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What lighting equipment do you own?


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#1 Daniel Smith

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 07:49 PM

Hi.

There's been various discussions on owning camera equipment, but I've never seen anything on lighting.

I'd be interested to know exactly what lighting equipment you own. If you use all of your own lighting, or rent all of the lights, or rent and help out with your own equipment.

I really want to get my own lighting equipment, the best I can do at the moment is rent out a 3x red head kit from my college, which is great, but it's not like I have the freedom of using them whenever I want.

I'd like to know what would make a sensible collection of lights.

I mean, as a working professional, if you were in my position, what would you do? With the knowledge you have now, if you could go back in time what would you do?


Thanks.
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#2 Riku Naskali

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 08:00 PM

I think it depends what you want to do. If you are pursuing the career of cinematographer, I wouldn't waste my money on owning stuff.

On the other hand, some gaffers own lights and many videographers who shoot a lot of interviews, etc. own small kits.

And if you want to shoot your own stuff, obviously owning cheap lights beats renting.

You just have to evaluate your own situation and base your decision on that.
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#3 Daniel Smith

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 08:14 PM

I think it depends what you want to do. If you are pursuing the career of cinematographer, I wouldn't waste my money on owning stuff.

On the other hand, some gaffers own lights and many videographers who shoot a lot of interviews, etc. own small kits.

And if you want to shoot your own stuff, obviously owning cheap lights beats renting.

You just have to evaluate your own situation and base your decision on that.

Well this is the problem with my situation at the moment:

I own no equipment apart from a stills camera, and I don't feel that any of the work I've done so far is good enough to get me onto any positions with a budget that will allow for camera and lighting rental. So, I'm forced to start small with the no-budget productions (on shootingpeople.org)

The problem is, those productions are so bloody awefull that they won't look any good on my reel anyway. The camera will be whatever they or I own and, lighting? Since when did shootingpeople.org productions involve any form of 'lighting'.

The way I'm seeing things at the moment is that to get anywhere I'm going to have to do everything myself, and pay for everything myself. But that just seems like a crude way of doing things.

But I also need practice in this field. I don't feel all that happy about renting out thousands of pounds worth of equipment and hoping that my theory knowledge will guide me through it. I need practical experience. And the only way to get a good practice is to buy the equipment so I can play around with it and experiment any time I like.

In a nutshell, I feel confident that I can do well in the film industry. The problem is, I don't have any muscle.

My best idea so far is to get a job as a programmer as I originally intended on and then spending the high wages on film equipment. And do what I love in my spare time. And hope it will take off that way.
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#4 Jon Kukla

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 08:20 PM

If you want to be working in the film industry, I'd suggest maybe considering working in the industry. I know that sounds glib, but if you get on as a trainee spark or camera trainee, you'll begin to make contacts with a lot of the equipment houses, which will help you get easier and cheaper access. Plus you'll also meet other people who may want to bring you on-board to shoot their projects. I don't mean that you'll get to DP for big-shot director by sparking on his films first (though stranger things do happen), but maybe you'll also befriend an up and coming 3rd AD who has set aside some money for a short and is looking for someone willing to shoot it for peanuts.

At the end of the day, I advocate something like a shotgun approach - maximize your opportunities by getting your name out there and figure you'll hit something. Working your way up the ladder, the worst that can happen is that you actually go up the ladder the slow way. (Still can be a lot of fun!)
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#5 GeorgeSelinsky

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 08:21 PM

I've got some DP and tota lights, plus a Mole inkie (love that little bugger).

In reality I've discovered if you're filming in a small to medium sized interior location, you can do so much with three or even two lights plus a fill card. I mean, sometimes you don't even have ROOM to safely put more than that amount of lights in an interior, nor the amperage to carry the current. Granted if you want to shoot at an f 8 with 100 speed film, or are filming large spaces, you're going to need more.

I think owning a modest lighting package is a good idea (like some open face or fresnel 1K's, an inkie or two), as is owning an MOS movie camera. I shot an entire feature with that alone (well, I got a bunch of cheap 500 W Home Depot lights for an interior auditorium once, but that's it)

If you're doing small projects rental houses are a hassle. First of all you need to set up an insurance policy or put your credit card on the line. Second of all you have to arrange to pick up the equipment (which is often located in a traffic heavy city, in some dumpy industrial area where there's no parking), and be punctually there to drop it off for check in time or be fined. Then you also have to check the condition of the equipment to make sure they don't hit you with damage that isn't your fault. Ultimately you're just as responsible for the gear as if you own it. If its stolen insurance only covers it if it was literally stolen from under your nose (anything stolen beyond a certain distance from production/security personel is considered "gross negligence" and not covered).

