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Traveling with Lights


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 07:22 PM

Hello All,
I'll be beginning production on my thesis film, a documentary project. Among the equipment I've checked out is an Arri kit with four lights: 2 x 650w, 2x 350w with scrims, barn doors and all that good stuff. For most of the shooting period, I'll be able to transport all the lights in a large, reinforced case. But for one trip, to Washington DC, I've opted to fly, and lugging around the entire case is not an option. It's not like I'll never every light anyways, but I like to have more than what I need, rather than be in need without what I have. Getting to my question. Can any of you recommend a way to transport just a couple of lights? Any particular brands of bags that work. Something reasonably compact, that I could sling over the shoulder, but that would give the lights a modicum of protection, like the Lowell kits?
Thanks!
Best,
BR
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#2 Brian Rose

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 07:28 PM

Sorry, I should have mentioned a bit more about the shoot. It's a history film, a biography on James Polk, 11th president. Washington will mainly be location shooting in daylight, and a few interviews. So, really, I could get away with some creative staging, and a few bounce boards. But, I'd still like to have a couple lights, just in case...hence the conundrum.

Best,
BR
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 08:11 PM

Hmm. Well, the lights themselves can travel in just about any suitcase. If you're worried about the bulbs themselves getting jarred while in "soft" baggage, pull them out and put them into the handy spare box ARRI provides in those kits.

The stands are usually what necessitate the bigger case, particularly the large gray hardshell that those ARRI kits come in. If you're also taking your golf clubs, you could squeeze a couple of stands in there. The rest of your accessories, like the speedring/Chimera, AC cables, dimmer, gels, C-47s, blackwrap, can go into that bag with the two lights.

Having said that, once you've cut the package down to essentially half the ARRI kit, it still takes up some amount of space. Is there some inherent reason for not taking the entire thing? What about a C-stand and sandbag to hang a backlight (one of the 300s on a dimmer) behind your interviewee? If most of your interviews are DAY EXT, you should have a C-Stand, bag and frame to silk off the direct sunlight (something like the Westcott Scrimjim kit). You almost always have to punch in some kind of light once you've silked them off, so an 800 or 1200w HMI Joker is needed. Bounce doesn't always do it as the background can potentially be screaming hot. You can take some of that down with a large net in a frame (again, with something like the portable ScrimJim kit) but you'll need two more C-stands for that plus more dirt to keep it all from blowing over in case it happens to be windy.

Having said all of that, have you checked the situation with locations and necessary permits? You can't put down so much as a tripod on the ground within DC without the proper permit.

Or, you could just forget all of the lights and grip stuff and just shoot on the fly. You could take everything you should have and do it right, or compromise on what you've got with you and get what you get.
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#4 Brian Rose

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 08:34 PM

I'd looked at permits, and perhaps I was looking in the wrong place, but the information I found talked about needing to provide proof of insurance and a lot of things I don't have, being a student filmmaker. What helps is I'm shooting XL2. Since it straddles the line between consumer and pro, and since a fair number of sites I'm looking at allow "camcorders," (such as the Capitol rotunda) I think I can squeeze through the loophole, and maybe bring a monopod with me. And for most of the exterior footage, I'll be shooting a great deal of it on glidecam, so technically I won't be setting down a tripod :)

But ultimately, it will be a rather down and dirty shoot, which is actually what I'm going for. One of the themes of my film is looking at how we access history. There are all these museums and places in DC which as supposed to be for "the people" and are paid for by such, yet our actual access to those places is very limited...at least for those who do not have the backing of General Motors, or the History channel. I'm interested in showing how far a student filmmaker can go.

Still, I do want to bring a few things, if I'm in a situation where it just can't be helped otherwise. Mainly the interviews, which would all be in controlled locations, like a professor's office.

Best,
BR

Edited by Brian Rose, 10 May 2008 - 08:37 PM.

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#5 Alex Plank

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 06:22 PM

Most government-run museums definitely allow cameras (heck, you're allowed to paint at the national art gallery, they even have easels for people so I don't know why a camera would be a problem there). A lot of Asian tourists have what we'd consider "professional" grade camcorders in the US and I've seen a lot of them in the museums here. (Not sure if I've seen any people with tripods).

The only places I can think of where they definitely won't let you use a camera is the mint (they don't want people to record how money is made) and the spy museum (which is privately owned).

If for some reason you do get turned away from a museum, try another entrance or wait for that particular guard to get off his shift. Someone else might be more lenient. Good luck!
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#6 Billy Furnett

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 11:44 PM

Brian,

I think your theme of how much access to liberty and freedom one gets for their tax dollars is great! I smell a documentary there called something like ?Can I get a receipt with that??

When it comes to permits and such, I enjoyed knowing I pay the salary of the law enforcement genius that hassled me for trying to film the parade of countless individuals in the country illegally that was passing right behind him.

It?s a different thing all together, but I laughed when I heard the Hollywood sign is a registered trademark that has its own agent looking for a buck to use its image in films.


Be sure to bring some bail money if you're looking to push the envelope.
:)
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#7 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 03:01 PM

Most airlines will let you check an Arri kit. Weight is an issue, as anything over 50lbs (most airlines) incurs a fee. But you can usually fit quite a bit in at 50lbs or under. Just put some bubble wrap in there to cushion things (and be sure to take your bulbs out). Don't forget stingers.
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#8 dan brockett

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 08:05 PM

Now that most airlines are charging for not only overweight but also for a second piece of luggage, I don't plan on flying with my Arri kit anymore. Too much money and hassle. I either FedEx the kit or rent one where I am shooting, you can definitely rent a kit in D.C.

FedExing is expensive, but at least it's covered with insurance (if you pay for it). If you fly with any production gear in your luggage and the airlines lose it, you are SOL, they cover up to, what, $150.00 per bag? I think flying with production gear is just Russian Roulette, it's only a matter of time until they lose something and then you are hosed.

Good luck,

Dan
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#9 Hal Smith

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 08:26 PM

Most government-run museums definitely allow cameras (heck, you're allowed to paint at the national art gallery, they even have easels for people so I don't know why a camera would be a problem there).........

The MOMA in NYC will allow photography of paintings and works of art they own. Last time I was there they had a traveling exhibit up where they weren't allowing photography but photos of their stuff was okay (If you can call Picasso's "Girl Before a Mirror", etc. "stuff").


The Frau with "The Girl"

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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

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