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cheap alternative to Helium balloon lights


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#1 Chris Saul

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 09:42 PM

I love the quality of Helium balloon lights but as a student they are too expensive to rent. Is there a poor mans version of this. I want something like a china ball but alot larger.
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#2 Andrew Wilding

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 11:35 PM

I love the quality of Helium balloon lights but as a student they are too expensive to rent. Is there a poor mans version of this. I want something like a china ball but alot larger.



Maybe bouncing some HMIs into a large frame of muslin rigged as high as you care?
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#3 James Brown

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 06:50 AM

I love the quality of Helium balloon lights but as a student they are too expensive to rent. Is there a poor mans version of this. I want something like a china ball but alot larger.

Hi,

Specifically what do you want to use it for? Is it a 3/4 high key for a general ambient wash or an overhead in a big space or something different??? Lighting ballons (IMO) are more often then not too much hassle - extensive rigging is required when the wind pops up and a lot of the light becomes wasted unless used directly overhead.

Large HMI's into BIG frames is the simplest way to achieve a large soft source otherwise you're talking scaff rigs and goal posts rigs to get a similair quality as balloons.

Regards, James.
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#4 robert duke

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 07:26 PM

you might try bouncing a large hmi into a weather balloon. you can buy a weather ballon for less than $50 online. :D
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#5 timHealy

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 08:19 PM

you might try bouncing a large hmi into a weather balloon. you can buy a weather ballon for less than $50 online. :D


I second Robert's idea. Especially good if you can't rig something above. Either too high or sensitive location.

best

Tim
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#6 Eileen Ryan

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 10:09 PM

I love the quality of Helium balloon lights but as a student they are too expensive to rent. Is there a poor mans version of this. I want something like a china ball but alot larger.


you're talking scaff rigs and goal posts rigs to get a similair quality as balloons.


I agree. You don't need scaff rigs and goal posts. You can get the quality of helium balloons from latex weather balloons that you can get cheaply from an army surplus supply and helium tanks you can get cheaply from a local gas supplier. Float the balloons with the helium and shoot a HMI or Tungsten Par into the underside of the balloon. With a little trial and error you will figure out where the light should be on the ground to get the right angle of reflectance to light your set. A few tips: besides your anchor line of heavy weight monofilament coming straight down, super glue picture hanging tabs onto the circumference of the balloon so that you can attach guide lines of mono filament to hold the balloon into position. That way the balloon won’t move around too much if the wind comes up. Be sure the balloon is fully inflated before you glue the tabs. Have several balloons on hand because you will probably pop one or two the first time you try this. Once you get the hang of it you should have no problem.

You will need a fairly big light on the ground to get any kind of level from bouncing onto a balloon. Where you need to do it on a low budget, I would suggest a 4k Par for an HMI source and the new Mole 5k Par for a tungsten source, because you can run either of them on one of the new modified Honda EU6500is gen-sets that provides a single 60Amps/120V circuit through a separate Transformer/Distro. You need to use a 240v-to-120v step down transformer/distro, like the one ScreenLight and Grip manufactures for their modified Honda EU6500is, because it is the only way I know of to power the Mole 120V 5k HMI Par on a portable generator. It steps down the 240V output of the generator to a single 60A 120V circuit that is capable of supplying the 42 Amps required by the 5k. Using a 240v-to-120v step down transformer/distro will also enable you to save money by renting an older style 4K HMI par with a 120V magnetic ballast. Stepping down the enhanced 7500W output of their modified Honda EU6500is, ScreenLight & Grips transformer/distro creates a single 120V circuit large enough to handle the high front end striking load, and even the voltage spikes, of a 4kw magnetic HMI ballast operating at 120V. And since, magnetic HMI ballasts will operate flicker free at all standard frame rates on an inverter generator (without the need for a crystal governor), you won’t have any flicker problems with a 4kw HMI on their system.

The Honda EU6500is is so quiet, that to record dialogue without picking up the sound of the generator, all you need to do is run it out of the back of a truck or van. Another advantage to using ScreenLight & Grip’s transformer/distro is that it is designed to give a light boost to the secondary voltage. This slight boost compensates for the drop in voltage you get over a long cable run and so allows you to place the generator further away from set yet have plug in points on set at full line level. Use this link for other examples and benefits of using step-down transformers in production.

Eileen Ryan, Gaffer, Boston
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