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#1 Rich Hibner

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 12:39 AM

I'm looking to buy some practicals and wanted to know what's the best wattage...a colleague of mine was saying 15watts is plenty good. You just want to the audience to think that the practical is giving off light so it really doesn't need to be any higher than 15w. Is this true? Should I get a variety?

Edited by Rich Hibner, 17 November 2008 - 12:40 AM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 01:14 AM

No, it's not really true. Sometimes you just want to see a glow from a practical but have it not give out any real exposure, so you use a very low wattage bulb or dim it down. Other times, you want the practical to actually provide a large amount of the exposure on a face, so you use a higher wattage bulb. You need a variety of wattage bulbs, and you need to carry some dimmers too.

I often start out with 100w bulbs in most of my household lanterns. Sometimes I put in something even brighter, occasionally something smaller. Just depends. A practical in the far background may need to only put out a dim glow, other times, you want it to expose most of that wall. Also depends on how dense the shade is, and how far the practical is from the subject.

Unlike some DP's, I actually want the real lamps to do most of the lighting work in a scene, especially if an actor is sitting right next to one -- it looks more natural that way. Unless a too-bright practical looks distracting or is creating an unwanted flare.

I particularly like desk lamps that allow me to key the actor.
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#3 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 02:47 AM

No, it's not really true. Sometimes you just want to see a glow from a practical but have it not give out any real exposure, so you use a very low wattage bulb or dim it down. Other times, you want the practical to actually provide a large amount of the exposure on a face, so you use a higher wattage bulb. You need a variety of wattage bulbs, and you need to carry some dimmers too.

I often start out with 100w bulbs in most of my household lanterns. Sometimes I put in something even brighter, occasionally something smaller. Just depends. A practical in the far background may need to only put out a dim glow, other times, you want it to expose most of that wall. Also depends on how dense the shade is, and how far the practical is from the subject.

Unlike some DP's, I actually want the real lamps to do most of the lighting work in a scene, especially if an actor is sitting right next to one -- it looks more natural that way. Unless a too-bright practical looks distracting or is creating an unwanted flare.

I particularly like desk lamps that allow me to key the actor.


Hi

How do you avoid the lamp and shade from burning out/blowing out.... if you expose for the light... doesnt the face get too dark.. or do you have some special shades made up?

Thanks
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#4 Philip Ulanowsky

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 03:40 PM

I, too, will be interested in replies to that. I recently set up an interview with a bounced light as key in a living room. There was table lamp with a transluscent white shade next to and slightly behind the subject. I had the lamp on a dimmer, but quickly learned that the key falling on the shade made the dimmer meaningless. I would have had to flag off the lamp, but was not equipped to do so.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 06:50 PM

If you want to use the light from a practical and you don't like how hot the lamp itself gets, you can tape a small piece of diff to knock down the side of the bulb that is toward camera. A piece 6 or 7 inches long and 3 or 4 inches wide will do the trick. The aim is to knock the light down on the half of the lamp toward camera while letting it hit the talent full strength.

You can also let the lamp burn out some. I often find it pleasing.
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 06:59 PM

Agreed on the burn out. I often let them go to as that's how they look when I look at a lamp in an otherwise dim room.
Also streaks and tips can be sprayed onto a bulb to knock it down; so I'm told. I've never done that myself, but you can buy some from filmtools.com and have fun with it.
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 07:30 PM

I've also cut part of a lampshade out and replaced it with my own lighter diffusion. It worked but I've decided it isn't really necessary. I'd rather knock the camera side down. It's quicker anyway.
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#8 Rich Hibner

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 07:34 PM

Thanks David. I got a pack of 100watt practicals and already own some dimmers and think I"ll be using that. I'll go with a variety just to be safe...guess it just depends on your scene and how you want it lit. Thanks for the info.
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#9 Rich Hibner

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 07:38 PM

I've also cut part of a lampshade out and replaced it with my own lighter diffusion. It worked but I've decided it isn't really necessary. I'd rather knock the camera side down. It's quicker anyway.


You diff it straight on the bulb or the shade itself? What diffuser would you recommend?
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#10 Rich Hibner

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 07:48 PM

I particularly like desk lamps that allow me to key the actor.


I remember in your production thread for Jennifer's Body you used a desk lamp for one of your shots.
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#11 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 07:58 PM

If you want to use the light from a practical and you don't like how hot the lamp itself gets, you can tape a small piece of diff to knock down the side of the bulb that is toward camera. A piece 6 or 7 inches long and 3 or 4 inches wide will do the trick. The aim is to knock the light down on the half of the lamp toward camera while letting it hit the talent full strength.

You can also let the lamp burn out some. I often find it pleasing.



I guess it depends on the lamp ofcourse.. a desk light you can cut off the light towards the camera totally... but a table lamp close to the subject for an interview is going to be very distracting.. unless its a look you are after.. IMHO.. but the ND is a good idea.. Ive done that for the whole bulb.. until I woke up and got a dimmer..!!!

Slicing into the lamp shade sounds fun too... an antique one should cut easily :)

Tanks
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#12 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 08:16 PM

You diff it straight on the bulb or the shade itself? What diffuser would you recommend?


I tape it to the socket or to the wire that goes up over the bulb to hold the shade. I try not to actually touch the bulb, just make a little shield of diffusion. I like 250 or 251. Two or three layers of opal would do fine, too.
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#13 Evan Pierre

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 09:49 PM

Rich: I always try to steer clear of having any sort of gels or diffusion coming into direct contact with the bulb itself. Even relatively low wattaged bulbs can put out enough heat to melt gel if it happens to be touching.
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#14 Rich Hibner

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 03:12 AM

Rich: I always try to steer clear of having any sort of gels or diffusion coming into direct contact with the bulb itself. Even relatively low wattaged bulbs can put out enough heat to melt gel if it happens to be touching.


Thanks man, I appreciate the heads up. I was assuming that most wouldn't put anything directly on the gel anyway.
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#15 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 02:44 PM

Be aware that dimming makes light shift warmer. When I can I prefer to use the bulb of the right strength.
Sometimes ND is not possible without being visible. Do some experiments with different types of practicals so that you can work with the set designer to get practicals that are, well, practical.
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#16 David Auner aac

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 03:39 AM

Be aware that dimming makes light shift warmer.


You're right, but the nice thing with practicals is that they're usually warm anyways. Unless you're dimming way down the shift isn't going to be that bad. But it's good to have all kinds, sizes and wattage of bulbs. They're cheap and the limit is only how much want to carry around. The box I have my practicals stuff in is one of largest boxes I carry on set.

Cheers, Dave
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#17 Patrick Kaplin

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 01:16 PM

Is it possible to buy practicals that are already balanced for 3200°K?
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#18 Rich Hibner

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 05:31 PM

I"m gonna get a 25, 50 and already have a few 100's. That should keep me busy.
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#19 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 07:39 PM

Pat, if memory serves there are photo flood which as 3400K, close enough to 3200. I've never used them as I like the "warmer," look of prac bulbs myself and you can always time that warmth out if they're your sole bit of illumination. Check filmtools.com for the photo floods. I do think they might have less than normal life though. . .
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#20 Patrick Kaplin

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 04:44 AM

Thanks Adrian, I'll check the photofloods. I've heard their color temperature drops rather quickly though as the life of the bulb goes? Not sure if this is rumor or fact.

Any personal experience?
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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

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