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Old July 24th, 2006, 08:45 PM   #1
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Putting together light kit

Hi Everyone,

I have been shooting Veritae, more or less for about 10 years, I thought it was time to buy a light kit, and step up my production. (OK, I'm a little slow, but better late than never!) Some new material will have me shooting music videos and corporate pieces with Green Screen. So I have to have even light. I still shoot documentaries too, among other things. So I need a fairly versatile kit.

Here's what I have assembled so far

Lights
(2) 1000W softboxes by Dynatran (came with case and stand)
(1) 500W soft box by Dynatran came with stand, will fit in above case
(1) 750W Fresnel from Foto Engineering Products (about 60 year old, very cool but heavy) picked it up on EBay for $31 I need to find some barn doors and a scrim set. A gaffer friend told me he thought it looked compatable with Mole barn doors of the same size light
(1) Lowel Omni with Barn Doors, Ebay $82
(1) 1000W Colortran scoop (very similar to a Lowel DP in size and function) I bought it on Ebay for $8. I purchased a 2nd lamp that is 600W for a little versatility I need barn doors for this too.
(I'd like to pick up 1 more light, the Lowel Pro, for small format, on the go lighting)

Stands
(1) Dynatran C Stand with XL Boom, very nice piece
(1) Dynatran C stand XL, (I purchased 2 grip arms to go with this)
(1) Dynatran backlight stand (lightweight, comes with an extra universal adapter to mount a 2nd light low to the ground
(2) Bogen Super-clamps with flex arms
(4) clamps with universal adapters or camera mounts
(1) Dynatran background stand, (I also got, (1) 10X24' green screen background and (1) 10X24' blue screen background

Misc.
(1) 5 in 1 reflector, 44" circle
(1) box of black wrap
(1) bag of c-47s
(1) pair of work gloves, to work with hot lights
(1) Dynatran white umbrella
(1) Dynatran gold umbrella
(2) rolls of gaffers tape
(1) 5X7 reversible Chroma-key pop-up background, green/blue

Books
Lighting for Digital Video and Television, by John Jackman (Very Cool Book!)
Lighting for Video, by Gerald Millerson (small book, but packed with incredible content, a must.)

For those of you that live near NY, I recommend the Lighting for DV class at DCTV, I took that class recently and learned a lot!

Anyway, sorry for the long post, but I have been reading everybody else posts here and thought I should finally contribute something.

BTW, I already have much to thank some of you for. I have been reading the posts here and learning a lot. Thanks!
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 11:45 AM   #2
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You might want to consider an ellipsoidal or two. I like ETC Source 4.
They take either a 575 or 750 watt lamp and what is really cool is
their ability to take gobos or patterns. You can also change barrels
and thereby have anything from a narrow 14 to a 90 super wide.
This is a instrument where the light can be focused either soft or hard
and features shutters which can cut the light off where you don't want it.
I am sure you have seen interviews
where the background has a cool modeled lighting effect
'splashed' across it. That is usually done by a ellipsoidal.

I might also get a couple of 300 W fresnels for multi purpose
instruments.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 12:02 PM   #3
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ellipsoidal

Hi Jacques,

Thanks for your reply. I am a newbie at lighting gear and I have been surprised at how much fun I have been having putting together my kit and learning about lighting. I always tend to be fairly obsessive with any quest have and this has been quite a journey.

I have been wondering about ellipsoidals, not sure what and how they are used. Thanks for enlightening me. I just went to the ETC site and looked at the light. Very Nice. http://www.etcconnect.com/product.overview.asp?ID=20080
I will have get one of those. They look very versatile. My hope is to have a nice broad kit, that I can use, but that any experienced gaffer might feel comfortable with. As my business grows, I would like to hire a gaffer full-time, as I am just a newbie at lighting. I do hope to learn more.


I picked up two 300W Colortran Mini-Pro's (open faced). but I like your suggestions for (2) 300W fresnels, much more controllable. Do you have a brand or model preference for the 300W fresnels?

Thanks!

Last edited by Garius Hill; August 2nd, 2006 at 01:08 PM.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 03:13 PM   #4
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For fresnels, don't ignore altman! When shopping for my portable kit, I looked at everything, mole, arri, altman, etc... and I found that the durability : weight of the Altmans was the best of the bunch. Obviously Moles will last FOREVER, but they are heavier and more expensive. My Altman 300 L's are FANTASTIC, and if you need parts in a pinch (spare barndoors, etc...) they fit all Arri accessories.

Jaques is right - ETC stuff is AWESOME. Not sure if you've ever used Dedolight stuff, but dedo's are basically shrunk-down leko's like the ETC source fours. I like them as backlights, because of the beam-shaping abilities. It is often difficult to backlight out of the shot without spilling into the lens. Using a leko (ellipsoidal) is a pretty easy workaround.

