workaround if I can execute it properly. My thought would be to construct a rectangular frame of EMT conduit and hang it with picture wire from 4 points in the ceiling (can't make too many holes!).

The question is how many of the cheap 4 foot, 40 watt, 2 bulb fluorescent fixtures would I need to attach? If I find and use a formula for number of said fixtures to properly light a room for normal use, will I be providing ample light for video, or will it appear as if I am shooting under “available light?”

I checked Home Depot's site; they have these fixtures for just under 20 bucks each; a 10 pack of daylight balanced bulbs sells for about the same price:

Lithonia Lighting 4 Ft. Strip 2-Bulb 40 Watt T12 Fluorescent Fixture - C 2 40 120 MBE 2INKO at The Home Depot

Philips 40 Watt 4 Ft. T12 Daylight Deluxe Linear Fluorescent Alto® Light Bulb 10 Pack - 387522 at The Home Depot

Each fixture holds (2) 40 watt bulbs; if I were to attach say (10) total that's only 800 watts of juice for the grid. I could then daylight gel my large softbox and use it to light the models.

Any further input on this idea?

Thanks!
Steve
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Old January 31st, 2010, 09:19 PM   #12
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Well, if it were me I'd try it out at home first with a couple of fixtures and see how it works (Exposure/color balance/etc). I still don't have a good feel for room size - ceiling height etc will play a part as well.

Silly question - do they have any rooms with skylights? ;-)

By the way, I wasn't thinking of doing the shoot in Philly, just getting a couple of rental instruments if necessary. Out this way some people think of 100 miles as a reasonable drive to go to lunch! Ice and snow can change one's perspective though (I grew up in Boston so I know what a mess it is!)
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Old January 31st, 2010, 09:44 PM   #13
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Gotcha...100 miles around here is a hike!

Also, I don't have the luxury of testing the grid at home as I have a tray ceiling in the master here w/ a large ceiling fan in the middle.

I'm thinking (8) of those (2) bulb fixtures spread over a (2) frames measuring 4X20 would provide a total of 37,200 lumens. I would have to make (8) total holes, but with two frames I could separate the fixtures increasing my coverage. If I cover perhaps 200 sf overhead, I'm looking at 186 lument per sf. Too much ya think?

Edit: Thought about the skylight thing before; the problem is that the light will not be consistent both in intensity and color temp., especially in the winter.

I just realized that 186 lumens per sf is redicuolus! I could probably get away with 4 of the fixtures suspended overhead. I can rig up several DIY fluorescent kickers and key lights keeping the whole deal in the same temp range (6500K).

It's a shame not one of all of the experts around here have even bothered to chime in on this; I appreciate all of your time and suggestions Jim. It's frustrating that I may be going in the absolutely wrong direction and no one other than you has offered a hint of advice. Kind of makes me wonder about these forums.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 10:39 PM   #14
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Well, I've found this to be about the best forum of its kind and the guys are really helpful if they have anything to add - and nobody is shy about knocking down bad ideas, so maybe they think we're on the right track! (That should be an open invitation for someone to jump all over us:-))
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 05:45 AM   #15
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Jim,

Just wanted to let you know that I discovered the lighting solution! It’s a fairly simple device called the telephone. I got hold of a theater management group up here and low and behold they have a good sized sound stage including overhead grid lighting balanced for tungsten, set walls, cookie projectors (if needed), props, etc. etc.! I managed to negotiate 8-12 hour days including juice & initial set-up for $350.00 daily. In this environment we can probably knock the entire shoot out in 2 days! Who knew this would be possible in the Pocono Mountains??!

Whew! What a freaking relief!

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks again for all of your assistance helping me to figure this thing out. The hardest part of this production now will be finding a bed for rent; compared to the proposition of hanging a 20'x25’ fluorescent grid in a hotel room should be a piece o’ cake!

Take care,
Steve
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