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Using Flashlights to light a scene


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#1 Corey Bringas

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 03:27 AM

Hey again,

So here's the problem/issue. My director wants to have a scene with two actors wandering down a hallway lit with only the flashlights they're carrying. He also wants it fogged up to add a little atmosphere. Not so much a problem if i was shooting S 35mm but we're shooting on the HVX + mini 35mm adapter. This means the HVX which is usually rated at I believe a 320asa, may be less, now looses 2 stops and comes down to roughly a 80asa. I've done some research online and came up with xenon flashlights or similar, but was wondering what you guys have used? Also, are any of these available to rent at a lighting specialty house in either San Diego (small chance i'm sure..) or LA?
Thanks,
Corey
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 03:41 AM

The most practical solution is to lose the 35 adapter for that setup. You'll need as much exposure as you can get for that kind of scene. Unless the extremely narrow depth of field is essential for the scene where most of it will be black anyway, you'll get a good looking image with bright flashlights and no adapter.

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#3 Corey Bringas

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 07:25 PM

Yah, I will have 2 HVX's- one running without the adapter. I suppose I'll just primarily shoot that scene with the 2nd cam. Is there a specific type of "bright flashlight" you recommend?
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 08:19 PM

Yah, I will have 2 HVX's- one running without the adapter. I suppose I'll just primarily shoot that scene with the 2nd cam. Is there a specific type of "bright flashlight" you recommend?


I know we've talked about flashlights here before, so try searching the archives.

Since they're props you'll have to take into account what the characters might logically be using.

In the pic (End of Days) they're using a 4 D-cell Maglight. With fresh batteries they're great. I've got one for home use and I love it.

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For that cop/CSI look you can't beat the Streamlight Scorpion (not the the LED version). The batteries are a little more expensive and they run down quickly, but when they are fresh they're VERY bright. Got one of those too, but I try not to use it too much!

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#5 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 08:32 AM

You could get regular flashlights and put 12 volt halogen spotlight bulbs in them with the power cord running up the actors' sleeves.
They would be powered by 12 volt slab batteries concealed on the actors.
The additional cost of renting slab batteries is not all that great compared to regular battery purchases and there is far more light output.
They need to be turned off between takes as they do tend to heat up.
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#6 Corey Bringas

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 04:35 PM

Thanks for the advice guys... I was thinking of possibly using something similar to this :http://www.shipstore.com/SS/HTML/OPT/OPTGR100Y.html its a little large, but I think I can justify the use of it in an "abandoned" section of a hospital.. i'm not sure.. gonna take a home depot trip in a sec here and see what i come up with. Perhaps i can modify one of my large mag lights to use a larger bulb? any other suggestions?
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 04:57 PM

Thanks for the advice guys... I was thinking of possibly using something similar to this :http://www.shipstore.com/SS/HTML/OPT/OPTGR100Y.html its a little large, but I think I can justify the use of it in an "abandoned" section of a hospital.. i'm not sure.. gonna take a home depot trip in a sec here and see what i come up with. Perhaps i can modify one of my large mag lights to use a larger bulb? any other suggestions?



Why not use LED lights? You're on video so you can white balance however you want to if you don't fancy the blue light.
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 05:00 PM

Most LED flashlights aren't as bright as some of the others already mentioned.
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#9 Corey Bringas

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 08:42 PM

Michael-

Does my solution seem valid?
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#10 Hal Smith

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 08:48 PM

So here's the problem/issue. My director wants to have a scene with two actors wandering down a hallway lit with only the flashlights they're carrying. He also wants it fogged up to add a little atmosphere.

You need SureFire flashlights. I've got couple (G2 models) that are only slightly bigger than a mini-Maglite that will light up the top of a 300' tower at night. Police supply, pro sporting goods places, etc. sell them. Maybe you can borrow a couple from someone for a credit - they'll want you to buy batteries, they're lithiums and expensive.

http://www.surefire....nbr/6/sesent/00
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#11 Michael Nash

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 10:33 PM

Michael-

Does my solution seem valid?


Those 1 million+ candlepower lights work well, but they run down relatively quickly and take a long time to recharge. Most of them have the battery built in, so unless you wanted to buy a bunch of replacement batteries and have them charged and ready to be rewired on the set, you wouldn't get very many takes with them (or have multiple charged flashlights on standby).

That's the fundamanetal tradeoff with any bright flashlight; the brighter the bulb, the quicker it burns through its power. I've never looked for brighter replcement bulbs for the maglight, but if you found any they would surely burn through the batteries quicker. A larger size bulb may not fit or focus properly in the reflector, but you could try it.

Surefire flashlights are comparable to the Streamlights, depending on the model.
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#12 Corey Bringas

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 02:54 AM

Do you know of any flashlights that can be plugged into a circuit and ran? I would have no problem running a power cable down the actors sleeves and hiding the cable out of frame... I've checked out this forum I found about people obsessed with modding flashlights.. They have some very viable solutions, but the shooting date is too quickly approaching and it seems they burn through batteries. Still kind of crazy what they have learned to do.
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#13 Hans Kellner

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 10:59 AM

You might try using one of the newer HID or Halogen bike lights. They are extremely bright and portable. The batteries will last 1.5 or more hours per charge.

You could mod a cheap plastic flashlight by stripping out its internals and inserting the bike light. That would give it the look of a normal flashlight. The chord would run up the actor's arm/sleeve to the battery. The batteries are small, easy to carry, and conceal.

Here's two companies that make them:

http://www.bikelight...ts/Products.htm
http://www.niterider.com/bike.shtml

If you have some cycling friends there's a good chance they have one of these lights. That would give you a chance to test one out and optionally borrow it.
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FJS International, LLC

Opal

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS