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Rick Wise
Cheaper "Professional: Lighting Units for students
on Aug 14, 2009 at 6:20:43 pm

I am looking for "cheaper" lights for students taking a future online lighting class I will be teaching. I want them to work with fresnel and open-faced units, and learn all the ways to modify and shape these as well as make them work in daylight interiors. I wonder if:

Anyone has had any hands-on experience with the "Blue" Arri copies that ImageWest sells for far less than a real Arri? Do they hold up? (ImageWest sells both fresnel and open-faced tungsten units.)

Cool Lights has what appears to be a good 650 Tungsten, but no open faced units that I could find.

Other choices that anyone has hands-on experience with?

It may be that you "get what you pay for" but it also may be that in the highly competitive world we live in there are some less expensive alternatives that are still "professional" as opposed to making do with hardware store stuff.





Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Cheaper "Professional: Lighting Units for students
on Aug 14, 2009 at 10:11:07 pm

This is a bit different approach to the same thing. Do it virtually.

Use any cheap 3-d application, import a pre-built model object and turn on the camera render view, and start adding all the lights you want, wherever you want. On PC, I might use Blender for free. Or try the free demo version of Crystal 3-d impact pro, very quick and simple. Maybe Google sketch-up. The key is to pick an app where you can move lights around and adjust the cone they emit and how strong and how diffuse they are. Having globular lights and directionals makes showing the difference very fast. You can also bring in occluding objects like a jpeg of a kookie pattern, colored gels, etc.

Such a setup can make it incredibly fast to try many different setups from your chair and see the effect moving the key around has, for example. Lots of room for everyone to practice at the same time on different scenes or all trying to light the exact same scene.

It would not replace your real hands-on lab, but might save time in the early stages. And they can take home free printed or saved renders of their best work. All the lights you can imaginje, they never burn out, or get broken, and they are free.


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Rick Wise
Re: Cheaper "Professional: Lighting Units for students
on Aug 15, 2009 at 5:03:44 pm

Mark, that's an interesting idea. However, I took a quick look at Blender. Does not appear to be an easy app to learn. I don't think I want to teach software on top of everything else I will be teaching. But still, most intriguing. Thanks for the suggestion.

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Craig Alan
Re: Cheaper "Professional: Lighting Units for students
on Aug 15, 2009 at 7:28:29 pm

Hi Rick,

I've been teaching video production on a HS level for 4 years now. It is possible to get good results with cheaper gear in almost all categories. And kids are creative and come up with their own solutions. But the pro stuff survives and the cheaper stuff gets damaged. Plus making a cheaper unit mimic a professional result is a different skill set than learning the feel of pro gear.

I would consider the software approach a good addition to using the real world gear not a replacement. If you know lighting/directing you can use software for pre-visualization. But I'd start with the real world.

Have you asked around campus if the school already owns lighting kits you could use for your course?

Another possibility is to reach into the pro community and have guests come with their own kits.

Craig

OSX 10.5.7; MAC Book PRO (EARLY 2008); Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30, Sony vx2000/PD170, Canon xl2; Pana, Sony, and Canon consumer cams; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Rick Wise
Re: Cheaper "Professional: Lighting Units for students
on Aug 15, 2009 at 7:55:03 pm

Craig,

The University has plenty of lights, up to 5Ks. But the issue is, I am required to design an on-line 100% digital lighting class that shoots only video (no film) and also involves equipment that on-line students from all over the US and the world have to purchase themselves. I am adamant that they will need:

--at least one fresnel unit rated at 650 or higher
--at least 3 open faced units that they will learn to use well
--barn doors for all
--a set of Mathews 24x24 road rags
--1 24 x 36 flag
--1/2 CTB, 1/2 CTO, 1/4 minus green, 1/4 plus green, 1/2 grid, opal -- all in sheets, a minimum of 2 sheets of each
--foamcore
--at least 2 complete c-stands
--at least 2 sandbags (they can buy these empty and fill them locally)
--roll gaffer's tape
--C-47s
--9x12 green screen kit (there's a cheap on for $120 which will do)

These students are going after an MFA.


Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Craig Alan
Re: Cheaper "Professional: Lighting Units for students
on Aug 16, 2009 at 4:16:27 am

Interesting,

I overlooked the ‘online’ part of your original post.

If you don’t mind, I’d love to know some details of how your course works. I’d also be interested in the “basic” kit you end up choosing. Are you planning on the kit being daylight temp? What type of open face lamps?

What do you see as a budget for this kit per student? How much for the course? How will you evaluate student work? Will they direct/videotape what they light or be LD or DP on local productions? I’m thinking the camera being used will vary the lighting choices/results. Are they going to be one-person crews?

Here’s a couple of links

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/photon-management/112185-alzo-daylight-flouries....

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?s=1f00c7a34b4432d33e724feccf46ad42...

I too have used the Teleprompters from the teleprompter people and I think they make good stuff for the price point. They have very good customer support and have received good reviews for some of their light products. So they might be an option. Never used their lights though.



OSX 10.5.7; MAC Book PRO (EARLY 2008); Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30, Sony vx2000/PD170, Canon xl2; Pana, Sony, and Canon consumer cams; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Todd Terry
Re: Cheaper "Professional: Lighting Units for students
on Aug 16, 2009 at 4:55:36 am

Hey Rick...

