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First Time with Large Units


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#1 J. Søren Viuf

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 10:09 AM

Hey all,

So I am shooting my first short with the option of using big units, like 18Ks on condors, etc...

Anyways, I wanted to know how much they would play during day exteriors, and, for night exteriors, what are some concerns/issues that I should be aware of? i.e. distance from subject, is it necessary to use half-scrims or flag off walls? Sorry for the vagueness, but any advice, past experiences would be helpful.

Also, we're shooting in NYC in December, so we won't be getting too too much direct sunlight.

J. Soren Viuf
www.jsv-dp.com
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#2 David Rakoczy

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 10:12 PM

Order the book FILM LIGHTING by Malkiewicz
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#3 Patrick Neary

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 10:26 PM

what are some concerns/issues that I should be aware of?


Be aware of the amount of time it takes to run cable, set up gennys and rig big lights (especially on condors); you have to balance how much you want or need them with the size and speed of the crew and the time available in the schedule.
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#4 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 10:43 PM

Lighting principles are constant, but big stuff takes more manpower. For instance, 18k's take 3 or 4 people to mount on a stand. If you've got 10 grips, then it's pretty normal to throw a couple of 12'x12's and 8'x8' and some dolly track around. But if you're still stuck with your indie-standard crew of 2+2 and a swing, you're digging quite a hole for yourself if you want to start lighting w/ the big guns.
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#5 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 11:27 PM

Spend the money on talented and experienced G&E.
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#6 Andrew Koch

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 12:34 AM

Amen. I'll take an amazing crew with less than amazing equipment over vice versa. That said, let us know what exactly you are planning on shooting, your location, your look you want to achieve and how you intend to light it. Also mention how many people you have in your electric department and how many in your grip department and the experience and skill of these people. What is your film speed? Give as much info as possible and we will be better equipped to help you come up with some strategies. Also, get Set Lighting Technicians Handbook by Harry Box. I and many others consider it the electrician's bible.

One thing I can tell you right now is that if it is going to rain, you need keep your HMI heads and especially your ballasts completely dry. Make sure your crew knows how to make covering for these lights. Obviously, make sure everything is grounded. In LA it is legal and more practical to have a floating ground, but I don't know what the law is in New York. If a floating ground is not legal there, you may have to drive and 8 ft stake in the ground.

Anyway, I'll try to help you more once I know what you are dealing with
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#7 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 12:50 AM

Amen. I'll take an amazing crew with less than amazing equipment over vice versa. That said, let us know what exactly you are planning on shooting, your location, your look you want to achieve and how you intend to light it. Also mention how many people you have in your electric department and how many in your grip department and the experience and skill of these people. What is your film speed? Give as much info as possible and we will be better equipped to help you come up with some strategies. Also, get Set Lighting Technicians Handbook by Harry Box. I and many others consider it the electrician's bible.

One thing I can tell you right now is that if it is going to rain, you need keep your HMI heads and especially your ballasts completely dry. Make sure your crew knows how to make covering for these lights. Obviously, make sure everything is grounded. In LA it is legal and more practical to have a floating ground, but I don't know what the law is in New York. If a floating ground is not legal there, you may have to drive and 8 ft stake in the ground.

Anyway, I'll try to help you more once I know what you are dealing with


Andrew, I support that you are trying to help, but I feel that J. Soren having this conversation with his gaffer in person will do much more for his peace of mind and lead to less confusion. If i were in his position I would come out of pocket to hire a talented gaffer and crew; considering I am not comfortable with lights over 10K.

This can become a very expensive, dangerous and time consuming shoot if not handled correctly.
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#8 Andrew Koch

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 07:17 AM

I completely agree. This is definitely a situation where a skilled and talented gaffer would be quite advantageous because he/she can work out the logistics and help you achieve your look.
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#9 David Rakoczy

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 09:26 AM

You mean... quite necessary . ;)
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#10 Matt Workman

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 01:14 PM

I've only recently started working with "big lights" on a semi-regular basis but my advice is to pick a Footcandle or TStop you want to work at and figure out how far the light has to be and how wide an area you can light at that FC/Tstop. This is mainly for night exterior work. When you are placing the Maxi or 18k, you want to get it right the first time, moving the rigs and relaying cable take forever...

Also understanding the coverage is paramount, because you can't just say, oh lets look this way now. You'll be looking at a genie and a whole army of production vans and people. Unless you are lighting 360 and then its time to call AirStar. :lol:

Matt
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#11 J. Søren Viuf

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 03:07 PM

Andrew (and everybody else),

Thank you, and I'm sorry I haven't had the time to put more specifics until now (on set, of course).

Anyways, here's what I'm lookin' at:

Super 35mm
Kodak 5260 (possibly underexposed and pushed one stop)
Day Exteriors in NYC in December (not much direct sunlight)
The project is a street-life story about young, sexually-aware Hispanic girls who use their sexuality to manipulate and rob an older shop owner. Mostly handheld, floating camera, something along the lines of 21 Grams or Babel. (Side question: anybody know the stocks/processing used for those?)

