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Old June 7th, 2007, 07:33 PM   #1
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A feature & 1 Grand...

Ok I plan to shoot a feature this summer and I have an issue...no lights. With around 1000 bucks to spend my options are limited. Arri's are out because for cost...I can't get much for a grand, Lowel's look great but I hear the stand are garbage, and there are other options but I can't find a simple straight answer. I can't afford to make a mistake so tell me flat out if you had to light indoor scenes, some simple outdoor scenes, just all around general lighting for talent what would you suggest I get? Don't tell me what you think I should buy, tell me what you would buy if you had that 1000 dollars.

Thanks,
- Kyle
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Old June 7th, 2007, 08:25 PM   #2
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best bang for the buck is any 500 - 1000w flood with around a 40 degree beam pattern.... Smith Victor's 700SG's ( list $109 ) are light and the bulbs are cheap.

You can bounce them off walls, ceilings, foamcore to creat a flat light soarce, or thru some velum a few fee away for a softbox quality of light.

For a spot.... altman makes some par64 spots for stage and DJ that are under $100 as well.

Avenger stands are as good as bogen/manfroto.... $50 per.

Black foamcore and cinefoil are great for light control.

For daylight balance... the fotodiox 6 or 4 bank flo lights are great... I have 3 and they have held up very well.

Sam's club sells ( $65 ) a power on demand HID rechargable spot ( 22 million candle power ) that is 6000k and a cri above 85.... I have 4 of them right now and they are very narrow beam but make great little hmi daylight spots. They last about 70 mins on a charge, but will run off a 12V source for longer. here's a link to a video I shot useing 1 of the HID spots from behind.... http://www.witzke-studio.com/hd/dyingindiana.html



good luck.

Last edited by Christopher Witz; June 7th, 2007 at 09:15 PM. Reason: someone rearranged my keyboard... can't type worth a carp
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Old June 7th, 2007, 09:10 PM   #3
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I agree with what Christopher said. You don't need to exclude quality lights with a budget of $1000. You just can't buy as many. You can even buy the things you thought you couldn't afford:

Arri 650

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._240V_AC_.html

~$360 with barndoors

Fluorescent softlight

http://www.coollights.biz/cl455-cool...ight-p-31.html

~$365 with both daylight and tungsten-balanced lamps

Rechargeable HID spotlight

$65

That leaves a bit for some cheap light stands and gels. If you scrape together a bit more, you could get a couple of cheap hardware store lights.

With your budget, get at least one good light. I prefer lights based on fluorescent or HID sources because they can be used in mixed sunlight settings and don't get so hot. If it was me, I would get a 6 or 4-bank fluorescent like the CL-455 and maybe a couple of Smith-Victor lights and substitute the lamps with daylight-balanced compact fluorescents. I would then get a 5-in-1 reflector or two, light stands, and gels. If you favor tungsten hotlights, the Arri 650 is practically universal and will hold it's value. You can get one of those and a couple SV floods along with the accessories for well within your budget.

Don't forget sandbags for safety, especially if you go with hotlights or top-heavy fixtures like the multi-bank fluorescents.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 09:29 PM   #4
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I would think twice before buying the Smith Victor 700SGs. Because of their plastic housing, Smith Victor recommends that they only be used for 30 minutes at a time.

There are usually decent used lights on EBay.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 10:34 PM   #5
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Arri 650W - $308

General Brand 650 Watts / 120 Volts - $30 x 2

Arri 4 Leaf Barndoor - $53

Avenger A630B 10' 8" - $78

TOTAL: $500


CL-455 Cool Lights 4 x 55 Watt Fluorescent Video Soft Light - $289 (339 normally)

CL-LS1 Cool Lights Stand - $89 (120 normally)

CL-5556 Cool Lights 55 Watt 5600K Bulbs - $36 (22 normally)

TOTAL: $396

So I got about 900 thus far...I had to cover my bases with extra bulbs for the Arri and quality stands. What about blue Gels for the Arri? Where can I get those...and how would I attach them?

What about Lowel kits...would those be of better value overall than this stuff?

- Kyle
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Old June 8th, 2007, 12:20 AM   #6
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The Lowell fresnel lights look nice for small lights, but their floods are just a nuclear bulb and a tiny reflector. I really don't like the quality of light from a flood and the exposed 500W bulb is a scar waiting to happen. The focusable fresnel would probably make a nice accent/hair light, but they aren't quite powerful enough to use to fill a scene backlit by the sun and they aren't a soft source that you would like to use as a key light. For their size and cost, they would be a nice accent light. The only thing I would consider using those floods for would be to aim at a big diffuser.

A reason easily overlooked for using fresnel lights is their fine control and tight beam that are good for background lighting. People put up a "cookie" (proper name cucoloris) or "gobo" in front of a hard light to project an image on the background. It is often just random shapes to break up the light to add texture. A soft source like a fluorescent can't make the focused light needed to cast defined shadows through a cookie.

