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Old September 28th, 2011, 03:30 PM   #1
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Do you use Tota Lights?

I use two tota lights for just about all of my filming. They give a great look and I have been very happy with them. They also work great for green screen. Why is it that people dont seem to recommend them when asked about lighting solutions? They do get super hot, perhaps thats why?
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Old September 28th, 2011, 04:33 PM   #2
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

Kevin,

I own 5 of them. They are wonderful for what they do.

What they do is put out a lot of light that spreads from a 4 inch tube and reflects off two silvered barn door wings to make the effective light emitting surface roughly 5x5 inches.

That's a useful form for a lot of things. And not particularly useful for many other things - exactly as can be said about every single type of lighting device ever invented and sold.

Totas are lightweight and portable - but typically draw a good bit of power.

I use them for two things. By themselves, they can throw a lot of light into a relatively big space. A 5 by 5 emitter that's bright is great for tossing a lot of light into a large area where you aren't concerned with quality, but rather quantity —*so they're very useful for things like bringing up a background area of a warehouse or large space.

And since they're broad by nature, they can be mounted on a softbox, and will fill up the front panel very nicely. In that configuration they put out a nice "wrap" of light for interviews.

For anything else, they're often OK, but there are usually specific tools that do the other things better.

They've earned their place in the industry. Used well, they are great. Used improperly, they will give you sub-standard results compared to other tools.

And yep, they get REALLY hot. So do many of Lowel's units like the Pro light. But that's just what happens when you put a bright incandescent source in a smallish fixture made of metal. It gets hot. Period. And so does anything else doing the same job in the same way.

For what it's worth.
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Old September 28th, 2011, 07:34 PM   #3
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

As Bill said, they are best used for lighting a large area like a cyc, backdrop or background element. Or bounced or through diffusion. They can't be scrimmed so your only option for adjusting their output is dimming, and their light quality is not "pretty", so best not used directly.

For a recent scene that was supposed to take place behind the scenes of a bad local commercial, I placed two Totas on either side of the camera that was shooting the commercial to make it look as hack-y as possible...!
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Old September 28th, 2011, 09:03 PM   #4
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

I have a bunch of them. They're really great with umbrellas. I have on old rifle hardcase that will fit 4 totas, 4 stands, 3 umbrellas, a small chimera softbox, the cords for all of them, and some gels. It works really well just to grab and go.
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Old September 29th, 2011, 05:08 AM   #5
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

I use them when I do greenscreen work. Two are used to illuminate the green screen, and one is sometimes used to simulate hard sunlight.
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Old September 29th, 2011, 10:41 AM   #6
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

I do , but not too often after got arri fresnels, always bounced, and for the green screen I prefer to use soft boxes with CFLs, to me it looks much cleaner and less spotty
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Old September 29th, 2011, 03:37 PM   #7
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

Charles, what type of lights do you typically use for one person interviews?
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Old September 29th, 2011, 10:24 PM   #8
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

No.... I'm not fond of Lowell gear
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Old October 1st, 2011, 03:11 PM   #9
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

Kevin, it depends on what package I'm using--if said interview is part of a larger project where I have a decent size lighting package, I generally use a large source like a 1K open face into a chimera or a Kinoflo through a diffusion frame for key, and a bounce card for fill as required. For hairlight I prefer larger sources like a kino 4x2 or another chimera-d tungsten unit, but it always depends on the color and quality of hair. I may do an additional soft edge light lower down to scrape the side of the cheek or jaw. And of course whatever type of background is used will require a specialized scheme.

If I get hired with my package and have little to no crew, which still happens from time to time, I'll use my Zylight IS3 and Z90 which allows me to control intensity and color from the remote so I can dial it in from the monitor.

If a more stylized look is required, I have different approaches. For more of a beauty/fashion look I may use horizontal soft sources like a 2x4 Kino with diffusion or a striplight softbox both above and below the lens. I recently shot Queen Latifah with two Image 80's side by side as a wide soft key and liked the results--I've also done that in closer quarters with two 2x4's next to each other. Something about the wider key makes a more source-less look, but a shorter height still gives a sense of modeling especially under the chin.

For a more low-key, limbo style of headshot there are so many ways to go about it that I can't even begin--I've done "keyless" interviews with hotter edges and just bounce to pick that up as subtle front fill.
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Old November 24th, 2011, 10:39 PM   #10
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

I have four Tota lights in my lighting Kit. I think they are great. They pack down very small, produce a large amount of light. and when used with a softbox or umbrella are a lovely soft light source. I also carry with me 7 dedo and a 650w arri frezzie. This whole kit gives me a great small portable kit that is fantastic for most shoots.
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Old November 26th, 2011, 02:30 PM   #11
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

Dedos are great. Wish I had bought a kit ten years ago. I keep waiting for them to introduce an LED version...! I do spec them in all of my rental packages.

One issue with Totas is that they aren't scrimmable nor easily gelled (you can make a big loop around the doors, but you risk burning through, and the edges will leak raw light). If used in a softbox or umbrella, I would recommend using a dimmer to control light level. Also useful to have both the 1K and 650 lamps for them for different applications.
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Old November 26th, 2011, 05:57 PM   #12
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

I learned a cool new technique on the last set I worked on (last weekend) for gelling totas... a c-47 in each corner will allow you to clip the gel to the ends of those 47s which takes it away from the hot metal and works quite well with my 12x12 gels.
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Old November 26th, 2011, 08:35 PM   #13
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

Good tip Cole--and I completely forgot about the collapsible gel frames Lowel makes for Totas:

Lowel Tota-Frame for 10x12" Gels T1-20 B&H Photo Video

So there are options (as long as you are not trying to use the frame and the umbrella at the same time, since they use the same mounting hole).
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Old December 20th, 2011, 02:54 PM   #14
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

I had a budget shoot in Mexico shooting tourist attractions like restaurants and sidewalk cafes. I was on foot so much that I brought ONE count-em ONE Tota with a soft box using the speed-ring attachment from B&H. I mostly used the Tota with the soft box to shoot close-ups of food. It turned out great. Stuck the Tota in corners of hotel rooms naked and bounced off the wall and got great interior shots. Unfortunately that client went out of business so I can't share the links.
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Old January 16th, 2012, 10:26 PM   #15
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Re: Do you use Tota Lights?

I have at this point one tota and it almost never gets used. maybe once every couple of years on a night exterior where I just need to dump raw light onto a tree or something.

also a very big note here : totas are to be operated horizontally. never rig them vertically because you risk heat build up on the top and bulb explosion. thats molten glass that WILL light things on fire. its deadly serious.

I basically hate them because they are very ugly raw lights. they are 1980's lights for 1980's cameras.
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