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Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?

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Patrick Bronte
Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
on Jul 27, 2013 at 6:02:59 am

Hi,

I've watched numerous tutorials on lighting and they seem to have the hair light directly above at a 45 degree angle.

I"m recording interviews both with a black background/screen and natural surroundings (kitchen, porch etc) . Where is the best place to put the hair light in each scenario in order to avoid reflections from bald heads and white hair? How far to the left or right can it go before it loses its effect? I'm using 300 LED with soft box - could that be to bright even at its lowest? Should I always use a defuser?

With only a key light and hair light I've been following the instructions in the image but turning the key light around toward the talent a bit more.. Getting the reflector in the right place to work can be difficult. Plus its hard to keep it there - does any one have a good solution for a stand? How does using white and mirror differ.

Any advice would be appreciated!





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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
on Jul 27, 2013 at 3:37:59 pm

I don't think it's the brightness of the light that's the issue, it's the controllability of the light. I would think that you want to use a directional light with barn doors (and maybe a diffuser). LED panels are like shotguns - they light goes where it will - even with barn doors, you often get stepped shadows because you're dealing with many point lights with LEDs. I would think that a small, focusable fixture would be the trick for the hair light. What you want with a hair light is a small rim of light which helps define the contours of the subject, and kicks them out from the background. As for bald heads, just remember "angle of incidence equals angle of reflection", and adjust that as needed. You may also need some light powder on the offending head.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
on Jul 27, 2013 at 5:33:15 pm

Patrick -

Here's a link to a bit more technical information which discusses the various lighting rations. As you can see from the variables, there is never going to be one lighting setup which works for every situation - unless it's a studio with people who have the same flesh tones, hair tones, and clothing on:

http://books.google.com/books?id=rVoIAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA259&lpg=PA259&dq=key+and...

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Rick Wise
Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
on Jul 27, 2013 at 5:44:07 pm

"Where is the best place to put the hair light in each scenario in order to avoid reflections from bald heads and white hair?" The best solutions to bald heads and white hair I've found are:
  • make the hair light as large as possible by flying diffusion in the path of the light

  • scrim or dim down the light until it is just visible -- reduce the intensity


  • "How far to the left or right can it go before it loses its effect?"
  • I always prefer to fly it directly behind the subject. Because the head is a round surface, you can never remove that sheen by moving the light left or right


  • "does any one have a good solution for a stand?"
  • A c-stand is the tool for this job, combined with a quaker/quacker/platypus clamp that grabs the foamcore in its large "lips"; with the c-stand you grab the clamp with its baby stud


  • "How does using white and mirror differ."
  • White is a soft reflection, a mirror hard. Each has its place. If the key light is soft, the mirror will simply reflect the soft light, but if it's a hard light, the mirror bounce will be hard as well. In general, use white foamcore unless it doesn't kick back enough light


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


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    john sharaf
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Jul 27, 2013 at 5:57:43 pm

    This is a classic dilemma; backlight for white, thinning or bald heads.

    The simplest solution is to turn the backlight off. This works without issue if you don't really need a backlight to separate the subject from the background, such as a white cyc.

    Another solution is to lower the light and bring it from the opposite side of the key, making it more of a "scratch" light.

    Another choice, especially if the subject has dark clothing the "needs" seperation, is to flag the backlight off the head and just light the shoulders.

    Finally, the suggestion to "waste" the backlight by cutting it down, or just even tipping it up until it's barely noticeable works.

    Finally, if all else fails, create the separation by lighting the background with a complementary color or contrast.

    I'm sure you thought of all these solutions already!

    JS



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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Jul 27, 2013 at 6:21:54 pm

    [john sharaf] "Another solution is to lower the light and bring it from the opposite side of the key, making it more of a "scratch" light."

    I do this all the time and it works well.

    I think that's actually something I did years ago by accident, not knowing any better or having been taught that it was an actual "technique" that people do. I'll now often put the backlight lower and much more to one side (and yes, opposite the key). Not only does it really soften the rim and help deal with white or bald heads, but often times that hint of a splash across the side of the face is really interesting and a good look... definitely not the flat and ├╝ber-perfect "Sears Portrait Studio" look you get with strict and traditional three-point lighting.

    On stage I'll usually use a small tungsten fresnel for that (maybe a Pepper 200 or so)... but these days when out of the studio I'm usually predominantly using LEDs on location, especially for quick-n-dirty stuff. In those cases my backlight of choice is usually a little Switronix TorchLED, which despite being one of the most uncontrollable instruments you can imagine, can still give a great look if positioned correctly.

    That's a great little fixture, actually... by "uncontrollable" I just mean that like most all LEDs things like barndoors are pretty much useless. It's a little bi-color head that will let you dial in the exact color temp you need, and will run for hours off its on-board battery.

