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Rich Sims
Cool lights reviews
on Feb 15, 2009 at 12:51:20 am

Hello everyone,

I'm debating between getting a Diva light vs CL-455PMD Cool Lights Portable Dimming 4 x 55 watt Softlight. In general it seems like Cool Lights are getting mixed reviews. Some love em some hate. But that being said I'm finding only two reviews which talk about the cool lights company in general and older models.

Because price is always a concern if I can save some money while getting the same quality output I'm always along for the ride. I know the Diva and have used it many times.

The other question in my mind is I would be buying this not only for myself but also have a friend who has a Diva, was wondering if using a cool light and a diva would be asking for trouble because of differences in the light output.

Thanks everyone,
Rich Sims


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Rick Wise
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 15, 2009 at 1:01:03 am

The main issue could be green spikes. The Divas themselves tend to have a bit of a green spike when they got hot (burning face down, for instance) but otherwise burn true color. I don't know the Cool Lights first-hand but I strongly suspect they will have something of the dreaded green spike. Their CRI is only 87. That said, if you have some 1/8 and 1/4 minus-green gels, you can mostly correct that spike. The difference in cost is huge.

If money is OK, I'd go for the Divas. Otherwise, the Cool Lights plus some gels. (Beware of over-correcting.)

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


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Rich Sims
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 15, 2009 at 3:27:35 am

Great,

That's exactly the type of info I'm looking for. Green spikes do seem to be the problem I'm hearing about.

Does anyone have any first hand experience with this in the case of the Diva's and the Cool Lights. I've heard the same complaints from people regarding the Divas. Although we've never had that big of a problem after fooling with our white balance settings to the desired look on set or in the field.

I guess I'm trying to figure out if the same complaints I'm hearing about one are the same complaints I'm hearing about the other in which case in my mind you go with the money saving choice. If it's a drastic difference than I spend the extra dough to have the right unit over the long haul.

Thanks,
Rich



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Dennis Size
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 16, 2009 at 6:48:06 am

Inevitably I almost always use LEE Filter 188 (sometimes 186) whenever I'm using Diva's (I put the diffusion between the eggcrate and the lamps). The Lee 188 is a subtle mix of minus green, CTO, and opal all rolled into one. It not only softens the light further, but it pulls out the green spike while warming the quality of the light.

DS



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Rich Sims
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 16, 2009 at 3:10:15 pm

Thanks,

So with that being said, would you be afraid of mixing the two different units, (the Diva and the unit from Cool Lights since I will be correcting for the spike that each is reported to have)?

Take care,
Rich







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john sharaf
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 16, 2009 at 3:47:15 pm

Yes I'd be afraid. Why ask for trouble? Why defy logic? If you want the color to be the same in both directions, use the same lights. Don't buy lighting instruments that will last 20 years or more on the basis of saving a few dollars. I don't mean to be harsh, but this is the logic that usually comes from the people we work for that makes our lives difficult, and makes doing a good and efficient job more difficult. Do the right thing here and buy the Diva. You'll be happy and sleep better at night.

JS



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Dennis Size
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 16, 2009 at 10:41:36 pm

Wow! John, I'm trembling! :-)
As always, excellent advice, but I've never heard you so forceful and definite. Good for you. Your post almost reads like one of my "snarky" ones! (Well, perhaps not.)

If your definitive opinion doesn't make everyone realize the error of their ways, nothing will!

By the way, while I have your attention ..... appropos of another series of posts --- "to meter or not to meter"???!

DS



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john sharaf
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 16, 2009 at 11:18:57 pm

As regards meters, knock yourself out, just don't drop them and be sure and calibrate every year or so.

Seriously, I still carry my old analog Spectra and some kind of spot meter (I can't even remember the brand) in my workbox and I can honestly say that I haven't used either in twenty years, except for one film shoot a year ago with Barbara Streisand.

She insisted on being shot on film (although she didn't specify 16 or 35 so we shot 16 because it was cheaper) for an insert in the Oscar telecast. I rented another Spectra with the camera package (rather than pay o have mine calibrated) and wasn't really too surprised that the three meters on the set (my old, the rental and the camera assistant's) all were different. We exposed at the average of the three and had no complaints.

