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Why aren't the the lights we really need manufactured?


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#1 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 10:08 AM

This is a frustrated DP's post.

With budgets as they are these days in both commercials and music videos, it's imperative that one gets tools that can do the job. They don't have to be fancy things, just solve a simple problem. It's also a frustration with how lighting and rental companies are constantly taken for a ride and stocking up on the latest useless light.

Let me give you some real world examples:

1. Problem: Set on stage. We need one 12x 12 toplight source that doesn't spill too much on the wall. Solution? Butterfly and space lights.

Result? My gaffers and a ton of riggers have to fly a 12x12 butterfly with 4 space lights above them. They also need to tent in the space lights and everything above the butterfly so it doesn't spill. Also, below the frame we need to hang a skirt, so the light doesn't go everywhere up on the walls. We spend hours on hours rigging and building something that is really very simple to do, wasting not only everyone's time, but also their money.

Real solution: Get some coop lights. They're already enclosed and skirted out of the box. They're cheap and come with simple 500 or 1K bulbs. Do you think the rental house has them? Of course not - they're too old and uncool and have probably been thrown away or sitting in some box somewhere. "1000w bulbs in a box of textile? That's sooo 60's, Adam!", they chuckle.

2. Problem: Beauty light. Sometimes one needs a slightly bigger, harder source as a front. But you don't want the source to be too small, as it can get a bit harsh. You also don't want a soft source as that will go everywhere and doesn't create a defined shadow, if that's needed. Solution? Used to be that you got an old school 10K in (they had a very big fresnel that worked beautifully for this kind of stuff). But the problem is that it's still pretty bright if you use it close, so the talent squints and gets uncomfortable.

Result? Uncomfortable talent and needless time spend scrimming down too strong a source. Not the mention all the heat and energy wasted by running a too big lamp for it's job.

Real solution: Make a big ass fresnel, but with a 2kW bulb in it. Can you get it? Of course not! In fact, the new 12K's are smaller than the old 10K's that aren't produced anymore! Some clever gaffers have made bridges so they can stick a 2K bulb in a 10K or 12K housing, but if you don't get that gaffer (which you never do because he's really good and always on features), then you're poop out of luck. Rental houses don't carry any of that.

3. Problem: Toplight in tight locations. Solution? Kinoflo and that's it.

Result? Messy rigs with menace arms/mega booms trying to hang a Kino that hangs down far too much. Forget a Rifa, it hangs down even further, so if you don't want the flourescent look you have no other options - stuck with a horrid Kinoflo in what might be a candle lit period piece set.

Real solution: Get a thin board with a slight skirt/surrounding. Stick tons of peanut bulbs on it. Make it 2x4 or 4x4ft. Attach to ceiling. Job done.

4. Problem: sometimes all you want is a simple dimmable fill or soft source that isn't bulky. Solution? Kinoflo or Rifa.

Result? You end up, once again, using sources that are too bulky and have too much power or the wrong look for the job at hand.

Real solution: Covered Wagons. Make rental houses carry covered wagons. As it is today, none of them have any. It's always the gaffer who has to have his own, and frankly, most of them don't.

5. Problem: Need big soft source that doesn't spill everywhere and is easily moved. Solution? Butterfly.

Result? When you go direct it becomes too harsh with multiple hotspots in it, so you end up bouncing beforehand. Which means it goes everywhere. So you try to whip out the Lightools eggcrate and stick that on and it doesn't really work and has become this huge bulky thing that is impossible to move ever again without a rigging team of 90 sparks/electricians.

Real Solution: Huge Zip light. Or a box filled with normal incandescent household 60w bulbs. A 8x12ft box filled with 60W bulbs spaced 4 inches apart would be ideal. All on a dimmer.

6. Problem: Car hood mount, scene in car. Solution? "Get a sun gun powered off batteries or the cars inverter".

Result? Battery dies after 20 minutes and you still have 4 hours to shoot. The inverter trips constantly. The Sun Gun is too harsh, but since it's the biggest source you can run from a battery pack you're stuck with it.

Real Solution: Stick Honda EU20i almost silent 2kW portable suitcase gennys on a roof rack on top of the car, or strap it to the hood mount and then use whatever light you want (like a Briese). Do any of the huge rental houses carry them? Of course not - they want you to use their extra super shitty and expensive batteries. The smallest portable genny they make is the useless Honda 30i that is super bulky and 3 times the size of the smaller 2kW one, is not silent, never starts and can't be rigged to either a roof rack or the hood mount, making it a boat anchor at best.

7. Problem: Car beauty light on stage. Solution? This is similar to number 1.

Result? There's no easy way to do really pretty reflections in a shiny car without building everything from scratch and making it neat and boxed in. Sure there Fisher lights, but they're so expensive to rent that it's prohibitive for most shoots. You end up jerry rigging inadequate solutions or simply settling for the "single tube florrie reflected in car hood"-look once again to your great dismay and to your reels detriment.

