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Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed

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The Matt Hall
Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 2, 2006 at 6:21:22 pm

Hi. I just landed a job where I'll be shooting a load of interviews and need a recommendation for a simple starter light kit. I don't have a whole lot of experience in lighting (mostly an editor) so I'm looking for an easy solution with nice results. Most of the interviews will probably be in private homes and I want a very natural look, incorporating the people's own lights and windows if I can. My budget is between $500 - $1000 (preferably on the lower end!). I'll be shooting on an Sony HDR FX-1. I really appreciate any suggestions or tips you may have.

Thanks
Matt


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todd mcmullen
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 3, 2006 at 12:13:18 am

hmm, really your own style and look,

maybe a small fresnel w/ barn doors-100 to 300 watt for a kicker or special, a couple of china balls for key, with your own bulbs, daylight or tungsten, easy to fold up, a 300 watt or 1k par for a background light or a hot special and a roll of black wrap and c-47's(clothspins)
a couple of special color gels and some diffusion, 250, opal, etc.. oh get or make a couple of dimmers that you can put practical lights into.
stands and a couple of sand bags.

this should make a nice small package that you could manage. You will have to experiement with shooting windows during the day they may blow out
or they may not. If you do see the actual window and light source you may have to balance the subject with the light coming through(or close) and that will require you to pump up the volume of the light on the subject which will get them hot and uncomfortable. I try not to see window if it is too hot. I will simulate window source by using par in background or on the lower part of the subject.

I just did an interview with a 1k par and a small 2 bulb kino flow. simple yet tasty.



Todd McMullen
Flip Flop Films
Austin
Cinematography Forum Leader


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The Matt Hall
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 3, 2006 at 3:11:42 pm

Thanks for the input. most of my video work has been on the post side, so I'm not familiar with some of the lingo. Could you give me a lay person's defintion of china ball and hot special? Thanks. Also, what's the budget do you think for this kind of set up?

Appreciate it,
Matt

Matt Hall
..........................
Editing, Animation, and Design.


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Frank Otto
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 3, 2006 at 5:48:27 pm

Matt:

Within your budget and experience, I'd check out the kits online at B&H Photo. In addition to the prices, you'll get an idea of what goes into a kit and what some of the fixtures and accessories look like and are used for. Also check out Lowell Light for more ideas on kits and information on use.

After you get an idea of what's out there - use the net for some comparison shopping.

Some of us on in this forum are big proponents of the flouresent systems - Kino Flo, Biax from Mole and others. These type of fixtures give off a soft light with virtually no heat and are great for interviews and product work where you need a wide, soft source. At this point, probably out of your budget, but worth learning about.


To translate the jargon from Todd's information:

"maybe a small fresnel w/ barn doors-100 to 300 watt for a kicker or special"

A kicker is a light that give a highlight or a kick to your subject- can be from the side , top or back. A special is any light used for effect, such as a slash or a glow on a wall - even an eyelight might be described as a special. Sometimes even a hairlighgt is refered to as a special if it has an effected color or other device attached. Projectors, disco lights strobe, cop flashers - those are all specials as well.

"a couple of china balls for key"

Orignally a derivitive of the "Chinese Lantern", a circular shade surrounding a lamp, a china ball is a globe like device - sometimes made of paper or heat resistant cloth or thermoplastic - with a lighting fixture or lamp inside. The effect is a soft, omnidirectional light.

Another way to get the soft source light is to use a 'Chimera" or a soft box. This is a device that attaches to the source light, and looks much like a box witrh a large front area of a diffusion materal.

"a roll of black wrap and c-47's(clothspins)"

Blackwrap is a higher density aluminum foil that has been annodized black - used to cut light, stop light leaks, make flags, extend barndoors and even make the occasional effect as a cukelotoris or 'cookie" - a device used to make interesting shadows or break up light into patterns.

C-47's are just standard wooden clothespins, used to clip sheets of diffusion, gel, foam core or blackwrap on to lights.

"a couple of special color gels and some diffusion, 250, opal, etc.."

