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Affordable lighting substitutes


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#1 Nick Norton

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 12:09 AM

I'm a college film student working with a canon xl1s and a canon 518 super 8 camera.

I am finally realizing the significance of lighting in cinematography.

However, i cannot afford actual lighting equipment. Therefore, i was wondering if any of you knew of some cheap alternatives. I was thinking of running down to Home Depot and seeing what i could find, but i know color temperature is an issue so i'm not sure what type of lights to buy. I only need a fairly simple lighting set-up, however spending much money is simply not an issue.

Thanks-

Nick
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 12:59 AM

There's been some talk in other forums about using halogen worklights.

I've used them before, and they've worked great as a hard key source and they tend to live very long lives. Although, on occasion they do begin to visibly strobe, so be wary of that.

Color temperature wise, you shouldn't have a problem so long as you make sure to do a white balance before shooting.

They're so cheap, they just might serve you well for as long as they hold up.

A quick search on Amazon took me to some options:

http://www.amazon.co...=Mozilla-search

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 12 February 2007 - 01:01 AM.

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#3 Davon Slininger

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 01:29 PM

Smith Victor makes a bunch of great economical photoflood lights. They are basically cranked up versions of cliplight/worklights you get at Home Depot. I know money is a huge factor for you but if you could afford just a little more than the cost of some of those worklights, these photofloods may be a good option for you.

Some of the benefits would be the option of using up to a 500w photoflood bulb that you can get in various color temps. And they Also have accessories like reflectors, and umbrellas to help you sculpt the light.

I'm only familiar with the Smith Victor lights, but there might be some other manufacturers with similar options. I think Lowel might make some cheap-ish lights too.
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#4 Paul Bruening

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 01:30 PM

Oh yea,

1/2 K halogen work lights are da' bomb. I've used the hell out of them. They're the best output for the buck and they're easy to get at any Lowes or Home Despot.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 01:54 PM

Anything that puts out light can be useful...

I started out with some reflector dish lamps (from the hardware store) & photofloods, Chinese Lanterns, and one 650w open-faced quartz-halogen movie lamp sold in the 1960's for Super-8 photography -- that was my "big" light. Eventually found some clamp-on barndoors for the reflector dishes at a photography store.

If I had to buy one professional lamp as a beginner, it would probably be something like a used 650w or 1K tungsten fresnel (like a Tweenie or Baby-Baby) because they are so versatile. After that, a 1K PAR64 and finally a 2K tungsten, either open-faced or fresnel. Above that, I'd probably start renting only (like for HMI's.)
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#6 Troy Warr

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 02:28 PM

Don't forget that with your Canon XL1-S, at least, you can set custom white balance. Using lights balanced to standard daylight or tungsten color temperatures is ideal, but in these circumstances, I'd say that maintaining consistency in color temperature between your lights will be more useful than balancing to any particular standard. You might try to find a particular light and/or bulb(s) that are economical and convenient for you (Home Depot is a good place to look), and try to stick with that in your different lights, using diffusion, scrims, careful placement, foam core or white walls for bounce, etc. to modify the qualities of different light sources.

It seems that this issue comes up relatively frequently in this forum, so you might also spend some time searching and reviewing past threads for recommendations and others' solutions - personally, I've gleaned a lot of good information on this subject from some other postings.
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#7 Ratheesh Ravindran

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 08:33 AM

I'm a college film student working with a canon xl1s and a canon 518 super 8 camera.

I am finally realizing the significance of lighting in cinematography.

However, i cannot afford actual lighting equipment. Therefore, i was wondering if any of you knew of some cheap alternatives. I was thinking of running down to Home Depot and seeing what i could find, but i know color temperature is an issue so i'm not sure what type of lights to buy. I only need a fairly simple lighting set-up, however spending much money is simply not an issue.

Thanks-

Nick


hi,
fit photoflood lamps inside apple box.if u then want to convert into daylight,use CTB.another option is to get flourescent lamps from Osram.they have got 55W lamps.u can batch it up as 2banks ,or 4 or 6banks depending on ur need.Osram lights will be lighter for ur pocket.gel them with 1/4 minus green.
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#8 Chris B. Cornell

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 11:51 PM

Never underestimate the use of practicals in your scene. Not every item in the room must be lit to see the room. Use small lights to define areas of the room. You would be surprised how good little things like china balls, white christmas lights in trees or behind frosted window (if done right looks like a city skyline). Pick clever backgrounds and interesting locations; don't shoot in an apartment with white walls. Maybe try checking out some Renaissance paintings to get the idea of painting with light. For Example: Caravaggio's Sacrifice of Issac Posted Image
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#9 Robert Aldrich

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 12:46 AM

I'm a college film student working with a canon xl1s and a canon 518 super 8 camera.

