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Lighting With China Balls


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#1 Jean Paul DiSciscio

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 08:53 PM

I'm looking to shoot a more gentle, and soft style of lighting for my next project. Being a minimal budget, I'm going to stock up on China balls. The ultimate goal is to make the film look as though it was shot using natural, existing light.

Does anyone have a suggestion as to where to buy cheap China Balls and good 5500K bulbs that will manipulate natural sunlight?

I'm favoring films from the 70s like 'Fat City' where everything has an 'unlit' look.

Thanks,

-J.P.
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#2 Serge Teulon

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 06:57 AM

Hey Jean,

China balls can be purchased at pretty much any shop that caters for home decor.
http://www.habitat.c...nt-shade/209716
The only thing that I'll add is that you must make sure you keep the bulb from touching the sides.....

Alternatively you could go somewhere dearer (but safer) http://www.filmtools.com/chinlan.html

In terms of bulbs, I normally use photofloods (3400k). Somebody in here gave me this link sometime ago...very helpful...http://www.bltdirect.com/product.php?pid=1515

Unfortunately I've never really heard of daylight photofloods.
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#3 Ari Davidson

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 08:19 AM

They're no photo floods but you'll get the color you're looking for.

http://www.bulbs.com...e-/results.aspx

or if matching overcast,

http://www.bulbs.com...e-/results.aspx
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#4 Joseph Zizzo

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 08:36 AM

ari - those bulbs are green, though, no?

jean paul - you can use eca's and ebw's... they don't quite get you full daylight, they're maybe 4000-4500ºK. this distributor claims 4800ºK, maybe right out of the box it is:

http://www.filmtools...w500wattge.html

you should consider gelling your windows... cto if you use the eca/ebw photofloods, minusgreen if you use compact flouros.
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 08:46 AM

The biggest problem with daylight-ish balanced photoflood bulbs is their life, which is usually just a few hours. So if you're going to use 'em, make sure you stock up on a lot of 'em. CTO is often a better solution if possible. Personally, I like 1/2 or 3/4 CTO on my windows so they're still just a little bit blue.
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#6 Joseph Zizzo

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 08:47 AM

sorry! make that PLUSGREEN if you use flouros! not minusgreen...
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#7 James Compton

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 12:27 PM

Jean,


I use chinese lanterns very often. Check these out :

http://lanternlock.com/

They mount very easily to a C stand. Also when using 5500K photoflood bulbs add some 1/4 or 1/8 CTB to the OUTSIDE of the lantern to remove the slight warming effect the paper adds.
You can't see it by eye but it shows up on film and video monitors.
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#8 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 09:02 PM

How many times do I have to say it?? China balls are for beer gardens and student films! They're easy to plug in, but they're tough to control.

But, if you're determined to use them, you can get BCA bulbs, which are blue ECA's, 250w at about 4800k. They last a good long while. Also, make sure to bring a lot of duvateen, or - if you have the prep time - paint one half of some of the china balls black.
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#9 Serge Teulon

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 07:05 AM

How many times do I have to say it?? China balls are for beer gardens and student films!



Jon,

I disagree with you comment about china balls. If you know your bulbs you can get a wonderful fall off look, which you've seen and will see in many professional productions.
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#10 David Rakoczy

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 07:19 AM

The biggest problem with daylight-ish balanced photoflood bulbs is their life, which is usually just a few hours. So if you're going to use 'em, make sure you stock up on a lot of 'em. CTO is often a better solution if possible. Personally, I like 1/2 or 3/4 CTO on my windows so they're still just a little bit blue.


This is true of 211, 212 & 213s... about 3 hours of life expectancy... :(

....but they do a GREAT JOB! :wub:
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#11 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 10:46 AM

Jon,

I disagree with you comment about china balls. If you know your bulbs you can get a wonderful fall off look, which you've seen and will see in many professional productions.


Yes, if you are really disciplined about the way you use them, they're great. AND, they provide quick, easy, cheap light on those low-budget jobs a lot of us shoot at the start (!) of our careers. But, when I'm on a big movie with 11 other grips, and 10 electricians (and a 40' truck filled with lights), and we spend 10 minutes dithering with a china ball to get it to look like a baby through a chimera ... It just drives me crazy.

and yes, 3/4CTO is brilliant!
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#12 Serge Teulon

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 11:56 AM

I think, like you said, it comes down also to how disciplined you are.
The Gaffer that I work with can put one up in no time at all and the light is great for a walk and talk or a tight situation as a top light.
Horses for courses springs to mind.....
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#13 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 12:54 PM

That's a terrific video.
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#14 Serge Teulon

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 05:29 AM

Not sure if you're referring to the link on my signature. But if you are, thanks!
That is a good example of a large China ball with a 500W photoflood bulb as a top light.
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#15 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 12:30 PM

Hey Serge,

Wicked camerawork! Just spot on. Supergrass were one of my favourite bands must have been a blast working with what's left of them.

Kieran.




Not sure if you're referring to the link on my signature. But if you are, thanks!
That is a good example of a large China ball with a 500W photoflood bulb as a top light.


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#16 David Rakoczy

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 12:47 PM

Nice Work Serge! ;)

Love the selective desaturation!
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#17 Álvaro Gutiérrez

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 05:17 AM

If you have enough china balls to play with, you can have some of them painted black on the top horizontal half or vertical half before the shoot. This can be a quick way to cut off undesired spill and it'll be easier than using black paper or flags.
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