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Is this a good lighting kit?

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chance snider
Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 9, 2009 at 7:38:57 pm

http://www.pclightingsystems.com/dayflo-pro/5500/index.html I'm looking to do an indie film this summer and I saw this lighting kit. Wanted to know what you guys thought of it. I know there are cheaper ones out there but I want a nice quality one and the money isn't a problem so if you could provide some opinions that would be great!



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Rick Wise
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 9, 2009 at 8:05:34 pm

I've had no hands-on experience with these lights. I have found almost every non-KinoFlo unit has a green spike. You can roughly correct that with 1/8 or 1/4 minus green. Also, this kit includes full daylight to tungsten conversion gels, but the effective way to go is to replace the daylight bulbs with tungsten bulbs.

Fluro type bulbs can be very useful. However, they are all broad, relatively soft lights and next to useless when you want hard hits, sharp shadows.

If you can figure out that your shooting will be mostly in daylight situations, then you might put together a smaller but more effective kit for a similar price. On the other hand, you can begin here, with this kit. Just be sure to get a bunch of 1/8 minus green sheets (better would be a roll) that you can double or triple to correct the green spike, assuming these units have such. Later you can add a Joker or other HMI, as budgets permit.

For exteriors, it usually takes a lot of wattage to have any impact against sunlight, so you may be better off adding grip equipment. One place to start is the Sunbounce reflective and also diffusing rigs. Or else go for an 8x8 and 12x12 frame with various diffusion (1/2 grid), high-rollers, sand bags, and reflective goods. Any time you use such grip gear outdoors, you need several extra hands to make sure they don't blow over and cause serious damage to people and objects.

If, on the other hand, your shooting will be mainly night time, or deep interiors without any daylight, a tungsten package would be a better way to go.

Rick Wise
director of photography
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Dennis Size
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 10, 2009 at 7:11:27 am

It's certainly servicable ... but limiting.
Your question is a difficult one to answer, however, without knowing what your level of experience is ....and how extensive your lighting will need to be.
In the hands of a "master", magic can be created from a bunch of crap bought at the lighting department of HOME DEPOT. In the hands of someone who doesn't know what he's doing the most priceless lighting package on earth will only yield pictures that look like crap.

DS



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chance snider
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 10, 2009 at 3:14:42 pm

Thanks a lot for the feedback guys, right now my lighting knowledge is very limited but I'm going to be taking some classes. How effective are the joker lights and how would they be better then what this kit provides? Also You said I should add a grip explain please? When it comes to all the lighting kit terms I'm useless lol



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Dennis Size
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 10, 2009 at 8:06:31 pm

Although classes are good -- as are books and trade journals -- practical experience can not be beat. You would be best served to find as many projects as possible to work on (from theatre to industrials, television to films) ... no matter what level they are at, and even if you have to volunteer your time. Once you start observing the grips, electricians, lighting directors, DP's, etc. you will gain invaluable knowledge and be better able to properly do your own projects.
Good luck,
DS



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chance snider
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 10, 2009 at 9:02:35 pm

Thanks a lot, I also know some people who seemed to be a little experianced so I can learn from them. I'll have the lighting kit months before shooting begins so I'll have time to practice. By the way those joker lights are extremely expensive but I keep hearing good things about them. Would they be worth renting for outside day scenes? Or could I get away without them?



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Peter Rummel
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 10, 2009 at 9:59:09 pm

There are many different tools (lights) for lighting a video. Flourescents are just one tool. You could also have fresnels, open face halogen, HMI, elipsoidals, LED, PAR, photofloods, and others I can't come up with off the top of my head. Each light has advantages and disadvantages. Each light would be the perfect tool in one usage, but struggle in others. As I see it, the problem with the kit you have picked out is that it only has one tool - flourescents. It's kind of like a carpenter with nothing but hammers.

You say you're working on an "indie film" this summer. That could mean, well, anything. Interiors, exteriors, high key, low key, natural, stylized... A box full of flourescents might work well on a soft interior love story, but it wouldn't do a noir thriller.

I think the most flexible light available is the fresnel. It can be hard or soft, as needed. If you are limited to one type of light, this is the light I'd pick. For about the price of your kit, you could get an ARRI kit (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/72161-REG/Arri_571984_Softbank_I_Tungsten_4.html). Yes, it's only 4 lights, it won't put out as much light as your kit, it's really interior only, and they can be hot and inefficient. But they're professional lights with professional controls and are an excellent start to a lighting package. I bought mine 12 years ago, and I use them almost daily.

A Joker is a brand of HMI lights. HMIs put out a lot of light per watt and are daylight balanced. But they're also really, really expensive, and I honestly think you don't need to think about buying one. If you have need of an HMI, they're available for rent.

Lighting isn't all about the lights. Far from it. Grip equipment would be rigging, or tools that modify the light. Flags, nets, reflectors, overheads; that sort of thing. Really, a must for any project.