    T2

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



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    Patrick Bronte
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Jul 28, 2013 at 3:17:43 am

    Cheers Todd, John & Rick!

    I just wanted to clarify a couple of things you've all touched on:

    If I'm using a screen or natural BG can I move the rim light over (to the right if its going to be opposite the key) so it's not quite directly above the talents head but still at the same height? Todd mentioned lowering it but in the case of using a black screen I can't lower it to much for the screens boom pole will stop it. That idea does sound appealing though for that "splash" of light on the talents face would look good.

    I'm definitely going to put a diffuser on the rim/hair light as my light is pretty bright even at its lowest. I think I need a light like Todds but I'm trying to work with what I have.

    Thanks again. Now its time to find a c-stand + clamp and start experimenting.



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    Erik Anschicks
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Jul 29, 2013 at 7:30:23 pm

    To echo what John said in part, I often prefer lighting the background behind the person, sometimes with color, sometimes not, as opposed to using a traditional backlight. Indeed, with your desire to avoid reflections on a balding head that might be the way to go. Especially if you find yourself in a location where the background has texture to it which often looks very nice and creates a good profile.

    Like with anything else, traditional backlight is an aesthetic choice! There's no rule that says you must use it.


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    Patrick Bronte
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Jul 30, 2013 at 12:08:10 am

    Cheers Erik!

    Todd, you mentioned to me that lighting can be more forgiving when using a natural background. Well summers on its way over here in NZ which is when I'll be doing most of my interviews. I'm keen to take that advice you've given me about going with a natural background because when I turn up at the talents home I don't want to completely take over by closing off all the curtains, putting up the black screen plus lights, mics and cameras. But the biggest problem I have here is that in many cases the the BG behind their favourite chair is natural white or some other nondescript bg. If I were to put the black screen behind them in a situation where I can't control all of the natural light and the bg is not the best could I still use the black background/screen and then make it look crisp & dark by bringing down the levels in post? As I mentioned before I'm torn as to whether I stick with the black screen/BG or use a natural BG. The reason I'm so keen to use the black screen is so that I have a uniformed background thus producing a more professional looking product. I understand its the content that makes or breaks an interview. I'm just trying work out the aesthetics here after years of just pointing a shooting.

    The other thing - if there is a lot of natural light whats the best way to configure the key and rim light?

    Any advice from you guys would be appreciated.



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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Jul 30, 2013 at 2:08:17 am

    [Patrick Bronte] "keen to use the black screen is so that I have a uniformed background thus producing a more professional looking product. "

    It's all aesthetics Patrick, and there are no right or wrong answers... but I'm sure you realize that uniformity does not equal professional looking. There are plenty of high-end great-looking pro videos that certainly place their subjects in a variety of natural surroundings. And plenty of crappy videos full of black limbo backgrounds. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. You're right, it's all about the content.


    [Patrick Bronte] "in many cases the the BG behind their favourite chair is natural white or some other nondescript bg."

    Then don't put them there. Put them somewhere else. Yes, every one of these subjects is going to have their most favorite chair, where they are most comfortable. But that might not fly. Make them comfortable, but you don't have to coddle them. If you wanted to interview me at my most comfortable you'd be shooting me in bed... but no one wants to see that. These guys are war heroes, they've been through a lot worse than giving up the La-Z-Boy for a little while.

    The big problem with "real life" homes, as opposed to the ones you see on TV or in the movies, is furniture placement. In the movies, floorplans tend to be open and seating options are often in the center of rooms, or have depth behind them in some way. In real life, people tend to place chairs and sofas around the perimeter of rooms, with backs against walls. This is terrible, obviously... just about the worst choice you can make is to back a subject against a wall. I always tell people it looks like I'm taking their mug shot, and that they should be holding up an arrest number.

    Get your talent away from walls. Move a chair a bit. If you are shooting a guy in his living room, can you see the kitchen in deep background? Or out a window? Or down a hall? If not, move the chair. Even in a doorway is better than against a white wall. No doubt these guys wouldn't mind your assistant doing some slight re-arranging, as long as it's put back. Most people are actually very accommodating.

    T2

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



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    Patrick Bronte
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Jul 30, 2013 at 5:53:32 am

    You're a good man Todd! I really appreciate all the advice you've been giving me! Thanks Erik for joining in. Your recent post has given me food for thought.

    From what you're both saying I get the idea that you think its a better idea to go natural rather than the black screen?? Well I think thats they way I'll go. This will mean that I will have to use Todds technique of having the rim/hair light off to the side for if I have it placed directly above the talents head then the light stand will be in the frame.

    If I have a window behind the person being interviewed, thats when I use the backlight. Does this still apply when the cams on full manual?

