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Old February 1st, 2010, 09:08 PM   #1
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Bare Bones Indoor Lighting (Kit?) / Shooting Active Dogs

I'm a beginner, shooting videos to promote adoptable dogs for a rescue org (dogs that are in a foster home, so home settings).

I know dogs well, but know lighting not at all! For my own animals I just wait til i can shoot outdoors in the sun.

I'm looking for an inexpensive improvement (a professional-level solution is out of my budget range) to allow me to shoot indoor shots of a 'generic' dog (could be black coat, could be light), who's position I can't 'direct,' and also possibly some generic person holding or playing with the dog in the room.

Most important is to capture the dog's personality, how they move, what interests them, are they active or mellow, etc. But I'd *sure* love to reduce the grain I'm sure to get if relying only on overhead light or window light. (And, hopefully without creating truly ghastly shadows.) Also hopefully for it to be safe around a moving animal (I'm nervous about attempting a hot 'home depot' light that might get knocked over.)

I imagine I'll be turning on all available houselights, opening all window coverings, then positioning one or two stands in 'safe' locations just to boost the light in the room.

I realize I'm asking for everything in a challenging set of scenarios. The good news is I'm not needing a perfect professional solution!

Before I started reading this forum, I was hoping I might pick something up for $50. Now I'm really hoping for under $200, $250 tops

I would LOVE advice. What makes the most sense to (cheaply) bring the light up in a room to reduce grain? I'm guessing I'd be able to identify the 2-3 most likely places a dog and it's foster people might be, but not one, and certainly no backdrop. Softbox? Umbrella? [I have checked "Light Science & Magic" out of the library to learn a little more, but don't think they're focussing on crazy animals that can rip around!] :)

Currently I'm just shooting with my Canon Powershot camera in video mode, but am looking at a vixia HF-S10. I realize low light will continue to be an issue.

Advice is welcome. Hope I've provided enough info. (I now realize even a monopod will go a long way to improve camera shake. I'm looking for something similarly basic to improve lighting side of things.)

For a sample of what I'm talking about, please check out 0:34 mark at this video

thanks kindly!

Last edited by Karen Hilker; February 2nd, 2010 at 03:08 AM.
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Old February 1st, 2010, 09:40 PM   #2
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Hi Karen:

I would seriously consider shooting the dogs outdoors. They can run around more, you may get to see more of their personality. As an example, The Dog Whisperer shoots in similar scenarios that you are describing and they are often trying to get the same sort of footage, people and dogs interacting. They use three cameras and a decent amount of grip and lighting gear honestly, it barely gets the job done, Dog Whisperer is a great show but not a show with amazing lighting or photography.

If you can shoot the dogs outdoors, especially in a shaded area, it will look better than anything you can do indoor without a grip and lighting crew and a budget of many thousands. You are fighting a bad lighting situation by trying to shoot without enough light, why not take them outdoor? If you can shoot in the mornings or late afternoon, you stand a chance of getting some pretty nice looking footage. Avoid 10:00 AM to about 4:00 PM if possible, the first two hours and the last two hours of the day are pretty decent light.

IMHO, there is nothing in your budget and situation that will make a noticeable improvement indoors because you are shooting dogs running all over the place, probably don't have enough crew or enough time. Use what is available. For you, that would be the sun and shade. For $50.00, buy a FlexFill and have a friend light using the sun, it works amazingly well once you learn what you are doing.

Dan
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Old February 1st, 2010, 10:10 PM   #3
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Something like this may work:

Lowel | ID-Light 100W Focus Flood Light, 4-Pin XLR | ID-02 | B&H

It's a 100w on camera light. It's not something I'd usually recommend, but it has no stands to worry about and it's portable.

The problem is that it's going to bust you budget by a bit because it needs a battery source. There may be some cheaper options out there, but you're filming in daylight and you're going to really need some punch.

There's just not much in the budget you've given to work with. Anything that is going to need to be plugged in is not going to be portable enough, or would require another person to hold and move with the animal. Alternately, you could light up the entire room some, but then you're into a 1k or 2k light to make much difference and that is going to fall outside your budget as well.

I tell you what might work and would be DIRT cheap. If you can find an assistant, buy a silver worklamp, and the brightest fluorescent lamp you can stick in it. I can give you some links for that. If you can get your assistant to stand right behind you and keep it pointed at the dog, and you can stay rather close to the dog, it might give just enough fill to work. Maybe. But it would only set you back maybe $50.
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Old February 1st, 2010, 11:30 PM   #4
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hi karen,

being a gaffer i would just bash 2 redheads in to the ceiling from the corners to bring up the ambient levels.

this is probably not so easy for you as you dont have the lights.

any strong source you can get hold of to do this will help.

shoot outside....plenty of light but hard to control and follow dogs
shoot inside... low light but easy to control and film dogs.

ah decisions decisions.....

hope this helps.

ian
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 12:19 AM   #5
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And right now she's asking.... what's a gaffer? What's a redhead, what's a strong source?

Come on man, she's clearly never bought a movie light in her life. At least define the terms.

Karen, basically everyone is saying to do one of two things:

1. Shoot outside
2. Shoot inside and buy a very powerful light to raise the ambient levels.
3. I offered another option of putting a light on the camera but it will cost more money.

