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Photon Management
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Old July 29th, 2006, 11:03 PM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Another lighting question...

Hey guys, I've been reading a lot about lighting lately, all thanks to everyone who contributed in this forum. I read Lowell's Matters of Light and Depth, Alton's Painting with Light and Jackman's Lighting for Video & TV. So now I feel like I'm ready to apply my newfound knowledge :P

First, a little info on what I will use all these lights for. Me and a couple friends are planning to make short films next semester so I am looking for advice on what kind of lighting kit to get. Assuming money is not a problem, which brand should I go with? However, we can't get lights that are too big because there's only about 3-5 people on the crew so I guess we're limited in that sense.

Should we go with Lowel, Arri or Mole-Richardson? Are there other brands that we should look into? I personally am leaning towards this kit: What do you guys think?
Martin Taidy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 29th, 2006, 11:32 PM   #2
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Location: Toronto, Canada
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Lowel lights are cheaper, very portable, and not quite as tough as the Arri and Mole-Richardson stuff. If you own the gear and take good care of it, the durability shouldn't be a big issue (since Arri/Mole lights can break anyways... and they're more expensive).

2- If you had an unlimited budget, you'd have a truck, a generator, 18K HMIs, etc. Not trying to be facetious here, but you probably have a budget.

3- Go through the low-budget sticky at the top of this forum, and leaf through Jackman's book for the little nitty gritty things you need (grip equipment, electrical stuff, etc. etc.). You may not necessarily find these things in the light kits being sold. i.e. the Lowel kit doesn't include any reflectors... which are a great light source (soft, dirt cheap, draws no power).

4- Probably a good light kit would be a mix of tungsten instruments (like the Lowel kit) and a good HMI (575W, 1.2K, or 2k). Anything higher wattage should be rented (and will need a generator anyways). By tungsten instruments I mean:
--A bunch of low-wattage fresnels (for lighting backgrounds / the set; you try to light from above; they are also good for casting shadows)
Dedolight (expensive!), Arri, LTM are some companies that make these.
--At least two soft light sources (i.e. a Rifa, any light with a softbox or chimera) For key light + other uses
--Maybe one or two open faced lights for blasting light (into ceilings, silks). i.e. Omni
--Misc., including reflectors and mirrors; for exteriors, reflectors, silks, and mirrors are the only things that will be powerful.

People have different tastes in lighting, so what works best for someone else may not work the best for you. A good place to start would be the tungsten instruments, since because they are cheap you can get more of them, which makes your kit more versatile.

Mainly your lighting kit will be tradeoffs between:
--wattage used; without a generator, you will blow a fuse if you draw too much power. Some lights have better efficiency than others (especially fluorescents).
--# of lights / not having the right type of light (soft/hard, can you grip it where you want, light output)
--light output
--control; with fresnels, you can cast clean shadows with them when using cookies; with soft light sources, an eggcrate will help control spill
--setup time.
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Old July 30th, 2006, 11:30 AM   #3
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Location: Sauk Rapids, MN, USA
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On the other end of the spectrum (if cost is an issue), I'm using ACDelco clamp lights (better clamp than the competitors) with GE softwhite compact flourescent bulbs. These run around $15 each total and use 1/3 the wattage of the light equivalent incandescents. They have the added benefit of not throwing out much heat at all. They have the drawback of not being dimmable. Foam core sheets for bounce white for soft bounce, some silver lamae fabric stretched and clamped to it for silver bounce and some gold for warm bounce.

On a recent shoot for the 48 hour film project, we had a pro lighting kit and ended up using my spray painted foamcore boards for fill more frequently than the fill lights we had from the kit...they're faster, take no power and just work (you just need a PA to hold them).
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Cole McDonald is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 31st, 2006, 01:53 PM   #4
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If your not very experienced with lights, its best to keep things simple. A couple of Lowel Totas with large translucent umbrellas are a good bet. The lighting will be flat, but it will give you a decent exposure and will be easy for a tiny crew to manage. By some sheets of black foam core at staples if you need to control the light a little.

I might also get a large translucent collapsible reflector 5x6 (photoflex) if you have any outdoor shooting in bright light. Just have two crew people hold it.

Making a movie is tough work, don't try to make an epic your first time out.

As you start understanding more, you can always add to this. Plus if you find you don't really like making movies, you haven't invested a fortune and you can resell them for close to what you paid. Take good care of them, of course.
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