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#1 Victor Bareno

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 03:34 PM

Hi, this is my first post here. I was hoping to earn some advice or direction on my first lighting kit. I would like to have a general selection of tools that will allow me to tell a story.. I'm trying to achieve a strong sense of cinema. I need to be prepared for most if not all situations, at least some what. I like the use of natural light..

I'm only a student starting out, and have a smallish budget, but fortunately the used market for lights in my area is great. For not too much money, I currently have..

1- 2k, 10'' Fresnel (Can be lamped @ 1k, 1.5k)
2- 750w 6'' Fresnel
3- 500w 6'' Fresnel
1- 200w 3'' Fresnel
1- 1k spot w/irises
1- 750w spot w/irises

Now, I think I may be getting three 1K's and a 750w Scoop this week, but that's a maybe.. I think having a few 1k fresnels could be useful.

I think I might need a few open-face lights (750w? 1k? 2k?) for broadly lighting bigger areas. I'm also set on buying another 2k as well, but with a 6'' lens instead. I like the idea of having two 2k's to light through window areas. If possible, I will try to get a few more 3'' fresnels, but they are hard to find used.

For soft light, I've thought about buying a 2k zip or something, but to save money I've built some frames out of PVC that hold different fabrics. I will have to buy C stands and mount a rigging point somehow, but I think using fabrics in general to diffuse and bounce my light, rather than using expensive softboxes or zips, is the economical (and resourceful) way to go.

Then there's the issue of daylight balancing - None of these would be very effective in balancing a room lit mostly by daylight. I am thinking of looking into some LED's or Fluorescent type setup just for lighting with daylight. Daylight LED Fresnels are just coming out, but out of my budget. I am a little lost when it comes to which of these fluoro/led technology is the best. I was thinking of constructing my own hardlight/softbox out of multiple CFL bulbs. Would this be sufficient? Because I see people selling these things manufactured, for sale.. They look cheap and ineffective.. I'm worried about color rendition too. Anyways.... When the opportunity presents, I will buy a 1.2k HMI. It'll be a very effective tool that can be used different ways. But I'll still need other daylight sources to use indoors..(probably?)

In addition to lights, I'm set on getting dimmers for the <1000w fixtures, and practicals. What else should I be worried about? Rigging clamps and special stands or other grip stuff might be important. I'm a little concerned about not having 300w lights - they seem like a staple of every kit. Can I get close with some ND gel on a 500w? I have never used neutral density on lights so I don't know their effectiveness.. i would only like to dim 10% or so to avoid orange shift unless it calls for it.

Thanks very much in advance, any advice appreciated. Man, this stuff can get pricey, especially the accessories. It's ironic that I'll be paying more for the sets of barn doors than the actual 1K's. Same with power extension cords, gels...:)
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#2 Victor Bareno

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 04:22 PM

ah, and I will probably sell the 5000 watt Generac generator I bought and planned to use.. Even with a car muffler mounted to the exhaust, the volume is only brought down from "incredibly ****ing loud" to "****ing loud"... My stringers can only safely carry most lights 50 ft, smaller lights 100 ft. I will probably experiment with dubbed audio even though it's more tedious. Renting a Honda EU when the need arises sounds better to me..
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#3 Guy Holt

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 07:28 PM

ah, and I will probably sell the 5000 watt Generac generator I bought and planned to use.. Even with a car muffler mounted to the exhaust, the volume is only brought down from "incredibly ****ing loud" to "****ing loud"... My stringers can only safely carry most lights 50 ft, smaller lights 100 ft. I will probably experiment with dubbed audio even though it's more tedious. Renting a Honda EU when the need arises sounds better to me..


Whether you pick up generator noise or not comes down to how you use the generator as much as which generator you use. It is possible to record location audio without picking up generator noise if you use them with a transformer. To record sound without picking up generator noise you need a real distro system that will allow you to move the generator off set (like you would a Crawford), minimize line loss over a long cable run, and provide plug-in pockets conveniently close to set. That is where the transformer comes in.

