Implementing lights to my set up. at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Photon Management
Shine an ever-loving light on you.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old March 21st, 2007, 07:12 AM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Implementing lights to my set up.

Having just completed a current job it's time to start about re-investing (once household bills et al have been taken care of) the money I'll be paid back into my slowly expanding kit. Aside from a fast hard drive I really want to get hold of a lighting kit.
I have in the past hired lights but with a few personal projects coming up it would probably work out best to buy some in.
I'm looking at fairly basic set up to start with, adding (or getting by creatively) as time moves on - I guess at this stage I'm looking for a couple of lights/soft box. The last set of lights I used were Arri...really large, bright and extremely hot it left the guy we were filming a little uncomfortable (and ended up abandoning use of them because of this).
I've recently read a very good review of the Dedolight (thanks Nigel!) in the UK (hope this is allowed):

http://www.dvuser.co.uk/content.php?CID=157

From what I've read above and on these boards, these lights are pretty durable and very good quality, hopefully lasting a long time. Because of their nature they don't seem to be as hot/large as other lighting systems.
I've also considered the kinoflow systems and looked into Chimera softboxes - the homemade Kino's seems like a very good idea and something I will look into more deeply. Bit stuck with the majority of these recommendations on here set around North America and not so sure they're as easily obtainable.

Essentially I'm looking for a good all rounder starter kit one that is relatively inexpensive yet durable - anything else I can either hire if necessary (if say really bright outdoor lighting is required) or add to over the year/s. Mainly used for interviews - one on one - and more than likely in an home (for personal short films/promo's) or office (for corporate) environments.

Many thanks.
David Scattergood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 21st, 2007, 10:35 AM   #2
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
David,

Based on your post, I believe you're thinking of lighting instruments in a somewhat confused way.

Each and every lighting instruments out there is potentially beneficial, and potentially useless. The difference comes from how it's used.

You note you used Arri lights, but abandoned them because they were "too hot." for the talent. But the "heat" geneerated is a function of the strengths of the lamps within the instruments and the distance you set the light from the talent. It has almost nothing to do with the brand name.

A 500w dedo light X feet from a talent, should feel essentially identical to a 500w Arri light at the same distance.

In fact, a Dedo, commonly used for pattern projection with a focusing lense rather than the fresnel on many (but not all) Arris would make the beam harsher (if not technically HOTTER) for a talent.

In a situation where the talent complains the lights are "too hot" - move them a bit farther away. This will result in a drop of light intensity, which can often be off-set by using a wider iris setting on the camera.

Lighting instruments are as varried as musical instruments. If you wanted high pitched sounds, you wouldn't buy a bass drum. Similarly, a Dedo light is excellent for some things (like the aforementioned pattern projection) and dismal for others - like lighting the background wall in a warehouse.

Truely, ligthing is a balancing act. It's never as easy as just "buy this light for good lighting."
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 21st, 2007, 01:23 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico USA
Posts: 287
I'm a big fan of Dedolights. They are very efficient units, so the 150w Dedo gives you as light output on the order of a 300w fresnel. The basic Dedolight uses a dual lens system that gives you a very wide range of flood-to-spot control compared to a traditional fresnel lens instrument. The light is very well controlled with sharp edges, the beam it throws is very uniform, and you get a built-in dimmer on the ballast of most of the units. They use DC bulbs that last longer than AC bulbs, but they require a ballast to run them which negates much of the size/weight advantage over a fresnel.

If you have the cash for the kit that Nigel described in his article, it will serve you well for many years.

Having said all that, Bill's exactly right. There is no one right answer for everything. Every type of lighting instrument is great for some things, but not so good at others. The same is true for Dedolights. They produce light with a very different quality than fresnel units, and they are relatively expensive lights (at least here in the US) both to buy and to service. The classic units are not very good in softboxes, and the softbox units are not much good outside a softbox. A fresnel, on the other hand, can do both jobs reasonably well. Kinoflo's are great soft lights that can give you daylight color balance, but the light from them falls off quickly and they don't pack as compactly as a softbox. The good news is that there are lots of ways to do lighting well. We have more choices these days than ever before with even more stuff on the horizon.

BTW, Arri makes a huge variety of lights from open face tungsten units to massive HMI instruments that make sunlight. I'd hazard a guess that if you were melting your talent, then you were probably using too large a light too close to the subject. I'd hate to see you write off Arri products based on that experience.
Ralph Keyser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 21st, 2007, 02:44 PM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Wurzburg, Germany
Posts: 316
The most basic kit would be something like three Arri (or similar open-face) 800W - but as you said, three lights like this can be a little hot in small rooms.
If you go for the Dedo lights then you have three or four really nice little lights with 100-200 watts, you can attach them almost everywhere, they make for nice spots, backround lights, hairlights, edge lights... but if you want something like a softbox or a reflector then the Dedos are just not strong enough.

If I wanted a rather inexpensive and yet relatively versatile kit I'd go for a four-piece kit of open-face tungsten lamps which you can equip with 600-1000W lamps. Add a bunch of ND gels and maybe a few dimmers and you're ready for almost everything. My first and best teacher in lighting techniques used to use a four piece gunlux kit (http://www.gun-lux.com/filmlicht2.ph...5f5fdcab24ccd3)
with two 600W and two 1000W lamps. Not that he would not have known about other lighting possibilities (he's been a first assistant camera and focus puller in many many well received shorts and he has shot hundreds of pieces for national tv, he's also an ambitioned photographer) but because he knew that there wasn't much money to invest and he knew there was never a lot of time on tv shoots he bought this kit.
Hehe, this sounds almost like he's a religous leader and I'm his follower, LOL
No, he's a good friend of mine and I kind of share his ideas about lighting (but he still knows a lot more than me because he's had so much experience in film lighting)
Heiko Saele is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 21st, 2007, 03:56 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
David,

Based on your post, I believe you're thinking of lighting instruments in a somewhat confused way.

Each and every lighting instruments out there is potentially beneficial, and potentially useless. The difference comes from how it's used.

You note you used Arri lights, but abandoned them because they were "too hot." for the talent. But the "heat" geneerated is a function of the strengths of the lamps within the instruments and the distance you set the light from the talent. It has almost nothing to do with the brand name.

A 500w dedo light X feet from a talent, should feel essentially identical to a 500w Arri light at the same distance.

In fact, a Dedo, commonly used for pattern projection with a focusing lense rather than the fresnel on many (but not all) Arris would make the beam harsher (if not technically HOTTER) for a talent.

In a situation where the talent complains the lights are "too hot" - move them a bit farther away. This will result in a drop of light intensity, which can often be off-set by using a wider iris setting on the camera.

Lighting instruments are as varried as musical instruments. If you wanted high pitched sounds, you wouldn't buy a bass drum. Similarly, a Dedo light is excellent for some things (like the aforementioned pattern projection) and dismal for others - like lighting the background wall in a warehouse.

Truely, ligthing is a balancing act. It's never as easy as just "buy this light for good lighting."
Sorry Bill, I think I was trying to refer to the point that Ralph was making in as much as the output is far more efficient on the Dedolights.
Thanks for all that advice though. I appreciate that there is no one magic light and that different systems provide different results, it's just at this stage I'm looking for a good 'all rounder' that's realtively cheap also. I'm soon to be shooting a short promo (friends confectionary business) and a short documentary (photographer freind of mine). Aside from the outdoor scenes I'll mostly be filming within their own environments i.e. theure homes. At least one of these may be a little uncomfortable (to start with at least) under filming conditions...I do say those posh chocolates may melt given a really strong heat too!
Perhaps I should look again at Arri...I just remember them being really large and extremely hot but then again they did do the job. To be honest I'm not really looking forward to this element of the game...but I really want to suceed at it and so I will struggle through these rudimentary pastures!

