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Old October 5th, 2006, 10:00 AM   #1
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what lights to buy?

I'm looking to buy my first lights on a budget of about $2,500 or so. I shoot dramatic videos and occasional interviews. I realize the trend is toward smaller lights for video, however I am concerned that once you put diffusion on, it really cuts the light. An 80A gel, for example, will lower the light by two stops, dropping a 500 watt to 125 watts ! So you have to move the lights very close...
1) So should I buy 1Ks? However these may be overkill in many or most situations, and there are heat and amp issues. What to do?
2) I like the control you get with fresnels. Wondering what the difference is between the Arri Fresnel 650 lights and the Arrilite 650 Focusing Flood lights, and which is best?
3) can you comment on what one professional has said on line, which is, "even if you want to shoot a no-budget film, you will need at least 8,000 to 10,000 watts" ?
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Old October 5th, 2006, 01:17 PM   #2
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As for how many watts you need, it all depends on how large an area you're trying to light. If you're trying to flood an open field at night... 10K is a bit small. If you're trying to shoot an interview indoors in controlled lighting, you could get away with very little.

The more "dramatic" the lighting, usually the fewer and smaller the instruments you'll need. High-key bright and flat uses the most light, and even then if you're careful you can get pretty sneaky. if you're shooting video, chances are you don't want to be using deep focus, so at f/2.8 or wider you won't need very much light at all.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 02:10 PM   #3
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The Arrilites are open faced units, which are lighter and cheaper than the fresnel units, but they have no lenses so the quality of the light is very different. There isn't really a better, just different. Any grip/electric rental place will have both types of units in their arsenal.

As for the 8-10K worth of light comment, it's really too much of a generalization, but things like lighting, wardrobe, locations, set decoration, etc, etc. are what give a film its look. And too often, folks will try to do too much with too little.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 03:05 PM   #4
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I'm assuming your in oakland, CA? (if so howdy neighbor!) I think you need to rent a kit from somewhere and test it out. Check out Gasser's or Film Arts. Much like buying a camera, I found that trying lights out really gives you an idea of what you need. What kind of lights have you been using?
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Old October 5th, 2006, 03:34 PM   #5
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I think it's an oversimplification to say that you need X watts, or that more wattage is better.
-Lights differ in efficiency. Fluorescents and HMI are particularly efficient. Reflectors, mirrors, and flags don't need power at all.
-Lights vary in color temperature. Using color correction gel drops efficiency.
-You only have so much power available to you before you trip a breaker. For interviews, lower wattage can be better so there's much less of that risk.
-Above a certain level, lighting is about your lighting ratios. The relationships between lit areas and shadows. If sunlight is not involved, you don't need that much wattage at all.
-If you want focused light, focusing the light on a smaller area will make it much more "powerful".
-Sometimes, lighting is about where you want your shadows to land / it's about removing light.
-You could light a film without any lights at all. If you want to shoot outdoors (and have a low budget), non-HMI lights aren't going to do anything. So you'd have to use reflectors and such.

2- See the low budget lighting sticky at the top of this forum, as it outlines all the items you will want.
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