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Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!

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Erik Anschicks
Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 6, 2013 at 2:39:26 am

A few large networks I shoot for will be sending me on the road a lot more. Now, they are pretty reasonable. I can have around 4-5 cases checked (camera and lighting), one can be oversized/overweight, and am given a reasonable amount of time on set.

That being said, they do expect good craft. I can't just show up with 3 lights and that's that. I have to be able to handle almost any room or scenario and still make it as studio-quality pretty as I can. This can mean small rooms, but has also large rooms that I need to light up. There is almost never a way to see/scout ahead of time, we go where we're put. That means maximum flexibility, while still keeping in mind the limitations of air travel. Key, back and fill I've got locked in (1 750w Arrilite w/chimera and 1 250w tiny mole)...the question is limiting background and "just in case" lights/grip gear.

My original plan was to add 2x Source Four 575 Zooms, 2x 150w pocket pars, and 2 to 3 200/250w Tiny Moles or Peppers. But I feel like that is somewhat overkill, not to mention limiting my transport options because the Source Fours are not the easiest to transport. But I could be wrong, does that seem like too many? We're mainly talking 1-2 person interviews, perhaps some interior b-roll, nothing insane.

I'd have 1-2 cases (pelican or lightware) of lights, one for grip, and one for stands.

I know it's kind of a good problem to have, but I'm quite indecisive and don't want to get caught without the right tools. I've never really had to worry about limiting due to air travel as I've mainly worked locally or rented a package out of town. Would perhaps one of each of the above fixtures be sufficient? I'm sure a lot of you guys deal with things like this, would I find myself not needing a lot of those fixtures in most cases?

This was kind of long, hopefully there were enough specifics without being TOO wordy! Thanks!


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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 6, 2013 at 2:55:41 am

I also wanted to add that I discovered this forum by total chance a few weeks ago and have really enjoyed reading through a lot of it. Some great ideas here!


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john sharaf
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 6, 2013 at 3:40:01 am

Eric,

I don't know what network you're working for, but when I travel for Net News assignments I take at least a dozen pieces, including one cart. I could not expect expect to do a "network" quality job without the proper equipment. If it's a Newsmagazine, I'll usually take two camera packages and as many as 20-40 pieces.

Here's how a minimum package would breakdown:

Camera Case w/ 21x Lens, AC Power Supply
Battery Box with 4-6 Batteries and 4-Place Charger
Lens Case with 14X WA Lens, Matte Box and Filters
Tripod Case w/Head. Kegs, Spreader
17" Monitor or 8.4" Monitor + Waveform Vectorscope
Audio package
800W HMI x 2
Dedo Light Kit (4 units)
Stand Boxes x 2 (2 Location stands, 2 C Stands, 2 Extention Cords, Small Chimera, CTO Gel, Lee 216 Gel)
Magliner Cart

That's 12 pieces, and I can do some serious damage with this kit, but I still might be wanting, depending on what it is we're suppose to shoot.

When you travel with a kit this size, you need at least two people on the crew (not the producer) who can be responsible for the gear. It takes two to check in at the airport while parking the car or getting a rental car, and to get into and out of the location(s) and hotel(s).

If your client wants production value and network quality they should not be scared of a little excess baggage. You have to have media credentials, but most airlines (although some do not, you must check ahead) offer discounted "media rates" as low as $50/piece.

Even though you don't have the luxury of scouts, a smart camera person will carefully query their client of the step by step needs of each scene they want to shoot; what type of location, inside or out, day or night, etc. This knowledge will help you explain exactly what you'll need to bring and extrapolate how many cases that will take.

An alternative is to hire a lighting guy with a van full of the necessary gear in each city. You have to carefully run the numbers, sometimes this is cheaper (or better), sometimes not, than the excess cargo and larger vehicle you'll need to rent on location.

This advice is from many years of doing exactly this type of work all over this country and around the world. Your challenge will be in successfully convincing your client of the need and costs involved in doing what they're asking you to do. Sometimes, although it hard to do, you just have to say "no" if what they're asking is impossible!