But when you're shooting on someone else's money or have a big project coming up, by all means rent. You can get better equipment that way.
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#6 chris kempinski

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 09:13 PM

I own some keyless sockets for making covered wagons and
some china balls, and a couple of small car plug inverters.
They work wonders for indie no-budget shoots.
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 09:45 PM

Hi,

> I'd suggest maybe considering working in the industry

There isn't an industry to work in. Go for the software engineering, Dan - it's not worth farting about with film. At least you'll have a pension and you'll likely make a fortune. Do it on the side. And to be honest, working on features is not fun. The pressure everyone's under makes it an entirely un-fun experience. It's horrible. It's sleep deprivation and being shouted at. Don't go there. Engineering, probably electronics, was the path not followed for me and I regret it like nothing on earth. I would have had a career.

You are actually likely to be able to make better films independently anyway.

As for me, I own no real lighting kit. I have some homebrew fluorescents for cheap jobs and freebies, a CCFL panel, botch-job ringlight and a few MR16s in pipe clamps. I have some 200W fluorescent packs for doing bluescreen and a couple of MSR fresnels, a few stands and gels and stuff. Nothing to make a real job work.

It is however possibly a better investment than camera gear as it doesn't go out of date nearly so fast, and you can use lighting gear no matter what sort of camera you're shooting on.

Phil
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#8 Matt Workman

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 11:14 PM

2cents right here.

I own a few 300w/650w tungsten lights and 2 HMI's.

The Tungsten kit was for when I was shooting music videos for $500-$1500. So there was no budget for lights, so I bought them to make the videos better and to get more work because of that. They have paid for themselves in about 1 year.

The HMI's I bought for a feature with the intension of selling them after. But I've been getting too many shorts/music videos who I bring along for like $100 a day. I can't shoot without them, and any production who can't afford them I have them if I need em. They will probably never pay themselves off but they do make some money.

A 1200w HMI is the indie work horse. Its basically the most light you can get from one lamp without a generator.

Depending on where you live you can usually find another "filmmaker" who own a tungsten kit. There are tons of Arri kits in people apartments in NY if you know the right people. I got HMI's becuase I can usually find someone who has an Arri kit if production can't afford one. I would also recommend 4' 4 bank kinos becuase they are very low wattage, very small, very cool, and you can swap 3200k and 5500k bulbs.

Not sound advice for everyone but its how I've done things thus far.

Cheers,

Matt :ph34r:
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#9 Jon Kukla

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 06:00 AM

Phil, you keep on saying that there isn't an industry to work in, and I keep on getting paid to work in it. So go figure.
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#10 Hal Smith

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 07:30 AM

Phil, you keep on saying that there isn't an industry to work in, and I keep on getting paid to work in it. So go figure.

Positive attitude = work. Negative attitude = plenty of spare time to hang out in the pub (UK) bar (US).
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#11 Keneu Luca

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 07:32 AM

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#12 John-Erling Holmenes Fredriksen

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 07:42 AM

Well this is the problem with my situation at the moment:

I own no equipment apart from a stills camera, and I don't feel that any of the work I've done so far is good enough to get me onto any positions with a budget that will allow for camera and lighting rental. So, I'm forced to start small with the no-budget productions (on shootingpeople.org)

The problem is, those productions are so bloody awefull that they won't look any good on my reel anyway. The camera will be whatever they or I own and, lighting? Since when did shootingpeople.org productions involve any form of 'lighting'.

The way I'm seeing things at the moment is that to get anywhere I'm going to have to do everything myself, and pay for everything myself. But that just seems like a crude way of doing things.

But I also need practice in this field. I don't feel all that happy about renting out thousands of pounds worth of equipment and hoping that my theory knowledge will guide me through it. I need practical experience. And the only way to get a good practice is to buy the equipment so I can play around with it and experiment any time I like.

In a nutshell, I feel confident that I can do well in the film industry. The problem is, I don't have any muscle.

My best idea so far is to get a job as a programmer as I originally intended on and then spending the high wages on film equipment. And do what I love in my spare time. And hope it will take off that way.


Well, my two cents for what it matters. I feel like I've quite recently been where you're at, so I guess this has relevancy. Currently I am working full time photography and some editing for film and TV, and even though I consider myself a student of sorts in the fine art of cinematography, I do get paid for DP'ing shorts and the likes. I have to emphasize that these are all experiences I have from the industry in Norway, I don't know if it applies to other countries.

At one point I felt just like you about the difficulty of getting somewhere. What I did, and what worked very well for me, was first of all (as some suggested) to take up assistant positions at other film productions. As an assistant in the camera crew, I got a lot of hands-on experience with shooting and lighting, and learned a lot of neat tricks that aren't written in any books. I also met a lot of people, became friends with young and talented directors, and showcased my abilities to some producers.

To make money for the rent, I did some TV, and started shooting commercials. Doing photography for TV isn't necessarily that glorious, but you'll get paid well, and you'll have equipment available to play around with on your own. Major opportunity for improving your skills as a photographer. Commercials can be quite fun if you manage to land the right projects. It's like shooting a short film, only you're paid. On the best projects, you'll be working with a director and actors, and you'll have a crew, not to mention a budget to rent the equipment you need. You might have to start out in the lower range of commercial productions, but if you can make one or two clients happy with a good film or two, you'll soon have others throwing money at you. If you're lucky anyway ;) In the end, you might be starting to build yourself a nice little showreel.

After doing a few commercials and proving myself as a photographer, my talented director-buddies from assisting film productions started noticing me, and that was it for me. I started getting DP-jobs on their shorts (unpaid of course at first), and the ball was essensially rolling. I still do a lot of commercials to get paid and enhance my skills as a photographer, as well as music videos and even some TV, but I am also landing more and more shorts with gradually increasing budgets. I'll never stop doing shorts for no pay though ;)

Basically, this approach has worked very well for me so far. I am still learning and trying to get somewhere in the world of film, but it's a start. Maybe some of this can help you, I don't know. I hope so though. You should really do some assisting on larger productions to meet people and get a good network within the industry. I can't tell you enough how important my industry connections have been to me. Oh, and good luck :)

Oh, and I own very little equipment of my own. I have a few stills cameras and some basic grip stuff. I did recently invest in a few C-stands with flags, but that's about it. I would not recommend investing money in a camera, because it will outdate very soon unless it's a film camera :P Lights seem like an allright investment, you'll always need lights.
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#13 Hal Smith

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 08:10 AM

Take a look at any forum that allows anonymous screen names. You'll find a lot of flaming going on by people who enjoy being jerks - as long as no-one knows their name. The founders of this Forum have wisely decreed real names, and that has encouraged professional behavior. We don't always behave ourselves, but at least we know who we are.
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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 08:23 AM

> Phil, you keep on saying that there isn't an industry to work in, and I keep on getting paid to work in it. So go
> figure.

And you are based where?

Phil
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#15 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 08:31 AM

I dont own any lights myself and Im a DOP, I tend to shoot low budget indies and what ever I can.I figure when I start making more money I might invest in a small light kit.
All the productions Ive worked on payed for the lighting equipment,so Ive never had a reason to own any lights, just as long as I supplied the camera gear.
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#16 Alex Haspel

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 10:00 AM

i own a flashlight for performing gate checks and better
sight in dim light when AC├Čng.

seriously, as a freelancer i hardly consider it neccesary.
and for low/no budget student film stuff, i go begging at
rental houses. as someone already said, working within
the industry helps a great deal, you get to know people
and production companys that will give you lighting or
other equipment for little or no money (for non commercial
student stuff).

my 1? 40cent,
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#17 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 10:45 AM

... the good thing about owning a few lights of your own is that you can do your own testing and hire them out on a job too...

- I made the decision a while ago to buy lighting gear and hold off on buying a camera. As technology is constantly changing and evolving buying a top-end pro camera with the rest of the necessary kit is a big financial committment and if you haven't got the hire-out days to pay for it you're going to really struggle. Lights will always light & they'll have a much longer shelf-life in hire terms...

I've made a number of my own lights inspired by Roger Deakins' work and own a dedo 400 hmi, a 3-head 150w dedo kit with gobos, a couple of arri 600s and 300s and a 2k blonde plus assorted diffuser frames, stands and a grip bag and some chinese lanterns...

- Phil - I know what you're saying...

Rupe Whiteman
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#18 Matt Workman

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 11:15 AM

Wow, Dedo HMIs and Tungstens are really expensive. Nice choices though. They aren't as power hungry and put out a lot of clean light.

:blink:
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#19 Jon Kukla

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 11:57 AM

I'm based in London, Phil. That's the whole point.
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#20 JD Hartman

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 12:11 PM

I own mainly tunsten lights, both fresnel and open face, from inkies to 2k's. Only one HMI, a 1.2k. Plus the usual assortment of stingers, stands, flags, and other grip equipment. What I keep running into are the people who want to hire you for next to nothing (less than $250/day) and get the equipment for free.
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