Posted Image
A Distro System consisting of a 60A Full Power Transformer/Distro, 2-60A GPC (Bates) Splitters, 2-60A Woodhead Box distributes power from a modified Honda EU6500is. Even though the generator is 100' away to reduce noise, plug-in points remain conveniently close to set.


To record sync sound without picking up any generator noise, all you need to do is add 200' - 300' of heavy duty 250V twist-lock extension cable between the generator and a Transformer/Distro. This is usually enough cable to place the generator around the corner of a building, or to run it out of a van or truck - which is usually all the additional blimping you need with these generators. The heavy-duty 250V twist-lock cable eliminates multiple long cable runs to the generator and minimizes line-loss; as well as, eliminates the voltage drop you would have using standard electrical cords.

Posted Image
60A GPC (Bates) Splitters and Woodhead Box.


To assure full line level (120V) on set, use a Transformer/Distro designed to compensate for the slight line loss you will have over an extended cable run. Use one designed to slightly boost the voltage on the load side (secondary) so that if you were to feed the supply side (primary) of the transformer 240 volts from the generator, 127 volts would come out on the secondary side where you plug in the lights. This slight boost enables you to place the generator further from set where you won't hear it, yet assure that the supply voltage on set does not drop too low.

Posted Image
60A Woodhead Box running Power-to-Light PFC 800W ballast (left) and PFC 1200W ballast (right.)


Using a Honda EU6500is will certainly help. The Honda EU6500is inverter generator to begin with is much quieter than other generators. Part of what makes the new Honda EU6500is so quiet is it's "Eco-Throttle." The Eco-Throttle's microprocessor automatically adjusts the generator's engine speed to produce only the power needed for the applied load. It can do this because the inverter technology of the Honda EU6500is enables it to run at different RPMs and maintain a constant frequency and voltage. Where conventional generators like the Honda EX5500 and ES6500 have to run full speed at a constant 3600 RPM to produce stable 60 hertz (cycle) electricity, a Honda EU6500is only needs to run as fast as required to meet the load demand. Since their engines do not have to run at full speed, and given the fact that an inverter generator generates 20% more power per revolution of the engine, makes the Honda EU6500is substantially quieter than conventional generators and it can be modified to generate 7500W.

For more details on the use of transformers with the Honda EU6500is for set power, I suggest you read the article I wrote for our company newsletter on the use of portable generators in motion picture production. Use this link -
www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/emailnewsletter_generators.html
for more information about using inverter generators with transformers for motion picture lighting.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip , Boston
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 07:35 PM

One day, I'm going to build a time machine so I can go back and kiss the guy, right on the mouth, who decided mains would be 240V here.
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#5 Victor Bareno

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 02:39 AM

Guy, I've read your informative posts regarding that particular distro system. It's a truly effective way to power smaller sets... What an amazing package. Unfortunately the only real hurdle is money.. I really prefer to own as much gear that I can use effectively, as possible. Such a beast system sounds pretty pricey, and probably only within my reach as a rental if such a system was available out here.

I suppose one would definitely have to be running Bates or heavy 250v cabling to get high distance and wattage...Makes my 10/3 and 12/3 stringers totally irrelevant. And all this sounds quite budget un-friendly. However, seeing the kind of shoots you've done, I realize how necessary this gear is. Especially with night shoots, since the sound travels further it just seems like an impossible feat for me right now to accomplish on my current budget. My last-ditch effort is to design and construct a folding, semi-enclosure that will acoustically project the sound of the generator a certain direction. Sound crazy? ...

Maybe I'll simply have to settle for the tiny EU2000i, and use smaller lights. That sounds very possible. Hey, that's still enough juice for a 1.2K and then some! And in a handheld package if I recall.

One day, I'm going to build a time machine so I can go back and kiss the guy, right on the mouth, who decided mains would be 240V here.


Yes yes... How does that work out anyhow? Doesn't 240v just mean you have double the voltage and half the amperage, so the power is really the same?

Man, I just wish you could get more than 20A out of a standard socket (120v).

Edited by Victor Bareno, 20 May 2012 - 02:39 AM.

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#6 Victor Bareno

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 04:01 AM

accidental post..