Good luck,

JS



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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 6, 2013 at 5:12:39 am

Hi John!

Wow, thanks for such a quick and detailed reply! Allow me to clarify a few things:

I do a lot of work in sports and political doc-type programming for clients like Comcast, Big 10, WTTW (PBS), Lucas Oil. I am not generally the point man for bringing the main camera, audio or anything not related to lighting/grip. I might bring my DSLR as like a C-cam or something akin sometimes, but generally the producer brings the A-camera package they want, including the client monitor. A sound man is always hired. So some of what you had in your example doesn't really apply in most cases for me (though its a good roster as a reference!).

So I guess what you are saying is that the lighting roster I initially planned is NOT too much? Costs/logistics aside, would the 6 lights (2x source fours, pocket pars, moles/peppers) be a bit of overkill if they're primarily background lights?

I have no problem fighting for what I would like to bring and I have in fact told one of these clients "no" multiple times when they wanted something that was literally a technical impossibility. I just wanted to mainly see if the initial ideas I had were, generally speaking, reasonable amounts for the type of clients I have and would like to expand with.

As it stands, I would check the following:

1 - large porta brace hard case housing the 2 source fours, pocket pars, and the small tungsten w/ scrims and maybe a couple cords. Definitely going overweight, but not really avoidable.

1 - long case housing a few stands but mainly grip items and gels

1 - case for 6x light stands

1 - Rock n Roller cart


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Bill Davis
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 7, 2013 at 3:32:32 am

I think you've got most of the basics covered.

If it was me, the only thing I'd add would be a handful of Lowel Totas to address your "big space" issues.

What I like about them is that they're compact, pretty indestructible - toss out a wide and even wash field of light - and most important, anything likely to go wrong with them can typically be field fixed with a Leatherman.

Essentially, they're a simple fixture that holds a Quartz Halogen lamp that you can replace at any home depot. They handle up 1000 watts without blinking much - tho you can fry the wings if you don't open them up fully - and they do get hot. The simple Hanogen bulbs are avaialble in all sorts of wattages and both clear and frosted, so you can bring a handfull of lower power lamps and use them in smaller rooms as well.

They toss a nice wide flood in mostly ONE direction and the falloff is pretty even and pretty gentle.

You need to drag along stingers for them (usually MUCH heavier than the light kit itself!) but You can wrap gels over maybe 3 of them and with a fast enough camera, you can easily pop color across a large area like a warehouse background by spreading a handfull of these around.

The only thing I really don't like about them is that Lowel uses a non-standard socket with a "bump" that keeps a typical "computer type" power cord from working with them unless you carve a trench in the female - but the Letaherman can deal with that as well.

I have a tub of about half a dozen of them I've collected over the years - and when I'm in a large space with good power, they're usually the first thing I grab to fill in a background.

FWIW.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 8, 2013 at 12:17:52 am

Hi Bill -

Yes, I agree that a small instrument like a Tota would be good for those applications. I personally prefer the Mole nooklite simply because I like having yokes on lights a bit better than not...and also because I'm a Mole "guy" I guess! Since they take up little space, it might not be a bad idea to just toss one in.

Also (not just for Bill), when it comes to grip gear, do you guys find that traveling with 85ND gel or Roscoscrim (in rolls) is necessary if you don't know what you're walking into? I'm torn, because I can think of a bunch of times that I really wished I had it...but was always able to make it work, either by simply not using the window or insisting on another room. For what it's worth, my background is from the G&E dept, so I can rig/build/gel/problem solve quite quickly.


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Bill Davis
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 8, 2013 at 6:03:35 am

Unless I KNOW I'm walking into a CEO in his/her power office situation I seldom take window gel. And when I do, it's that Rosco stuff that combines 2 stops ND with CTO in a single gel. If I'm gonna cut window light, I want at least the chance to get the view without burning the exec up with a pair of Joker Bugs.

But I really hate taking the time and effort to try to gel windows unless there's no other way.