Ralph - that was a big kit described on that page, I was only planning on a few lights or perhaps stretched to the most basic set up...I don't have any UK prices for them yet so these may have to be put to one side for the time being.
Possibly an option to pick up a couple of Dedolights but then choose another brand for the softlight (whilst also revising my initial thoughts on the Arri's) - in fact, different brands for different situations may be the best way.
Heiko - that's a good idea also...money and experience suggest nothing too fancy at this stage...I'll try and dig out a UK reseller for gun-lux.
Thanks everyone - I can do a little more research now from the advice given above.
Cheers.
David Scattergood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 21st, 2007, 04:09 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Wurzburg, Germany
Posts: 316
Quote:
BTW, Arri makes a huge variety of lights from open face tungsten units to massive HMI instruments that make sunlight.
I guess he wasn't talking about the Arri Sun 18kW. More like the Arri 800 open face (we do have these at work, they're good yet they're not really bang for the buck)

Quote:
Possibly an option to pick up a couple of Dedolights but then choose another brand for the softlight (whilst also revising my initial thoughts on the Arri's) - in fact, different brands for different situations may be the best way.
Probably yes. I'm mostly using a three piece kit for interviews and ENG stuff that consists of two Arri open face 800W and one undefined 200W. I'm using it not because I chose it but because it's available, but I think the one 200W is a nice choice for an edge/hair light, one 800W is good as a reflected key and another 800W is always good for the background. Also 800W is about good enough (if the lamp is large like Arri or Gunlux) to light rooms indirectly by pointing one light to the ceiling/walls. Still two 1kW and two 600W would be a better choice, I think...
Heiko Saele is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 21st, 2007, 04:40 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Quote:
but I think the one 200W is a nice choice for an edge/hair light...
Heiko - forgive my lack of terminology, but would the edge/hair light be used to highlight a persons head on top of say a softbox light?
And you say reflected key - would you usually reflect the key light rather than point it directly at the talent?
To be honest, the set up you have described is all I'll probably need for the time being...I just thought if I could stump up the extra cash I could get around 3 dedolights which are sound very well made whilst being quite efficient.
Also considered an cam-light for those times when it is impossible to take other lights with you.
David Scattergood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 21st, 2007, 08:35 PM   #8
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
David,

Just one additional note. You haven't said anything about what you're shooting with. Modern CCD cameras can be a LOT more light sensitive than the cameras of the past. For that reason, I find I've "downlamped" most of my insturments. The majority of my 650 Arri fresnels have 500 w lamps in them, the 300's have 250s and I use the little Arri 150's in a lot of the situations I used 300's for in the past.

Simply put, unless you're lighting up a LOT of space, or have some specialized situation - perhaps needing to use a pair of softboxes to serve as both Subject 1 key and Subject 2 fill in a two-shot interview, I'd go with smaller lights and open your iris wider. This also helps you control depth of field with today's smaller chip cameras - so it's a win/win (if that's the look you want)

I really can't think of any talking head situation I'd approach with an 800w open face light! (maybe something with a distant window competing and no HMI in sight?)

The point is that as long as you have enough light for a proper exposure, less light is a LOT easier to work with than more light. Particularly in this era where modern digital video cameras don't have the problem that old analog cameras had holding shadows/blacks.

In fact, i'm virtually eliminated one of the 650's in my "go to" Arri kit (once 2 650s 2-300s - now it's a 500, a 250, two 750 totas for softboxes and a pair of Arri 150s - I do fudge and keep the up-lamp bulbs in the case, but I can't remember the last time I used them)

This "downlamped" kit is MUCH more flexible for interviews and I seldom miss the extra 650 frame , particularly if I'm doing interviews. It's just too much light for anything direct, and unless the background is particularly bright or I can't control the on-set spill the 650 is usually too much light for even the background - at least it is without some party gel in deep blue or red, or something equally "colorful"

