Lighting Issues In East Germany
I'm a 62 year old filmmaker working on a WWII Documentary.
Approaching my first trip to Europe to interview WWII German veterans. There are very few left. (see the trailer below).
I've been investigating the 50 Cycle 220 Voltage issues that I will encounter in Eastern Germany (Dresden).
A few things I should clarify;
I have no help - no funding - I'm basically a 'one man band'. I'm using two Panasonic DVX100B's. The subject matter are personal interviews of veterans INDOORS. Been doing this for about 3 years. I've got the lighting down to a simple science - very happy with #4 90 Watt incandescent clamp on bulbs with reflectors bounced off the ceiling.
I'll have no time or resources to rent any equipment - the language problem also presents an additional obstacle. I've been to California twice, and usually bring my own equipment - it's been working out fine.
Now to a small town south of Dresden;
The voltage issue/conversion is easier to solve - that's not the issue. I'm told 50 Cycles 'might' produce an unwanted flicker with standard 120 volt incandescent lights. However latest information indicates I should be fine, since this is more of an issue with Gas-Discharge Lamps. NO FLUORESCENTS here - Never - Only 120 volt simple household bulbs.
Thinking about this voltage converter; (please scroll down to 500 Watt Grounded Transformer -- The Mother of All Transformers). http://www.walkabouttravelgear.com/elect.htm
Audio will be both shotgun, and wired Lapel. Battery and powered off the DVX.
Anyone have other ideas?
Thank you so much
3 Minute Trailer;
Just got back from "East" Germany (Leipzig). I had no issues with the flickering, using existing light in restaurants, homes, etc. I was shooting at 24p.
You may be able to purchase those clamp-style lights in a 220v version very inexpensively at a local "Walmart" type store in the Dresden area.
I happened to bring my US 120v light and just changed out the bulb to a 220v version and had great lighting using just a plug adapter rather than a converter. I realize you want to bring your existing lights, but the whole converter deal may be more hassle than it's worth.
I can try to do more research about this for you. There is a store called Globus over there that has all kinds of stuff (like Costco). I can check if there is one near Dresden.
One other thing. I was working on a very low budget as well and I was able to hire some excellent assistants for about 50 euros per day. The were very smart recent college grads. Was a great help. Helped me set up and break down, etc. They were all fluent in English which may be a big help to you.
Enjoyed your trailer. Good luck. Dresden is an incredible city.
Please feel free to contact me directly.
Can't thank you enough for your input. And thanx for the compliments on the trailer. I post often on Apple Discussions, but it's a battle dealing with 'Professor types' full of themselves. So I appreciate your simple straight forward response.
Anyway getting back to your comments; It's great to hear that you've shot successfully with no flicker in respect to incandescent lamps in Germany. Let me clarify a few things; You bought a 220 volt bulb over there and simply swapped it out. (took your 120 volt bulb out).
I'm wondering how/if the 500 watt transformer would make any difference? Except for the fact, I understand that electricity is more expensive over there. If I simply use #4 220 volt bulbs in my clamp on reflector lamps, I'll still need 4 voltage adapters. And what about the conversion to florescent bulbs over there? In this country it's getting increasingly difficult to find incandescent bulbs anymore. These clamp lites are lightweight, and easy to pack.
Mark, how bout security issues? I guess it's no different than over here? I packed a Lowell Tungsten lamp, stand, and umbrella and traveled to California with no trouble.
Great to hear you actually recruited help!
I can't imagine lugging around a heavy transformer just for incandescent lamp loads? Just acquire some 220V equivalent bulbs and some power plug adapters. You can buy three spare sets of bulbs just on what you will save not shipping some heavy transformer around!
Unless I had a knowledgeable friend ("fixer") at the other end, I would feel more comfortable getting the lamps before the trip so you won't have to fool around over there. Especially in the former communist areas, availability of goods is not necessarily as convenient as in the west. But I have not been to the former East Germany, so dunno whether West Germany has been able to bring them back up to speed completely?
Thanx for the reply. As I mentioned earlier, (and I agree with you), I've learned not to trust availability at the other end. Especially in Eastern Germany. My main concern was with the issue of flicker with regard to incandescent lights/bulbs. Looks like I'm good to go, and will continue to light the set as I'm used to.
I will pack some items, (I'm used to it).
Being a 'one-man-band' at 62 years old has it drawbacks. Trying to connect with translators, the language problem, and unfamiliar territory all adds to it.
I know a little of what you mean. I am the same age and I traveled to Romania last year. Even though we had 250 people in the group(!), I was still pretty much a one-man-band for the sound equipment (both multi-channel recording and house reinforcement system). And I was the troubleshooter for the video guys, also. It was rather hairy at times, since our tech van never happened and we had to schlep everything in the big buses with the chorus and orchestra. But we would have never made it without a couple of VERY GOOD "fixers" in-country. They were both immigrants from Romania who knew the language and society and customs, and with good contacts, etc.
But for your first question, if you are using incandescent lamps, no there should be no more flicker problem in 50Hz-land than there is in the 60Hz territories.