I have not personally used those Chinese blue Arri clones exactly (at least not "as is")... but I do have a 1200w HMI that was I believe was constructed out of the exact same housing as the Blue 2K tungsten fresnel (I'm guessing it was about a 2K tungsten, it has about a 7" lens).

I have to say that the construction is pretty darn good. Maybe not quite Arri, but very close. My only real complaint is that the fore and aft focus knobs are plastic and feel just a little on the spongy side... but the focus mechanism works well and smooth and the instrument itself is very solid.

I frankly have never thought Arri fresnels were that well built anyway, especially considering the cost (for less money I'll take LTM any day)... so I'd say the blue clones would be an excellent budget alternative.

ImageWest isn't the only seller of those... I found another source a while back but I can't off hand remember what it was. I'll try to look it up Monday when back in studio.

Oh... and by the way... last week I bought a pretty decent muslin greenscreen backdrop from Amvona... at little bigger than the one in your specs list, at about half that price.




T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Rick Wise
Re: Cheaper "Professional: Lighting Units for students
on Aug 16, 2009 at 6:13:31 pm

Todd,

The Amvona green screen does not include a support system. With theirs, the total is much more.

Please do send me the other source for non-Arri Arri lights!



Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Cheaper "Professional: Lighting Units for students
on Aug 16, 2009 at 9:37:05 pm

[Rick Wise] "The Amvona green screen does not include a support system"

Ahh... you are right. We just bought the muslin drop from Amvona, didn't need any supports.

[Rick Wise] "Please do send me the other source for non-Arri Arri lights!"

I give it a try when I get in the studio... hopefully I bookmarked the vendor.

I've seen on several forums people who have bought the "BluLine" fresnels from ImageWest and have been very happy with them. A couple of people who were already using Arris said they were pretty darn close knockoffs and worked well.

I've never bought anything from them, but I've always been just a little leary of the marketing verbage that ImageWest uses. For example, for a while they were selling their "open-faced fresnel." Huh??? Open-faced fresnel? I do believe that falls into the "ain't no such thang" category. In reality it was just an open faced instrument with a PAR reflector that could focus a bit by moving the bulb... no lens at all, much less a fresnel. Also, they were (maybe still are) one of those vendors selling "800 HMI" instruments for peanuts. They were, of course, nowhere near 800w HMIs, but really just reflctors with 150w sodium HID bulbs (the same things you can get from Alzo) where if you dig into the fine print enough you'll find they are the "equivalent" of 800w tungsten. Or so they say. Of course there's no mention of the horrible green spikes those lamps traditionally create or the low CRIs. I just wish they'd be a little more upfront, call it what it is... a skeptic might suggest it's an effort to "put one over" on users who are probably fairly inexperienced and thus looking at bargain-priced gear.

That's not to say their Arri clones aren't good... from all indications, they are.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Rick Wise
Re: Cheaper "Professional: Lighting Units for students
on Aug 16, 2009 at 6:41:02 pm

[Craig Alan] "Are you planning on the kit being daylight temp? What type of open face lamps?"

Craig, because of cost, the kit must be tungsten, so it must have enough wattage that by adding 1/2 CTB students can shoot interiors with lots of daylight (though they will not have the firepower for a large room with huge windows.)

[Craig Alan] "What do you see as a budget for this kit per student? How much for the course? How will you evaluate student work? Will they direct/videotape what they light or be LD or DP on local productions? I’m thinking the camera being used will vary the lighting choices/results. Are they going to be one-person crews?"

The equipment budget I am still working on. I do not know the cost/class, except that it's darned expensive. The cheapest I can come up with so far for lighting and grip gear is close to $1,700, which is a lot for most students to spend. This kit would work, however, for several of the eventual on-line classes, so the costs can in effect be amortized. Remember, these are graduate students going after an MFA. They have to take a slew of courses to get that degree. On-site, students take about 3 years to complete the requirements.

As to evaluating, the course runs 15 weeks. Once a week there is a 3-hour on-line session with the instructor. They will have weekly reading assignments in "Cinematography" by Blain Brown, as well as a slew of shooting/lighting assignments. There will be tests (I don't see how to prevent students cheating by using an open book, but that is more their problem than mine) and much show and tell with lots of feedback from me, and hopefully from fellow students (though I find in-class, most students are extremely reluctant to say anything but nice words about their colleagues' work, which renders their comments of marginal educational use.) Because of the nature of students being isolated all over the world, they will primarily be one-man crews. The more they can rope in help, the better for them. As for camera choice, they will have already purchased a Canon HV40 for the five core classes that come before this one. They will be encouraged but so far not required to purchase a more advanced camera for the advanced classes.

The entire Academy education is geared toward students with significant bucks (usually Daddy/Mommy-bucks), though there is a bit of scholarship available, at least for on-site. There are MANY other ways to get an education in filmmaking. I don't really want to get into a discussion of the merits or lack of merits of on-line vs. on-site education (I strongly prefer on-site) or how good/bad is the Academy. Helping set up the on-line version is what I am required to do, and so I'll do it as best I can.

So if I can, I'd like to redirect all comments to the original post: what "professional" lighting gear can you recommend that saves over the usual suspects of Lowel/Arri kits, etc.?



Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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