Don't overlook that you would need to buy 4 55w bulbs for the CL455 if you want to change it's color temp or to have a full replacement set. You may be able to find the 3200Kelvin PL55 bulbs at a lighting store locally, so it's probably best to order the daylight set first.

Gels can be clipped onto the barndoors and I think there are filter holders specifically made for the Arri 650.

The recommendations I made are based also on electrical draw. Unless you are good at hunting down extra circuits (not extra outlets, entire circuits), you don't want to exceed about 1300Watts of light. The CL455 uses 220W and a 6-bulb fixture with the same lamps is 330W. Add the 650 and you are approaching 1000Watts. That gives a bit left over for another fluorescent fixture or one of the afore-mentioned Lowell fresnel lights.

Here is a Smith Victor flood light made of aluminum that can also take standard medium "edison" lamps. I've put a 32W daylight fluorescent in it instead of the photoflood. There are two-leaf barndoors available as an accessory which bring the total cost up to $145. It is nice to have a bit of control. An open face light like this doesn't have the fine control of a fresnel, but it's not too bad as a fill light.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._500W_12_.html
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Old June 8th, 2007, 09:28 AM   #7
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And if you are looking for cheap floods, You could go with a 250/500/750/1000W Halogen work light. Those things are so bright and cheap. You can pick them up from home depot, or you can look on cragslist. I have found several on there for a really good price. Not only are they cheap and bright, but you can change the wattage simply by a switch that comes built in. You can defuse them by doing like others have said, bouncing them of walls and so forth. But I have also heard that using a "clear" shower curtain hanging about 3-5 feet away will help defuse it a lot (you might have to lap its self over a few times). You can do a search for them here on the forums and dig up some information on them. And oh yeah, the light bulbs are only a few bucks to replace.

I wish you luck on your film!
~Gabriel
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Old June 8th, 2007, 10:12 AM   #8
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For workshop lights, you can get a blue tinted tubular "daylight" globe. From the way they smoke and the blue colour fades when you power them for the first time, they look like they have just been dunked in blue ink, but the light is a whiter light once they settle down.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 11:28 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle Prohaska View Post
Arri 650W - $308

General Brand 650 Watts / 120 Volts - $30 x 2

Arri 4 Leaf Barndoor - $53

Avenger A630B 10' 8" - $78

TOTAL: $500


CL-455 Cool Lights 4 x 55 Watt Fluorescent Video Soft Light - $289 (339 normally)

CL-LS1 Cool Lights Stand - $89 (120 normally)

CL-5556 Cool Lights 55 Watt 5600K Bulbs - $36 (22 normally)

TOTAL: $396

So I got about 900 thus far...I had to cover my bases with extra bulbs for the Arri and quality stands. What about blue Gels for the Arri? Where can I get those...and how would I attach them?

What about Lowel kits...would those be of better value overall than this stuff?

- Kyle
Hi Kyle,

I'm Richard with Cool Lights. The tubes are already included in the price of the 455 so no need to add that in again unless, as Marcus said, you need both colors for your work (which sometimes you may use one and other times the opposite one). You pick your choice of 5600K or 3200K when making the order for the free tubes. Another set of the opposite color can be found under "bulbs and accessories".
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Old June 8th, 2007, 12:20 PM   #10
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I do wish my fotodiox 6 banks had your yokes richard! You make a very nice product for the money!
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Old June 8th, 2007, 03:47 PM   #11
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I do have a question or two about what I chose thurs far (BTW, great feedback guys, thanks alot for this).

How do you control how much light comes out of those? I know I sound like a total n00b...well thats because I am lol. I know you can bounce them off walls and things instead but is there a dimmer function on the lights, BH doesn't give much info, and I think CL's site says they have a control on them but I want to be sure.

Also...does anyone have any first hand experience with an Arri + Photoflex softbox? Do you get some nice results with those? Seems like that would kick the Lowel Rifa's butt IMO....and still be cheaper.

- Kyle
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Old June 8th, 2007, 09:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle Prohaska View Post
I do have a question or two about what I chose thurs far (BTW, great feedback guys, thanks alot for this).

How do you control how much light comes out of those? I know I sound like a total n00b...well thats because I am lol. I know you can bounce them off walls and things instead but is there a dimmer function on the lights, BH doesn't give much info, and I think CL's site says they have a control on them but I want to be sure.

Also...does anyone have any first hand experience with an Arri + Photoflex softbox? Do you get some nice results with those? Seems like that would kick the Lowel Rifa's butt IMO....and still be cheaper.