The principles of lighting I'm aware of, it's just of a scale that I've never directly managed or pre-vis'ed. As you can imagine, I didn't want to show up completely unawares of what lie before me or be unable to communicate to my crew effectively and professionally.

So perhaps, what I was wondering is, although I've ACed, but never DPed or gaffed a show with lights that big, is how much would those come in handy during a day shoot? In other words, would they produce a noticable punch during the day? I imagine it must. I am looking to create a hard sun backlight, but since it's December in the city, I wanted to recreate it. Would 1 18K do the trick, or should I just get a smaller unit for speed and flexibility? Alternatively, if a SoftSun is within the budget, would that be better?

Right now, I'm concerned about my crew being too small. If so, should I scrap the big units and instead go for a MaxiBrute or 10K Par or what would you recommend?

Thanks so much for your help.

J. Soren Viuf
www.jsv-dp.com
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#12 Ira Ratner

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 04:30 PM

Andrew (and everybody else),


The project is a street-life story about young, sexually-aware Hispanic girls who use their sexuality to manipulate and rob an older shop owner.


Well, you should have said that in the first place:

So all you really need are good spots for the t*ts and a**es, right?

HAH! SOMETIMES I EVEN CRACK MYSELF UP!

Wish I was still living up there, because I would volunteer to do anything just to be on that set.

And it's a good thing you chose Hispanic girls, because believe me, you can't pull this off with Jewish ones.
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#13 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 11:27 PM

Not much info to go on, but I would look into getting multiple 6k pars rather than 1 18K. But, yes, 18k's are used all the time for day exteriors.
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#14 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 11:55 PM

In other words, would they produce a noticable punch during the day? I imagine it must. I am looking to create a hard sun backlight, but since it's December in the city, I wanted to recreate it. Would 1 18K do the trick, or should I just get a smaller unit for speed and flexibility? Alternatively, if a SoftSun is within the budget, would that be better?

Right now, I'm concerned about my crew being too small. If so, should I scrap the big units and instead go for a MaxiBrute or 10K Par or what would you recommend?


An 18k will undoubtedly give you the hard sun back light you want in overcast/ winter weather (and summer too!), unless the frame is just too wide or you are too far from the light, but you can still get away with a lot with a single 18k in lower light exteriors.

If you need to move fast, you can always get smaller lights, like the 10k par. Maxibrutes I personally would not use for the look you say you are going for.

As it has been mentioned, rigging is going to be hard with 18k's. If your crew is going to be small I would use smaller lights. In winter light even a 5k HMI may do the trick, if you had to go really small -but I would do some testing beforehand.

Unless you want lotsa depth of field, or were using really slow lenses /shooting anamorphic you will be fine with 10k for hard highlights for exterior day filming. I mean, you are using 500 ASA film and you want to push it and underexpose it some right? Damn, you could shoot in winter indoors or some night scenes with a 10k and a collection of smaller lights and get away with it no problem.

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 19 November 2008 - 11:59 PM.

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#15 Matt Workman

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 11:57 PM

You'd be surprised how little an 18k does unless its pretty close to the subject, during the day. You might be better off with a row of 12/18k pars with narrow lenses and find clever ways to rig them where you need them, especially if they are supposed to be backlights.

Posted Image

Also Xenons are nice for very narrow and focused hits, the 12/18k are pretty soft even at full spot.

Good luck and post set photos. :lol:

Matt

PS: They also make great props ...

Posted Image
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#16 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 11:59 PM

Hey Matt,
where is the 18k...? :ph34r:
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#17 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 12:00 AM

Hey Matt,
where is the 18k...? :ph34r:


That is what I was thinking . . .
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#18 Matt Workman

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 08:39 PM

JM & SR: You mean in the set photos? Those aren't mine, just examples and having fun. The first one is just a row of 1.2 or 2.5/4ks I found and the second is some random fashion photo I found. :ph34r: :ph34r:

But here are two pictures of 12ks from a shoot I did a few weeks ago in NYC. :P It was overcast so it was good we had them hanging out.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Matt
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#19 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 09:20 PM

5260 in the daytime outdoors, even in a shaded city like NY, you should have a pretty healthy exposure. I guess it depends on how wide your coverage is going to be. If it's mostly CU's & MCU's, the larger units should do the trick for creating artificial hot spots in the background. But a good array of smaller Joker units could be enough just for backlighting and punching in a bit of fill for you scenes.

As has been said, it's a discussion to have with your gaffer, who hopefully is already experienced in the practical use of larger units on a location shoot.
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#20 J. Søren Viuf

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 12:47 AM

Unfortunately, I am in LA, and the production is trying to find a gaffer still : :unsure: So I have yet to speak with him or her, sadly.

Anyways, what do you mean by Joker unit? Those are smaller HMI's yes?

Also, what types of stands are those that you used, Matt? Do you recommend them? If not, what types of stands should I go with for 12Ks?

Thirdly, do y'all find the Arri lights to have more punch than Mole for equivalent wattage?
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Technodolly

Glidecam

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Tai Audio

Visual Products

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Rig Wheels Passport

Willys Widgets

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

Opal

CineTape

Abel Cine

The Slider