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Building my Light Kit


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#1 Chris Durham

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 02:10 PM

I have a Lowell DVCreator 44 kit and it's served okay and sometimes it's all I need; but it often doesn't give me the flexibility that I want. I'm not a rich guy, but I want to start gradually building up my kit. I know it's hard to say what is best to have because it's highly dependent upon the circumstances of an individual shoot; but I'm guessing there are items that are close enough to gimmes that I'd be safe dropping a little cash on, and be happy of having when at the last minute I decide my little Lowell kit isn't satisfactory for a shoot.

So, any thoughts?

Oh, and I have a light meter, which I'm guessing might be among the first suggestions.

Edited by Chris Durham, 08 July 2008 - 02:12 PM.

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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 02:56 PM

I'm not sure what's in the DV kit, but I know the lowels pretty well.
I'd look into a few Lowel Dp lights, a 1K open face fixture, which is nice and has a good throw. I often use it through Lee216 for a key.
I'd also recommend an Arri 650 Fresnel or two as they're more controllable, and imho, a much better light than anything from lowel.
Get a few china balls and assorted wattages of bulbs; cant' tell you how often they've helped.
Some gels, 1/2 CTO, 1/2 CTB , 216, and a couple rolls of ND (for windows).
Extension cords
C-Stands and perhaps the Mattews "road rags," flag kit though you can build flags yourself with enough time and skill sewing.
If you can find and old used Mighty Mole with an Edison cord in not too bad condition, it can be useful. I like the 2Ks and myself have 2 solar spots for when I need to light a big area; got them both used for $150, another $400 for doors (give or take) $200 for used junior stands- one for each- and it's still less than just 1 new Junior Solar Spot! (bulbs come up used for $25 too on BH, keep and eye out!).
And, yes, Set-Wear "hot hands," gloves!

That's about all I can think of. But I have the feeling we'll all have our preferred kits, ya know? It's equally as dependent on the person, me thinks, as the situation.
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#3 Michael Belanger

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 03:25 PM

I have a Lowell DVCreator 44 kit and it's served okay and sometimes it's all I need; but it often doesn't give me the flexibility that I want. I'm not a rich guy, but I want to start gradually building up my kit. I know it's hard to say what is best to have because it's highly dependent upon the circumstances of an individual shoot; but I'm guessing there are items that are close enough to gimmes that I'd be safe dropping a little cash on, and be happy of having when at the last minute I decide my little Lowell kit isn't satisfactory for a shoot.

So, any thoughts?

Oh, and I have a light meter, which I'm guessing might be among the first suggestions.


Looking at the kit, you might add:

From Lowel...
another Tota for situations where you want to light a backdrop with one on each side (chroma-key for instance)
another pro light to use as a second backlight.
gobo arms to hang the backlights out into the scene without the stands showing
scissor clips if you shoot in spaces with drop ceilings - again to hang the pro lights.

Some no-brainer gear to add on (some of which also greatly increase the size of the kit however)...
A couple of break-down c-stands with 24X36 silks will help diffuse the light much better than the 10x12 frames in the kit.
A couple of more break-down cs with scrims and/or flags to control spill and balance falloff.
dimmer modules for the backlights, etc. These can be build from home depot parts for the smaller lights.
150w to 300w practical lamps to replace bulbs in light fixtures, etc on set.
CTO+ND gel for reducing light through windows and correcting it to match your tungsten lights.

To expand...
Fluorescent soft lights. Inexpensive versions from a few sources are available these days.
Some larger tungsten units, say 650w or 1Ks
an HMI for fill or boost outdoors and/or moonlight wash for night scenes (staggeringly expensive, prob better to rent as needed)

I'm assuming you're shooting a mix of corporate and theatrical on digital/video. The light meter will be handy but not nearly as necessary as when shooting film. The lowel stuff is very light weight and compact, but doesn't hold up to abuse like mole-richardson or arri gear will. A mix of both lets you work up or down depening on the shoot.
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#4 Michael Belanger

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 03:50 PM

And, yes, Set-Wear "hot hands," gloves!


