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How to choose lighting fixtures


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#1 Ashley Barron

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 03:30 AM

Hi there,

I am about to shoot a short film. I know what I want in terms of look, but don't know how to choose fixture types. I've shot a bit, but still new to this part of the process, and don't have much time to test each scene.

I was wondering if anyone had any tips regarding making choices - in terms of power and effects etc.

Thank you,
Ashley.
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#2 freddie bonfanti

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 05:15 AM

having a good gaffer you trust will be a huge help! he will sort the electrical distribution for you and will suggest you what lamp to use for a desired effect. if you're not very experienced with lighting it would really be vital to find one.

if you cant afford a gaffer then see if there's an experienced freelance lighting electrician who is eager to step up to gaffer and willing to work on a lower budget project...

when it comes to choosing fixtures, it's about how you like to light and what style of lighting will work best to tell the story. also, how be aware of how much the lighting equipment will cost and would be the appropriate choice for each location, recces are a must. it's a very delicate process and there is little room for mistake. nailing the equipment list, having a good lighting crew and be prepared for the job will save you lots of time and money...thats why having a good gaffer its so damn important

best,

F
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#3 Kiarash Sadigh

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 01:41 PM

Hi there,

I am about to shoot a short film. I know what I want in terms of look, but don't know how to choose fixture types. I've shot a bit, but still new to this part of the process, and don't have much time to test each scene.

I was wondering if anyone had any tips regarding making choices - in terms of power and effects etc.

Thank you,
Ashley.


Putting a gear list together could be tricky, especially for a low budget production...you want to make sure you have as lean of a list as possible....
I can't tell you exactly how to do it but here are some guide lines:
- There is always a tendency to underestimate the number of C-stands, Flags, Sand bags and cables...so what ever number you have in mind, add a few more...
-C-stands are very important, you should always list a variety of them: regular, baby stands, turtle base and rocky mountains...if you're ordering 5 c-stands, then make sure you have at least one of each
- I wouldn't waist my c-stands on the lights, order lightweight aluminum stands instead they are great for your smaller fixtures (up to 2k)
- When shooting on location, always try to draw power from your stove/ dryer outlet...you can in fact order a stove dief, which will give you 3x20 amp breakers on a regular house hold outlet...
- I always count the number of the stands I have and then multiply them by 4 to get to the number of sand bags I need...
- Try to get more flexible fixtures as opposed to specialty ones...a Readhead can directly back light a medium size sanctuary! , can shoot through a chimmera for a nice portrait set up or shoot into a 4by4 white foamcore for a bigger soft-light effect...very versatile...A 4bank-2 feet Kino flo is also very versatile imho, it can switch between daylight or tungsten and can be your key, your backlight, your fill and as separated bulbs you can even light inside a car with...you can mount it on your dolly for a dolly-back hallway shot or just keep one of the bulbs, put it on top of your camera and use it for a nice catch light...
- for every fixture you order you need to get enough grip equipment in order to be able to rig the fixture almost wherever you desire...for instance if you're getting a 1.2 hmi par (which comes with a 2k spigot) you need to have 2k accepting stands to have your light at stand-level...what if you want to put your 1.2 down on the floor and bounce it off of something? then you need a 2k baseplate...etc.
-Alway order a couple of magic arms with maffers on either side
- I always order a 2k lighting boom pole, it allows me to send my light deep into the set on location...
- always order one or two different sized pole cats...I especially love setting up a large polecat at the corner of tight rooms then cardellini off to a pepper or something...this is especially very good for when you don't have room to spread the legs of your stand...or you see them in your shot etc. you need to be careful with them though as they don't stand heavy weights...
-Shooting exteriors, you either have to rent a generator and spark up or light it with good old planet sun....for the latter you need mirror boards, and stands to hold them, you also need white and black foamcores for bounce or negative fill...it's also great to take a 12by or an 8by frame and fabrics...you can set up your 8 by and bounce a four shot pretty decently...
-make sure you order tongue dollies or laundry dollies if you have to carry the gear too far from where your truck is parked...
-For exteriors make sure you order cable matts....
-if you 're ordering noisy generators then make sure you can box around it with some material to kill the noise...
- Always think of rain...order Tar paper for your lamps, get extra pads for your cables...order extra apple boxes in case your dolly track is going to be on a rough terrain...
- Order dog ears and lots of sash to prevent your frames from sailing
-a versatile lighting list always has both day light and tungsten fixtures, it always has fluorescent and open faces...and it always has tiny peppers and larger fresnels (think Arri 150 and Arri 1k fresnel)
- always order dimmers or use you own homemade ones...you need them to bring your practicals down etc.
- And make sure you order as much black felt as you can ...they come really handy...

good luck!

-Kiarash


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#4 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 07:06 PM

This depends on what your location and power supply is as well. If you're tied in to house power, then HMI's give more bang for the buck. But if you have a genny then tungsten might end up cheaper. There's a million ways to boil an egg.

Howard Atherton, BSC (very underrated DP) almost exclusively uses blondes. He brings a truck full of them and then wedge lights his objects. Cheap as chips and it looks great. Then you have Kaminski who raids all rental houses and drums up 100 18K HMI's for his jobs and that also looks great.

I tend to fall more into the former category. Nothing gives me more pleasure when we use every light on the truck, but want for nothing more. I pride myself in trying to deliver lean lists to the production.

One way I save money is I rarely put KinoFlo's on my list anymore, unless I'm going for a flourescent look. Not that I dislike them, just that so many cheaper sources can do the same job quicker. I do a lot of Rifa lights. I also get Zip-lights in as they're so useful and cheap. For my big lights I often use Dino's, Wendy's and 20K tungstens, even outdoors. Not only are they cheaper, they're quicker to set up and don't make any noise. My only indulgence is Briese-lights - they break the bank, unfortunately (but save tons of time).

There's just something about tungsten that's pleasing to the eye, so I tend to stay with that for most stuff.
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#5 freddie bonfanti

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 12:53 PM



One way I save money is I rarely put KinoFlo's on my list anymore, unless I'm going for a flourescent look. Not that I dislike them, just that so many cheaper sources can do the same job quicker.


funny you say that, i worked on a feature last year with Larry Smith, BSC and he had a very similar approach with kinos, we only used them as practicals, still very sparingly. he used Dedos a lot, and i was surprised how well they worked for the job.

on lower budget gigs Dps tend to got for tungstens a lot, theyre reliable with constant color temperature and much cheaper than HMIs. tend to get too bloody hot tho ;-)
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 01:47 PM

There's just something about tungsten that's pleasing to the eye, so I tend to stay with that for most stuff.


I couldn't agree more with that sentiment. I always find tat the T kino tubes render skintones... oddly, to my eye. As for HMIs. . I tend away from them because they can often be problematic and have various color temps. Give me some 2K old moles, and a few Arri fresnels and I'll be happy in most situations.
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Opal

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Tai Audio

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Visual Products

Metropolis Post

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Willys Widgets

Ritter Battery

FJS International, LLC

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks