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Using Bar Lights Better than Baby Boomer Era Footage


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#1 K Borowski

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 11:54 PM

I'm working on an ultra-low budget 16mm short for the next few weeks, and the only thing that the production has for a lighting package are about 4000W of assorted ancient bar lights. I've worked with bar lights earlier in my very early days of filmmaking, and I was grateful to graduate to blondes and redheads. However, now that I am in this situation, I am sure that I can do a better job with them now than I did when I first started out. I've basically decided to embrace this imperfect medium and utilize its strengths rather than just dismissing it as something that can only produce amateurish results. I think the biggest problems with bar lights are controlling the light that they generate and determining shifts in color temperature and accounting for them in filtration. This production is ultra-low budget, so besides bouncing light off of the wall, can anyone suggest any techniques for making the most out of these antiquated beasties? I'm still a bit of a newbe when it comes to film lighting, so any advice you could give would be helpful. Also, does anyone know the professional light type that bar lights are most akin to? I have Chris Malkiewicz's Film Lighting, but I'm finding it hard to relate the lights and techniques he mentions with my own limited-budget arsenal.

Regards.

Karl Borowski
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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 10:06 PM

Anyone? Anyone?

To give you an idea of what a barlight looks like, let me post a link of one on ebay right now:

http://cgi.ebay.com/...1QQcmdZViewItem

As I said before, the lighting setup consists almost entirely of these and we have models like this and models with only two bulbs. Has anyone here used these for dramatic film lighting, and if so, could you share some tips on how to use them more effectively?

Regards.

Karl Borowski
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 11:26 PM

Even on my smallest of movies, I've had an assortment of lights, from an old open-faced 650w quartz movie light made for Super-8 shooters in the 1960's, to a bunch of photofloods and reflector dishes, Chinese Lanterns, etc. And I always tried to get a few fresnels on my small shoots. Having something like bar lights as my ONLY option for lighting seems too limiting -- for example, my quartz 650w was good for creating a punchy hot "sunny" backlight, or for raking a wall in an alleyway. The thing cost me $5 in a yard sale, and when it came time to finally get a new bulb for the thing, I found out that the replacement bulb was like $25 to $30!

I'm sure you can make good use of those bar lights, for sure. I've used similar things, bat strips, along the top edge of a wall for a soft, bright top/back light, like the effect of a bright Kino tube.
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#4 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 11:26 PM

I have an ancient two globe version that I got at a garage sale, and I love it. I always throw it onto the truck.

If you can, rent some grip equipment because with some 4x4 floppies, you can really work those lights nicely. They look good through a large frame of diffusion because they are multiple sources they make a nice quality of light when diffused.

For a commercial I am prepping, my gaffer made a 60 globe version, using the same mushroom globes, and similar spacing. It looks great through a 12x12 frame of grid. Experiment with this on a smaller scale.

They tend to go everywhere, so that will be your challenge - controlling the light.

Luckily grip stuff is cheap to rent.


Kevin Zanit
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Aerial Filmworks

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Rig Wheels Passport

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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

FJS International, LLC

Abel Cine