If you want to go with a stand and light, there are some fairly inexpensive options.

Something like the Lowel Tota: Lowel | Tota-Light Tungsten Flood Light, Bulb | T1-101 | B&H

This light is nearly unbreakable and throws a strong swath of light. It's not very controllable, but in your case, that's probably ok. You'll need to add a beefy stand so as not to worry about it getting tipped over. Say something like this: Matthews | Maxi Kit Steel Stand | 387485 | B&H Photo Video

Or if you need to save a few bucks, something like this: Matthews | Black Kit Stand | 387402 | B&H Photo Video

Those stands should last 20 years. The light probably the same.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 01:02 AM   #6
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hi perrone,

if you dont know what a gaffer is or a redhead or a hard source

maybe you should be doing something else.

i just offered up the quickest and cheap way to do something
and it doesnt get more basic.

cheers,

ian

ps a couple of shot bags will keep your lights upright.

shot bags= small bags full of shot or sand and weighing from

5 to 25 kilos
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 01:30 AM   #7
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Ian, I've been a gaffer... but she's a newbie trying to take video of dogs. She doesn't know what all that stuff is...

Yes, pushing a couple of fresnels up on the ceiling would be quick and easy. If they were in the budget. She's barely got budget for more than 2 good stands, so get real.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Dart View Post
hi perrone,

if you dont know what a gaffer is or a redhead or a hard source

maybe you should be doing something else.

i just offered up the quickest and cheap way to do something
and it doesnt get more basic.

cheers,

ian
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 01:55 AM   #8
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hi mate,
yes you are right, i have been doing this so long i just assumed
she would know what i was talking about.

i should know by now when the eyes start glazing over i have lost them.

karen if you can beg borrow or hire a couple of lights it would
be of great help to you. if you were in melbourne australia i would
lend you some.

cheers
ian
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 01:56 AM   #9
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First and foremost, I truly appreciate everyone's suggestions and ideas. Thank you for responding and helping me out. They help me see what I'm up against.

I definitely am having reinforced: outdoors is the way to go if at *all* possible, and aim for certain times of the day. Thanks, the feedback helps, really! As a noob, I have ideas but don't know if I'm just being nuts or what there is to learn. Being outdoors seems like it should be my priority #1 based on the responses. Happily, that *is* a possibility most months of the year and with most foster homes. I'll highlight that importance with the foster parents.

Also getting a sense of other options for the winter-time weeks or months where indoors is more ideal...thank you, I'll look into all the ideas you've each offered. (I doubt I'd ever have an assistant, and appreciate you each being clear where that's a critical component to the option presented.)

I'm thinking about fashioning a silver work lamp solidly to an old exterior-frame kelty backpack frame, and maybe becoming my own assistant! (hah. ok, that's a joke and would probably freak the poor traumatized dogs out, but it does keep me thinking creatively.) But seriously, the details really help me understand where to focus and where to not.

I appreciate you taking the time to respond and give links/ideas. It saves me from wasting money on what I *wish* would work out. It is challenging for me to know what are good options, being new to this. The specific ideas really do help, Thanks, all, from the newbie.

-Karen
(who knows what gaffers tape is but the 'redhead' thing...) :)

Last edited by Karen Hilker; February 2nd, 2010 at 09:11 PM. Reason: poor original editing!
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 02:06 AM   #10
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hi karen

dont ever apologise for not knowing everything, the only way to
learn is to ask.

you will always remember something if you asked and are given an answer.

red heads are an open faced 800 watt (aus) 1000 watt (usa)
tungsten light used to be the backbone of the industry, not very controlable but lots of light.
they are called red heads because they are red (go figure)

cheers
ian
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 02:09 AM   #11
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oh by the way gaffers are the backbone of movie making and they also do all the work..........the rest of the crew just stand around trying to look good.

cheers,
ian
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 02:16 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Dart View Post
oh by the way gaffers are the backbone of movie making and they also do all the work..........the rest of the crew just stand around trying to look good.

cheers,
ian
I'd pay money to see you tell a DP or producer that... Or the key grip.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 02:28 AM   #13
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hi mate,

funny really i have never said that (aloud) on set so not
sure what the reaction would be...... ok ok i do know what the reaction would be....

doesnt mean its not true.

cheers
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 03:00 AM   #14
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you all are funny! thank you for your help and humor.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 07:14 AM   #15
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I think your video is perfectly fine give your production goals. It does exactly what it needs to do--give a prospective owner an idea of what the dog is like. Your audience is not that sophisticated. They are not expecting a pet video to be Avatar. Sure, noisy video and changing white balance don't look good but nobody is going to reject the dog because of it.

This is way outside your budget but is another way of thinking about the problem: get a camera that is better able to use existing light levels. The still reigning king of this is the Sony PD170/VX2000. Its a standard definition camera with very good low light performance.

You don't need HD for this and HD cameras, all things being equal (which they never are), do not do as well at low light.

Downsides? Cost--I wouldn't pay more than $1000 for a good used cam. Tape--I'm totally sold on the tapeless environment.

But back on the lighting side, I was in Home Depot the other day and saw they are making 150 watt (equivalent) fluorescent bulbs. One of these in a work light in each corner of the room--probably aimed at the ceiling--might do the trick.
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