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Building a custom Arri kit

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Jared Gardner
Building a custom Arri kit
on Jul 7, 2011 at 6:51:18 am

I've used cheap lights for the longest time but now I want to upgrade so I'll have something that lasts for years. I shoot interview footage with a single subject almost exclusively. I'll also do green screen stuff in the future so I want to make sure that these Arris will still be applicable and usable even after I get new lights for the green screen setup.

I want to get a basic 3-point lighting setup going but I'm not sure exactly which models of the Arris to get and which wattages. For example, I'm not sure if I should get two fluorescents for the key and fill, or, make the key and fill light two halogens w/ softboxes. Or maybe just use them as hard lights? Do most people actually use nothing but standard halogen Arris and add a softbox to a light or two, or do they use a fluorescent in the kit somewhere? I've seen it done both ways before in tutorials, so I'm not sure which route to take.

I think I can do this cheaper by buying/assembling my own kit, so I'll buy just the lights for now and get the accessories I'll need shortly after. So for right now I need suggestions for an Arri key light, an Arri fill light, and an Arri hair light along with wattages. As mentioned, I'm not sure which types of lights they usually use for the different key/fill/hair lights so that's what I need answered most.

Once again though, I hope what I get now will work well when I add more Arris in the future for a green screen setup. Don't want to buy something that I won't/can't use once I've got a green screen in there.

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Bill Davis
Re: Building a custom Arri kit
on Jul 12, 2011 at 3:58:49 am


This type of question gets asked over and over and over again here.

And it's the hardest kind to answer. Partly because it's a chicken or egg question. If we don't know HOW you're going to use your lights - it's really tough to recommend lights to use.

One small example. My first "real" lighting kit was an Arri kit with 2 650 and 2 300 fresnels. (Something I still own and use quite often today!) As I started to use them, I was DELIGHTED with the results. At that period of my career, I was doing a lot of videos of stage speakers in hotel ballrooms. A 650 Arri fresnel is a WONDERFUL tool for projecting light a significant distance from the back of a hotel room to a stage in order to bring up faces a bit and fill in eye-socket shadows. The 300's were under-powered for back of house use, but flown overhead on stage they made sweet rim lights.

As I used them more, I learned that I could use them with softboxes for interview setups. BUT - they weren't ideal for that. The very thing that made them GREAT for speaker support - a focused soft beam that can be thrown and controlled with barn doors - make them just OK for interview lighting - since that controlled beam seldom could fill the entire front of a softbox fully. So I Added Lowel Totas for the softboxes which were nearly IDEAL for filling the whole front of a softbox for close up interview lighting.

See the point? The very strength that made a light perfect for one thing, made it weaker for another.

ALL lighting gear is like that. Everything has it's place.

Arri makes SUPERB lighting tools. Rock solid, totally professional, repairable, reliable, and often worth a pertty penny when you eventually go to sell them.

But nobody can every tell you whether they're the right tool for you - at least until you can narrow the task you'll ask of them most often into something that can be judged against the capabilities of the tool.

Simple as that.

Hope this helps.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner

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