Real Solution: Coop lights again, but now with a diffused, neat bottom.

And as I write this the world gets filled with even more lights that aren't needed.

Them: "It's a Vista Beam".
Me: "What's it do?"
Them: "it's like a really strong Kinoflo"
Me: "What the hell do I need that for?"

And generally this is a pet frustration for me - this absurd craving for brightness. Listen up manufacturers; all I want is big and weak sources. If I want a strong source far away I'll get an 18K or a Wendy. What the hell do I need a strong Kinoflo for? So I can move it further back and make it harder? No. So I can move it closer the talent and overexpose my shot with 11 stops and kill the talent? No.

Aaaaargh!
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#2 Tim Tyler

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 10:21 AM

Adam,

Have you tried the 4-tube Parabeam? Sure it's a Kino, but the reflector design creates a square, dimmable, hard, fresnel-like source that makes a nice key, especially punched through a 4x4 diffusion.
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#3 freddie bonfanti

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 10:49 AM

as a spark working in Britain mate, i completely understand what you mean...especially about kinos and battery powered pocket pars. its funny you say that, i hear the same so often from other frustrated Dps complaining to the gaffer on set.

im not very fond on kino flos, very fidgety to assemble and horrible light, especially when used in period pieces... covered wagons are much better, more lightweight, easy to mae and use

heck i should built a lot of them, make them look safe and tidy and sell them to Panalux London! do you think they'll buy them Adam??? probably not! ;-)
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#4 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 11:53 AM

heck i should built a lot of them, make them look safe and tidy and sell them to Panalux London! do you think they'll buy them Adam??? probably not! ;-)


Do it! I'll force them to buy it!
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#5 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 11:54 AM

Adam,

Have you tried the 4-tube Parabeam? Sure it's a Kino, but the reflector design creates a square, dimmable, hard, fresnel-like source that makes a nice key, especially punched through a 4x4 diffusion.


I think it was the Parabeam I meant. Is there such a thing as a Vista beam?
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 12:31 PM

I agree with you, Adam. I enjoyed the little Woodylight that my gaffer makes, which is like a 1K Chimera / Rifa light unit, but we ended up making a covered wagon as well.

I remember the fancy version that my gaffer in NYC made for "The Sopranos", which was a bit heavier (made out of metal), but I remembered it used the eggcrate from a 4' 2-bank Kinoflo, which gives you an idea of the dimensions -- about 4'x 1.5'.

So I suggested to my gaffer on "Tara" that we take apart a 4' 2-bank Kino and use the cardboard/plastic housing as a base for the covered wagon so it naturally had lightweight wings to it and a mounting plate on back. That worked out well.

We used Coops a lot, so it wasn't a problem finding those to rent here in L.A.

We once rented something called a Chimera Pancake Lantern for a location, sort of like a Chinese Lantern but more of a flattened square-based pyramid half-dome instead of a ball:
http://www.chimerali...om/lanterns.asp

What I've wanted are Kinoflo-shaped lights but with true tungsten bulbs -- like a portable 4'x4' lightbox that is only four inches deep, made up of light bulbs or strip lighting. And lightweight smaller boxes that could be mounted from a single pin in the back, like a 4' 2-bank Kino, etc. Maybe a 6'x6' box would be nice too.

Of course, people have their gaffers make up such things out of wood and foamcore, etc. but it gets so flimsy.

In fact, this is probably the main reason rental houses don't have some of these things -- they would fall-apart too quickly.

But I would love to strip out a Kino Wall-O-Light or Image-80 and put lots of tiny tungsten bulbs in it.

People have also made large foamcore boards made up of Christmas tree lights or rope lights for a very dim soft source, but I find the color temp to be too warm most of the time.
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#7 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 01:02 PM

I think it was the Parabeam I meant. Is there such a thing as a Vista beam?


There is such a thing. It's similar to the Parabeam, but bigger. It's around 3' 6" x 3' 6" with 6 tubes. It has a lot of output for very little power and a slim profile of only about 8". I wouldn't describe it as an essential piece of kit, but it has its uses.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 01:08 PM

It may be the way of all DP's that as they work more and get more experience, they start having to design their own lights to suit their needs...
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#9 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 01:22 PM

b] Beauty light. Sometimes one needs a slightly bigger, harder source as a front. But you don't want the source to be too small, as it can get a bit harsh. You also don't want a soft source as that will go everywhere and doesn't create a defined shadow, if that's needed. Solution? Used to be that you got an old school 10K in (they had a very big fresnel that worked beautifully for this kind of stuff). But the problem is that it's still pretty bright if you use it close, so the talent squints and gets uncomfortable.