    I've seen a number of docos that have a crisp focused image of the talent and the BG is blurred out. Can this be done with my camera (Canon XF-100). Digieffects has a plugin that allows you to do this in post but it looks like a very drawn out, arduous task.

    Erik, my arsenal of lighting is:
    My key light: http://www.photowarehouse.co.nz/falcon-lhd-b928fs-ob8-fluoro-9x-bulb-light-...
    Plus, I have been using a 300 LED light on a standard light stand as the rim/hair light. I've also got a reflector to help act as a fill light that I can hold up with a reflector stand.

    Please keep that advice coming. You are teaching me a lot.

    Thanks guys.



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    Erik Anschicks
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Jul 30, 2013 at 5:19:03 am

    Terry is right on about a black background and uniformity not always equaling a professional look! In fact, I'd honestly go a step further and argue that it looks cheaper and unimaginative. Especially if you have multiple interview subjects, background uniformity can get pretty boring after a while. Personally, I would never suggest a purely black background to any important/high end client of mine. Furthermore, to really nail that look in a practical home requires a reasonably high degree of light and spill control coupled with the right room dimensions and proportions. So even the basic black look is not always as simple from locale to locale.

    On the other hand, if you go with natural settings, you have to be willing and able to combat them. I second Terry again by saying this will indeed often mean "taking over" a space. I have shot probably hundreds of interview subjects in their own homes/places of business and I've literally never, not once, drew the ire of the subject by simply arranging (fairly) easily movable items and furniture. That's not to say that it never will happen, or hasn't happened to others, but I believe there exists a vastly disproportionate paranoia about this. With a respectful and courteous attitude (sense of humor helps too!), this will in all likelihood be less of a problem than you think!

    There is always something you can do in natural settings, whether it's creating patterns or shadows, using windows when exposure permits, darkening portions of a room, etc. But then you have to be able to combat this with lighting and grip gear as well. What is your arsenal in that regard?


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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 1, 2013 at 4:45:44 pm

    Patrick...

    I was on a shoot this morning and had to do a setup very similar to what you've been talking about, so I pulled a couple of screen grabs and took a couple of cell phone pics of the setup.

    We are having to shoot interviews with SIXTY different business owners in our community for a Chamber of Commerce job, and we are having to do these really fast... so we have tried to come up with something where we can zip in to an interviewee's place, shoot, and be packed and out within 20-30 minutes or so. For us this has meant a lot of available light, and daylight LED instruments that we can throw up quickly and run off batteries. We're not even taking C-stands, due to weight... just collapsible Matthews stands. Also, I almost always shoot primes, but in this case I'm using a 37-140mm Foton zoom to avoid having to change lenses and to be able to change focal lengths on the fly. There's not even time to take the "dead cat" windjammer off the mic, which we would usually do for interiors.

    It's not a perfect look by any stretch, but as you can see it is perfectly acceptable. And this is an example of a "natural" setting, as opposed to putting talent in front of a neutral or limbo background. The grabs are uncorrected and ungraded, straight from the camera from a shoot abut an hour ago...

    The four at the very bottom are other business guys in this series, all with the same exactly lighting plot...



    That also shows the backlight position that was discussed earlier... lower and to the side opposite the key. You can see how it gives a bit of highlight splash to the right side of her face, and mimics what you might see from a practical window for a fairly natural look.

    As I said, not perfect lighting by any means, and more controllable instruments would be nice... but with this setup the actual DP work took less than three minutes, and on this gig every minute counts.

    T2

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



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    Rick Wise
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 1, 2013 at 5:09:29 pm

    Fabulous run-'n-gun setup Todd.

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


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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 1, 2013 at 6:13:33 pm

    Thanks Rick...

    Then you might get a laugh out of the extremely ridiculous (but workable) travel system we came up with for these 60 back-to-back interview shoots...

    I took all the usual stuff we usually travel with, and pared it down to the absolutely positively can-do-without-it "must haves"... not just losing the jibs and dollys and sliders and butterflies and such, but the real "must haves." I probably excluded a good four-fifths of what we usually travel with, or probably more.

    Then I dug out an old smaller case that wasn't doing anything, and figured out how to puzzle-piece everything we needed in it, and in such a way that it was easily grabbable/accessible. I tricked the case out with these plywood "sideboards" and put lots of hooks, posts and PVC tubes on it.

    It definitely looks like Rube Goldberg meets Frankenstein (meets Roto Rooter), but I can pretty much instantly grab anything we need...





    That carries C300 body, plates/rails, matte box, follow focus, filters, four primes and one zoom, handheld rig, camera batteries, three LED lights and batteries, three Matthews stands, two umbrellas, sticks/head, spider dolly, mic/boom/blimp/windjammer, headset, reflectors, and some other stuff I can't even remember.