Gels are color media that are placed in front of the light to create a look or, to correct and balance the color of the light. Balancing gels are usually blue (to correct incandescent - quartz light) to daylight color ( 5200 kelvin color temp), or a varient of amber/orange/pink to correct daylight sources to incandescent-quartz (3200 kelvin color temp) Those colors are also used to cool down or warm up a light as an effect. Most lighting guys also carry "party colors" - these are sheets of pure color gels used for effects like an orange slash on a wall, a magenta kick or hair light for a redhead or blonde hair type...

Opal is a kind of diffusion. You have two types of basic diffusion - spun or hard. Hard is a gel like material, usually more dense. Spun is softer, like cloth. Both have similar diffusion properties but vary in amounts of light transmitted and softness of the light on the subject.

"oh get or make a couple of dimmers that you can put practical lights into"

You can purchase individual dimmers or as many do, build them...use a single wall box fitting, then a 600w to 1kw dimmer is then fitted to the box and a set of "pigtails" - a set of in/out ac cables with plugs are attached to the dimmer and thru the box.

Hope this helps...





Cheers,

Frank Otto



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Ken Zukin
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 3, 2006 at 4:27:11 pm

Hey Matt,

Just to echo what Todd said, having a fixture that can "switch-hit"...either tungsten or daylight... is a real time saver. With a Kino type fixture as a key light, you can go into say an office and be able very quickly (with a bulb change) to go daylight or tungsten. They (flourescents) also have the advantages of steep fall-off (don't pollute the backround), low energy requirements, low heat output, flattering / soft light, and are dimmable. Mole makes some nice units that are comparable with the Kinos, and there are cheaper, knock-off models out there as well.


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todd mcmullen
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 3, 2006 at 9:15:22 pm

Thanks guys for filling in the blanks....

Todd McMullen
Flip Flop Films
Austin
Cinematography Forum Leader


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Frank Otto
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 3, 2006 at 9:41:26 pm

Not a problem, Todd...



Cheers,

Frank Otto



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The Matt Hall
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 3, 2006 at 9:42:15 pm

Thanks guys, these responses have been really helpful. I live in New York, so I think a visit over to B&H is upcoming.

Matt Hall
..........................
Editing, Animation, and Design.


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Peter DeCrescenzo
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 3, 2006 at 11:22:55 pm

Hi Matt: I don't know if someone already suggested this, but given your budget and experience level, it could be well worth your while to initially rent rather than buy lights, at least for your first few times out.

Most rental houses rent lighting gear for very reasonable prices, given that they usually carry some of the best and most expensive gear. This will allow you to try different types of lights -- and there are many! -- without making a relatively large investment in inappropriate gear.

I suspect in the NYC area there are many lighting/grip rental houses, including honest, helpful and reliable ones. I've found one in my area (DTC Grip in Emeryville, CA near SF) which has been a constant source of advice and assistance when I've needed it.

Best of luck with whichever approach you decide to take.

- Peter


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The Matt Hall
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 4, 2006 at 2:48:18 am

Hi Peter-

Renting's not a bad idea at all. I think it will depend on how many shoot days I'll have and how much the places charge. Do you need some sort of business insurance to rent? I just went freelance recently and haven't set it up yet.

Thanks
Matt


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tony salgado
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 4, 2006 at 5:07:47 pm



Matt,

If you intend on using the natural daylight at the locations keep in mind that that light source is daylight color balanced in most cases anywhere between 5500 to over 6500 Kelvin whereas the light kits mentioned are tungsen color balanced which is between 2800-3200 kelvin.

So if you want to mix them you will need to use color temperature correction gels on either of the light sources.

If you gel the tungsen lights you will lose light intensity output from each fixture by applying a CTB (color temperature blue) gel on it. The higher the density of the CTB gel the more the light lost. CTB is available in 1/8, 1/4/, and full values. The higher the value the greater the kevin correction is. So if you want to convert a tungsen light as close to daylight balance you need to use a great CTB gel value but the tradeoff is lost of light intensity. In which case you may need to start off with a higher wattage tungsen bulb in the fixture to make up for the light lost.
For example use a 1000 watt bulb and apply a full CTB which will cut the 1K down to about a 500 watt.