Say lightmeter for video and I say waveform monitor. Literally I would not do a video shoot other than run and gun without one, either in the Panasonic monitor or my trusty Leader LV5700 or LV5750. I couldn't imagine lighting a green screen with out it or how else would you set the skin tone level to 60/65 ire on a consistent basis?

I also would feel naked without the Vectorscope function and my DSC Chroma du Monde chart, which I use to touch up the matrix and create accurate and colorful pictures (after I've set the exposure on the B&W chips).

You asked!

JS



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Dennis Size
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 16, 2009 at 10:34:42 pm

Afraid is not a word that's in my vocabulary. I habitually do so many "untraditional" things (considered bizarre by many), often out of necessity, that my actions often become the norm -- and end up being copied by others.

In your particular case, since you're buying the fixtures from scratch -- and not forced to mix and match (the way I often am when sent to many "3rd world" studios) -- why would you want to set yourself up for a fall.
Plus, why would you want to have incompatible equipment?
Go with the Diva's
DS



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Rick Wise
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 16, 2009 at 6:27:23 pm

Are you sure about the minus green in Lee 188? I can find no such reference on Lee's web; the effect of a little warming does, in effect, remove some green, but that's not the same as adding minus green. For the Divas, that little warmth is probably all it takes. For the Cool Lights, you would need to also add minus green, I suspect.

Mixing some soft diffusion with the warmth certainly saves having two different gels. Great idea.

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


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Dennis Size
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 19, 2009 at 7:24:22 am

I'm very sure.

If anyone wants to "scientifically" verify it, feel free. (Frankly I never really have, as I'm a go-with-my-gut-instinct sort of guy), You'll find that LEE 188 is a very close blend of light opal, "faded" 1/4 CTO, and 1/8 minus green.

I've been using -- and probably over-using -- LEE 188 since it first came out over 15 years ago, using it extensively in my lighting design for the OPRAH WINFREY SHOW. I found the tint of minus green, in conjunction with the amber, helps negate the slight "greenish/blue" tint prevalent in the pigmentation of some African/American skin tones.... especially when the camera picks up reflected light off that skin. Countless LD's I've worked with over the years have embraced my use of this particular diffusion.

I doubt if this characteristic would be on the LEE website as I've never told them -- although I can't help but think someone would have noticed.... especially since I myself have bought hundreds upon hundreds of full rolls over the years. ;-)

As you well know, when dealing with the ephermeral, intangible, visible spectrum we work with, nothing is really very exact. There's a certain amount of physics and science involved ... but we all mold and shape light via "learned behavior". We copy what we've observed light does in nature. In the process of our work -- especially when dealing with the variety of sources at our disposal -- we experiment and play in our attempts to make our end product even better.
Some of my best "tricks" didn't come from a manufacturer's website, but through observation, logic, experience, and lots of luck!

DS

P.S. If anyone does verify my opinion of LEE 188 let us know so that I know I'm not just full of shit.





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Rick Wise
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 19, 2009 at 7:36:42 pm

I'll definitely have to pick up a sheet and measure it with my color-meter. That will identify the degree of minus green on the CC scale, and the degree of plus warmth on the Kelvin scale. I'm looking forward to trying it out. Thanks for the info.

Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Dennis Size
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:47:01 pm

Oh no! .....ANOTHER meter!!!!! :-)

DS



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Bob Cole
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 20, 2009 at 3:22:16 pm

[Dennis Size] "P.S. If anyone does verify my opinion of LEE 188 let us know so that I know I'm not just full of shit."

Gotta love the honesty of that remark.

On the Lee website, the wavelength graph on this page does show a little dip in the green for #188.

http://tinyurl.com/b3wee2'>
http://tinyurl.com/b3wee2

The minusgreen is pretty subtle; compare the 1/8th minusgreen chart here:

http://tinyurl.com/bxb2z2

What I want to know, Dennis, is how in the world you spotted this. The website doesn't mention it -- only that #188 is Barbara Walters' favorite filter.

Bob C





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Dennis Size
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 20, 2009 at 8:12:03 pm

Well isn't that special!
I should look at websites more often! :-)

Barbara Walters wouldn't know LEE 188 if someone laid a piece of it on top of her supper. She does know what makes her look good however. When I first discovered LEE 188 (and it's various shades) and began using it on Ms Walters over 15 years ago, she did become aware of the "peachy" color her key lights began to glow with. Ultimately all her ENG cameramen were instructed to duplicate the way I was lighting her in the studios and use that diffusion.
I think the LEE quote probably came from someone at the ABC Network Production Services division when LEE inevitably asked them why ABC was buying so many rolls of #188.

