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Old June 8th, 2011, 12:09 PM   #31
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Just thought I would bring everyone up-to-date on the status of my Grip-LED light, including a picture of the light. It seems that the led panel is not available at LEDwholesalers. And, no one knows for sure when LED Wholesalers will have the panel in stock! I wold love to find out who is the actual manufacturer of this led panel... a company in India or China, no doubt... so I can buy directly from the manufacturer. As you know, the Litepanel company is now selling it's H2 light... the H standing for high power and the 2 for 2 panels (I'm guessing here)... their light has 72 1-watt led's and is 1' x 2'. So Litepanels is basically using 2 36 led panels in a frame... not sure if they are using the exact panel that LED Wholesalers was selling... but could perhaps explain why the panel is not available from LED Wholesalers! Also, the Litepanel H2 light is selling for over $4000, which is way over priced for the indie filmmaker. I was selling my Grip-LED light for $249... 2 of these lights for $500 would equal the light output of the $4000 H2! Here is a picture of my light.
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Last edited by Dave Speace; June 8th, 2011 at 02:28 PM. Reason: Add a picture
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Old June 8th, 2011, 12:48 PM   #32
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Dave: I hear you and absolutely believe thae LitePanels has done exacty that: taken two of the $150 panels that LEDWHOLESALERs was selling and slapped them in a frame and is attempting ripoff the indie market with a 1,333% price increase.

I actually won three of the panels from LEDWH's ebay auction in February. They never shipped them, refunded my money, and explained that they sold out their stock due to foot traffic (which at the time was 47 units). So, their warehouse south of SFO airport gets a lot of foot traffic. Uhhh, yeah, right.

A month ago I called them and they said that they were looking to find an alternative but had no luck and no leads.

It is my strong suspician that, either Litepanels bought out that stock so that it would not compete, or that Litepanels created an exclusive supply contract with the Chinese manufacturer/distributor (or both).

Its a sad situation. I hope that you find a replacment panel. I was about to publish an article about a DIY Creamsource for under $800 based on these panels.
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Old June 8th, 2011, 01:51 PM   #33
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
Sigh,

Where to start.

(Please understand I'm NOT trying to be hyper-critical here - it's just that with so many people buying lights and trying so hard to teach themselves - without ever going through any sort of true training or apprenticeship programs - it stands to reason that many will look at a picture like the one posted here and never even know what a professional eye would look for and try to correct. In that spirit, I'll point out a few obvious (to me at least) flaws in the lighting of this picture. I'm NOT saying it's incompetent OR even poorly executed. I'm saying that there are areas where it does NOT meet my individual standards for portrait lighting. Those standards are debatable. Judge for yourselves whether or not my comments are worthy - AND ask yourself whether some of these issues MIGHT be the result of the TYPE of lights being used.)

Initially, the whole pictures looks unacceptably FLAT to my eye. The background has little depth and interest. Clearly it's a hung purchased background - which is fine - but it LOOKS like a hung purchased background. That to me is a very poor choice. In the hands of a pro - a background such as this can subtly suggest texture and depth. This shot's background has neither.

Moving on to the subjects. What's with the ball cap shadow on the kid? Yes, ball cap shadows are natural and often unavoidable - but would it have killed anyone to lower the light so the shadow didn't cut the kids eye socket in half! Kids generally have BEAUTIFUL eyes clear and often unnaturally colorful. This kids eyes are set deep and don't POP at all. This is exactly why pros carry the odd 150 fresnel. Perfect chance to make the kid look GREAT - rather than just "there."

On to the woman. Two MAJOR issues for me. Look at her lips. You'd NEVER get that upper lip thing that looks like a white virus if you used a true soft source. (not to mention the larger version on her lower lip) You've GOT to pay attention to shiny places - and lip gloss is SHINY! I'll bet this is one LED that's reflecting directly back from her lip to the camera lens. NOT flattering.

And then there's the ORANGE backlight. There's a place of this kind of thing - but PLEASE - NOT on the fleshiest part of the poor woman's arm. This simply makes her look OVERWEIGHT. Same unfortunate things about the FACIAL highlight. It hits her right on the fleshiest part of her cheek. It DRAGS your eye to the very area that many women are sensitive about.

Now imagine that someone took a moment to re-set the lighting plot so that the face and arm fell into shadow in the very places where this rim light POPS the shape out. THAT would be like slimming makeup applied to the shape of her arm and face.