Another cool thing from ETC is the Source Four Parnel. Fresnels are pretty inefficient, but controllable. If you need a LOT of output without blowing fuses, it's either expensive HMI's or parnels. Parnels are a hybrid of fresnel and par technology, and have ridiculous output! If you look around the trusses at any concert or venue, you'll see hundreds of ETC Parnels. They are the industry standard, and because they are built for touring, they are basically indestructable. I have a couple and use them more often than my 1K fresnels. 575 Watts, and MUCH brighter.

If you're looking to get Altman or ETC stuff, I suggest Full Compass Systems in Madison, WI - I'm in NYC and tax is KILLER, so I mail order as much as possible from them. Super friendly and always better prices than B&H. Little known secret is that ETC is a Madison-based company, and Full Compass is their largest sales rep... i.e. they will have the best prices on Source Four parnels and lekos.

I'm sure this all sounds like an ad, but I'm not tied to any of the products or Full compass. I've just had a great experience with the gear and the store, and if I can help others save headaches and cash, why not?

Last edited by Jaron Berman; August 2nd, 2006 at 10:24 PM.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 03:46 PM   #5
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I was going to say that Altman makes the least expensive good stuff.
Arri, Desisti, Mole and others are much more expensive and
have their supporters.

Dedo are REALLY expensive, but you get what you pay for.

I have two ETC (Source 4) Parnels. They are pretty nice for what they
offer. With the high output 575W lamps I can hook up three to my
2000W honda generator.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 09:01 PM   #6
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more good tips from you guys

Jacques and Jaron,

Thanks for your terrific replies. I will have to look closer at the Altman fresnels. Budget is a concern for me, so thanks for that. Also, for the tip on Full Compass.

Also, regarding the parnels, and generator. How often do you need your generator to light scenes?
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 10:21 PM   #7
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well, I've never used one on anything that I personally had to supply gear for. I try to use small instruments and spread them across circuits. A good reference is the "Set Technicians Handbook." Very complete reading about how to think of power on set. A really useful tool, if you're using a LOT of lights, is a circuit finder. Home depot, etc... all sell them for like $50. You plug one end into the outlet, and run the probe by the fuse box to find which circuit is which. Make notes in a notebook, so that you can find the exact amperage rating for each cicuit you're plugging into. I believe new houses have 20amp circuits on all wall outlets. I could be wrong. But 20 amps is a LOT of power, that's 2.4 KW of light you can plug into a single circuit! Most of the time, you'll find 10 amp circuits, which is still a couple of 600's, or 2x 575 pars and a 150 kicker.

Amps x volts = watts. that's a good thing to know when figuring whether or not you'll blow the circuit every minute or 2.

When it comes to generators, it's not usually as simple as just plugging and running. A generator capable of powering more than you could by simply splitting lights between circuits, is a complicated beast. Generators work by magnets spinning past one another. When power is drawn off a coil in the generator, that coil returns force to the equation. If you run a generator with one coil loaded more heavily than another, you are stressing the generator, and if it runs, it will fail. There are all sorts of precautions when it comes to balancing a generator.... but I think your best bet, especially if price is a concern, is to use small instruments and spread them across multiple circuits. I think you'd be surprised how much you can do off wall power, especially in the case of video. Video is very sensitive, and for the majority of work, you probably won't need 10K's or even 5K's. Good luck!
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 10:34 PM   #8
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When you're fighting sunlight, you need really powerful lights. Or do workarounds. Namely:

A- Don't use lights. Use reflectors, mirrors, flags, silks, etc. instead.

B- ND Gel the window/skylight or use drapes/blinds to bring the luminance down.

2- While you can run a bunch of little lights off of household power, you do need to watch out for crew + household members turning on big power sucking devices like hair dryer, microwave, etc.

Also, some fuses trip below their rating. The worst I've seen is with fuses built into power reels... because they've tripped before many many times, they intermittently trip at about ~10A / ~1K (when it should be about 15A or 20A). They don't trip right away... the trip in the middle of your shoot, and everybody is trying to figure out the problem.
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 08:04 AM   #9
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I use my generator and lights when I am doing an interview in the field.
Although reflectors and big bounce boards can work very well,
passing clouds and wind make outdoor production more problematic
when using these methods. I wish I could afford HMIs, but during
the golden hours of dawn and sunset my parnels gelled to 5600 do work.

Someday . . . over the "big pot of cash to buy HMIs" rainbow. :)
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 11:54 AM   #10
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Hey Jacques, what kind of generator are you using?
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 03:40 PM   #11
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Honda 2000eu. It costs more than those noisy generators that output
square wave A/C. If you put it 150ft away behind a tree the mics
never hear it.
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