Frankly, after years of looking at / working with the various qualities of light -- color, shape, intensity, texture, etc. -- the nuances of those qualities have become pretty obvious to me (hence my lack of need for meters). Most of the time I just trust my instincts and run with it. I must admit, once or twice I've been mistaken (and I'll be the first to say I'm full of shit). The great thing about making a mistake is that it "builds character" and forces a person to rethink their approach -- coming up with a better solution --and moving right along (many times in the space of a few seconds).

DS





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Bob Cole
filter lens or key?
on Feb 20, 2009 at 8:21:47 pm

Dennis, do you ever get into on-lens filtration?

When I was making a series of videos about retirement communities I used a coral filter on the lens for all scenes involving people. It worked beautifully -- of course I did all white balancing without the filter on. But those old people (hmmm... some of them don't seem so old anymore) looked great.

I can see one advantage of filtering the key vs. the lens: if you filter the key then you can create greater color contrast by filtering the other lights for contrast. If you filter the lens itself, you overlay the whole scene with that tint, diluting the impact?

Or does that constitute overthinking?

I have to say it sounds like you have the "funnest job."

bob c





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Dennis Size
Re: filter lens or key?
on Feb 21, 2009 at 6:23:35 am

Thanks....I try to have fun!

As almost all of the projects I do are Network Broadcasts -- utilizing mutiple cameras shooting simultaneously (sometimes live) --I can't do any extreme filtering at the lens as it will corrupt the total image being sent into people's living rooms. I will often have softening filters (such as a low density digital diffusion, glimmerglas, Soft FX, blacknet, etc.) installed on the cameras, but I have to be careful not to get too extreme with how soft my talent appears ...although with the likes of Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer the sky's the limit. I was once accused of putting my gym socks over the lens for a Barbara Walters Special -- which was not true (although the simultaneous use of Soft FX #2, and blacknet, in conjunction with all the skin detail at 0, was probably denser than my gym socks!).
Since cameras need to cut from one person to another, and often at different focal lengths, using too much lens filtration can be quite a trap. One must always be conscious to avoid the "MOONLIGHTING effect". Cybil Shepard had so much lens filtration compared to Bruce Willis it looked like they were in two different shows, even though they were being shot at the same time in the same scene!)

Often I will "cheat" the cameras with different grades of the same filter so that the disparity among the cameras isn't noticable.
For example, in my current redesign of "the look" of the ageless PEOPLE's COURT, I had an Soft FX #2 put into the camera that specifically shoots the judge (to soften the facial lines and enhance Judge Marilyn Zeitman's beauty but not lose the sense of "reality"). However, I had Soft FX #1 filters put into all the other cameras so the softening wasn't as noticeable when cutting between shots. Additionally the Producer did not want to lose the "gritty" feeling of the defendant/plaintiff and courtroom audience.

As a sidnote, I will almost always light for as wide an aperture as I think I can get away with -- depending on how fast the cameraops need to take their shots while maintaining focus (although on some of my shows sharp focus is merely an option).
Normally I will light for a f-stop of 2.0, try for 1.8 and settle back into 2.4. Often I'm lighting sets with as little as 30 footcandles ....sometimes less. That would be a guess however, since I don't own a light meter! :-)

DS





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Bob Cole
Re: Cool lights reviews
on Feb 20, 2009 at 3:25:45 pm

[Dennis Size] "P.S. If anyone does verify my opinion of LEE 188 let us know so that I know I'm not just full of shit."

Gotta love the honesty of that remark.

On the Lee website, the wavelength graph on this page does show a little dip in the green for #188.

http://www.leefiltersusa.com/lighting/products/finder/act:colordetails/colo...

The minusgreen is pretty subtle; compare the 1/8th minusgreen chart here:

http://www.leefiltersusa.com/lighting/products/finder/act:colordetails/colo...

What I want to know, Dennis, is how in the world you spotted this. The website doesn't mention it -- only that #188 is Barbara Walters' favorite filter.

btw if this looks like a double post it's because my first attempt to post was rejected, due to my using a tiny url for the Lee webpages.

Bob C





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