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Alternative to Briese light

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Angelo Lorenzo
Alternative to Briese light
on Jul 28, 2013 at 2:36:36 am

I've been brought on late to the process with an upcoming commercial. Our director is in love with the idea of a Briese light (focusable parabolic umbrella) as the key light for a number of our set ups. Of couse, due to rental cost this basically destroys the lighting/grip budget and limits our ability to have more practical things like a doorway dolly.

I would rather have an HMI bounced into silver speckle with some rim lights and some support from makeup with a bit of shimmer powder or glycerine.

Any other suggestions to get 80% of the bresie look without the cost?

--------------------
Angelo Lorenzo

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Todd Terry
Re: Alternative to Briese light
on Jul 28, 2013 at 6:26:56 am

Well the Brieses certainly are beautiful instruments... they definitely really give that "high fashion" look. But yeah, they are unbelievably gawd-awful expensive. If you can even find them. That's probably not a problem in NY or LA rental houses, but outside of there they are pretty scarce.

I would say though that it's perfectly fine for your director to define the look that he or she wants... but they shouldn't really be dictating the hardware that's used to create that look. But you've probably said that to yourself already.

You probably can't exactly replicate that focusable-big-parabola look of a Briese, but definitely get in the neighborhood. I'd say your bounced HMI is a good start... that's usually my go-to setup for a similar look.

If the director wants that "soft but focusable" look, I might not bounce an HMI but rather use it directly, shot through diffusion... probably Lee 250 or so in a 4x4 Hollywood frame. If you use a fresnel head rather than a PAR you'll have more focus flexibility, a bit like the Briese. If you are doing any extreme closeup stuff (visible eyeballs) or other reflective objects and the director likes the circular reflections of the Briese, you could ditch the 4x4 and use a round pop-up silk instead, although slightly harder to rig. For the super shadowless look of the Briese you might also add a ring light to the lens and use a bit of it as needed.

There are probably some other options, too... those are just what first spring to my mind.

T2

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



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Rick Wise
Re: Alternative to Briese light
on Jul 28, 2013 at 6:01:43 pm

A look at the Briese web site reveals these lights come in all sorts of forms for all sorts of purposes. It does appear that most of them produce hard light. Some produce soft. So specifying "Briese" is a bit like specifying "Mole Richardson." I suspect your client worked a job where the cinematographer proudly showed off his/her Briese lights. Now your client thinks, you need Briese for this look. But what IS the look she/he wants? Probably step one is to identify just what she/he has in mind. Hard shadows? (Hard light) A soft gradation from highlight to shadow (soft light.) Etc. Once you nail that look -- maybe even get to see an example -- then you can think about how to get it without the expense of Briese.

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


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john sharaf
Re: Alternative to Briese light
on Jul 28, 2013 at 6:30:02 pm

Hi Angelo,

I've researched the Briese light(s) in the past and been on sets where they were in use, and Rick is correct, there are many sizes and versions for different purposes. One thing to consider is if your set is large enough to even rig and use such a behemoth.

Stylistically the quality of the light can be reproduced for the most part by some of the means you mention, others have mentioned and even more methods, but the reflection in eyeglass, mirrors and/or other shinny surfaces cannot be recreated by anything else; perhaps this is why your client is specifying the light. If this is not the reason they should have their head(s) examined, especially considering the limited budget constraints that apparently prevent you from renting a $75/day doorway dolly! Briese's are really only available in NYC, so you'll incur a weeks rental and freight charges too, not a pittance, which you've already discovered.

In terms of specialized lights, a Gekko George Ringlight (which is also difficult to source) creates a very stylized look in the eye, but at a much lower cost and less freight charge.

This contrivance of producers and directors (often with no, or dangerously little technical competence) choosing the camera system. or in this case the key light before they hire the DP (or gaffer) has gotten completely out of control. As a DP I'm very cautious of doing or saying anything that could vaguely be considered to usurp the director's job, there should be some reciprocity! Presumably that's why they're hiring you (or me) in the first place.

As a further example of this trend, I have a job this week that the client has required a 24-290 Optimo, to which I said, no problem I have one and will gladly upcharge them to add it to the rental. They are however insisting that they get the "very same" lens they used last time. There is no basis in technical reality to use one 12X Optimo over another, unless one fails at prep.

Our jobs are hard enough to do, so we must take a stand when necessary to counter these moves which only sabotage our ability to do them. This is where your skills of persuasion must be honed and put into play, as I'm sure I'll be able to convince my producer this week to use my lens, but most likely because it will be cheaper! You'll have to use another strategy.

Good luck!

JS


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Todd Terry
Re: Alternative to Briese light
on Jul 29, 2013 at 2:36:09 am

Well this has been a little educational for me... I had no idea there were so many different kinds of Briese instruments, and doing different things... I'd never visited their website before. I responded to Angelo's original post assuming he meant the big giant parabolic ones, which I think of as the iconic Briese fixtures. Sounds like some more info is needed to find out exactly what the director wants... if he even really knows.

Like most of us, I suspect, I've never actually used the Briese myself... and they're so rare I've only seen them in use in person on two occasions. One was a big shoot on stage... the other was an outdoor location late afternoon/dusk shoot for a big-budget music video. What struck me most about them is what gigantic behemoths they are... really huge fixtures. A couple of them were in play on the music video shoot and were moving around a bit... and each of them had a crew of a couple or three guys just to wrangle it.

Very interesting though, let us know how it all plays out.

T2

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



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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: Alternative to Briese light
on Aug 1, 2013 at 5:12:59 am

Hello all,

To clarify, it was one of the Briese parabolics. The director had forced the use of the largest model (the 220) on me for a music video and I wasn't particularly thrilled with the lack of flexibility with the light. On this job he wanted to use the 77 or 100cm model. Speaking to John's comment, I'm in LA and while they are rare, they're not impossible to find in almost every size offered.

On this particular shoot we've decided on a Broncolor 77cm parabolic plus a bare bulb Joker 1600. The director owns the Broncolor (he's a photographer by trade which makes working with him always a bit of a pain but I love the guy) and we're getting a custom mount made for the Joker.

We did a lighting test at our rental house and he was satisfied with the level of similarity.

--------------------
Angelo Lorenzo

Need to encode ProRes on your Windows PC?
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Fallen Empire - The Blog
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Todd Terry
Re: Alternative to Briese light
on Aug 1, 2013 at 5:34:12 am

That sounds like a great solution, Angelo... I can see how that combo could definitely give a very similar look to the small Briese fixtures.

Be careful with that bare-bulb Joker (as I'm sure you know). Without the beamer or a softbox, in bare bulb mode those things leak UV like a sieve even with the glass thingy on the globe... and you don't want to burn eyeballs.

Let us know how it goes!

T2

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



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john sharaf
Re: Alternative to Briese light
on Aug 1, 2013 at 1:54:49 pm

Hi Todd,

I'm fairly certain that the globes for both the 800 and 1600 Jokers have the UV filter coated on the globe itself, unlike other HMI globes, so there of no danger of UV exposure.

JS



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Todd Terry
Re: Alternative to Briese light
on Aug 1, 2013 at 3:31:18 pm

That makes sense, John... and I would certainly hope so. I didn't know about any coating on the globe itself, just the little glass surround thing.

I've heard of some anecdotal evidence of some burns from bare Jokers, but who knows if that is actually true. I've never had need to use one bare before.

I think some people are more sensitive than others... after a day with even regular HMIs, sometimes my eyes feel a little funny... not quite burned, but sort of "sensitized."

T2

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



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