Same story with her hips. How hard would it have been to tuck her dress in on the key light side to provide a slimmer shape to her lower body? Or, again, with REAL lighting control, to leave her hips in shadow to keep the audience focused on her attractive face and figure.

Lighting tools are just that. TOOLS. Buying tools is the BEGINNING. Learning to use them properly is the lifelong challenge. And if you buy only hammers - OR only saws - you're going to have a tough time building a wide variety of projects.

And you have to look beyond the overall "is this scene lit OK" standard. To learn to see the details like those I've mentioned above and see if there's a fast and affordable way to make things even better.

AND, (and this is the most critical point in this thread) when you learn that a type of fixture is making it hard to fix something you don't like (e.g. the glowing lip sore) you need to be FLEXIBLE enough in your thinking to consider CHANGING from using LEDs as un-difused frontal keylights on models with lots of lip gloss.

Again, this lighting is NOT incompetent or terrible. It's just limited in it's effectiveness in making the subjects look not just OK - but GREAT.

And I see a LOT of lighting like this today. It's lighting by folks who know their limited equipment's strengths and how those can be used to mimic the 3 point lighting paradigm - but who haven't learned to look deeply at the scenes and analyze the small stuff that pushes lighting from OK to Great.

It's in that spirit that I'm being critical. So that everyone can better understand what to look for when assessing a picture AND the equipment used to make it.

Peace.

End of story.
Bill, thanks for the criticism... I appreciate it more than you know, because I believe that there is no wrong or right way to do lighting in any given situation. Personally, I learned 3-point lighting from Gerald Millerson, the BBC engineer who has written 7 or 8 text books on tv lighting and production! Professor Millerson would never use a soft light as a key... the key has to be a point source like a fresnel that can be aimed and focused etc... and of course there is the optimal key light... the sun itself! But, nowadays the key light is a softbox of some sort... when according to Millerson the soft light source is supposed to be the fill light! Anyway, the client chose the background... this shoot wasn't done in a studio, but a house out on Long Island (limited space)... the front lighting... the key light is a 36 watt led w/ diffusion... camera left and the fill is also a 36 watt led light with more diffusion than the key... this light is about 50% less bright than the key. The kicker is a 200 watt fresnel with diffusion and an orange gel!... the background has a 300 watt fresnel with a pattern and a magenta gel. Matthew is wearing the Mets baseball cap because the spot was shown on the jumbotron at Citi Field during a Mets-Phillies game last fall. Judging this scene from a still picture doesn't do it justice... because of the movement and fluidity of the talent... they aren't just sitting there like lumps on a log...instead they are totally upstaging each other in a cute kind of way. Also, one of the things that I have learned over the years is that...among other things, you have to consider not only the on-camera talent that you are given, what the content is, the location, the budget (low in this case because it is a non-profit), but also who the audience is and where it will ultimately play and have its greatest visual impact--if that's even possible in our youtube age!...so the original use of this video was to be shown on the jumbotron at a major league baseball game... so the background probably didn't matter... just something neutral. The orange kicker light was used to balance out the orange color of the logo and add a little interest to the composition. The magenta background light was used to add color and match the background that was added in the edit. Cheryl Ray's glossy lips (a little glamour) were done by the makeup artist, who is a top New York artist, with credits in the film industry there. I had to convince the client that we needed a makeup artist for a professional performer such as Cheryl Ray. Better than judging the scene from a still, I invite you to see the spot for yourself and maybe your view will be changed or maybe not! YouTube - ‪Nephcure 30 Cheryl Ray & Matthew‬‏.

I'll end with a question... what kinds of things do you do to make a talking head look interesting?

Thanks, I look forward to hearing your comments.

I forgot... the youtube link is the final broadcast spot. In this spot Matthew is not wearing a baseball cap.

