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#1 Jaimie Blake

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 03:54 PM

Hello All!

I just read a previous post from a few folk who were looking for advice on a lighting kit.

I am doing the same!

I just purchased my Panasonic DVX100B and am doing my first short. I am not a student, but am learning on my own, so most of my education is coming from lighting seminars and these great websites.

I will not be shooting interviews, but narratives. Can you recommend a light kit for beginners?

Thank you so much for your time!

:D
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#2 dudeguy37

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 05:37 PM

Hey Jaimie-
I:m not quite sure what price range you:re looking at (it would be helpful for making suggestions) but I:ll give three basic categories at three differentprice ranges.
Cheap - Look at Britek lights from rostronics.com While I:ve heard both good and bad things about these, but they are certainly a cheap beginning as far as lights made for production go.
Mid range I would suggest a kit from Lowel. Lowel.com and bhphoto.com will be good places to browse through the options.
Finally, if you can afford it, go for a 3 or 4 piece kit of Arri Fresnels. Check them out at bhphoto.com
All of these kits will vary a little bit, but the most important part of lighting is controling it with things like flags, snoots, scrims, gels, etc. (you can check all that stuff out and bhphoto.com if it's gibberish to you)
I made the mistake of not buying light control stuff, and have been slowly beuilding a package of home made with some namebrand control stuff. While it's not a very good story, the moral is look atyour budget and make sure you are getting control stuff. Even if you can only get Britek lights with a great kit of light controllers, it'd be better than a bunch of 'naked' Arris.
Hope some of that helps.
Peace,

-Harry
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#3 Jaimie Blake

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 07:18 PM

Hey Jaimie-
I:m not quite sure what price range you:re looking at (it would be helpful for making suggestions) but I:ll give three basic categories at three differentprice ranges.
Cheap - Look at Britek lights from rostronics.com While I:ve heard both good and bad things about these, but they are certainly a cheap beginning as far as lights made for production go.
Mid range I would suggest a kit from Lowel. Lowel.com and bhphoto.com will be good places to browse through the options.
Finally, if you can afford it, go for a 3 or 4 piece kit of Arri Fresnels. Check them out at bhphoto.com
All of these kits will vary a little bit, but the most important part of lighting is controling it with things like flags, snoots, scrims, gels, etc. (you can check all that stuff out and bhphoto.com if it's gibberish to you)
I made the mistake of not buying light control stuff, and have been slowly beuilding a package of home made with some namebrand control stuff. While it's not a very good story, the moral is look atyour budget and make sure you are getting control stuff. Even if you can only get Britek lights with a great kit of light controllers, it'd be better than a bunch of 'naked' Arris.
Hope some of that helps.
Peace,

-Harry


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#4 Jaimie Blake

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 07:34 PM

Hi Harrry!

Thank you so much that is very helpful.

My budget was approximately $2,500. I was not sure if I should get a really inexpensive kit to practice with or try to get something of quality to keep. I wasn't sure if I had enough knowledge to make a decision. But, I have been checking out the ARRI lights.

May I ask another question?

For mostly interior lighting, what lights should I purchase in the ARRI kit? I was thinking of one 1000, two 650s and one 300. With the control material you spoke of, would that be sufficient to light indoor scenes?

Are the ARRI lights better than the Lowel lights?

Also are the fresnels better than the openface because the light is easier to control?

I know these are very basic questions, and I thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! You have no idea how valuable this is! :D

P.S. please forgive the post before this one with your material quoted. This is my first time posting and I hit the wrong button! :lol:
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#5 Tim Tyler

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 10:55 PM

Since lighting requires skills and experience that you obviously don't have, why not take some of your $$ and hire a gaffer and rent some lights for your shoots?

After a few shoots you'll see how the lights work and how to use them, and you will have a better understanding of what to buy.
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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 11:36 PM

I would definately look at getting 3 reflectors (checkerboard on one side w/ silver on the other) and 6 combo stands, standard slide in pins (for lighting instruments) a few flags, silks and nets and a few (6) c-stands w/ arms a lot of exteriors are lit with only reflectors. I would look for used Moles, in fact used everything you can find used ,(in good condition of course) on ebay. Don't get a bunch of big lights, for small independent films you won't use them and can't afford them. A couple of 2k's and and a couple of babies, extention cords (good ones) and sandbags.

