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This Dumb Question again...

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Terry Leahy
This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 21, 2012 at 7:59:34 pm

Hey Guys,

you all know what it is from the title....What lights should I buy!!!

Well let me rephrase....what lights should I buy FIRST

So I am putting together my lighting kit which formerly consisted of 4 lowel lights. 1 Pro light, two battery powered dimmable lights and a softbox. We all know these aren't the best quality and I always ended up with crazy shadows on people from being so direct.

The softbox and one of the dimmable battery lights are dead and I am going to need to purchase a new kit. Basically I am stuck between the Arri Compact Fresnel 3x650 (or 650,300,150?) route (2000W)and the Kino flo Route. Maybe two Diva lights?

Now I am not here to create a which is better blah blah blah argument as I am well aware that when I finish my lighting kit down the road it will have a kino kit, an arri tungsten kit AND a few HMI lights as well. Kino good for interview and soft fill light. Arri Fresnel good for lot light, hard light, and lotta space. HMI good for outside and sun. Me understand these things.

What I am questioning...is where to start.

"But Terry! What are you shooting? Where are you using these? Are you doing mostly interview?!"

Calm down creative cow community. Most of my work is corporate and tourism video. Lots of interviews, usually without too much time, B-roll of events, B-roll of outdoor fun in town golf...water...historical buildings, commercials, and real estate property videos.

I shoot video using a combination of DSLR and HPX370 driven footage. They actually blend quite well for those of us who don't ALWAYS want crazy thin depth of field.

Most everything involves an interview mixed with b-roll of a facility, event etc, but for some of the commercials I get to do short film style shoots.

Also, I have about 2000 dollars I could spend on a kit right now.

With all that info I ask, where would you guys start. Figure I want to be able to do an interview and have my subject without shadows and a background that is actually lit first and foremost. I also want to be able to pour light into a dark space and fill it up. I lean towards the ARRI kit all 650 watt first and Kinos second, but this investment will need to last a while until I can afford the next kit.

Thoughts?


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Ken Zukin
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 22, 2012 at 9:50:30 pm

Well, personally I have HMI's, tungsten, and fluorescents, and since you mentioned the the "time" factor, I'd steer you toward the fluorescents. Using them, I know that no matter what is at the end of the elevator, be it daylight-balanced or tungsten, with the Divas I can respond quickly. They also break down fast as you don't have the cooling-of-bulbs issues. Dimmable, too. If you get two, make sure to go big/small, or very-big/big.

The fixtures themselves produce nice, flat, flattering type light, but lack "punch."

I'm sure some would steer you toward LEDs -- they're probably fine as well.

The tools help -- but it's mastering the craft that's most important.


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Terry Leahy
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 24, 2012 at 6:06:24 pm

True...So Kino Flo Diva Lights. Yeah the more I read about using them in cramped spaces the more I kinda like them. They don't seem that great for lighting a room, but good for lighting a subject, which at this point is more my focus.

You mentioned very big/big or big/small...What do you mean? Like a 401 and 201?

Any other thoughts?


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Terry Leahy
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 24, 2012 at 6:09:19 pm

I ask because I am looking at these

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/504311-REG/Kino_Flo_KIT_D42_120_Diva_...


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Mark Suszko
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 24, 2012 at 7:59:46 pm

Sorry I'm late, Lowel Rifa gets my vote for the interview light.
You didn't really expect me not to say it, right? ;-)


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Bill Davis
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 25, 2012 at 2:31:42 am

My 2 cents.

Tungsten lights are three things. First, fully understood. Second, extremely variable and controllable. Third, astonishingly inefficient burning up most of their power as heat rather than light.

Fluorescent lights are three things. First, WAY more energy efficient than the above. Second, moderately harder to understand and control. Third, significantly more limited in practical use than tungsten sources.

LED fixtures are three things. First WAY, WAY more energy efficient than ALL of the above. Second, even harder to understand and control than BOTH of the above. Third specialized, but developing faster than either of the others.

These are all gross simplifications and even exaggerations, but there's a whole bunch of truth to it anyway.

Tungsten is going away BECAUSE of it's profound inefficiency. No other reason because it's totally flexible and useful, comes in a zillion varieties, and is totally understood by generations of pros.

Fluors and LEDs (and to a lesser extent other niche solutions like HMI and even ceramic discharge) require more babysitting and effort to work with - and there are serious holes in each technologies suitability for doing common lighting tasks - particularly compared to tungsten - which over time has been bent and adapted and enclosed to make it superb for everything from spotlighting, broad fill, soft lighting and everything else you might need to do with light. Which would make it perfect - if it wasn't so damn ridiculously INEFFICIENT at it's basic task.