I only need a fairly simple lighting set-up, however spending much money is simply not an issue.

Thanks-

Nick


Watch the DVD commentary for El Mariachi, by Robert Rodriguez; he shot some of his interior scenes with nothing more than a single, humble hardware-store clamp-light. I personally think he should have used at least two, one for the background.

In fact, his next movie, in my opinion, with a lot more money, looked terrible! Way overdone!
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#10 Chris B. Cornell

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 12:51 AM

Watch the DVD commentary for El Mariachi, by Robert Rodriguez; he shot some of his interior scenes with nothing more than a single, humble hardware-store clamp-light. I personally think he should have used at least two, one for the background.

In fact, his next movie, in my opinion, with a lot more money, looked terrible! Way overdone!


well, I am no expert DP, but IMHO, neither movie really looked that good at all. Interesting shot composition but not really interesting lighting
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#11 John Thomas

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 11:47 AM

Par64b.jpg

However, i cannot afford actual lighting equipment. Therefore, i was wondering if any of you knew of some cheap alternatives.


PAR 64 can with 500w lamp. You can do a lot with a few of these. $ 72.99
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#12 Richard Andrewski

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 10:30 AM

Halogen worklights are the common starting point when people jump in. I put up an entry in my VLOG in January about adding barndoors to a halogen worklight. You might take a look at that as it can make them much more useful. Its still far from a fresnel and it will never be more than a flood but barndoors do at least help with controlling somewhat.

http://www.coollight...-video-magazine
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#13 Walter Graff

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 12:42 PM

You will find many website forums which discuss the successful use of "worklights" for lighting. They are not perfect but can work. That said there is nothing better than a light designed specifically for TV/film use.

I did a test some years ago when I created one of the first store bought fluorescent fixtures that I adapted for TV work by successfully shooting an entire season of a documentary series for A&E using such lights. The story of my building what some now refer to as "Graff-Lights" is here:

http://www.film-and-...es-30bucks.html
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#14 John Carreon

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 01:01 AM

Everyone keeps talking about the Halogen Worklights...which I admit, are decent enough on a low budget...

But, I would also like to add that, a few chinese lanterns are great for some soft lighting or a nice fill. I've heard people recommend IKEA for this but I'm a nay-sayer on that, because if you head down to your local Chinatown you can find them in a myriad of sizes and colors for anywhere from 99 cents to 5 bucks. (IKEA is going to run you around $6-$8)

Get yourself some Halogen worklights, a few clamp on fixtures,a few China Balls, some black and white foam core from you're local art store and you're ready to shoot some low budget goodness.

if you have a decent monitor you can see how the different color temps are matching up and if you need to gel some or not.

Start buying little things here and there and in a little while you'll have a respectable little package.
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#15 Joe Turrentine

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 01:47 AM

Good package my friend got.
http://www.bhphotovi...r...8513&is=REG
Dimmers...
http://www.bhphotovi...r...3607&is=REG

Now c-47 some wax paper to the reflector, and it's diffused for your fill, and then you have a three point lighting setup. Just remember the color shift when you dim. And remember the audio noise if you put a xlr cable too near a dimmer!


Cheers
Joe
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#16 Richard Andrewski

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Posted 28 February 2007 - 09:46 AM

China balls are definitely great. I personally prefer the nylon ones and the larger ones (30" and greater) are best if you want to use a 200w light or so. If you use something hotter than that you are definitely on your own though. They aren't really spec'd out for much more than that.

http://www.paperlant...m/30whnyla.html

Personally, I use it with this 200w 8U CFL. You don't really need the chinese lantern with this bulb since fluorescent is already diffused but if you need to tone it down a bit (chinese lantern above a conference table and people sitting around it pretty close) then the lantern is a good way.

http://www.serviceli...fm?prod=MX35871

Edited by Richard Andrewski, 28 February 2007 - 09:50 AM.

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