Dennis is absolutely right when he recommends a little practical experience.



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Dennis Size
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 11, 2009 at 3:18:16 am

That was an excellent synopsis, and very good advice. I second Peter's opinion regarding the ARRI kit. It will service you well ... and you'll learn a lot more working with lighting instruments that will force you to learn how to control the use of light more specifically.

DS



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chance snider
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 11, 2009 at 1:36:28 pm

Thanks for the feedback! The film I'm shooting will be at night mostly with more interior then exterior but there will be day and night scenes outside. Just not many if that helps.



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Dennis Size
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 11, 2009 at 10:29:54 pm

Are you actually shooting film .... or video?

DS



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chance snider
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 12, 2009 at 3:56:42 pm

I'm shooting video, with a sony HDV camera. Also another question I can also get these with that kit: http://www.pclightingsystems.com/dayflo-pro/fixtures/4000/ would these help the kit be more useful?



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cowcowcowcow
Peter Rummel
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 12, 2009 at 7:08:29 pm

I'm not sure how useful that light would be. You say your project would be mostly night interiors. That thing would pump a LOT of light into a room, and it would look totally unnatural. Outdoors, it would provide some light, but , during the day, reflectors are cheaper, probably easier to rig, provide fill that's the same color as the daylight, and are greener (in terms of energy usage, not color...). You might find a use for it in a night exterior.

Before you sink serious $$ into a pre-fab lighting kit, let's think about some less expensive and DIY solutions.

Night interiors are supposed to have a little dark in them. If the room is flooded with light it looks unnatural. Table, floor, and wall lamps that you see in the shot ("practicals") would be turned on (and maybe dimmed), highlighting the area around them with a warm, pleasing light. Small flourescents could work here, but I'd recommend lighting with china balls (check out filmtools.com). They're cheap, soft, warm, and give out a beautiful light. Get a roll of black wrap to flag the lights - again, we're not trying to flood the room. And get some good light stands - c-stands would be perfect, but there are cheaper alternatives. A fresnel or two could provide back lights and background lights, if you wish. And if you really want to go to town, you could place a larger fresnel (say 1000w) with a bluish gel on it outside the window to give an artificial "moonlight".

I should say a word here about safety. You're dealing here with electricity, hot lights, top heavy stands, cables all over the place... it's dangerous. China balls are cheap and effective, but they're highly flammable. It's your responsibility to take your time and do things right. Make sure your lights are rigged so they won't set anything on fire. Don't overload circuits. Have a fire extinguisher handy. Use power cables that are rated for their load. Use sandbags on any stand that would even think about tipping over. Route your cables so that no one will trip. You're NEVER too busy to do things safely.

With daylight exteriors I'd recommend using reflectors and overheads. An overhead is a frame with a fabric that would create a diffuse shade for your actors. Obviously an overhead wouldn't work if the action is moving around, but for a stationary scene it can give a great look. Store-bought frames are metal, but wood can work fine. Check out a fabric store for fabrics - I got a veil material for an 8 x 8 frame for about $12 - it knocks the light down about 1/4 stop and is perfect for taking a bit of the nastiness off of direct sun.

Reflectors are generally white or metallic. White foam core works well. For metallic you could use aluminum foil, crumpled then uncrumpled and taped to cardboard or foam core or what have you. You could even use a sheet of foam insulation from the Depot - some of them have a dull metallic finish.

Really good stands and sandbags are necessary for reflectors and overheads. Be careful of the wind.

Night exteriors are a problem. After all, what's the defining quality of night? ... it's dark! The traditional method is to use a blue back light to suggest moon light, and a warmish key. If you're careful picking your setting, it could have lights in the background (buildings, streetlights, cars) that could give it some depth. (If your scene is set in the woods, you're on your own!) If you're going to rent an HMI, this would probably be the time (for the "moonlight").

Gels, c-stands, sandbags, cables, diffusion, black wrap, reflectors - these are the types of items any project would use. If I were you these are what I'd invest in before I bought any "kit". Then add professional lights carefully, as needed.



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chance snider
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 12, 2009 at 7:28:35 pm

Awesome thanks! Ok so to make these easier let me list some things since I don't know anything about lighting or it's parts. I have someone who is experianced in lighting and will do the job.

I have an Sony HDV HDR-FX 1
I will be shooting inside and outside night and day.
Places will be houses mostly for interior but will also include a night club, hotel and maybe a store.

What are the different kinds of lighting kits I would need to have this come out really nice? I apreciate all the feedback guys thanks!



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cowcow
Peter Rummel
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 13, 2009 at 7:47:45 pm

Putting together a lighting package to give you all the optimum tools for any situation would be hugely expensive. The best you can hope for are versatile tools that can adapt to any situation. Grip gear (c-stands, clamps, reflectors, flags, etc.) is used on any project. An Arri kit also covers a lot of bases. Some things like china balls are so cheap and so useful that there's no reason not to have a couple. Flourescents are less versatile, but they do some things very well (see below).