You live in the middle era. Inefficiency is increasingly intolerable. And the other stuff isn't nearly as well developed - so you have to pick and choose what you value most. Control? Frugality? Efficiency?

The other issue is that mixing them can be an issue. Most people seem to buy LED suff in 5600k - which means you have to deal with color correcting them to work with Tunsten - or buy bi-color LEDs or TWO groups of tubes for your Fluors.

Welcome to modern lighting.

"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'Connor


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Terry Leahy
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 26, 2012 at 12:44:52 pm

Wow Bill, Thank you for ruining my dreams of an easy choice. :)

This makes my purchase way more difficult. I mean truthfully I need something controllable that can be used for various situations from lighting a full on location set, to a simple interview. But I can't blow a circuit wherever I am. I also, often need to pack up quickly so waiting for lights to cool down will suck. But, these were the tools used by the pros for 100 years and fully understood as you said.

Something is telling me to go flourescent with two types of bulbs on diva lights but now i'm not sure. I mean, does it make sense to grab a tungsten kit for 2 grand as a base kit before expanding into flourescent, or should I just start with 2 diva lights and build around them?

Decisions...decisions....


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Terry Leahy
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 26, 2012 at 2:52:05 pm

I think I know what I'm going to do. After consulting with a couple DPs I worked with, they recommended to go with an ARRI kit first. Basically, master lighting using the tools everybody else did and then add in the others as neccessary. And seeing as a diva lite 401 kit is 1400 and an arri kit with 3 650s is 1800, to start with the basic kit. Then when funds are available, grab a diva lite and begin using that to light subject and using the arris to light the backgrounds. After all, if I just have a diva lite, then the subject looks great but thats it, since I wouldn't have enough light to actually light the rest of the location.

Basically, I'm thinking master the basics...then add to.

Thoughts?


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john sharaf
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 26, 2012 at 4:12:25 pm

Hi Terry,

I feel your pain, although it was 35 years ago (or more) when I was in the same spot as you. Since then I've bought, owned and used more than 150 lighting instruments; Tungsten, HMI, Fluorescent and recently LED, but in all that time I never bought a "kit" other than a two-light Joker 200 kit and a four-light Dedo kit.

Instead, I used to buy kit boxes, mostly the red ones from Mole Richardson, because they were nicely squared and stacked and fit on my shelves and in the vehicles I used at the time.

Now, because I work out of a 20000 lbs truck with shelves and a liftgate, I use large carts (Backstage Studio Equipment) populated with lights in milk crates.

I guess what I'm suggesting is that you buy particular lights in the order of necessity and design you own "kit" in the process.

Obviously the first light one needs is a "key" light for portraiture; for this, the choice of a 400 Diva is a no brainer, although if price were no object I'd recommend a PRG TruColor HS LED Light instead (I recently bought two of these and they've become my first-choice go-to unit, although they're expensive and the kit box is large).

Both of these lights share the requisite features of daylight and tungsten interchangeability, soft and bright source light effect yet with dimmer capability without changing color, high efficiency and low heat. Tungsten lights have none of these features.

As with all lighting equipment, it's best to buy like Noah did with his Arc, two at a time, so you have an instantly available spare and backup.

You are clearly interested in lighting the background next, and this is a good strategy, although many times you can pick a proper background from the practical set and just light the person in the foreground to the proper ratio. In that case the next most important light would be a backlight or scratch light.

The Arri 300's you mention are very good backlights; they are bright enough to take a CTB gel to correct for daylight use (with your Diva in that mode) and still have a usable effect. They can also make a pattern on the background (although relatively small) or light an object in the background to create depth. Gain, if price were no object, I'd recommend a Dedo kit (3 or 4 lites) and the dichroic filter accessory they offer.

In fact, when pushed (like traveling very lightweight) I often go with two Joker 800's with Chimeras (for Noah's Arc backup and use as key and background) and a set of Dedo's; it's amazing how much damage one can do with these three kit boxes (plus of course stands, sandbags and AC extensions).

Another excellent choice for backgrounds is the ETC Source Four Leco. This is a relatively cheap unit, can use 575 or 750w globes and with choice of instertable "gobo" patterns is very flexible and creative. It's only tungsten, but that's often a good choice with a daylight key to create color contrast in the background quickly without even putting on a gel. The one drawback to this unit is that it's difficult to case and/or transport.