Here is the actual spot that was shown on the jumbotron at Citi Field. It was "Ed Hearn Night". Ed Hearn was a catcher for the New York Mets when they won the World Series. Ed Hearn has FSGS and has had 3 kidney transplants. The disease ended his baseball career. YouTube - ‪Nephcure Spot-CitiField.wmv‬‏
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Last edited by Dave Speace; June 9th, 2011 at 09:24 AM. Reason: Actual CitiField video spot
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Old June 8th, 2011, 02:24 PM   #34
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Michael, amazing, isn't it? I'm kind of befuddled with this whole situation. I have sold all of the Grip-LED's I made... 20 so far... I still have 2 of the prototypes that I am using in my own lighting kit. I just bought 2 36-led lights from www.thecinecity.com (India). I did this just to see what kind of panel they used and to add to my lighting inventory. It is similar to the one that LED Wholesalers was selling. But, it is not the same! However, I thought that I got a pretty good deal... the 2 lights cost $550 (+ $175 shipping from India) and I also got 2 light stands, a double header, so you can put both lights on one stand, and each light comes in a case along with diffusion sheets and color correction sheets for tungsten balance. The lights are 5500K and are about 1/2 stop brighter than the panel that LED Wholesalers sold. I am still looking and would like to find who the manufacturer is and deal directly with him.
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Old June 11th, 2011, 01:02 AM   #35
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Dave,

Did you ever figure out how to battery power your lights? Some sort of v-mount or external power supply. The only think shaky about the lights are the laptop like power brick plugs.
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Old June 11th, 2011, 04:42 PM   #36
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Shawn: you can simply take a pair of 12v 12A sealed lead acid batteries that run like $10 each and wire them in series to equal 24v (Connecting Batteries in Series or Parallel). Here's a pair that sells for $27 with shipping. TWO UB12120 12V 12Ah Sealed Lead Acid SLA AGM Battery | eBay

I think these panels draw about 1.7 amps, so those 12 amp batteries will run one panel almost all day.

You can also buy a 24v lithium battery like the kind used for electric bikes. Those are more expensive, but prettier.

If you want less weight or a smaller form factor, buy a Lithium battery back from Batteryspace or similar online sources. More expensive, but shorter charge times and less cumbersome.

If you want to add dimming capabilities, buy a PWM dimmer for less than $20. Here's one that is 24v, like these panels, and can dim up to 4 panels from a single switch. I have one on mine. It dims down to zero or up to full with no issues whatsoever.

LED PWM Dimmer 24V for LED lighting

With a nearby Radio Shack, an Ebay account, and the most basic soldering skills, a middle school student should be able to build a DIY portable power solution.

That Litepanels is charging 3 or 4 thousand dollars for a yoke and a shell plus a set of off the shelf parts that retails for, I said retails, not wholesales, for about $350, is a crime.

If I only had 3 more of these panels to compliment my one panel, I'll publish plans on how to build a DIY portable Creamsource-like fixture for less than $700, that be easily built by anybody old enough to drive in one afternoon and that will light up a back yard at night for hours on battery power.
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Old June 11th, 2011, 06:06 PM   #37
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Bill Davis and Bob Grant, I appreciated your educated perspectives in this thread very much. Thank you.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 06:31 PM   #38
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Michael,

What about setting up something for v-mount or ab mount? Then batteries can be easily changed out. Or maybe even the sony 970 batteries that are being used for many on camera LED lights.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 06:54 PM   #39
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Well, you can buy those mounts on Ebay for about $8. I personally don't have those batteries in the first place because I think they are a ripoff. I make or adapt my own battery power andv distribution systems from parts at Radio Shack and batteries from the major online sources like batteryspace etc...

Honestly, people are letting them selves pay hundreds if not thousands more than they need to simply becuase nobody ever taught them hot to cut, strip, and solder a wire.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 11:05 PM   #40
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Michael,

Interesting. How do you keep the batteries nice and neat for on the go shooting? The enclosure of a sony v-mount or the like makes them easy to carry, store and ship. If I could have something small and portable for the three grip lights I have, I would certainly build them myself.
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Old June 19th, 2011, 03:39 AM   #41
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Search 12v battery pack on ebay and you'll find lots of lithium ion or NiMH packs from 4Ah up to 10Ah for $25-90. A $20 charger designed for toy cars works. Much lighter and cheaper than other options, just have to figure how to make the connections yourself.
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Old June 20th, 2011, 12:52 PM   #42
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Re: LED obsession - Indie kit?

Check out the LED panels from ephotoinc.com which happens to be located in the same building as www.LEDwholesalers.com

They sell LED panels readymade into litepanels type enclosures for just a few times the panel cost rather than the litepanels markup. I own their LED 1200's but also the led 600 and 900 are similar and think they offer tremendous value. I would only buy those models because their CRI seems better than their others.
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