So nope, I never fly with window treatment. Just black/white foam core - blackwrap - and CTO and CTB plus scrims or dimmers for the instruments I'm carrying.

YMMV.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 9, 2013 at 6:23:10 pm

Yeah, that's kind of the way I was leaning as well. I figure that it is so seldom that I'll be required to gel a whole window for the view in a sight unseen circumstance (or at least without prior heads-up that such could be the case) that it doesn't warrant lugging a full roll. I'll probably just bring a couple of sheets of it to use it on a portion of a window if needs be, they fit easily into the gelly roll.

I too share your preference for the 85ND gel...it's really funny, THAT is the piece of equipment in my arsenal that impresses newbies/younger crew the most. Not a camera, lenses, HMIs, nope, that guy! It blows their minds that something like that exists...not to get off on a tangent but I can't believe how "grip illiterate" so many people on the visual side of this industry are nowadays. Too much worrying about "what light do I choose" and not nearly enough of "how do I control it"!

In the same vein, do you or anyone else regularly use Roscoscrim as opposed to ND? I've barely used it but I had thought the other day in a location that the Roscoscrim could "hide in plain sight" because it so closely resembles the sun shades I've seen installed in restaurants, offices, and the like. The main issue with gelling windows is keeping them flat, clean, and immobile, and if one just hung the roscoscrim as they would a window treatment, couldn't it reasonably pass for such without the hassle of the aforementioned gel issues?


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Bob Cole
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 13, 2013 at 12:45:16 am

Good thread.

Here's a twist. Edit the package a little more for worst-case eventuality:

You can't rely on your checked cases arriving in time for the shoot, so you must take enough in carry-on for the shoot. The entire crew is two people, so you will be allowed to take two 22x14x9 bags and two laptop-sized bags. You'll need to take a camera (small, EX1R size), audio, light(s), and all necessary accessories that you won't be able to replicate on location. You're headed to a city which does not have a rental source, but there'll be just enough time to stop off at a Home Depot/WalMart type store on your way to the shoot.

Assignment is interview and b-roll of interviewee in his/her work setting.

Ideas?

Bob C


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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 13, 2013 at 2:34:04 am

Hi Bob -

Interesting worst-case scenario...I'll bite :)

Camera gear would be left to other crew member, as I said, I generally don't bring it anyway. As I also stated, we ALWAYS hire a soundman wherever we go (but if pressed, I'd throw a Sony 77 wired lav in my backpack). So that leaves lighting and grip. I'd have 2 carry-ons, a photo backpack and a small Pelican.

In my Pelican 1510 rolling case, I can fit my 750w Arrilite and two Tiny Moles lamped with 250w. I also generally put a few clamps like mini cardellinis, mafers, and gaffers in there, plus small diffusion/gels. I can generally toss in a 25' extension cord or 2.

For stands, the most useful lightweight location stands I've found are Matthews reverse stands. They can fold as small as 22" long/ 2.5" diameter, take an 11 lb. load, and I can clip two to my backpack (which would house my shooting monitor, extra batts, perhaps a few other BNCs, gaff tape, blackwrap, and odds and ends). So at this point, I can load up my Arrilite with diffusion (if my Chimera is MIA) and have a great key and 2 small lights for back/background lights. Put 2 on the stands, find a desk or whatever would work to clamp the 3rd onto a cardellini/mafer. On my home depot run, I'd grab a couple of small line dimmers, stingers, an assortment of 15 - 60w practicals, and some LED cabinet/"puck" lights that are battery-operated.

At the interview locale, I have 3 options: 1: Choose a room where I can use window light as a key and bring up the background as best I can however that may be, 2: find a room, probably an office, that has interior windows that look out to a workspace/cafeteria or something that takes care of a background, then use my 2 moles to fill the gaps, or 3: In addition to the Moles, I scrounge up as many table lamps as I can find, put them on a desk/something akin in the background, and rig them with the practicals and dimmers to get some more controllable background light...probably even use 1 or 2 in the shot. A lamp with a slightly dimmed 15w practical in it can look lovely in the shot, it won't blow out. If I need some more pops of light, I can temporarily stick a couple of the LEDs anywhere in the background. Tighten up the interview shot to a CU and all this should be perfectly sufficient if it's a worst-case scenario where my checked gear doesn't show up! I can then just use the Arrilite to fill in where broll at the workspace is needed.