I could go on and on to describe the use and necessity of owning a hundred different types of lights, but I believe I've covered the basics here.

Additionally, I'd just remind you to seek out buying used lights of the type you want to save some money. There are many sources of used gear and these types of motion picture lights are designed and built like trucks, meaning for a long life of hard use, so there's no reason not to buy used if you have the time and patience to wait for the right opportunity.

Good luck!

JS



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Dennis Size
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 26, 2012 at 11:46:15 pm

Excellent advice John ... as usual.
The PRG Trucolor is a very good fixture, with a wonderful quality of light.
Have you tried the new Litepanel Helio Hi-Output LED? It's an excellent alternative and even compliment to the Trucolor, especially for throw distances as far as 20'-0". It is 5600 Kelvin, and at only 100w, it's 72 10deg LED's replace the need for a 1.2kw HMI. We bought about 40 of them for our lighting at the London OLYMPICS.
We then used them for the Democratic National Convention and will be sending them out for the upcoming Presidential Debates.

DS



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john sharaf
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 27, 2012 at 12:39:37 am

Hi Dennis,

Leave it to you to have all the latest toys and in quantity too!

Yes, I have had the opportunity to try those Litepanel Helios; there were a few on Stage 7 at Sony Studios in Culver City where they teach the F65 class, and I used them to fine effect in the practical lighting portion of the class.

The thing about the TrueColor HS is that these units have among all the LED's the highest and best CRI (Color Reproduction Index) so skin tone is rendered as good as tungsten and better than HMI. I think this makes them superior to the Divas which have a tendency to go green when they heat up.

In addition, this color is likely to remain consistent over time because the correction is not on the LED's themselves where the heat will affect longevity , but instead on "transfer panels" located away from the LED arrays.

This is the first of all the LED's I've tried that does not require green correction (granted that there are many different brands and models that I have yet to try), but I'm very high on these PRG lights and you are correct that the "quality of light is superior" too; it is very soft and wide even without a light bank or diffusion panel, even though I understand that Chimera has one in the works.

Now that cameras are nominally 800ISO and have dynamic range of 14 stops (in Log mode) and post color correction is more and more becoming the norm, lighting is not required in the gross amounts as before, and subtlety becomes more of the aesthetic where factors such as the quality of the light and accurate color rendition can be the distinguishing characteristics.

Not to mention the new OLED monitors which are quickly becoming the new standard in viewing (at least on set). All these things together challenge the modern DP/LD to outdo themselves everyday!

Cheers,

JS



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Bob Cole
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Nov 27, 2012 at 1:41:30 pm

[john sharaf] "the Divas which have a tendency to go green when they heat up. "

more details please! I rely on my Diva, and haven't noticed this. How long does it take for them to "heat up" to the point where they go green?

Do you use minusgreen on your Divas to counteract this?

Bob C


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john sharaf
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Nov 27, 2012 at 2:12:51 pm

HI Bob,

I don't have Divas, I use conventional tube KF 2Banks and 4 Banks in 2' and 4' sizes. This way I'm assured all the lights are the same color. I know that the Diva's are very convenient because of the built-in ballasts and dimmers, and that whatever color shift can easily be white balanced out.

Recently I purchased two PRG TruColor HS LED lights which are the same size (12x24") and are very bright, high CRI, dimmable from 20-100% with now color shift and both daylight and tungsten. I use them as I would a Diva and really appreciate the dimming feature vis a vis the tube KF's.

Putting gel on the Divas aggravates the heat issue so it's not a real good solution' watching the color carefully and repeat white balancing is the best cure.

JS



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Terry Leahy
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Sep 27, 2012 at 12:05:12 am

Very interesting...Go with individuals instead of kits...I like this idea.


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Terry Leahy
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Oct 18, 2012 at 7:24:17 pm

Hey John,

Thanks for all of your input on lighting. I had some lowells lying around that are battery powered that I can use as backlights (for now) so I decided to take your idea and just buy what I need so I grabbed a Diva Lite 401 as my first PRO light and will just use the cheaper lights to fill in the shadows for now.

Good Stuff!


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john sharaf
Re: This Dumb Question again...
on Oct 18, 2012 at 8:56:16 pm

Ok Terry,

You're on your way now. Before you're done, you'll own a truck full of lights and know what each and every one of them is used for!

Cheers,

JS



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