For what it's worth.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 21st, 2007, 10:30 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Shenzhen, China
Posts: 781
Also you can really cool things down with fluorescent lights to substitute anywhere you would have used a softbox before. Your talent will really thank you and fluorescent light of good color temperature (3200K) and CRI can mix pretty well with the other "hot" lights. Tubes in the 5600K range of good CRI can be used by themselves and sometimes with natural daylight and are gaining in popularity.
__________________
Richard Andrewski - Cool Lights USA - RED #114
http://www.coollights.biz
Richard Andrewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 22nd, 2007, 04:42 AM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Quote:
David,

Just one additional note. You haven't said anything about what you're shooting with. Modern CCD cameras can be a LOT more light sensitive than the cameras of the past. For that reason, I find I've "downlamped" most of my insturments. The majority of my 650 Arri fresnels have 500 w lamps in them, the 300's have 250s and I use the little Arri 150's in a lot of the situations I used 300's for in the past.

Simply put, unless you're lighting up a LOT of space, or have some specialized situation - perhaps needing to use a pair of softboxes to serve as both Subject 1 key and Subject 2 fill in a two-shot interview, I'd go with smaller lights and open your iris wider. This also helps you control depth of field with today's smaller chip cameras - so it's a win/win (if that's the look you want)

I really can't think of any talking head situation I'd approach with an 800w open face light! (maybe something with a distant window competing and no HMI in sight?)

The point is that as long as you have enough light for a proper exposure, less light is a LOT easier to work with than more light. Particularly in this era where modern digital video cameras don't have the problem that old analog cameras had holding shadows/blacks.

In fact, i'm virtually eliminated one of the 650's in my "go to" Arri kit (once 2 650s 2-300s - now it's a 500, a 250, two 750 totas for softboxes and a pair of Arri 150s - I do fudge and keep the up-lamp bulbs in the case, but I can't remember the last time I used them)

This "downlamped" kit is MUCH more flexible for interviews and I seldom miss the extra 650 frame , particularly if I'm doing interviews. It's just too much light for anything direct, and unless the background is particularly bright or I can't control the on-set spill the 650 is usually too much light for even the background - at least it is without some party gel in deep blue or red, or something equally "colorful"

For what it's worth.
Bill - I'm using a JVC GYHD100. Good points there. To start with I'll only be lighting small rooms (living rooms etc...) so it would be ideal if I can get away with any smaller lights.
I do think I'm getting a little confused over the softboxes and reflectors however. Never having used them I'm guessing you would use them for a certain effect....and that you would put a more stronger lamp in the softbox? Would one be considered imperative to have them in a 'starter kit'?
Would I be correct in saying your smaller lamps (Arri 150's) are used for edge/hair? I think at this stage I'll probably rule out the larger 1kw ceiling/wall lights...I don't have the room for a start!
Many thanks.
David Scattergood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 22nd, 2007, 03:25 PM   #11
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
The primary benefit from any soft light source is that the light generating surface becomes as large or larger than the object it's lighting.

Think of it this way. Say you're doing an interview and the subject's face is a blemish or wrinkle. If you use a small point source light to illuminate it, the blemish or wrinkle will cast a harsh shadow which makes the blemish or wrinkle STAND OUT. Depending on the angle of incidence of the hard light, you could take a small bump and cast a large shadow making the blemish appear MUCH WORSE. This is why point source lights, improperly placed, make huge ugly nose shadows!

Now imagine that instead of a point source, you have a soft box of 2 feet by 2 feet. And (this is critical) you position it just 2 feet from the face.

What happens to the shadow from the blemish or wrinkle?

Suddenly, instead of long hard shadow, the light is reaching the surface of the skin not from a SINGLE angle of incidence, but from the entire light emitting SURFACE of the softbox. So you have light from the upper right corner of the softbox hitting the blemish - but also light from the lower left corner. This essentially ELIMINATES the shadows as the the wrinkles and blemishes are blown out by light hitting them from many different angles of incidence.

Presto, fine lines and wrinkles disappear! The physics are the same whether you use a hard light in a softbox, a fluorescent tube, or a large reflector. Spread the light surface, and what it illuminates will look less harsh.

