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Old July 8th, 2011, 06:16 AM   #1
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Building a custom Arri 3-point kit

I've used cheap lights for the longest time but now I want to upgrade so I'll have something that lasts for years. I shoot interview footage with a single subject almost exclusively. I'll also do green screen stuff in the future so I want to make sure that these Arris will still be applicable and usable even after I get new lights for the green screen setup.

I want to get a basic 3-point lighting setup going but I'm not sure exactly which models of the Arris to get and which wattages. For example, I'm not sure if I should get two fluorescents for the key and fill, or, make the key and fill light two halogens w/ softboxes. Or maybe just use them as hard lights? Do most people actually use nothing but standard halogen Arris and add a softbox to a light or two, or do they use a fluorescent in the kit somewhere? I've seen it done both ways before in tutorials, so I'm not sure which route to take.

I think I can do this cheaper by buying/assembling my own kit, so I'll buy just the lights for now and get the accessories I'll need shortly after. So for right now I need suggestions for an Arri key light, an Arri fill light, and an Arri hair light along with wattages. As mentioned, I'm not sure which types of lights they usually use for the different key/fill/hair lights so that's what I need answered most.

Once again though, I hope what I get now will work well when I add more Arris in the future for a green screen setup. Don't want to buy something that I won't/can't use once I've got a green screen in there.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 02:29 PM   #2
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Re: Building a custom Arri 3-point kit


I just purchased two ArriLite 750+ heads and a Med and Small Chimera Soft box. I definitely need a third Arri and I am think of getting a Arrilite 2000. I would then place the 2000 in the medium soft box, one in the small soft box and one with barndoors on the background.

I really like these lights - but I do need three.

Hope that this helps.

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Old July 8th, 2011, 06:18 PM   #3
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Re: Building a custom Arri 3-point kit

IMO the question about fluoro vs. halogen has to be looked at in terms of how you'll use the lights.

If you can handle the fewer lumens and somewhat more fragile nature of fluoro fixtures, they're great. Light output is typically not a problem for an interview setup. It's worth considering a set of daylight-balanced bulbs as well as indoor-balance, if you're in and out of rooms with windows.

But, they are big pieces of glass! More awkward and fragile than an Arrilite or fresnel. Rough treatment will break a halogen bulb, too, but they're small, easy to carry spares, and easy to replace.

If flouros are possible, then a bonus is lower power demands, and no need to rig softboxes.

For myself, if I were buying a custom arri conventional setup, I'd go for 2 or 3 arrilite 1000w, plus a 650 fresnel, a large and medium softbox. If lighting 2-3 people on a regular basis, I'd add another medium softbox and it would be 3 arrilite. For occasional larger groups I'd rent to supplement. Whenever I've used the smaller arri fixtures I've always wanted them to be larger! You can lamp down a 1k or 650, if needed, but those little 150 and 300 fresnels are really limited to fx and background, IMO. When you want to spread one for backlighting two people it's just not going to happen.

All that gear is fine for 3-point setups in front of a greenscreen, just add the screen lighting.

PS. If you buy a 2k you'll likely find yourself lamping it down to 1k - a household circuit of 15a won't power it, and if there is any other load on a commercial building circuit 2k is really too much to pull. OTOH, if you're in a studio or other commercial location with known power distribution, 2k is great.
30 years of pro media production. Vegas user since 1.0. Webcaster since 1997. Freelancer since 2000. College instructor since 2001.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 06:57 PM   #4
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Re: Building a custom Arri 3-point kit

John I'm planning on buying two Arrilite 750 Plus lights in the next week, are you happy with them? Do you know if you get barndoors with accessory clips to hold gels for the 750?
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Old July 9th, 2011, 02:16 AM   #5
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Re: Building a custom Arri 3-point kit

Thanks a lot for the replies, especially Seth. I think I've gotten my wattage figured out. If budget allows, then I'll opt for getting a higher wattage light and either put in a lower wattage bulb, or dim it down just to make sure that I've got enough power. Would definitely rather too much than too little, especially if I've got a dimmer.

The main things that I'm still unsure of are using a fluorescent Vs. a halogen/tungsten, and which lights (key/fill/back) should be fluorescents or halogens. Now I know Seth pointed out that it's possible to use fluorescents, so what I'm asking is, what is the most appropriate/professional way to go about the 3-point technique? Sure, I can get away with using a fluorescent, but I can also get away with buying lights from Wally World. Which type of lights would a professional use, and which ones would get a softbox?

I'm going to take a wild guess and say that if possible, I should avoid fluorescents altogether and get 3 halogens, with two softboxes (softboxes for both the key and the fill, though mabe it's only necessary for the Key?). Then just use a low-powered (150w) halogen hard light Arri for the hair/back light. So maybe a shopping list like this:

1x 1000w or 650w Arri halogen fresnel (key)
1x 650w or 350w Arri Halogen fresnel (fill)
1x 150w Arri Halogen fresnel (hair light)
2x Softbox (will figure out brand later, but will be used for key and fill)

I don't know if barn doors and gel and additional diffusion material will be necessary, but for right now, I want to get just the lights themselves squared away, then I'll worry about all of the accessories to add on later. I'll use standard lighting in my filming area for the actual 'back' light - can track lighting. And I chose the 150w Arri fresnel since it's lightweight and can fit and reach on a stand easily to light the subject from above.

Would all of that be optimal?
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Old July 9th, 2011, 05:23 AM   #6
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Re: Building a custom Arri 3-point kit

No set rules, although the key light should be a "harder" light than your fill light. That means that if you use your fluorescent as the key you could then bounce your "hard" tungsten light into a larger area reflector as a softer fill.

If you're putting a fluorescent into the mix, I'd get a couple of tungsten lights because they're more versatile, giving you the option of hard or soft light.
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Old July 10th, 2011, 12:49 AM   #7
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Re: Building a custom Arri 3-point kit

Personally I like having all the lights be the same wattage and size... it gives more flexibility in terms of being able to change a light from key to fill and vice versa without having to mess around too much. And depending on conditions sometimes the fill needs more power, sometimes the key needs more power etc. You don't really know for sure until you've got it set up on location, and then you don't want to take the time to swap lights, especially if softboxes are involved.

Then there is the issue of spare bulbs, accessory compatibility etc, all arguing for same lights all around if you will be taking these lights out into the field.

Take my advice with a grain of salt though; I'm just starting out, and I'm using LED/flo lights where I don't have to worry about power consumption.
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