Time for my very first lights. . . tungsten, flourescents, or ? at DVinfo.net

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Old November 29th, 2006, 07:52 PM   #1
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Time for my very first lights. . . tungsten, flourescents, or ?

Hi all. . .

I'm going to be shooting a few shorts and music videos over the next couple of months and, to this point, I have never used anything but ambient light. And the results were about what you'd expect. Not so hot.

Background: I'll be using an HVX-200 with a Redrock M2 35mm adapter (which supposedly eats a lot of photons).

My question is whether I should buy tungsten lights or flourescent lights or. . . ? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? I know that their black body temperatures are different, but with a white balance, why should this matter? Can sunlight be gelled to match both types of light?

Thanks so much!

Stephen
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Old November 29th, 2006, 07:58 PM   #2
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For starters I would get 2-3K of fresnels (not each, but total) plus some c-stands, gels (especially for temperature conversion), reflector and diffusers. That way you can have hard light, soft light, in just about any color temperature you will commonly encounter. You can buy a new kit for about $2000. If you buy a common brand you can resell at no loss in value (but you will probably want to keep it anyway).
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Old November 29th, 2006, 08:51 PM   #3
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Hi there, Emre. . .

Do you have any favorite brands you think I should look at that are good value for the money?

Thanks much!

Stephen
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Old November 29th, 2006, 09:52 PM   #4
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ARRI is the big name in the biz, so they will hold their value very well. Look at the Softbank series. Frankly, I think any brand name will serve your needs.
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Old November 30th, 2006, 07:18 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Pruitt
Hi all. . .

I'm going to be shooting a few shorts and music videos over the next couple of months and, to this point, I have never used anything but ambient light. And the results were about what you'd expect. Not so hot.

Background: I'll be using an HVX-200 with a Redrock M2 35mm adapter (which supposedly eats a lot of photons).

My question is whether I should buy tungsten lights or flourescent lights or. . . ? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? I know that their black body temperatures are different, but with a white balance, why should this matter? Can sunlight be gelled to match both types of light?

Thanks so much!

Stephen
You can get fluro tubes in both daylight and tungsten. Fluros dim with less color shift than tungsten, ouput more light per watt of power consumption and hence generate less heat. Fluro tubes last way longer than tungsten too and they rarely just fail, they fade away so no sudden loss of light.

However tungsten is cheaper, it's a point light source so more controllable. The only point light sources with the advantages of fluro are HMI but over 150W they get very expensive.

In general I prefer to light daylight.

If you get an incandescent source into a daylight lit scene no real drama, it looks natural. The other way around looks horrid, blue tints or shadows are not natural or pleasing to the eye.

Factor in that most TV studios have or are switching to fluro lighting, saves them a lot in airconditioning costs.

To answer your other question. Yes daylight can and has been gelled to match tungsten but that can be a lot of work gelling windows ot building frames outside doorways to hold lots of gell.
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Old November 30th, 2006, 08:53 AM   #6
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I would put an ad on Craigslist and ask about hiring a gaffer. Have him demonstrate the different types of lights for you and when to use them, cut him a check, then go out and buy some lights. Unless you see the effect with your own eyes and decide what you need based on experience, you're bound to waste a LOT of money on lights, an unbelievable amount of time, and experience an unnecessary level of frustration. I am not suggesting you hire a gaffer for every shoot, just long enough to get an idea of what is involved in lighting for film. You may discover that the lights you need for dramatic production are out of reach financially and it may be cheaper to rent them occasionally. For instance, large soft sources (10K Fresnel through an 8x8' Grid Cloth) can be very expensive to purchase, but very helpful for movie production.
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Old November 30th, 2006, 09:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Wells
[...] Unless you see the effect with your own eyes and decide what you need based on experience, you're bound to waste a LOT of money on lights [...] You may discover that the lights you need for dramatic production are out of reach financially and it may be cheaper to rent them occasionally [...]
Sage advice, it's really important to get some experience and determine what you need for your specific work.

For my own work, I've always rented the large lights but own a modest documentary/industrial production light kit based on my own rule of thumb after years of shooting the gamut from indepedent features with budget for a grip/electric truck to documentaries shot on a shoestring: I own what fits in the hatchback or trunk of my car and the big stuff I rent as needed when needed.

As far as what to get specifically, that is so depedent on style, preference, budget, and how much you want to carry. Another rule of thumb: only buy what you will use often and need instant access to.
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Old November 30th, 2006, 09:54 AM   #8
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Okay. . . stupid question time. . .

I'm from Kansas City. What would an experienced gaffer with a great light set run me per week? Just a ballpark here.

Thanks much.

Stephen
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Old November 30th, 2006, 12:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Pruitt
What would an experienced gaffer with a great light set run me per week? Just a ballpark here.
Around $450/Day for the Gaffer. 3 Ton G&E tungsten package is another $450/Day. HMI's and Kino Flo's are additional. It might not hurt to ask for a deal, if the going rate is out of reach.
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Old November 30th, 2006, 05:37 PM   #10
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Lights On KC

Stephen,

I'd check out Lights On Kansas City (913-362-6940) on Merriam Lane. Jim Lewis there has been helpful to me. The Independent Filmmakers Coalition (ifckc.org) also has lights they rent to members cheap. I think Lights On gives special rates to IFC members, too.
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Old November 30th, 2006, 08:04 PM   #11
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Hi there, Jim. . . thanks for the tip. I just sent you an email. . .

Stephen
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