travel kit options
I posted recently on the cinematography forum regarding light panels (I was considering purchasing a pair but am a little worried about the cost).
I am leaving the country for Japan and will be shooting some pieces of a spec doc and am trying to assemble a travel kit that is super tiny but will enable me to get the most beautiful images possible (for interviews and possible verite).
Hopefully I can shoot a lot of this in daylight with natural light, but if I do some indoor interview setups I want to be ready for that. Normally when I shoot interview setups I use a chimera for a key (1000w), lowell backlight and if I need a fill I often bounce (or maybe a 300w mole).
Because I'm worried about weight and space, I was looking at the lite panels again on B&H today and started trying to figure out ways I could make my own kit work.
Here is something I am thinking and hope somebody can help me figure out the best way to make this work. Basically I am carrying my camera bag with my DVX100a in it.
As far as what I own already, I have a mole richardson kit with a 1000w, a 600w, and 300w and a Lowell pro-light (that I often use for backlights). I have lightstands but they are pretty big.
So my idea is to buy a couple of these Avenger Mini Light stands because they close to around 16inches, which could be put in a suitcase and checked in. I've never used Avenger--anyone have an opinion on them? Here is the model:
Side note: I'm buying a wireless mic system:
My usual soundperson often uses this so I'm confident with the sound. And he is going to loan me a Tram TR50 mic, which is a little better than the mic that comes with it.
Back to lights:
So I was thinking of putting the stands in suitcase, along with the lowel light and the 300w mole. I'm thinking the 600w/1000w/chimera setup is just going to be too much to carry in a suitcases. I'm brainstorming all this right now and my wife has absolutely no desire to discuss this with me, so I'm hoping someone has some ideas/input. One worry I have is that the 300w mole won't be powerful enough to use in the interviews.
PS: I doubt that electricity will be a problem.
Avenger light stands are great. I'm not familiar with the 615 model, but I suspect it might be a little small for your purposes. I travel with the 625 model, and I commonly put a 24x32 chimera on it.
For a source for the chimera I would recommend a Lowel tota light. They're cheap, small, lightweight, and they work fine in a chimera. And if you travel to a 220v country (Japan is, oddly, 100v) then a 220v lamp is readily available.
When I travel I often have to pack VERY light. My kit includes
2 Avenger 625 stands
1 Lowel tota light
1 Lowel omni light (very light, and accepts 220v lamps)
1 Lowel vip light (battery powered)
Speed ring and chimera for the tota
1 Lowel clamp (very light)
Gels, grip clips, C-47's
25' and 50' stingers
You'll notice a lot of Lowel equipment. At home I use Arri and Kino-flo, but the Lowel stuff is light weight, inexpensive, and takes 220v lamps. Just the thing for travel.
I ship my tripod and the light stands in a Kata tripod case. When I arrive the tripod comes out and the lighting stuff goes in. The Kata case has shoulder straps so it can be worn like a backpack. I often have to shoot in museums, and this is an absolutely bare minimum kit for getting some light in these dark situations. It would be fine for an interview.
Before you buy the Avenger stands, check out the Bogen "Stacker" stands.
It's a unique design where each stand folds flat and nests into others. You can typically get 3 of these into a little more than the space of a single traditional stand.
They reach to 7' and are very well designed and well built, tho the thumb actuated friction collets are such that they're not appropriate for heavy fixtures and if you want to use them with softboxes, you'll generally need to rig some form of sandbag or they'll tip.
For anything lightweight like a Tota, V-Light, Lowel Pro, or Arri 150, however, they're PERFECT.
I've been using them for more than 4 years and they're my "go to" stands for light traveling.
Are you going to be a one-man band? If so, treat yourself like a producer -- try not to carry a darned thing more than you absolutely have to. Live off the land and don't burden yourself with a lot of lighting gear.
It's an art project, right? so you can establish a very artsy, side-lighting style. Use windows where you can, and throw one side into shadow. That way, when there's no window and you need to use a desk lamp, it won't look too different.
Carrying around a lot of equipment can hurt your show. Especially if you're doing this as a one-man band, you have to be realistic about what you can carry. If you have a lot of equipment to keep from getting stolen, that's going to slow you down and distract you from getting your material.
You're already going to carry around a camera and tripod, right??? I'd consider adding just a small camera light (the Lowel Pro-light?) and some diffusion, along with some way of mounting it off-camera - perhaps a clamp or a tiny stand you could set on a desk.
If you have a traveling companion, sure, go ahead and take a bigger light, the umbrella, and a stand. Lowel makes a nice compact stand which folds up backwards but still unfolds with a nice broad leg span.