If you have to light large areas of exteriors at night I sugest you rewrite the scene of use halogens. If you get lights you will want some gels and diffussion, Try to stick with the basics. If you watch your money and wait for deals you might be able to get a lighting package for $2500. Don't forget to to also get cheap stuff for lighting like alumium foil taped to cardboard (dul side up), bead board (styrafoam sheet) and foamcore to also use as hand held reflection. You'd be amazed what you can do with simple lighting tools. Do your research and learn what you need, what this stuff does and how to use it. Ask questions and get a decent light meter. If you can afford it also buy a spot meter and learn how to use those. If you can, get on as a lighting grip for productions that come into town. Read, watch and learn.

This setup should give you enough to do a variety of films and will work until you get bigger. It's a good start. You'll also need help so keep that in mind and be nice to your friends. Feed them well on set and make sure they have drinks (bottled water is vitally important) especially if your not paying them. Just a little piece of advice.

Edited by Capt.Video, 24 March 2006 - 11:41 PM.

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#7 Jaimie Blake

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Posted 25 March 2006 - 05:30 PM

Thank you all for the sound advice!

I will begin by working on the control items that Harry and Capt. Video spoke about. Also, I will consider a gaffer for the project!

Thanks All!
:D
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#8 Werner Van Peppen

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Posted 25 March 2006 - 06:43 PM

Thank you all for the sound advice!

I will begin by working on the control items that Harry and Capt. Video spoke about. Also, I will consider a gaffer for the project!

Thanks All!
:D



Always handy to have would be to get some chinese lanterns. Stick a photoflood in and you have an instant fill light. As mentioned before It's not the amount of light you have but what to do with it. I've been on a few shoots were we had a truck full of lights and ended up using one jemlight (a big fancy chinese lantern) with some duvetyne (or black velvet) to shape the light, leaving all these lights unused in the truck.

If you're still buying lights I'd get some 300w fresnels. They're small (great for indoors) and quite versatile. I've got filmgear branded ones and they also take 500W bulbs which is nice as they have an extra use then. Get some dimmers for finetuning (if you're up to it get some dimmerunits from the DIY store and wire them up, only though if you know what you're doing) , A set of scrims and some stands to put flags on. In fact just get some wood and paint it black and you have an instant flag.

Buy the book "painting with light" by john alcott for a good primer. www.theasc.com The only way you'll learn is by doing. Go out and shoot with a videocamera, study films, lighting setups. I'm always surprised at how few lights we can get away with. That's why the 300W units are great as you can take em anywhere quikly. Also think what do you want the audience to see/feel. Noir films are great in that respect as they sometimes don't show the main character lit at all...

As for gels, some 1/2 CTO, 1/2 CTB, frost and scrims, however only you can decide (with a gaffer if oyu're hiring him) what you need which is why reading the books and websites is very important


W

Thank you all for the sound advice!

I will begin by working on the control items that Harry and Capt. Video spoke about. Also, I will consider a gaffer for the project!

Thanks All!
:D



Always handy to have would be to get some chinese lanterns. Stick a photoflood in and you have an instant fill light. As mentioned before It's not the amount of light you have but what to do with it. I've been on a few shoots were we had a truck full of lights and ended up using one jemlight (a big fancy chinese lantern) with some duvetyne (or black velvet) to shape the light, leaving all these lights unused in the truck.

If you're still buying lights I'd get some 300w fresnels. They're small (great for indoors) and quite versatile. I've got filmgear branded ones and they also take 500W bulbs which is nice as they have an extra use then. Get some dimmers for finetuning (if you're up to it get some dimmerunits from the DIY store and wire them up, only though if you know what you're doing) , A set of scrims and some stands to put flags on. In fact just get some wood and paint it black and you have an instant flag.

Buy the book "painting with light" by john alcott for a good primer. www.theasc.com The only way you'll learn is by doing. Go out and shoot with a videocamera, study films, lighting setups. I'm always surprised at how few lights we can get away with. That's why the 300W units are great as you can take em anywhere quikly. Also think what do you want the audience to see/feel. Noir films are great in that respect as they sometimes don't show the main character lit at all...

