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china ball vs kino flo


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#1 Christian Janss

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 09:30 PM

Everybody loves kinos because they are easy to use soft lights that you can put very close and don't get hot.

But doesn't the same thing go for china balls (except maybe the heat thing), and for a fraction of the cost?

So, I guess my question is what will I be giving up if I forego renting a kino and just rely on my plain old china ball for soft, somewhat directional light & fill?
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#2 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 09:58 PM

China balls are great for a few situations, but, they're round and floppy, they're easy to damage, and it's tough to "focus" them. They send light in all directions, when often you want it to go in just one direction. It's a pain in the a.. to gel a china ball. Countless hours have been spent on film sets trying to rig duvateen skirts around china-balls. You can put blue colored bulbs in china-balls, but they're not true daylight color temperature.

If you're shooting in a heavily fluorescent location, it's pretty simple to put matching bulbs into your Kino's, not so easy w/ china balls. If you're in a low set, you can pull a kino bulb out of the housing and tape it to the ceiling.

And so on ...

Edited by Jon Rosenbloom, 06 May 2008 - 10:00 PM.

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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 03:47 AM

China balls are great for a few situations, but, they're round and floppy, they're easy to damage, and it's tough to "focus" them. They send light in all directions, when often you want it to go in just one direction. It's a pain in the a.. to gel a china ball. Countless hours have been spent on film sets trying to rig duvateen skirts around china-balls. You can put blue colored bulbs in china-balls, but they're not true daylight color temperature.

If you're shooting in a heavily fluorescent location, it's pretty simple to put matching bulbs into your Kino's, not so easy w/ china balls. If you're in a low set, you can pull a kino bulb out of the housing and tape it to the ceiling.

And so on ...


All of the above...
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#4 Frank Barrera

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 06:15 AM

They are very different lighting sources with obvious logistical concerns regarding space needed to operate a china ball versus the kino. However, if given the option and excluding attempts to "match" pre-existing fluorescents on location I would take the china ball more often than not. The main reason being that the fall off in exposure from the china ball is much less than the kinos. and i find the quality of the china ball's light to be much more pleasing. as for the skirting and controlling i usually use some bailing wire and rig the ball under a 2' X 3' solid flag and hang the duvative off of the sides of the flag rather than trying to wrap it all around th ball itself. the flag then is armed off of a c-stand and lives like that through the show. admittedly this is not the smallest rig but you can't get something for nothing.

to be honest when ever i use kinos there's always a little part of me that thinks i'm just being lazy.

on the other hand the steep fall off of the kino can be very useful at times...
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#5 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 10:18 AM

... a biggish china ball is great as an ambient fill and can be rigged easier due to it's light-weight but as others have mentioned the light is less controllable than kino' units and after a bit of handling on a busy set they do tend to fall apart... I often prefer to bounce a biggish hmi/tungsten for an ambient light as it's flaggable/controllable then augment it with kinos etc as key-lights. But Kino themselves have their limitations because of their lack of punch too... It's all swings and 'roundabouts...
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 02:44 PM

They're all just tools. You pick the right tool for the job. If a Kino doesn't give you what you need, then it's not the right tool for that job. If you need soft, directional light from a compact, lightweight, low-power unit, then Kino is the best tool.
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#7 Michael Collier

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 06:41 PM

Thats a great idea with the chinaball mounted underneath a flag. Never tried that before. I have a bunch of duvey left over from my last show, and a spare open frame, I bet I could sew some velcro to the duvey and again on the flag, and have adjustable skirt in minutes (and pennys).

When I use kinos I think about them one of two ways, I am either keeping it close for a med or CU shot where the actor isn't moving very much, and let the light wrap (much quicker than setting silks or a book light) or I am just wanting a little fill, so I place them farther back as a fill and have my subjects in the slow part of the falloff. Obviously in that case it has to be wall-o lite or a 4bank to still be soft enough, which is sometimes hard for me to wrangle on my shoots (afaik no wall-o lite up here...yet), so in the second mode more often than not its bounce/diffuse rather than quick easy painless kino.

a key advantage of china balls over kino-they send light everywhere as was mentioned before, which is sometimes not wanted, but other times its almost required. If your lighting a dinner table for a move around the subjects, you could use two or three mini-flos or 2banks above the center of table, or one china. Guess which one your key grip will have a quicker time rigging.
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#8 Christian Janss

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 12:31 AM

Much obliged for all the advice/suggestions/information. I'd forgot about taking one tube out of the kino, that is very handy. Turns out we're getting the funds for renting one after all, so that's the best of both worlds.

I'll have to look for the fast falloff vs. gradual falloff as mentioned. I understand what that means, but seeing it side by side would be helpful.

thanks again-
CJ
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#9 Chris Keth

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 01:09 AM

Much obliged for all the advice/suggestions/information. I'd forgot about taking one tube out of the kino, that is very handy. Turns out we're getting the funds for renting one after all, so that's the best of both worlds.

I'll have to look for the fast falloff vs. gradual falloff as mentioned. I understand what that means, but seeing it side by side would be helpful.

thanks again-
CJ


You can. Turn on a kino and meter it one foot from the light and then two feet from the light. Note the difference between these two readings.

Then take a reading ten feet from the lamp and another eleven feet from the lamp. The difference between the second set will be much less than the difference between the first two.

