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The fantastic Briese-lights.


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#1 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 06:35 PM

This marks the second time I've now used the fantastic Briese-lights (manufacturer here http://www.briese-st...icht/start.html or if you're in Britain, the reseller/rental here: http://www.solalights.com/) and I thought that maybe my views on them could be of interest.

The Briese-lights are German soft-lights that were first developed for stills photography as both flash and continous light units. But for some reason they seem to have been more accepted in the film world over the recent years, and are now becoming more and more popular. What distinguishes them from other soft units are a couple of things:

They're focusable.
They have completely even output.
They're big (and therefore soft).
They're light.
They have both HMI and Tungsten bulbs that are interchangeable between all the units.
They have tremendous output.
They're collapsible and easy to transport.
They're sturdy and can be "squeezed" through tight areas.
They can be operated with, or without, silks and fronts.

They came in a variety of diameters, the biggest being almost 10ft across! What's so great about them is that you can choose what kind of bulb you want in them from set-up to set-up. All you do is slide in a new
'pole' from the opening behind (this is also the way you focus them) and you're done. They're also edge-to-edge true soft lights, rather than the hotspotty, nose-heavy, space-absorbing and many times useless Chimera's.

Rather than re-iterate a lot of boring specs, I'll talk about the two videos I just did with them, and the resoning behind their use for each shoot.

First was a music video for an artist called Shawn Emmanuel. This is classic RnB-fare and EMI and the director wanted an 'American' feel to the video, so I tried to light it as glossy as I could (with my own nemesis; the dreaded double-rim backligt in abundance). But what brough the Briese-lights on was a mock photo-shoot to be featured within the video. I suggested getting some Briese-lights because I knew they'd look good in frame with their big reflectors. As it turned out, I loved the light they put out and I ended up using them for almost everything. In fact, when they had to be in frame I was struggling - 'cause I suddenly had no units to light with! I had two big 220's and one 180. And since this was a tungsten shoot I used the low wattage H3-unit with 3x650W bulbs in 2 of them and a 2kw bulb in the third, all on dimmers. Didn't need a lot of output, just the size, since I was on the 400T film. As you can see in the shots or stills from the video, they spread they have in the reflector when in shot is amazing - that's probably dimmed down to about 10-20% and they still output quite a lot (enough to overexpose at least). I flew the Briese's on megabooms for easy access and fast turnarounds.

You can check the video, the stills and the behind the scenes photos here: http://www.adamfrisc...usic/index.html

The second video was for British jazz/pop-diva Amy Winehouse. This was shot in a huge semi-derelict patrician house on Portland Place in London. There were skylights, windows and even some stairwell-exteriors to be dealt with, so I needed a daylight unit that was soft and had great output. I also needed to achieve a pleasant perfume-advertisement-kind-of-look, i.e. classic beauty stuff, which almost inevitably means front/top or slight side-lighting. I had huge ceilings, so I needed something fast and light to fly around on an arm - no time to build goalposts and built complicated toppy rigs that would always be in the way. I first toyed with the idea of having millions of Rifa-lights gelled with full CTB and ganged together like one big unit, but the power at the location forbade that. Once again the Briese-lights came to my salvation. I ordered one 180 and one 140, both with 2,5kW HMI units in them. I used them for every shot in the video, except one when I got a reflection in a window and had to use a 1,2kW HMI PAR bounced in the ceiling. I used the units with silk fronts (and you can also attach egg-crates, if need be).

On the exterior stairwell we fired up the big 180 and my gaffer, who'd never worked with them before, was amazed at their output. They crank out more light on 2,5kW's than a 6kW HMI in a Chimera - and that's with no hotspots whatsoever. No problem fighting the daylight with it.

Anyway, you can have a look at the video here: http://www.adamfrisc...usic/index.html

Verdict? They're a dream come true for any soft-lighter. Fantastic lights that completely shames most other so-called soft units. Just the fact that you can rig one on a megaboom, swing it out, crank it up and create a soft toplight on a night exterior for instance - stuff that's normally a nightmare to achieve without huge cranes and/or 10 hour pre-rig days. So what's bad? Well, they do tend to blow a bit in wind, apparently (but they do have little holes for tying down around the edges, so it can be done). They're also quite expensive - the big 220 is about $500 a day, but that's for the complete kit. Actually, I've found out they turn out cheaper in the end anyway, because I can just leave all those other horrid lights one uses to try to do the same thing with at the rental facility. But the producers always balk at their cost until you show them the rest of your list...

