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Powerful Flashlight


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#1 M Joel W

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 01:35 PM

I'm shooting a project soon and we'll be doing some scenes with almost no light (mostly night interiors after a power failure happens in the script) and we want to light these scenes primarily with flashlights. For close ups we'll add fill to the faces, of course. We are shooting at ISO 250.

What would you recommend? I'm considering using xenon lights (though they are expensive...), or multi-led flashlights, although I'm worried the leds are too blue (8000K or whatever). I'm also worried that all flashlights have too narrow a beam; is it possible to buy a powerful light and jb weld a wide lens on it?

Thanks for the help,

-Matt
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#2 Hal Smith

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 02:31 PM

.........blue (8000K or whatever). I'm also worried that all flashlights have too narrow a beam; is it possible to buy a powerful light and jb weld a wide lens on it?
Thanks for the help,

Find a high end sporting goods store near you that stocks SureFire flashlights and see what you think of them. Bass Pro Shops stocks some of the SureFire line, another place that might be stocking SureFires near you would be a law enforcement equipment dealer (ask a cop?).
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#3 Steve McBride

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 03:08 PM

SureFire or MagLite are good. If the color temp is off a bit, just cut some gels and put it on the lens of the flashlight.
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#4 M Joel W

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 04:45 PM

Thanks for the advice. We used a maglite for our last project and found it to be generally much too dark; we used a $10 "million power" rechargeable flashlight (and/or a china lantern on a pole) off camera to supplement its beam when we did exteriors or big interiors. I think the "million power" light was about 500 lumens, so the 200 lumen surefire and maglites may be enough of an upgrade from our basic one... I guess I'll find out by trying one.

Anyhow, thanks again.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 08:52 PM

Whatever flashlight you decide to use, remove the protective glass in front of the lamp and lens if the design allows for it. They are usually scratched up or dirty and it will just suck light.

I have a streamlight that has shown up well on film before. It's even (roughly) tungsten balanced.
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#6 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 02:18 PM

Xenons are generally the best way of going about it. It's a sharper beam and the color temp is usually a bit cooler, almost daylight sometimes, producing a nice look on film.
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#7 Hal Smith

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 02:36 PM

Another thought: If you have some power available, either commercial or a small genny, a Source 4 Ellipsoidal as a followspot with the iris accessory dropped in would do a real good job at ISO 250. You'd have the cast carrying regular flashlights with enough intensity for their lens/bulb to read directly on film but have the S4 do the actual scene lighting. You could use a 750 Watt 3200K bulb with 1/2 CTB or if available, rent an S4 with a HMI Joker in it

City Theatrical makes a special yoke for using an S4 as a followspot but I've used them as followspots by simply clamping a piece of broomstick on the handles with hose clamps, leaving the lockdowns a bit loose.
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#8 M Joel W

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 06:44 PM

Another thought: If you have some power available, either commercial or a small genny, a Source 4 Ellipsoidal as a followspot with the iris accessory dropped in would do a real good job at ISO 250. You'd have the cast carrying regular flashlights with enough intensity for their lens/bulb to read directly on film but have the S4 do the actual scene lighting. You could use a 750 Watt 3200K bulb with 1/2 CTB or if available, rent an S4 with a HMI Joker in it

City Theatrical makes a special yoke for using an S4 as a followspot but I've used them as followspots by simply clamping a piece of broomstick on the handles with hose clamps, leaving the lockdowns a bit loose.


That's a great idea, but it's not in the budget. I think we're going to go with a 100 lumen maglite and use a "million candlepower" flashlight (600-1000 lumens) offscreen as a followspot and a china lantern on a pole for fill depending on what's needed. It turns out the flashlight we were hoping to get costs over $4,000 and that's way, way more than we want to spend. Thanks for the help, though; I will remember that.
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#9 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 02:51 AM

I'd like to see a $4000 flashlight. :blink: That sucker better be able to light up a little round spot on the surface of Jupiter at that price. Got a link? B)
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#10 Ira Ratner

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 06:30 AM

Would something like this be any good? I had an idea about picking up two and rigging a gel holder for some B&W work. Also, it looks like it would be easy to modify the handle to mount on a stand:

http://www.homedepot...uctId=100618907

Edited by Ira Ratner, 18 October 2008 - 06:30 AM.

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#11 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 05:52 AM

Apparently THIS is what a $4000 flashlight looks like:

http://www.streamlig...uct.aspx?pid=12

:rolleyes:
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#12 Hal Smith

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 09:04 AM

I'd like to see a $4000 flashlight. :blink: That sucker better be able to light up a little round spot on the surface of Jupiter at that price. Got a link? B)

Hi Cap'n,

I don't know about Jupiter but I've heard US Army Special Forces use SureFires to signal their position to overhead satellites (I wonder if they work on NY taxis in the rain?).
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#13 Keith Walters

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 03:59 AM

I'm shooting a project soon and we'll be doing some scenes with almost no light (mostly night interiors after a power failure happens in the script) and we want to light these scenes primarily with flashlights. For close ups we'll add fill to the faces, of course. We are shooting at ISO 250.

What would you recommend? I'm considering using xenon lights (though they are expensive...), or multi-led flashlights, although I'm worried the leds are too blue (8000K or whatever). I'm also worried that all flashlights have too narrow a beam; is it possible to buy a powerful light and jb weld a wide lens on it?

Thanks for the help,

-Matt

There are a couple of approaches I've seen used.

One is to buy a number of cheap metal-cased 4.5 Volt (3-cell) krypton flashlights and replace the 4.5 Volt bulbs with 3 Volt ot 2.5 Volt types. This will give you a nice bright light reasonably close to 3200K. (You also need to use fresh Alkaline batteries).


The bulb lifespan is obviously going to be shortened, but it's not a major concern. The recommended procedure is switch the flashlight on just before you roll, and tap it with a piece of wood. If the filament doesn't fail then, it probably won't for the average take. That's why you have several spares on hand.

The flashlights need to be metal-cased as Krypton bulbs tend to run very hot, and they will get even hotter with the bulbs over-run. In most cases when you're finished you can put the original bulbs back and they will still be useable flashlights.

You can also get focussable flashlights which will solve the beam angle problem.

Another approach is to gut a standard flashlight and replace the bulb/reflector assembly with a 12 Volt halogen downlight bulb, and run 12 Volts from a standard camera battery down the actor's sleeve. (Not so suitable for short sleeved shorts of course).

You can get the bulbs and sockets quite cheaply in specialist lighting stores. This approach is particularly good because downlight bulbs come in a wide range of power ratings and reflector angles.

For a quick-disconnect you can either get rubber shrouded two-wire inline connectors from car accessory stores, or use the male and female rubber inserts from 4-pin cannon connectors. The only drawback is that you need to find a reasonably compact battery if the actors are going to carry them around. I have seen power run up an actor's pants leg quite successfully, you just make sure he has plenty of slack and you keep his feet out of shot!


Whatever else you do, you will of course need to test your equipment thoroughly ahead of time. Which includes slipping a flashlight test in with your steady tests.

You probably know that a tiny bit of smoke will make the beams stand out and emphasize the effect.
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#14 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 04:11 AM

Hi Cap'n,

I don't know about Jupiter but I've heard US Army Special Forces use SureFires to signal their position to overhead satellites (I wonder if they work on NY taxis in the rain?).


Probably not, NYC cabbies never look where they're going anyway, but I just got this vision of an astronaut on the his way to the ISS radioing down to NASA "Will you tell those damn Green Berets to get that freakin' light outta my eyes, I'm tryin to dock here!!" :D

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 20 October 2008 - 04:14 AM.

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