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HMI's vs Arcs


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#1 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 01:45 AM

I was on set Monday and the gaffer said that if an Arc was trimmed properly it was a much purer light and was flicker free. He also said the were considerably cheaper to buy but were physically much larger for the same output than an HMI. He said a friend of his was actually given a load of Arcs in nonworking condition simply to get them out of the way by a studio. I was just wondering if Arcs might be viable for a starter lighting package and if these statments were basically true.

Edited by Capt.Video, 13 May 2006 - 01:47 AM.

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#2 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 03:16 AM

My gaffer knows how to use arcs, can?t say that I do.

They are known as a somewhat "purer" light (whatever that means). They are far from flicker free at any speed, as they are a flame, so its flicker, just not the type were used to.

Most of the flicker is in the edges of the beam, which are blocked in the light.

I would say they are extremely far from viable as a starter light - They require a lot of power (usually DC, although they have transformers for them), require constant attention while they run to trim or change the arcs. They make lots of smoke while they run, and as was said you need to know how to use them.

They are about the size of a Silver Bullet (12k HMI fresnel), and have about the same output.


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#3 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 04:35 AM

Lovely light - but hard work. I think it's Jeffrey L. Kimball, ASC, who still uses them occasionally on exteriors because he loves the light so much. They are strictly outdoor lights, though. They've got chimney's that spew out carbon smoke, so they need to be well ventilated. They also need a lamp op to keep an eye on the carbon rods burning.
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#4 fstop

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 06:52 AM

In one of the AC magazines there's an HMI advert with William Fraker on the set of PROTOCOL describing how he was sold on the new light despite being a big Brute fan. He said he was blown away with the results (it was something like the 12K silver bullet that Kevin mentioned) and indicated that he wouldn't be looking back.

I heard that there are only a handful of people in the UK with the required licence to run Arc lamps. Don't know how much truth is there.

David Watkin and Vittorio Storaro swear by these older lamps, Watkin continually gave the HMI quite a pounding when discussing the matter. In one of the old guild magazines he wrote in and went off on one about how HMIs are not dependable, the bulbs break and the look isn't consistent. This letter is published at the end of his autobiography.

It's funny because many of Watkin and Storaro's contemporaries like Fraker and also the late Arthur Ibbetson (arguably more conservative in their approaches), who used Arc lamps as frequently and as effectively as they had done, didn't think twice about turning to HMI light. Douglas Slocombe, a hard light enthusiast, was quite open to them too in his final decade of cinematography (although I believe it was soured by a bad location experience).
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 10:48 AM

It's partly a manpower problem -- an arc requires an arc operator to stay with the light most of the time. So if you have a small electric crew, it's hard to dedicate a person to a light.
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#6 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 04:33 AM

And mind that arcs are just not allowed for use in some countries. I guess it must be an insurance problem. I know a problem with most of them : you can open the lens and that should not keep them from working.. but burn your eyes since they generate a lot of UVs.

Guilaume Schiffman (hi, Guillaume, if you ever come by !) could not use Arcs on OSS 117 because they are not allowed in France.
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