The reason for this, in very short, is that the rate of falloff slows as you get further from the light.
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#10 Michael Nash

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 10:14 AM

When I use kinos I think about them one of two ways,


Then you're missing out on the 99 other uses for kinos... ;)

I just came home from gaffing an overnight shoot of a rooftop party scene using multiple units, including a 4K Airstar balloon, a Mighty through an 8x8 light grid, and a bunch of kinos. In this one scene alone I used the kinos in multiple ways:

4' 4-banks horizontal on stands up high to carry the soft light of the balloon and the 8x8 a little deeper into the set (to compensate for falloff)

2' 4-banks vertical as edge lights motivated by practicals on the set

2' 2-bank horizontal with the doors pinched in as an eyelight for closeups (that gave a nice glint in the eye without flattening out the core shadow)

2' 2-bank vertical to fill one actor without filling others nearby

2' 2-bank vertical as an eyelight for one actor but not the person sitting right next to her

15" single tube set into a freestanding bar as set dressing

4' 4-bank through a 4' frame of Opal as a soft key light to duplicate the balloon's light for a high jib shot where the balloon was in the wrong position

Also on this show I've used them:

4' 4-bank vertical in a doorway to provide daylight glow from another room

2' 4-bank vertical as a soft, natural edgelight in day interiors

4' 4-bank hung from a wall spreader as a ceiling light in a practical location

4' 4-bank horizontal above a window to augment the natural light coming in, especially when the window is gelled with ND

I should add the multiple configurations such as high/low output; quickly switched number of tubes; gel color clipped to the eggcrate, diffusion inside and outside the doors, with the eggcreate for focusability or without for maximum spread...

The list goes on and on...

Regarding the dinner table scenario I've used four 2' 4-bank units surrounding the chandelier pointed inward (across the table), with the benefit of quick aim-ability when the action strays from a seated position.
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#11 John Hoffler

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 11:06 AM

I think it all comes down to cost. Are you willing to spend the cash on the kinos? I think if you have the money then it's worth while. I don't have a lot of cash so I built some china balls. They are hard to control but work well for the applications I need them for and I built them to take 500w photofloods so if I need daylight balance I can use it. All in all it cost me around $20 per china ball w/ a 600w dimmer on them. (not counting the bulbs) And I got it all from Home Depot and Pier 1....

I plan on building some DIY Flo banks I saw in another forum, but I haven't done it yet so I can't comment on how well they work.
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#12 Michael Collier

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 03:41 PM

Then you're missing out on the 99 other uses for kinos... ;)



ah point well taken Nash. I will learn my leson about never putting a definate number to the multitude of uses of any tool. I was talking in broad strokes, about the two main ways I think of light quality of kinos compared to the quality of any other light/tool in my arsenal, not so much to pigeon hole two distinct 'uses'. But great list, a lot of good practicle examples.
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#13 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 07:58 PM

Why would the "fall-off" be any different between a kino and a china-ball? Inverse square law applies to any light.
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#14 Michael Nash

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 08:05 PM

Why would the "fall-off" be any different between a kino and a china-ball? Inverse square law applies to any light.


Technically it's not any different, but the eggcrate and barndoors allow you to focus the "beam" a little more which creates a different falloff at the beam edges (which is often exactly what you want). Otherwise it is the same.
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#15 Tom Banks

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 01:21 AM

I think there's some confusion as to the definition of "falloff". I used to make the same mistake. Jon, you're thinking of falloff as how brightness decreases as you get farther away, in which case your right about the inverse square law and how it basically applies universally to all forms of light. Michael and the majority of us use "falloff" to describe the way the edge of the light reads. For example, if you were to shine a Kino and a Leko against a dark wall, the Kino would have a softer edge and less falloff, where as the Leko would have a hard cut and a much greater falloff. Its looking at the decrease of light on an X-Y axis rather than the Z.
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#16 Nicolas Eveilleau

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 01:45 PM

Clearly, one of the big issue with china ball, as already said, is putting gel, controlling easily the beam (if we still can call it a beam ^^), etc.
I don't know if you have similar spot where you work, I guess so, but in France there's a company called Maluna which manufacturate spot called Luciole, in different size. Basicaly, it's a cube, with a bulb inside, and each face of this cube is like a frame, so you can easily put gel, diff or black velvet and whatnot. The light quality is close to what a china ball gives you, but it's just reaaaaaaally easier to use.

Here's the website of Maluna. Needless to say that any gaffer or grip can build this very quickly and cheap :

http://www.maluna.fr/1024/accueil.asp
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#17 Frank Barrera

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 11:15 PM

Why would the "fall-off" be any different between a kino and a china-ball? Inverse square law applies to any light.


CALLING ALL PHYSICISTS OUT THERE. We need help. But this is what I know: The Inverse Square Law only applies to a point source that throws light equally in all directions. ie: a bare bulb, the sun or a china ball. When a reflector is used as in most movie lights the physics change. And the ISL doesn't apply. Can anyone out there explain this?

f
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#18 Chris Keth

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 11:50 PM

The math is pretty tricky. The essence of it is that the inverse square law DOES apply to non-point sources. The trick is that it applies to the infinite number of points that comprise that source. In short, that makes broad sources fall off in intensity slightly slower than a true point source would.
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#19 Michael Nash

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 01:03 AM

CALLING ALL PHYSICISTS OUT THERE. We need help. But this is what I know: The Inverse Square Law only applies to a point source that throws light equally in all directions. ie: a bare bulb, the sun or a china ball. When a reflector is used as in most movie lights the physics change. And the ISL doesn't apply. Can anyone out there explain this?

f



http://www.cinematog.....; falloff.htm

The softer (larger) the source is, the longer it takes for light to falloff because of the "combined" point sources that Chris described. However, as you increase distance the soft source becomes less "large" and incrementally more like a point source.
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#20 Chris Keth

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 01:46 AM

...as you increase distance the soft source becomes less "large" and incrementally more like a point source.


This is easy to observe in photometric information of various soft sources. Check out kino's because they are easy to find.

The falloff between 2 feet and 4 feet is a large deviation from what the inverse square says it should be. If you compare 10 feet and 20 feet, however, that difference is much closer to the relation ship as predicted by the law.
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