It's hard to give specific recommendations for lighting a scene. Each space is different. Each situation is different. What you like may not be what I like - it is supposed to be an art, after all. So, given that I have no idea what the locations look like, or the look you're going for, here are some random thoughts:

Interior, day - Flourescents with daylight lamps would work well here. I've also had good luck using a large (6 x 6) metallic reflector and bouncing sunlight in through a window for a key.

Interior, night - Low key. China balls and fresnels, maybe.

Exterior, day - Reflectors and overheads.

Exterior, night - Large fresnel with a blue gel (or an HMI) for the "moonlight" gag, your favorite source (fresnel, china ball, flourescent, soft box) for a key.

Night club - What you have to do for lighting here totally depends on the ambient lighting. Let's assume that it already looks pretty cool, because you really aren't going to have enough resources to light an entire club. I'm thinking fresnels and china balls would work well here.

Hotel - Lobby or room? Lots of movement and action, or static? For general lighting in a lobby, flourescents would work well.

Store - I'm guessing that the store is lit by flourescents? One thing cinema flourescents do really well is match up with flourescent lighting.

So we have a large number of lights here. Probably outside of your budget, so some cuts will have to be made. Go for the most versatile lights. Be sure to have c-stands and flags. You say you have someone to do the lighting - ask him or her what kind of tools are needed. Do some tests. Don't be afraid to rent - you can get professional lights and gear that way.



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Richard Herd
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 14, 2009 at 9:51:34 pm

Even with all that equipment, if the contrast ratio cannot be controlled, then it's basically a waste of money and effort. Hence, my insistence on a light meter.



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Dennis Size
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 16, 2009 at 3:04:54 am

I'm reminded of Obi Wan's advice to Luke Skywalker in STAR WARS, as he flew into the Death Star with no functional gauges on his instrument panel ..."Let the force be with you Luke!"

Although I know many of my colleagues rely heavily on a light meter to finalize their work, and others who use a light meter merely as a guide, I also know many don't use a meter.
I personally haven't used one in years. As a matter of fact when I last actually needed one to measure something (and I can't remember how long ago that was) I had to borrow one, since mine was lost.

I would be intrigued to know how many of my colleagues -- and devoted readers -- at CREATIVE COW really feel the need to have a light meter hanging around their neck to do their job.

DS

P.S. So that you don't think I'm a total buffoon, I'll admit that I've probably owned at least 5 meters over the years. I just don't use them.




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Michael Palmer
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 16, 2009 at 3:28:39 am

If someone was attempting to shoot a feature (with Film) 20 years ago they would need a light meter. Today shooting a video feature you don't, however you really need a good field monitor that is properly setup.

I do agree with using a light meter as much as possible (with film or video) as it will force the DP to think about the picture he is painting, and help him in choosing the right lamp from within his lighting package for the job. I prefer a spot meter reading the reflective values. I still use my meters every job.

Good Luck
Michael Palmer


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Richard Herd
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 16, 2009 at 3:38:45 am

Let me admit to being a bit of a philosopher. I have to note the difference between "use" and "know." Before Luke could "use" the force Mr Kenobi explained the force.

I reckon a light meter is to a photographer as a tape measure is to a carpenter wood worker.



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Dennis Size
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 13, 2009 at 9:23:35 pm

Since you have someone experienced to do the lighting, trust him to order what he will need.
If a producer provided me with the "comprehensive" production details you've enumerated, I would order a 1 or 2 ton grip truck (minimum) with a standard tungsten package (complete with battery operated 1'x 1' LED light panels), plus a few Kino-Flo Diva 400's with various flavors of color temperature lamps. I would also order a small HMI package.
But that would be overly cautious, wanting-to-be-ready-for-anything me.
DS



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Sebastian Ballek
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Jun 17, 2009 at 4:30:20 pm

"I should say a word here about safety. You're dealing here with electricity, hot lights, top heavy stands, cables all over the place... it's dangerous. China balls are cheap and effective, but they're highly flammable. It's your responsibility to take your time and do things right. Make sure your lights are rigged so they won't set anything on fire. Don't overload circuits. Have a fire extinguisher handy. Use power cables that are rated for their load. Use sandbags on any stand that would even think about tipping over. Route your cables so that no one will trip. You're NEVER too busy to do things safely."

Haha, this rememberd me a burning 300W Halogen lamp inside a freezer in my photography class. The gases on the cooling tank got warm and begun to burn inside, when I opened the door there was a lot of hughe flames. Was my first time dealing with a fire extinguisher on the set. (Thanxs there was one like 10 feets around the corner.)
That was the end of the exercise for that day, hehe.


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Richard Herd
Re: Is this a good lighting kit?
on Feb 11, 2009 at 8:55:04 pm

a light meter too! http://www.sekonic.com/products/Sekonic%20L-398A%20STUDIO%20DELUXE%20III.as...



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