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Keeping Things Simple - overhead lighting dilemma


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#1 Zander Kroon

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 09:39 PM

I'm gaffing an independent short next weekend. Its about a school teacher who doubles as an amateur MMA fighter. Naturally there will be a big boxing match in the movie. The scene will be a bit stylized, overhead lighting providing strong, soft ambience and then a hard key and edge light. The background, outside of the cage that is, both the DP and director want completely black. So only the actors and the cage they are fighting can be lit/shown.

Now originally the DP wanted to light it by hanging a 12' silk over the 20x20 fighting cage. Then use 4 mighty's and 5 micky's in a 9 light pattern to blast into the silk, creating a very broad, even source. On paper this is all well and fine, however, we are running into problems installing this set up. We cannot move the cage, hang the lights, and put the cage back in. We can't put a scissor lift in the cage, it will break the structure. A condor can't be used either, the doors into the building are too narrow to get the body of the unit inside. So, the options I see now are few.

#1 Rent scaffolding and build a 20' high platform that goes into the cage for my crew to work on.

#2 Create a goal post set up with multiple sections of long speed rail to hang both lights and the silk from. My concern is the weight of the rig (safety and speed rail bowing if it is over 20' wide) and how easy it would be to hoist up all the weight once set up. Plus we would have to black out the stands so they aren't seen.

#3 Hang a 12' ultra bounce over the cage and then use source 4's on the ground (outside of the ring) to blast up and into the bounce.

#4 Light it completely differently than how they want.

Now that I've spewed out all my thoughts, ideas, and concerns, do any of you folks have some advice? We have the budget to rent some additional tools if necessary but I am trying to keep this as low cost as possible.
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#2 Ross Neugeboren

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 10:48 PM

Hey Zander,
Sounds like an awesome setup, I was reading the AC article on how they lit the ring scenes in "The Fighter..." with a lighttools eggcrate. Good stuff.

In thinking about it, the solution to your problem might lie in two parts; reducing the overall weight of the rig, and reducing cost to accomodate whatever freestanding rigging you may need. For both, you might want to reconsider the choice of fixtures by replacing the mighties and mickeys with 1k and 2k nooklites... which theoretically will deliver the same quality and amount of light once you get it all through that silk anyway. The broad sources might even save some headaches of the throw you'd need between the open faces and the silk, or bring down the amount of fixtures required to fill the silk evenly with a limited throw.
I don't know how your rental house prices... but at least the ones I deal with in new york are fairly close on the pricing between a 2k nook and a mighty, but offer about $15 savings between a 1k nook and a mickey. In both cases, the photometrics line up.

That might justify the added rigging cost. For that, without being able to rig off the ceiling, I have three suggestions. The simplest is a goalpost style rig, but substitutes a single piece of spanned speedrail for a vastly stronger 3 pipe truss rig; using fittings like these. http://www.cinemagad...ipe_mounts/3948 and http://www.cinemagad...ipe_mounts/3950 or some variation in 1-1/2" speed rail. Most likely when you're all said and done, that would require two or four crank stands to get up high. In that situation, I would imagine two separate goalpost rigs positioned parallel to eachother with speedrail runners perpendicular would allow a grid to be built.

Otherwise, borrowing a page from the rock rigging book, and from a setup very similar to your own from the monster lighting newsletter: http://www.monsterli...1317-744158.JPG the use of box truss and two genie material lifts on either side. In that case, the sources were two 4x8' ultra-soft 16k sources designed by monster (http://monsterlighting.com/mobox.php) but in your case speed rail could be cheeseborough'd perpendicular to the truss to support your sources and frames of silk. Those genie lifts fit through a doorway and box truss is pretty darn strong, so that could be effective in keeping the rig simple but safe and easy.

The most elaborate solution would be borrowing a page from the advanced rock rigging book and employing a tower supported freestanding square of box truss, which involves chain motors. In a setup like this one, http://i01.i.aliimg....Space_Frame.jpg the towers could fit in with the MMA arena feel,and the square combined with a grid of speed rail cheeseboroughed to the box truss, or more box truss within that outer square forming a grid, you could hang a serious amount of light. Granted, this solution while rock sturdy would most likely require the assistance of experienced rock riggers; which might exceed budgetary manpower restraints.

Well, hope any of these solutions might be in reach and suit your needs. I'd be happy to CAD out an example or explain anything further should you wish to see it laid out first or evaluate further.

Good luck and may you be blessed with an understanding line producer,
Ross
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#3 John David Miller

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 11:49 PM

Might I suggest a balloon light. Raise/lower or tease as needed. Fill with air not helium to rig overhead if possible.

Edited by John David Miller, 23 June 2011 - 11:53 PM.

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#4 freddie bonfanti

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 12:16 AM

i don't know what the cage looks like or if there's any way you can rig around it, but the balloon idea suggested above sounds best.

if you're REALLY keen on punchy tungsten how about a genie boom? if you can drive one in and push the arm out on top of the cage then you could rig a light box under its basket, which is basically a cube of 8x8 frames covered in B/U with a belly of diff under it. You can then fill it with spacelights or cans or nooks or what have you and punch it above the set. very effective

it all depends on space and manoeuvrability obviously
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