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Bob Cole
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 25, 2013 at 8:03:15 pm

Interesting choices. I think this is a good exercise, not just for the sake of having enough gear in case the checked bags don't make it - but also for its own sake.

For some subjects, an excess of stands and flags and lights can be intimidating. The less gear you put up, the more relaxed they'll be. If the whole point is to get a great interview, minimalism can get the job done better than a truck full of gear.

(I believe that a few years ago there was some European manifesto about producing features with a minimum of equipment. If anyone recalls, I'd like to know more about it.)

Bob C


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john sharaf
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 25, 2013 at 8:18:49 pm

Bob,

As someone who brings a "truck load" of equipment to every shoot, I have often heard this sentiment about "intimidating" the subject. I firmly believe however, after more than thirty years of doing this type of work, it's not the number of light stands or amount of kit that intimidates people, but rather the more common problem of insensitive crew and/or producers who fail to put themselves in the subjects position and create a tension that is poisonous to the task at hand.

The manifesto you refer to (and which I also forget the name of) has nothing to do with putting any subject at ease, but rather creating a more democratic playing field where production value created by higher resources is trumped by content and technique that does not cost anything. The fact is that neophytes with good ideas or skills they bring from other disciplines, often make better films than multimillion dollar Hollywood productions.

JS



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Rick Wise
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 25, 2013 at 8:37:23 pm

Dogme 95 was the Danish movement. The rules are included in a good Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogme_95

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Bob Cole
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 26, 2013 at 10:57:10 am

Excellent point. I couldn't agree more about the importance of good manners and empathy on the part of the crew and producers. When I read your comment, it immediately called some scenes to mind, of strutting, self-important production people (including myself, when I was getting started. Cringe!)

The relevance of Dogme 95 (thanks Rick) is that it is possible to achieve good results with less gear.

While I agree with you, John, that the attitude of the personnel make by far the biggest difference, I still believe that there are situations where a more intimate approach (fewer people and less equipment) can be helpful. As with features shot under Dogme 95 as opposed to Spielberg 2013, the results will definitely be different, though!


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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 26, 2013 at 5:25:45 am

Bob, hopefully that was "interesting choices" in a good way :)

Keeping interview talent comfortable in the sense you describe is always a case-by-case basis for me. Speaking strictly from the perspective of gear amount I can't say that I necessarily go out of my way to do so (aside from issues of heat/temperature). I also don't think I've ever heard about anyone expressing such discomfort. I certainly concur with John though, being personable and easy to work with is always a must. Hopefully funny and charming too!

I do usually keep my subject lighting (fairly) minimal, which itself might lessen any potential intimidation factor. I use as large a soft source as I can from one side of the face and often don't use fill, or if I do it's a subtle, passive bounce. I never use an actual light for fill on a single-subject interview unless I absolutely have to! I will often times eschew backlight as well, preferring instead to light the background behind the subject's head, which accomplishes the same task and often looks better to me. So generally the subject doesn't really have much staring them in the face to be intimidated by.

I'm curious as to what others' answers to your hypothetical scenario would be!

Erik


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Bob Cole
Re: Good problem to have....I must EDIT lighting package!
on May 26, 2013 at 11:12:35 am

[Erik Anschicks] "Bob, hopefully that was "interesting choices" in a good way :)"

Yes. I was thinking particularly of the effectiveness-to-weight/bulk ratio of stuff like diffusion, small fixtures, and those light stands. (I'd include a Tota-lite with a ex-small Chimera - that's a pretty high bang-for-the-ounce.) And I like the Home Depot shopping list. Time will be short, by the time you realize you're not getting the checked gear!

To avoid the delayed bags problem, the best strategy, though, is to try not to fly out on the last plane of the day.


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