You could try a 1K Photoflex Starlite (photoflex starlitel) with a octodome (octodome).

If you leave the diff off the front of the octodome, you get direct light from the bulb combined with a softer light from the soft box. Might not be exactly what you're looking for, but worth trying.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 02:20 PM

There's nothing quite like a big fresnel unit, so you're sort of stuck getting the gaffer to rig a lower wattage bulb in the unit. I've seen 10K fresnels with 5K globes in them, for example.
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#11 freddie bonfanti

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 02:29 PM

i really like the octodome...another thing i always wanted to do is to make up a type of fluorescent fixture like a kino which you can switch from daylight to tungsten without having to change the bloody tubes.
its all about the frequency but i reckon its duable. obviously there really aint so much point now that LED lighting kicked in, i think fluoros may disappear once the LED technology will be perfectioned
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#12 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 05:19 PM

Seen those Photoflex units and I'd be up for using them, but they just seem like a poor version of the Briese. And as David said, a big old fresnel has a very unique light...

You know that the European Union is seriously thinking of outlawing all tungsten/incandescent light for environmental reasons? I do hope the film industry gets an exception, because otherwise it's game over, man. I don't know if I could light with just HMI's, florries and LEDs.

LED's by the way - very energy efficient, but they have an even more horrid light than florries. I'm not sure they belong on sets at all...

BTW, is there a link to a rental house in the US that has a pic of a Coop light. Because when I mention it here, half of the rental houses don't know what I'm talking about...
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#13 freddie bonfanti

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 08:44 PM


LED's by the way - very energy efficient, but they have an even more horrid light than florries. I'm not sure they belong on sets at all...


agreed, they are horrible, but the small brick lights ones are brilliant for car interiors and generally tiny and tough locations IMO
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#14 Matt Irwin

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 09:14 PM

BTW, is there a link to a rental house in the US that has a pic of a Coop light. Because when I mention it here, half of the rental houses don't know what I'm talking about...

Adam-
Not exactly a rental house, but here's a start:
http://books.google....result#PPA63,M1

There are also Bruce Finn's Toplight fixtures which are sort of an updated version of the original coops:
http://finnlight.com/
Maybe you could sell the rental houses on these since they are newer and therefore "cooler" <_<
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#15 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 09:37 PM

There are also Bruce Finn's Toplight fixtures which are sort of an updated version of the original coops:
http://finnlight.com/
Maybe you could sell the rental houses on these since they are newer and therefore "cooler" <_<


Brilliant - that's exactly what I need! I'm gonna force them to get some of these!
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#16 Matt Workman

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 11:45 PM

The finnlights look really nice. Good find.

With the Woodylite and the Baglight is seems like this is the way people are going with multiple smaller tungsten lights. Arri/Mole just need to hop on board so the rest of us can rent them. I only know one place in NYC that rents Baglights.

I just read about Roger Deakins building custom oval shaped rigs made up of lots of 60/100w tungsten bulbs for overhead sources. Most of my jobs do not allow for custom anything.

I've never hired one of these but Chimera makes custom overhead softbox rigs. I'd assume they are expensive and do require time rigging to add the lighting fixtures. Though they look pretty well designed and modular.

http://www.chimerali.../f2overhead.asp

I'm always interested in new lighting innovation. I guess its mainly in LED technology lately.

How do you feel about space balloons? I think the smaller ones are interesting.

Matt
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#17 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 02:39 AM

We once rented something called a Chimera Pancake Lantern for a location, sort of like a Chinese Lantern but more of a flattened square-based pyramid half-dome instead of a ball:
http://www.chimerali...om/lanterns.asp


I'm a fan of the pancake. Creates a nice soft toplight and comes with a nice long skirt which you can hike up here and there for a bit more spill if needed.

I also own a couple of Photoflex softboxes which I use all the time and really love. To cut down the spill, I do use egg crates sometimes, but I find it far better to setup a floppy or too. Also, if I want a large semi-uneven halfway hard/halfway soft source, I just tear off the diffusion and it looks great.
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#18 JD Hartman

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 07:00 PM

What kind of globes are the 'Finn light" using. I didn't see it stated on any of the pages in the link. All it says is 1000w. An EGT probably? Seems like the spacelights that B&M make with the HPL globes would be a good starting point for a similar fixture. A diffusion tent hung below and some roll up duvetyn skirting.
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#19 Matt Irwin

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 04:53 PM

I think it's stated somewhere on that site that the fixtures use PAR64 lamps.
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#20 Tim Tyler

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 02:34 PM

I just read a blurb in the February ICG mag about the Satellight-X

I'm sure it's expensive, but it seems like it could be a great light for interiors. I assume the light is probably similar to a couple of 4-Banks with diffusion, but I bet this packs up smaller.

Anyone have any experience with these? Do they travel well?
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