In an ideal world when dealing with large daylight sources the way to go is to use daylight balanced lights such as HMI's or kino flo's in combination with mixing in the natural daylight.

FYI Kino flo's are great because the tubes used can be either tungsen balanced (two options 2900 or 3200K tubes) and a third option which is daylight tubes which are 5500K.

Often times we use half and half in a four tube kinoflo fixture (two tungsen mixed with two daylight tubes) this warms up the daylight fixture.

If you mix tungsen with the daylight and white balance the camera for tungsen then the background daylight will go blue on camera which may be ok for your purposes.


Good luck,



Tony Salgado


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The Matt Hall
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 4, 2006 at 5:30:38 pm

Thanks Tony. Maybe I'll just convert it all to black and white in post so I don't have to worry about it. Just kidding - that was the editor in me taking. Maybe I'll nix the window idea. I don't think I'll be getting any lights bright enough to compete.

The package I'm thinking of now consists of the following:

1 lowel Rifa 44 (250w) with a softbox for my key
Bounce card on a stand for my fill
Lowel Prolight as a special (either kicker or eyelight)

That's it. Any suggestions? Again, this set up is for interviews in homes, shooting on the ony fx-1 in hdv. Looking to not spend too much money as budget is real tight.

Thanks
Matt


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Peter DeCrescenzo
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 4, 2006 at 8:30:38 pm

Hi Matt: Just as an example -- and by no means the best example -- the link below is a slightly compressed JPEG frame from a interview I shot using my DSR-450WSL camcorder in its 4:3 60i mode on DVCAM:
http://www.sonic.net/~dweezil/richard_goldman.jpg

The subject is indoors and has his back to a clear glass window (no tinting, curtains, or nets), and late morning sunlight is visible outside the window.

The only interior artificial light source was one 575-watt HMI PAR (an old ARRI unit I rented) mounted in a "medium" 32"x24" softbox/Chimera. The face of the softbox was approx. 7' from the subject, about 3' above their eyeline, and slightly to the subject's right. Since the HMI light is daylight color balanced, I didn't need to add any gels to the light, and as a result the light level was maximized.

In addition to the HMI light, I also positioned a 48" diameter collapsible white reflector on the subject's left-front, angled toward his face. This caught both some of the window daylight and the HMI for fill.

Although this particular HMI light only draws 575-watts from the wall, it puts out a light level at least as bright as a 2,000-watt tungsten fixture. And as Tony & others mentioned, the light output is greatly diminished if you color-correct a tungsten light with a blue CTB gel.

Again, this is just one example of how an interior, daylight backlit scene can be handled. There are many different ways it might be done, and improved upon.

- Peter


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Peter DeCrescenzo
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 4, 2006 at 8:33:59 pm

Sorry, got my left/right mixed-up ... the HMI key is on the subject's left, and the bounce-fill is on his right.

- Peter


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tony salgado
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 5, 2006 at 4:20:43 pm



The 250 watt will have enought intensity by the time you soften it up.

I recommend at minimum a 500 watt especially if you need to use the bounce from the key as the fill.

Tony Salgado


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bmoede
Re: Simple Starter Light Kit Suggestions Needed
on May 5, 2006 at 4:43:32 pm

A a documentary producer, I shoot a lot of interviews. Currenly I shoot with Canon XL2s and GL2s. My current favorite and low cost (and lightweight) setup consists of two hardware store clip on reflector lights ($5.00 each) each with a 150 watt GE Reveal bulb($3.00) on light weight Smith Victor light stands (about $25.00 each from B&H). For back ground lighting I use two hardware store 75 watt halogen work lights ($10.00 each) again on Smith Victor light stands. I don't use dimmers, I just change the light to subject distance.

Bill Moede
ITL Media Productions

Bill Moede
CESA 7 ILS
Green Bay, WI


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