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building small lighting kit
on Sep 27, 2007 at 4:39:34 pm

hey all,

newbie to lighting here - putting together a kit for some low budget music videos, and local commercials

I really only have about $2000 to spend on lighting, which I realize is very low, but I'm trying to make due.

so far I've purchased 1 arri 1000 and planning to buy either 1 or two arri 650s...I think I need a soft light in my kit for interviews, but I'm wondering if I can just buy a softbox to put over one of the arri 650s??

if so, would those three lights suffice? should I grab a little omni pro light for back lighting? any other suggestions

also - accessories...i know i need gaff tape, gels, scrims, flags, c stands, light stands, barn doors and bulbs...anything else that helps out?

last seems one of the most unnecessary expenses are the light cases which i see for $400 most often...anybody come up with a cheap solution for storing and transporting lights? maybe an action packer with foam/custom made dividers?

thanks sooooooo much for your help in advance,

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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: building small lighting kit
on Sep 27, 2007 at 5:42:21 pm

Hi Jason...

You seem like you are off to a good start.

YES, you need some way of diffusing light. And YES you can put a softbox on those instruments. Chimeras are more or less the "industry standard," but since you are pinching pennies check out the boxes made by Photoflex. Some people think they are not quite as well made as Chimeras (although I think they are in the same neighborhood), but they are MUCH more affordable.

Also, white umbrellas are a super cheap and fast way to diffuse light (although not quite as controllable as a box). Lots of instrments have a holder for an umbrella built right in... and if not, there are little connectors that go between the instrument head and the stand that can hold an umbrella.

[jmill0823] "...back lighting?"

YES...please do not neglect back lighting, it can be one of the most important instruments in a lighting setup (especially for interviews, etc.), it's the best way to "cut" a subject out of a background and give a frame some depth. For a single subject we usually use one single fresnel somewhere in the 300-650w range, with barndoors, on a C-stad with a grip arm. For little fresnels we are fond of LTM Pepper instruments. They are similar to Arri fresnels except they are 1) built like a tank and 2) a lot more affordable.

As far as accessories go, your list is good... don't forget to add things like grip clamps, leather gloves, sandbags, power adapters, some white and black foamcore or showcard, power strips and/or multiplugs, and EXTENSION CORDS like crazy. And don't buy the cheapest ones you can find.

Yes, cases can be a huge expense, but a good case is worth the money. Often times you can buy a whole instrument kit that comes with a good case (the ones that come with LTM Pepper kits are great). If not, I'd suggest start saving your nickles for the RIGHT cases, but in the meantime you might temporarily use other-purpose cases, like those big PVC footlockers you can get at Target or Wal-Mart. Sometimes cases for other things work well at a fraction of the price (since filmmaking tools carry a price premium)... for example one of our tripod cases decided to come apart on us on an airline flight once. Finally it occurred to me "Hmmm, that's about the same size and shape as a golf club case." For the same money we were able to buy golf club cases that were much better built than "real" tripod cases in the same price range. Also, we used to buy the "real" C-stand cases... until someone here was smart enough to realized they are more or less exactly the same cases you can buy for a rifle or shotgun at about a fifth the price from a big sporting goods store.

Happy lighting!


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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