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Old March 2nd, 2004, 06:04 PM   #1
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ellipsoidals for motion picture use?

I was doing some tests today with a Leko 750, the smaller one, that doesn't allow you to change the beam angle. I like the way these work, with the built in barn doors, and some degree of focusability for the beam.

The thing that concerns me, though, and what I'd like opinions on, is: can you put stuff in front of the light, directly? Can you clip gels, Lee diffusion (216 or something, though God knows why you'd want to), or ND sheets (I use 'em like scrim), or lee scrim, to the front of these guys without it all melting? I know they make specific gel filters that clip on right in front of the lens, but do the gels and stuff melt after a while?

These lights are kind of cooler than fresnels, in a way, because they retain their throw at a much greater distance (from my tests), and since they're both hard spot lights, essentially, seems like the ellipsoidals might be better.

I don't know. Opinions?
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 06:15 PM   #2
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(Caveat: My amateur opinion...perhaps worthless.)

Yes, you can place gels in front of these lights. Heck, if you couldn't, a lot of theatrical lighting technicians would be very distraught. You could also use diffusion...but it would defeat the intrinsic purpose of the instrument.

I think one reason why these instruments are more often used in theatrical work, rather than film work, is the hard edge to the beam's boundary as well as the color fringing that can occur at that boundary (caused by lens refraction). If you think about it, most of your lighting applications call for a splash of light, rather than a dot of light.

But, hey, there is certainly no reason why you -shouldn't- use projection instruments like this for a particular application. It's certainly good to know that they're out there if you need them.
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 06:22 PM   #3
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Well, I mean. . .wouldn't you use them the same way you might use a fresnel? Both project a spot pattern (granted the ellipsoidal's will be much more defined), and both are pretty controllable. I know what you mean about the color fringing, but how often do you have to light up surface where the angle of the light is such that you'd see the spot shape? I guess if you were blasting a flat wall. . .but for hard light on a face or something, from the side. . .it should look pretty good. . .and you could flag the light off your background real easily, if that's your desire, no?
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 06:29 PM   #4
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I use ellipsoidals aka Source 4's all the time. They are not generally the unit of choice to key someone with, unless you are looking to replicate the look of a spotlight. They are great as accent lights or backlights and are so easily controllable (the internal shutters do the work of a forest of stands and flags). Plus they have a lot of punch for the wattage.

Some great uses: accenting a painting on a wall (you can cut the light so that it exactly fits in the picture frame), creating a "sunlight splash" that feathers off the subject's face, only working on their bodies (very popular TV lighting gag, such as on West Wing). I used one last week when shooting a shot of Bernie Mac in a bathroom mirror; we shuttered it so that the light bounced into the mirror and onto his face as a fill, since his complexion is so dark and he was too close to the wall to get a light inbetween. It worked great as an "invisible" light source.
Charles Papert
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 06:39 PM   #5
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Interesting. . .
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Old March 27th, 2004, 01:01 PM   #6
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Besides the good suggestions that Charles offered, one of the best uses of a Source Four (or any any leko style light) is for creating patterned backgrounds. There is a slot in the lamp housing that accepts a pattern holder, and there are many, many patterns available for the lamps, from "break-ups," to company logos. to stylized "window" patterns, etc.

Many interview shooters will use a Source Four Jr. with a break-up pattern to create an interesting background. The lamp with the pattern in place creates a random source of light and dark on the background, and by defocusing the lamp you are able to make the effect more natural. This is a great way to make a dull background more interesting. It's also a lot faster than setting up a fresnel, and adding a gobo to break up the light pattern, which is a similar effect.

You can see the Source Four Jr. at http://www.etcconnect.com/products/products.asp?8
If you look around you can find the lamps for around $200.00 new with a lens, pattern holder, U-ground connector, and yes, a gel holder. You will need a sturdy light stand and mounting stud to support the light, and a sand bag for safety. Patterns (gobos) for the lights are available at many retailers, including Mole and Apollo. Be sure to get the correct pattern size for your lamp.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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