THIS is actually what we call "soft lighting". It's NOT just the light. It's a function of the SIZE of the light emitting surface - COMBINED with the distance from the light to the subject.

A good soft box, positioned CLOSE to the subject, will essentialy WRAP the subject in light from many directions. Creating a VERY pleasing look, particularly if the surface is a less than flawless human face.

Not only is the light nice, but the SHADOWS cast by unavoidable things like noses and the falloff of light on a curved surface like a cheek, ALSO gets softer and more pleasing to the eye.

The distance is critical, since as I posted somewhere here before, the largest soft box - at too great a distence from the object being lit - essentially BECOMES a point source. (witness the SUN, inarguably large, but VERY distant - casting harsh shadows every day - UNLESS cloud cover creates a 'softbox" close to the subject)

It's always the size of the light surface RELATIVE to the size of the object being lit that counts. Not the size of the light BY ITSELF.

Go out to a pro car shoot, and you'll find softboxes LARGER than the cars being shot. Same principal.

Really, at it's core, lighting is applied physics. Simple physics, but physics none the less. The angle of incidence stuff, the inverse square principle, etc.

And this is why it's so tough to say "Just buy these five lights and you're good to go." No five lights can or will ever do an interview with a wrinkled actress, then turn around and light a shiny car well, then turn around and light a diamond ring in an extreme close up jewelry shot, then turn around and light up a factory ceiling so the five acre building doesn't look dingy.

Each set and setup needs someone with a brain to look at it and figure out what's going on and decide on the proper instruments to get the results you want.

It's also why 5 ton grip trucks exist!

It's all "learnable" and there are more sources than ever before because more and more people are interested in learning this stuff.

So good luck and keep learning! After 20 years in the business, I know I still am!
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 22nd, 2007, 09:38 PM   #12
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Seattle WA
Posts: 411
David,

If you get the Dedolights please post a review for us. My position right now is very similar to yours and I'm looking everywhere for information. I know that a kit by itself won't provide a solution for everything, but at least it's a place to start. If you haven't run across it already, there's a DVD called "Set Up, Light and Shoot Great Looking Interviews" available here http://www.vortexmedia.com/ . I sprang for it and found it very helpful. The guy who made it is direct and down to business (and you gotta love the white t-shirt). He recommends a custom kit that he's assembled himself from several manufacturers, and that may well be what I end up copying. Too bad he doesn't put 'em together and distribute them himself. He probably should...
I thought Bill Davis' comments about toning down the wattage in his set up were refreshing and on the money. I recently attended a two day "intensive" lighting workshop and found a good part of the first day to be a total waste as the instructor spent it trotting out and discussing a collection of behemoths straight out of the Hollywood history books. These things were so big, so bright and so hot you wouldn't believe it. Did I mention the generator? Never mind... When we finally convinced him to open up an old Lowel kit we started getting actual useful information.
I ran across a site selling a light called the SK-1000 that I thought was interesting because it has a built in dimmer and seems reasonably priced.
http://www.skaeser.com/servlet/Detail?no=432 Can anyone comment on this?

Thanks and good luck-
Mark OConnell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 23rd, 2007, 04:02 AM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Thanks Bill ( I was just about to write that was really enlightening...but thought better!).
You've managed to describe the process very well, technical disciplines usually being difficult to convey.
From the kind of work I'll being doing over the next few months (close up interviews etc) then it might be wise to place a softbox on top of that list (I won't have access to make up artists for any possible 'blemish issues').
What light I placed in there is something I'll continue researching over the next few weeks (I can't do anything till I've been paid for my last job).

Mark - I will do. And I also feel I'll build from scratch from different manufacturers. I get the impression the dedolights might suit some needs perfectly well and appear to be built to high, durable standards. Perhaps I'll just get one particular light from them to begin with (I have absolutely no form of lighting at the moment). I know the reviewer of those lights is usually spot on with his recommendations.
I have a lighting workshop DVD as it happens - looks similar to the one you linked to.
Cheers.
David Scattergood is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Photon Management

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:25 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network