Don't know if you guys can get them in the US (should think so, it is the film capital of the world after all), but if you can - give them a try. I guarantee that you will be impressed with them.
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#2 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 07:04 PM

Good review Adam! They can be had here in the US, great lights . . . just don't tell too many people ;)


Kevin Zanit
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#3 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 07:11 PM

Thanks, Kevin. Hope I didn't take away the 'magic edge' we Briese-lighters have compared to others by letting everyone in on the secret..... :D
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#4 Wendell_Greene

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 08:47 PM

But what brough the Briese-lights on was a mock photo-shoot to be featured within the video. I suggested getting some Briese-lights because I knew they'd look good in frame with their big reflectors



So true! You used them as a design element like Hype did with Mary J Blige's "Enough Cryin" music video: Posted Image

DP Joe Labisi is another fan of Briese lights and uses them on almost every video he shoots.

Btw, nice work, Adam!
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#5 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 04:51 PM

Mike at Sola is very helpful and a very nice guy

They are beautiful and pack nicely - they are a bit fragile and blow around in the wind

I shot a 3 minute test with them a couple of years ago and they rock

I did a daylight test with them and they worked a dream with a 4k Honda generator

http://www.creatives...ovies/angel.mov

we needed it for a test for an angel video and the model needed some show reel stuff - bear with the long intro :-)

thanks

Rolfe
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#6 Gil Seltzer

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 01:58 PM

Anybody know where I can rent Briese lights on the east coast? Preferably in NYC?

Thanks,
Gil

Good review Adam! They can be had here in the US, great lights . . . just don't tell too many people ;)
Kevin Zanit


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#7 Vincent De Paula

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 03:49 PM

Nice work Adam! I will definitely try them out.

Thanks
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#8 Brian Wells

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 09:54 PM

Anybody know where I can rent Briese lights on the east coast? Preferably in NYC?

Try Pier 59 Studios. They usually have these sort of things.
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#9 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 10:00 PM

Briese Productions New York
511 W 25th St # 208
New York, NY 10001
(212) 414-9596
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#10 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 11:27 AM

Adam... those Briese lights look great - there's something old fashioned and very modern about them at the same time... and they look very efficient... by the way what stop/stock did you shoot with?

Regards,

Rupe Whiteman

Edited by rupe w, 12 October 2006 - 11:28 AM.

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#11 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 01:14 PM

Very cool Adam, I'm definitely very intrigued to use them sometime.

Seems they're perfect for mostly interiors, but probably not for exteriors (especially if there's a bit of wind, I would expect them to take off like Mary Poppins!)

Awesome videos too, I think I'm an instant fan of Amy Winehouse now!

cheers
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#12 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 07:52 PM

Thanks guys. I've now slimmed my website considerably, so the links might not work anymore. Sorry about that, but it was time to make the site much leaner and a bit more professional - that meant the behind the scenes photos had to go, unfortunately. It's still a work in progress, though....

I'm still just as much in love with the Briese's, though - try to get them on every job. In fact, I simply can't make myself go back to Chimera's after having worked with Briese's... I'm looking forward to using them outdoors with the silks removed for a punchier throw - so far I've only used them in the studio.
Another thing I forgot to mention is that the come with a brilliant eggcrate that has zero spill and sag, which is pretty much unheard of in the world of eggcrating....

So for all of you who haven't tried them yet - do it now!
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#13 Donnie Lewis

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 09:11 PM

I'm a huge fan of Amy Winehouse. Did you get to talk? Haha.

These lights look promising. Those focus reflectors seem to be the truth. Are they the first lights to feature them?
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#14 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 04:52 PM

I'm a huge fan of Amy Winehouse. Did you get to talk? Haha.

These lights look promising. Those focus reflectors seem to be the truth. Are they the first lights to feature them?


Does anyone know who might rent them in Los Angeles?

Thanks
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#15 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 12 May 2007 - 07:38 AM

Update: I've now used them on an exterior without the silks, and they performed beautifully there, too. The 220 (8ft across) with the 2,5kW HMI bulb gave considerable punch even when the sun was out, yet still stayed soft. Obviously, the softness varied depending on how spotted it was. This was great as the sun kept going in and out of shadow - when it was out I just spotted it up, and when in I flooded it to get a lesser and softer output. We did have to tie it down a bit in the wind, but nothing excessive.

My lighting list is looking more and more like this now - 2-3 Briese's, 4-6 Rifa's, 1 Source 4, 3 Zip-lights (Zap's if you're in England) and some smaller tungsten units. With that I can do just about anything.
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