    The last of these shoots is tomorrow. I can't wait to get back to "full-gear" mode where I don't have to worry about whether I've got something (and can get C-stands back, along with frames and silks and stuff I thought I couldn't do without). But... part of me likes traveling light, so I'm going to keep this setup around for the down-n-dirty shoots.

    T2

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



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    Rick Wise
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 1, 2013 at 6:37:17 pm

    That case must weigh a ton with all that gear.

    Which LED lights did you chose?

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


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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 1, 2013 at 9:56:03 pm

    [Rick Wise] "That case must weigh a ton with all that gear. "

    Not too bad, and it's fairly maneuverable. I think it weighs less than our regular camera case (when traveling with full gear), which is a bit larger. The only "ugggh" grunting moment comes when lifting it in and out of the truck. I find that is a convenient time to take an emergency phone call or answer an urgent email, and leave it to my guys.


    [Rick Wise] "Which LED lights did you chose?"

    I'm almost embarrassed to tell you, Rick... because I always harp on buying great gear and avoiding junk. However, I'd never owned or really used any LED lights before, so I bought some really cheap ones just to test the water... and I got really lucky with them. We bought a couple of these "Aura" instruments made by "Proaim." Who knows who really makes them... they are some Chinese or Indian made instruments. They are kinda knockoffs of the LEDZ Brutes, with 24 of the bigger LEDs instead of a thousand little ones. We paid almost nothing for them, on eBay. They came with stands that I immediately threw away... ha.

    I did, however, get VERY lucky with them. Turns out, they are great. Quite well built, very bright and punchy, fully dimmable, and will run about 6-8 hours on a battery. Color is great, no green spikes at all... right at about 56K° or maybe slightly higher.

    I did do a few mods... firstly I cracked them open and did some wiring so I could add a AntonBauer goldmount to the back of each. I also added an umbrella mount to the top (hacked some eBay parts I bought), and drilled holes in the filter frames to allow use of softbox rods without a speedring....






    I have a third small LED instrument I travel with that's more "legit," the Switronix TorchLED. It's small, actually built as an on-camera light but we almost always use it on a stand... it's a convenient back or hair light. Bi-color, fully dimmable, runs for probably about three hours on its battery. Highly recommended.

    T2

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



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    Rick Wise
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 2, 2013 at 2:15:27 am

    Todd, in addition to being a master cinematographer you are also a master at DIY rigging. Most impressive. Those lights seem to be from India, a rival of Chinese sources. Indeed eBay is where to find them: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.Xproaim...

    I have also been intrigued by the round 9 and 14 Genaray lights and the way they come with plumbing for umbrellas. You can find them at B&H.

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


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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 2, 2013 at 2:37:15 am

    Yep Rick, those are the exact lights. I will tell ya though I paid a lot less than that for them (I don't remember who the particular seller was).

    They were listed for about that same price for a pair but with the "make me an offer" option. I think I offered something ridiculous like $325 and they countered with something like $380.

    I figured at that price, even if they lasted two shoots they'd be worth it... but they've been going strong for a year or so. So, for anyone interested in those, they certainly can be had for a lot less.

    And, master... no. Maybe loose-canon jack of all trades, but master of absolutely none. I'm ok with that.

    T2

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



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    Rick Wise
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 2, 2013 at 2:43:16 am

    Todd, you wear your modesty well. I know a master when I see one. Possibly my own hubris, but I think not.

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


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    Anthony Salsone
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Nov 21, 2013 at 5:47:03 am

    Hey Todd,

    I apologise if this question has been asked and answered already; but what kind of softbox do you use with these proaims when you use the softbox holes? I'm looking to do the same sort of thing, and wanted to know what you'd recommend.

    Also, thanks a heap for your comprehensive posts. It's awesome to see someone like yourself explaining your workings in detail so that they can be learnt from. Very cool.

    Thanks again,
    Anthony


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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Nov 21, 2013 at 4:16:11 pm

    Anthony I just bought a couple of really cheap Chinese-made softboxes off eBay. I knew I was going to have to hack into them and rework them to get them to fit (and I thought there was a fair chance that they wouldn't work at all and just get thrown away), so I didn't get anything too nice or expensive. I'd usually recommend Chimera or Photoflex, but in this case I went the dirt cheap route.

    Two observations about them...

    1) They work well

    2) I never use them.

    After spending quite a bit of time taking the instruments apart and taking care to drill my perfect holes in them to receive the rods, I just rarely if ever use the softbox setup. The umbrellas are so easy and fast to use, that I just almost always use those instead. The umbrellas I have are big enough to avoid any spill at all, so in this particular case the extra control you get from softboxes really isn't needed... at least not in the way that I use these particular instruments.

    T2

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



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    Anthony Salsone
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Nov 24, 2013 at 12:29:18 pm

    That makes a lot of sense. Thanks a heap for the reply. Once again, very thorough.