- Kyle
Here's the thing about dimming and fluorescent--very expensive. One reason we offer such good prices is that we currently don't have dimming ballasts. These add a lot to the cost. What many of the non-dimming models like ours do though for control is switching on/off the banks of lights 2 bulbs at a time. So on the 455 we have two switches. Later this year, we'll have dimming models but they'll be a bit higher. Many feel they can still get the control they need without the continuous dimming function through a number of methods:

1). The switches
2). Adding cracked ice or prismatic diffusion panels to the fixtures slide-in adapter--although this doesn't cut out so much light it really helps add that extra "smoothing" when you need it.
3). Closing the barndoors a bit more.
4). Adding silk diffusion material in front of the fixture.

Later, we'll have eggcrate accessories which cut down a bit of light but are mostly for directional control.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 09:27 PM   #13
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I do wish my fotodiox 6 banks had your yokes richard! You make a very nice product for the money!
I'm curious, what is the inconvenience of the built-in stand adapters on those units? Also, what do you think about the kino-flo lolipop method of mounting fixtures (as long as the center of gravity is over the stand and not in front of it)? We're considering something like that for a future model.
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Old June 13th, 2007, 05:26 PM   #14
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Two Lowel DPs. You can buy the rest at Home Depot.

Print this out.

Two Lowel DP lights. One silver umbrella. Barn doors for DPs. CTO Blue Gels of various styles. Black foil. Clothespins. Thin white nylon from fabric store for diffusion. Black felt for flagging. Gaffer tape. Scissors. Make your own stands. Spend the rest on "Home Depot" CFL kick lights.

Seriously, if you're doing a feature and want to use any lights whatsoever, you need at least one good 1k light. A Lowel DP 1k will cost you 268 USD. Take two, add some CTO blue gels (or a Dichroic Filter, they're great), an umbrella, an extra 500w bulb for the DPs, a friends hybrid car with power tap (if you can get it) or a cheap little Honda generator from the hardware rental, and you can do anything. Steal all the extension cords from your friends. Get the big orange ones, so you don't burn the house down with the big lights.

Need a insert light into a room at night? Lowel 1k DP light w/ blue gel.
Spooky lighting through the trees? Lowel 1k DP light in the distance focused in.
Need a whole room lit without practicals? Lowel 1k DP light and umbrella against ceiling, add mix of practicals and "Le Home Depot Especials" for taste Dim with nylon flags. Add CFLs.

If you don't have at least a 1k, you really can't work during the day. First rule of photography, trying to beat the sun will leave you beat up. If you have two cheap 1k Lowel DP lights and full step CTO blue gels, you can kick 'daylight' anywhere against shady subject (It looks real. Reflectors don't look real to me), step up your shutter, kill out your depth, and boom, looks Hollywood.

Look, actually for beginners, less lights make a better production. You actually have to learn what looks best. You spend time on it. But you will need at least ONE 1k to pull off anything during the day. You need at least one 1k to give you any light to work with. Remember, when you see a Hollywood set in real or in the movies, they have BIG HONKIN' LIGHTS. You need at least a workable honkin' light.

You can't afford HMIs, so it's a talk for a later.

I've been shooting viddy for ten years, and the rule is this: more powerful lights give you options. You can punch them down if need be. You can never "punch up" with a 125w or 250w. They're practically useless in a room with a window (all you'll get is eye sheen), and you can't overpower the sun, unless you have a truck of lights. You need the professional "bang" of a 1k or better. You must have a 1k or better, or, shoot at night ONLY. 125w is for a hair light when you're a run and gun shooter, or lighting something in the background in practical darkness. If you try to use under 500w lights in a room and you don't know what you're doing, all you're going to do is create a hot mess and draw attention to the fact that your work is lit. Remember: movie light sources come in two flavors, powerful enough to be the main source, or noticeably dramatic (for your beginner production dramatic equals ridiculous, unless it's motivated lighting). You're not going to be able to get CSI:Miami on a shoestring. But you can get a decent looking movie if you play it right.

The rest of the lights? Hell, you buy the rest of the stuff at Home Depot for pennies. I've shot a movie for less. It looked fine for the stuff I was working on.

Good luck and have fun. Most people will tell you out of inexperience to buy a DV kit without a 1k light. That's a mistake. They just don't want to spend the money on it when they can get two cool looking "special" lights for the same price. All they end up getting is two cool looking $200 lights for backgrounds that don't give you options when you need them, and their special little lights can be made at Home Depot for $25 nowadays with CFLs that you can stuff under the couch and don't get hot.

Get some DPs, figure out the rest.
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Old June 13th, 2007, 10:37 PM   #15
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$1000 isn't going to buy what i would need for a feature ...
but $1000 might be able to RENT what i need ...

IMO find a gaffer or a individual that rents out trucks/equipment and work out a deal ( most understand no budgets ) ... if you have your schedule locked down then you can make arrangements to have x equipment for exterior's on specific days ....
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