Excellent call on the gloves Adrian. I'll need to check those out myself.

I have a very strange lighting tool that I started to use years ago when I was engineer of a small cable tv studio. We had a dozen or so Mole 1ks on a grid and we'd often need to adjust barn doors at the last minute, but our rolling ladder was a bear to use. I got in the habit of using the bristle end of a common straw broom to grab the vanes and move things around. Plus it's handy for sweepign up. lol.

Also, some heavy-duty extension cords and mats to cover them where people walk would be great.
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 04:18 PM

I used to use one of those long "grabber' tools popular with shorter people in hyper-marts ;-)

I love my hot hands gloves, thought i must admit; they threw me once. I'm always a medium; but I got a pair from them once, a medium, which was just way too damned small! I hate online shopping :(
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#6 Hemant Tavathia

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 09:11 PM

I would recommend one of these two arri kits:

Arri Kit with 3* 1K Arri Fresnels
or Arri Kit with 2* 650 W fresnels and 2*300 watt fresnels.

Either of these kits would take care of a lot of shoots without problems.
They are more expensive than Lowell, but totally worth it.
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#7 Chris Durham

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 09:53 AM

Thanks for the advice everyone.

I've heard that 1K's aren't as useful as 650's or 2K's - that it's often the case that if you need to go above 650 then 1K isn't enough or if you need to go below 2K then 1K is still too much. Can anyone comment on that?

I know you can get used Mole 2K's for around $150, and if the above is true, I imagine I'd be well off picking a couple up? I imagine they could be mounted on C-Stands pretty well?
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#8 Chris Durham

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 10:02 AM

Another thing. If I was looking to add an HMI, what wattage should I look for? I've got my head wrapped around tungsten wattage output, but know nothing about HMI's and what I need to consider. Or even how heavy they are, what kind of support I'll need, etc.

thanks
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#9 Michael Belanger

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 01:41 PM

Another thing. If I was looking to add an HMI, what wattage should I look for? I've got my head wrapped around tungsten wattage output, but know nothing about HMI's and what I need to consider. Or even how heavy they are, what kind of support I'll need, etc.

thanks


Rule one for HMIs is they output between 3 and 5 times the light of an equivalent wattage tungsten fixture. so a 575w hmi is giving you the equivalent of a 2K tungsten. It's also going to cost you a couple of thousand dollars.

The largest HMI you usually see that will run off household plugs is a 1.2K, so roughly the equivalent of a 5K tungsten.

Keep in mind this is 5600 Kelvin (blue) light, which means for outdoors matching daylight, on set simulating daylight, or at night simulating cool moonlight in a wash for instance, you don't loose any light output correcting to daylight as you would with tungsten.

Weight wise they're about the same as tungsten fixtures, assuming you're used to studio fresnel lights like Moles. There is some electronics in the head, but most of the added weight is the ballast (which can weigh a hell of a lot). This is a box, usually on wheels, that sits on the ground next to the light and attaches by a special multi-pin cable. The ballast in turn plugs into the wall.
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 03:10 PM

HMIs are a great tool, and I use them when I can, though they're not the most mobile (potable) or cost effective of units, as mentioned. I also don't like the way they or kinos render skin tones when corrected to tungsten, but that's just me.

As for the 650/1K debate, while you can get a lot of punch out of a 650, personally I enjoy having the 1Ks around so i can move them farther out or use more diffusion on them and still get a good amount of light out. This is a personal preference and your lighting style and the situations you encounter will inform you as to whether or not it works for you.
I tend to think of 650s as a great interview key when I have someone sitting down, and then augmented with 300s and 150s as they're normally in the Arri kits I work with.
When I'm doing something more narrative/music videos, i find myself going for the 1Ks more often, though this may just be to help with the math on balancing loads (1K round to 10A, 2K to 20A, 650 would be round to 6.5a, but I don't like messing with decimals!)

Stuff like light choice and how do I light such and such a space generally get fleshed out as you develop more and use more equipment, or so i tend to believe.
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