    One more question: where did you get the umbrella brackets from that you mounted on the lights? Do they have a particular name. I could just use a U-bracket and achieve a similar result, but can see that yours look much more polished and have the fastening screw.

    Thanks again, mate.
    Anthony


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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Nov 24, 2013 at 9:59:23 pm

    Hi Anthony...

    For the umbrella holders I bought and cannibalized a couple of these...

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Flash-Shoe-Umbrella-Holder-Swivel-Light-Stand-Brack...

    Most of these parts are discarded, I only used the umbrella holder part. They are mounted on my lights basically inverted from what you see here. I took that top shoe off, there are four little screws that hold it on. When the shoe is off, the flat surface that is remaining is what got screwed to the top, using tiny bolts through those four holes. I did sand on the surface with a belt sander to make it more angled so that the umbrella would point slightly down and the light would hit in the center of the umbrella. I also, of course, cut off the tab that fits into the baby pin holder.

    So basically, the rig just uses the umbrella fitting of that piece of hardware, everything either above or below that was either removed, unscrewed, or cut off.

    These are made out of that hard plastic that's fairly easy to saw and sand.

    T2

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



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    Anthony Salsone
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Nov 25, 2013 at 3:06:38 am

    Brilliant, sir. Hugely appreciated.

    I'm sure, besides me, there are plenty of others who will find this info very helpful.

    Thank you again for all of your responses, and all the best for the upcoming holiday season!

    Keep well,
    Anthony


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    Craig Alan
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 3, 2013 at 4:25:34 am

    I need to build a stand for 5-6 boom poles. How did you attach the PVC so its solid enough to hold light stands? Love the organization.

    Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 3, 2013 at 5:12:57 am

    [Craig Alan] " How did you attach the PVC so its solid enough to hold light stands?"

    Hi Craig...

    Well... I didn't. None of my PVC tubes hold any light stands, although they are strong enough to hold them if I wanted (although they would have to be much larger pipes). There are three PVC tubes (of two different sizes) attached to one end of the case (the bottom of the three pics in the above post). Two of them hold umbrellas, and the other transports the mic boom fishpole. They are attached to the case by small bolts, with the heads inside countersunk in the pipe (to avoid snagging the umbrellas). In the pic you might be able to see a small hole or two drilled in the pipes. These are access holes so I could drill the countersinking in the opposite side of the pipe, and so I could get a screwdriver in there when attaching them to the case. In case you are wondering about that fatter middle pipe... that's a "holster" for my zoom lens. On these shoots I was using the zoom a lot, but when I wanted to pull it off for a quick shot with a prime I didn't want to take time to pack the zoom away so that's a quick place to park it. The slot in the side accommodates the focus/zoom levers. There's an identical "holster" inside the case (you can see it in the top pic) for more secure transport of the lens.

    As for actual light stands, they are on the opposite side of the case (seen best in the middle pic). The plywood deck has a thicker hardwood piece screwed/glued to the bottom, and I drilled three 5/8" holes (with spade bit in a drill press) at the appropriate spots so the inverted stands would nest together nice and tight. I really should have used Matthews baby wall plates, but they are like 30 bucks each and their baseplates are actually too big to put that close together. No matter, the baby pins fit in the holes nice and snug... it's tight and secure enough to use the stands as handles when driving the case around (the swivel wheels are on the opposite end).

    Between the stands is a 5/8" post (just a bolt with the head cut off) to give me a spot to park the one grip head I was taking to hold the boom pole cradle. Similar posts are inside the lid to park the LED heads.

    Hope that helps...

    T2

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



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    Craig Alan
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 4, 2013 at 1:34:04 pm

    Thank you very much.

    [Todd Terry] "They are attached to the case by small bolts, with the heads inside countersunk in the pipe (to avoid snagging the umbrellas). In the pic you might be able to see a small hole or two drilled in the pipes. These are access holes so I could drill the countersinking in the opposite side of the pipe, and so I could get a screwdriver in there when attaching them to the case."

    I think I get it now. They are attached to the side of the case rather than the deck. I'll have to think what I could use. I need them free standing. But they would have to be support enough not to tip. Your case does the trick.

    I have a bolt driver set and I have a counter sink bits. So tool wise I should be fine. Just have to figure out what I'm going to mount the pipes on. I'd also like to have hooks to hang the xlr cords.

    Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 4, 2013 at 8:03:33 pm

    Yeah Craig those are attached by their sides to the case only. They are not attached to the deck at all.

    What are you trying to do exactly, and with what kind of gear? Might have some options or ideas...

    T2

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



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    Craig Alan
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 5, 2013 at 2:27:10 am

    Todd
    Thank you again.

    Here's the deal. I am handing out and collecting throughout the day 5-6 boom poles with mikes attached.