As for gels, some 1/2 CTO, 1/2 CTB, frost and scrims, however only you can decide (with a gaffer if oyu're hiring him) what you need which is why reading the books and websites is very important


W
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#9 Jaimie Blake

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 03:26 AM

Thanks Werner!

I will definitely pick up the Chinese Lanterns. Another cinematographer mentioned those to me as well. I will also include the flags and gels on my shopping list.

Also, I have the book you recommended, and I am going through it.

Do you think two 300w lights would be sufficient to light a room during the day involving three actors? They will be sitting across from each other on a couch.

Thanks Werner!
:)
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#10 Michael Collier

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 06:34 AM

You forgot to mention your acquasition source. if you take a 300w light and just send it through one frame of tuff-spun (by roscor) you will have enough to expose a 2/3" camera easily, but if you choose to shoot 200 asa film, or worse 100speed film that is overexposed, 300w will barley be usedfull for a spot kit. keep in mind that varying cameras, films, video formats require different light levels. Hell take a DVX-100A and you will need varying amount of light depending on the gama setting you use.


Whoever mentioned buying this kit allong with shooting video is brilliant, listen to that person. Film is great, huge advantages in exposure latitude and color reproduction, but all this is meaningless if you cant light video well. To me, lighting video is very difficult because the difference between a god level and too hot or too low is very small. Add to that, you have to worry about highlights. Video does not handle these well so if you want your video to look good, you have to be careful not to blow the highlihgts.

Shoot at least 10 films on video before your first film (I have 20 indepenedant and low budget shorts or features shot on video, and am in pre-pro for my very first film) that way you know that you know lighting and composition before you takle the problems of controlling an image that only exists in your head until you develope days later.

2500 will be more than ample for a lowell kit. dont buy more than 2 totas, you wont need them (they spill like crazy and are good only for bounced/soft ambient light. it takes a lot to control these lights.

if you dont already know the difference between hard and soft lighting, that is what you should focus on first. essentially the difference is how big of a source is in question. imaging the curvature of a face and the size of an 8'x8' difusion grid close to the face. all the grid will light the un-obstructed area of the face (like the cheek structure closest to the light). but in the areas coverd by the curvature of the face and the nose will only be filled in by the far edges of the difuser. since less area of the diffuser can actually project lights into this area, the shadow will take a soft edge to it, very pleasing light under the right storyline. other scenes will call for hard light that emphasizes shadow and every fine detail of the face. almost like how focus affects detail, soft light affects the detail in the shadow. very important to understand. Other than color, I would call the softness/hardness of a light THE defining quality that most audiences will see.

Lighting takes a little bit to understand, but decades to perfect. In the end its the application of an abstract concept (abstract because the mind abstracts it. in fact light follows set mathematical properties) That is why i recomend video until your talent makes the cost of film nesicary to push the limits of quality you as a DOP can provide. In the end the best attribute you can have is not your light kit, but your tenacity. I shot some CRAP when i was 13 and 14 (seriously crap) but to this day I will swear up and down that it is great. shoot everything like its your last shot, your last chance to pour your soul out into this and make your audience feel what the charecter feels. hard work and passion will ALWAYS triumph over connections and inside networking. (I hope anyways. in the end if you endevor to know more than anyone ever has known about light, and work harder than ANYONE on set, you will maximize your abilities, which in the end is the best we can all aspire to)
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#11 Jaimie Blake

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 01:54 AM

Thank you Michael!

I am studying hard light, soft light and composition also. I have some teaching tapes that I am going over as well. I am learning so very much just from these great sights. I have decided to start by putting the control items together that you all have mentioned and the Chinese Lanterns, seeing that no matter what type of lights I end up with, I will need them.

Also, I have decided to start by renting lights to increase my learning before I purchase. I am excited about it!

I really appreciate your input, especially the encouragement to work hard. I plan to!

Thank you for taking the time!
:D
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Metropolis Post

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Rig Wheels Passport

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Abel Cine

Wooden Camera

The Slider

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rebotnix Technologies

Technodolly

Aerial Filmworks

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Broadcast Solutions Inc