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My Documentary Lighting

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My Documentary Lighting
on Aug 18, 2005 at 9:30:44 pm

I begin filming a documentary this fall on HD VariCam and HDX200 (if it's out this winter). Shooting involves quite a number of interior interviews (hotels, offices, and some shot with a portable green screen, etc), some exterior interviews and a great deal of exterior footage of places and buildings, even some night shooting. (here and abroad). Here's what I am considering for a light kit.

* 2 - Lowel Caselites4 (daylight bulbs) 120-230 volt

* The 400 series HMI Dedolight 3 light kit - with Projection Imager and assorted GOBOS. (daylight, of course)

This gets me down to a 3 case kit if I use Lowel stands for the Dedolights and cram the extra 3 stands into the Caselight4 cases, along with gels, scrims, reflectors and diffusers.

Does this all seem like the best approach? I have never shot abroad, but the thought of spending half a day in a strange city finding lighting to rent doesn't appeal to me.

Thanking you for whatever advice you may wish to impart.

Randall Raymond

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Bob Cole
Re: My Documentary Lighting
on Aug 21, 2005 at 11:28:51 pm

I hope some better authorities jump in, but please clarify: you mentioned "abroad." You might want to search the forum because there have been some great posts on that topic, including the need for carnet letter, electrical tips, etc.

Unless you have lots of help, I'd keep it even simpler, make sure you know about local voltages and plug types, and cut out the green screen because it's a bear to use and light on location properly (if you're shooting 16:9 you can pose the interview subject to one side, use a black background which is much easier to "not light," and composite the footage to the other side).

I'd play with all the equipment extensively before taking it overseas, and carry-on enough so that you don't lose a shooting day if the airline misplaces one or more of your cases. Does anyone else think that traveling with lots of fluorescent tubes is problematic?

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Re: My Documentary Lighting
on Aug 24, 2005 at 7:59:00 am

Even if you bring your own gear, its wise to look up a couple of rental houses in each city before you go. As Bob pointed out, the odds of all your gear making it through the airlines unscathed is not too good. I would anticipate replacing at least a few bulbs. And take out plenty of accident/theft insurance.

I don't know what frame rate you're planning on using, but be aware that fluorescents (sp?) flicker at 50hz in Europe verses the U.S. at 60. We have to shoot with the shutter at 1/100 to eliminate the flicker when shooting NTSC. Even the so-called flicker-free lights do it.

I agree with sounds like a lot of gear to carry around unless you have a couple of sturdy grips. I can't wrap myself around the idea that you need to chromakey your subjects for a documentary. I'd rather carry a minimal kit and shoot people in their natural habitat.

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