    I want them left extended. With mikes attached.

    I want a holder for it where they are secure upright - easy in and out. At a glance can see which have been returned. Would not mind hooks to hang the Xlr cables.

    There is no wall I can use. PVC is perfect cause it won't stratch the poles and smooth in and out. I could even number them by team so they can put away their own. Must be completely tip- proof.

    Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 5, 2013 at 3:05:32 am

    That shouldn't be hard, Craig... I can think of two different ways right away to do that with PVC.

    They'd take a few min to describe/illustrate though and I'm heading out the door right now, just saw your post... I'll try to post my ideas in the morning...

    T2

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



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    Craig Alan
    thank you
    on Aug 5, 2013 at 4:03:18 pm

    thank you

    Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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    Todd Terry
    Re: thank you
    on Aug 5, 2013 at 8:14:35 pm

    Just a couple of quick ideas, Craig...

    If you can attach these pipes to a floor, piece of plywood, deck, or whatever, you can do this easily with a few Home Depot parts... the pipe, threaded male "slip adapters," and floor flanges... like this...




    Or if you want to go the all-PVC route for a truly "Drunk RotoRooter Man" look, just whack it together with a bunch of elbows and tees... as many tees as you like, arranged however you like....



    ...and you can lay a sandbag across that center strut to keep it from tipping over.

    If you'll forgive the quick/bad cell phone pics, a quick walk through the studio showed me a couple of other pieces of hardware that might work... like a junior plate screwed to the floor or decking (this one here I screwed to a board)...



    That will let you put anything "junior sized" in it... such as the junior pin on a lighting fixture, or the base of a C-stand riser.

    You can also get those in wall-hanger versions... I turned a couple upside down and screwed them to the bottom of another camera case for a convenient place to store/transport a couple of C-stand risers...



    None of those setups will probably work exactly like you are looking for, but might spark an idea for something that will.

    T2

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



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    Craig Alan
    Re: thank you
    on Aug 5, 2013 at 10:16:19 pm

    Yes it definitely is a possibility. Funny I used those floor flanges several years ago when I built my own table using plumping pipe for the legs. One to attach to the table top and one below for the feet. Very solid and it didn't cost much to have the pipe cut to size and threaded. I suppose that's another possibility though I think the booms would get stratched going in and out of metal.

    What glue did you use on the PVC?

    Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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    Todd Terry
    Re: thank you
    on Aug 5, 2013 at 10:41:42 pm

    [Craig Alan] "...didn't cost much to have the pipe cut to size and threaded. I suppose that's another possibility though I think the booms would get stratched going in and out of metal. "

    Don't use metal then, use the PVC pipe. You can still attach them to the metal floor flanges with the male threaded slip adapters.



    [Craig Alan] "What glue did you use on the PVC?"

    Well there was no glue on my project, none of the pipes were attached to any fittings. As I said, the pipes were bolted to the side of the case only. But any time I've ever used PVC pipe and fittings before (even for actual plumbing), I've just used the regular PVC cement.

    T2

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



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    Craig Alan
    Re: thank you
    on Aug 6, 2013 at 4:06:05 am

    Gotcha. and cheaper too. I'm also thinking that I could use one of those right angle connections along the verticals to a add a short cut off piece as a hook for the cords.

    How big a piece of board as a base do you think I'd need to make it all stable. The metal floor flanges would add some weight but it need to be pretty tip proof. Obviously I can throw on a sand bag.

    I wouldn't mind another tube to hold my operating pole for the pole op fresnels we're using.

    Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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    Todd Terry
    Re: thank you
    on Aug 6, 2013 at 4:28:17 am

    [Craig Alan] "How big a piece of board as a base do you think I'd need..."

    Dunno, that's probably a trial and error thing. Or just make a good guess. It shouldn't have to be too big, part of it would concern how many poles, how much they weigh, and how long they are. To hang cables though I'd probably just put a hook on them rather than something as complicated as multiple fittings. There should be something easy to find at Home Depot or Lowes either in with the cabinet hardware and hooks, etc., or with the pegboard stuff.

    At any rate I'd throw some weight on it, either a sandbag or a spare jib or stage weight.

    T2

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



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    Patrick Bronte
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 2, 2013 at 1:48:27 am

    Cheers for that Todd! That looks like how I'm going to do my set up when going to the talents home. What would you do if you went to someones home and the only room available was a lot smaller and doesn't have the depth to it like that in the photo? The only thing I think I'd add would be a white reflector on a stand to catch some of the key light in order to offer some soft light to the opposite side of the talents face. What do you reckon? I wIll use your set-up as a reference and start experimenting to try and get a similar look to the images you've posted. I think the only issue I'm going to encounter is that I'm not going to be able to achieve that look of having the talent in sharp focus and the background being blurred out because I'm not using the same class of camera.

    With those shots were there is a window in the background, did you have to turn on the cameras backlight?

    You have your mic above the talent, I have it on a stand the ends up having the mic up around chest height with an arm the points the mic in the direction of the talents face.

    Thanks again Todd. These pics are a big help.



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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 2, 2013 at 2:58:06 am

    [Patrick Bronte] "What would you do if you went to someones home and the only room available was a lot smaller and doesn't have the depth to it like that in the photo? "

    Well, sometimes you just do what you can. We usually gravitate to the bigger of available spaces, but sometimes even that is not enough. We do a lot of healthcare stuff, and are forever being jammed into tiny doctors' offices, etc. I can't count the times that we've shot in an office but the camera wasn't even in the room with us... I've had to put it out in a hall as far back as I could without seeing the door frame in the shot. There's a lot of "make do," and it often has to just be "good enough."

    [Patrick Bronte] " add would be a white reflector on a stand to catch some of the key light in order to offer some soft light to the opposite side of the talents face. What do you reckon?"

    Yep, that can work.


    [Patrick Bronte] " the only issue I'm going to encounter is that I'm not going to be able to achieve that look of having the talent in sharp focus and the background being blurred out "

    Depends on your camera... my backgrounds are soft because I have Super35mm-sized sensor and I'm shooting with my lens wide open with a fairly long focal length. Getting that look is a challenge with a smaller-sensor camera (where the chip is usually only 1/3") just because of the principals of physics and optics... the smaller sensor means everything is sharp. You can help that a little, make sure you are shooting with your iris as wide open as possible (adjusting lighting levels up or down to get proper exposure). Then put your camera as far back from the talent as is convenient, so that you are zooming in and using a longer focal length... with the talent as far from the background as possible, too. Sometimes that can make the scene look a bit visually "compressed," but will soften the BG.

    T2

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



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    Patrick Bronte
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 2, 2013 at 4:01:22 am

    Todd, what would you choose between: having the scene "visually compressed" with a soft background or having everything sharpened? My XF-100 only has a small chip so I've got a lot of experimentation to do before my next shoot. Can you soften the background in post in anyway?



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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 2, 2013 at 4:14:41 am

    Well it's purely a matter of taste, but I like soft backgrounds. There was such a desire for shallow depths of field for a while, that there eventually seemed to be a backlash, with a lot of people hatin' on it. Those folks all pointed to the "deep focus" movies of the Citizen Kane era, where everything in the frame was razor sharp. I never heard anyone mention the (to me, obvious) fact that those films were all in black and white... which I think makes a big difference. By the time you add all the visual info of color to your brain, I don't think deep focus works as well. So I generally choose soft backgrounds.

    You can soften BG focus in post and simulate shallow DoFs, but it's a heckuva lot of work, and more suitable for very short form things (commercials, etc.), and not so much for long-form pieces like your veterans' narratives. Those would just be too much work.

    There is the option of using a DoF lens converter to restore a 35mm depth of field (I did this for years with my P+S Technik 35mm converter). They are not in much use anymore thanks to big-chip cameras (my lens converter cost me $13,000 only about 6 years ago... today it's virtually worthless, I could hardly give it away). But honestly you sound like you have a lot on your plate wrestling with the lighting already, and considering they are a fair bit complicated I would not recommend them for your use. If you want to know more info, you can search and track down a couple of articles I wrote on depth of field for Creative COW magazine, or just search "DoF" or "Depth of field" in the forums and you will find literally hundreds of postings and suggestions.

    But honestly... for what you are doing I wouldn't sweat it too much, and just do as much as your camera will naturally do. Just stay away from super super busy or patterned backgrounds and you'll be ok.

    T2

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



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    Rick Wise
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 2, 2013 at 6:34:04 pm

    Todd, thank you very much for the info about the LED lights you have found so useful. I wonder if you know anything about the Genaray circular lights, that come with a slot for an umbrella. Of course, with an umbrella on your rectangular lights they become circular as well.

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


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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 2, 2013 at 7:10:27 pm

    I don't know anything about the Genarays, Rick... I was not familiar with those until you mentioned them yesterday, I checked them out briefly and they look pretty cool.

    Yes I like idea of the built-in umbrella holders on them. A little while back someone in a COW forum, I can't remember who, was hatin' on umbrellas... said something to the effect that they were the sign of an amateur or someone who didn't know what they were doing, or a good way to spot a still photographer who is trying to do video. I completely disagree with that... I love umbrellas and use them all the time. If you are in a situation where you don't have to worry about spill too much (such as a bigger location) or don't need control like eggcrates and such, then an umbrella and a softbox will give you pretty much exactly the same results. And while a softbox takes a few minutes to put together, you can open an umbrella in literally one second. So I use them a lot. I have some silver ones for reflected use, but usually I shoot through them with the silk ones. I also have one that I hacked by replacing the silk with my favorite "shower curtain" material, so I have a harder softlight (or is that a softer hardlight?). I also have a blue reflective one that converts tungsten to daylight, but honestly it eats so much light that I never use it... maybe once or twice if that.

    It'd be interesting to figure out a battery solution for the Genarays. It'd be theoretically easy since they are 12v, but the heads look too small to actually mount a brick on, and I wouldn't want to have to cable to a separate battery. Smaller 12 or 14v power tool batteries would probably work (probably DeWalts or Milwaukees). That's a pretty easy hack, you buy one of their fairly cheap rechargeable flashlights that uses the same battery and use that to build your battery receptacle. That's a lot lighter weight than a full AB brick. A lot cheaper, too.

    T2

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



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    Bill Davis
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 12, 2013 at 3:27:51 am

    [Todd Terry] "Yes I like idea of the built-in umbrella holders on them. A little while back someone in a COW forum, I can't remember who, was hatin' on umbrellas... said something to the effect that they were the sign of an amateur or someone who didn't know what they were doing, or a good way to spot a still photographer who is trying to do video. I completely disagree with that... I love umbrellas and use them all the time."

    Sadly, I think that was me. In my 25 years plus on various corporate sets, I've still never seen an umbrella in use. But I'm also old enough and wise enough to understand that just because that's my experience, doesn't mean it matches everyone else's.

    My problem with umbrellas is that they're pretty much uncontrollable. If you're using solids, you're double the distance from a light source to the object via reflection so you're necessarily trading punch for spread. If you're using translucent, then they make more sense to me since they're just a diffuser on a stick - and I can see the sense in that for efficiency for a fast soft fill - but I'd still prefer a softbox plus grid - which produces essentially the same size light with much more control. That said, I get that a softbox/grid is WAY more expensive and harder to rig via the speeding than an umbrella in a fixture with the proper receiver - so I can see why if for no other reason then quick setup and cost, they can have a useful place in production.

    And if you use them well, the light can be great. So it's just what you're accustomed to.

    I still haven't ever seen an umbrella on any video set I've walked onto - but that's just me.

    So I'll happily retract my original observation that they're not a "pro" video lighting tool. And amend it to them simply being a significantly less common one.

    Used with care. Any light is a great light. And used poorly, any light is a disaster. That's why it's always the piano player, never the piano.

    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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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Aug 12, 2013 at 4:34:21 am

    [Bill Davis] "Sadly, I think that was me."

    Might have been, Bill... I honestly didn't remember. I don't think any less of you, though... ha.

    [Bill Davis] "My problem with umbrellas is that they're pretty much uncontrollable"

    Totally agree... boxes are infinitely more controllable. I just found that after years of using softboxes, that just as often as not I really didn't need to control them for a lot of environments and applications... I just needed a big soft source, with no need for eggcrates or much flagging or control. This is usually in larger interior locations where spill or a little bit of stray light doesn't prove to be an issue. If softboxes were as easy and fast to set up, I'd probably use them exclusively... but umbrellas are 10x easier and faster, so in those situations where I would get the same results, that's what I use.

    Fortunately the heads we use in our softboxes (when we use tungsten heads, that is) also have little umbrella holders on them, so we can easily use the same instrument in either application.

    [Bill Davis] "If you're using solids, you're double the distance from a light source to the object via reflection"

    Very true. I almost never use the solid ones. Out of the probably eight or ten umbrellas I have only two of them are solids (black with reflective interiors... one silver and one blue). I honestly never use those, I can't even remember the last time. I shoot through umbrellas 99 times out of 100, using the silk or translucent ones.

    I use them purely for ease and speed, but Bill is right, there is definitely a cost factor if that's an issue. The cheapest softbox is still quite a few bucks, while most umbrellas are pretty cheap. If you want to go the eBay route, you can readily find mid-size ones for literally five or ten bucks.

    T2

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



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    Brian Tucker
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Nov 28, 2014 at 9:12:44 pm

    Todd, what size umbrella was that pictured in your shoot?


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    Todd Terry
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Nov 28, 2014 at 10:25:53 pm

    Gosh, I couldn't say, Brian... that shoot was more than a year ago.

    We have bunches of umbrellas though, and while they are different sizes none of them are what I would call very small nor very huge. They're mostly in the "mid size" range.

    If I had to guess I'd way it was probably in the 30" diameter range... maybe a little bigger. Happy to measure it if needed, but I won't be back in studio until Monday.

    T2

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



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    Brian Tucker
    Re: Wheres the best spot for the hair light when trying to avoid reflections?
    on Nov 29, 2014 at 2:47:42 am

    No need. I was pretty sure by the looks of the pics you posted they were 33".

    Thanks.


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