Edited by Victor Bareno, 20 May 2012 - 04:02 AM.

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#7 Guy Holt

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 09:53 AM

How does that work out anyhow? Doesn't 240v just mean you have double the voltage and half the amperage, so the power is really the same?


Not exactly. Where our standard circuits are 15 & 20 Amp at 120V, they are 13 & 16 Amps at 230/240 in the EU. Which means that you can power a 2.5 HMI with Power Factor Correction off the wall over there, but not here.

Maybe I'll simply have to settle for the tiny EU2000i, and use smaller lights. That sounds very possible. Hey, that's still enough juice for a 1.2K and then some!


Not exactly. If the 1.2k HMI ballast is not Power Factor Corrected (most in this country are not) the head will have an Apparent Power of 2220W and draw about 18.5 Amps. The Honda EU2000i is a pretty robust machine and most people's experience is that it can power a 1.2k HMI, but nothing more.

I suppose one would definitely have to be running Bates or heavy 250v cabling to get high distance and wattage...Makes my 10/3 and 12/3 stringers totally irrelevant. And all this sounds quite budget un-friendly. However, seeing the kind of shoots you've done, I realize how necessary this gear is. Especially with night shoots, since the sound travels further it just seems like an impossible feat for me right now to accomplish on my current budget.


Not exactly. You don’t have to run Bates if you have the voltage boost capacity in the Transformer. In our system we run 10/3 Twistlock between the generator and transformer/distro. If you use a “Boost” Transformer, you can run 200-300 ft of your 10/3 twist-lock extension, and the transformer will compensate for the voltage drop from Line Loss over the cable run. That way you can operate the generator out of your grip truck or van and don’t need to build a special enclosure. If you don’t have Bates extensions and break-outs, you can wire 20A circuits directly into the secondary (load) side of the transformer.

You can use a step-down transformer with any generator that has a 240V output. The only difference is that you will not have the benefit of the enhanced 7500W output of our modified Honda EU6500is. Used with an unmodified Honda EU6500is or your Generac (if it has 240V output), a transformer will give you access to the full power available in the generator in a single 120V circuit (5500W for the North American models of the unmodified Honda EU6500i generators). There is considerable benefit to having that power available in a single circuit because it will be larger than 20 Amps. Depending on the size of your Generac, you will be able to run bigger lights, like 4k HMIs or Quartz 5ks , or more smaller lights than you could without it (use this link - www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/emailnewsletter_generators.html for more information about using transformers with generators other than the Honda EU6500is.)

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip. Lighting Sales & Rental in Boston.
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 12:12 PM

Where our standard circuits are 15 & 20 Amp at 120V, they are 13 & 16 Amps at 230/240 in the EU. Which means that you can power a 2.5 HMI with Power Factor Correction off the wall over there, but not here.



That's certainly true in the UK, but I'm not sure about the rest of europe. Strictly speaking in the UK you should have 32 amps per ring main, which means you can probably have two 2.5K HMIs in one room or on one floor, and another two on another floor, and possibly another two in the kitchen which tends to have its own ring. They is usually also a "cooker circuit" designed for single 32A loads, but that isn't likely to be brought out to a convenient connector (it could trivially be made so).

That said, an entire domestic dwelling often has an incoming line fused at 63A, so a little diversity is required. Needless to say, older or poorly-maintained properties may struggle to achieve these numbers and if the visible state of the installation is making your spidey sense tingle, well, find out where the fuse box is beforehand. Many modern British homes use frankly rather trip-happy RCDs which really don't like old, leaky HMI ballasts.

All of this is relevant to BS1363-equipped premises, which chiefly means offices and domestic homes.

Posted Image


Theatres - by which I mean stage theatres, not movie theatres - frequently use round-pin 15A connectors, and if you encounter stage-oriented lighting in the UK you may need adaptors. The connector looks broadly like a normal 1363 three-pin type, but the pins are round rather than rectangular. This is done because BS1363 plugs are fused, whereas you don't want fuses up in the lighting rig in a theatre where they're hard to change (and the circuit is protected by the trip in the dimmer rack).

Posted Image


If you encounter smaller versions of the round-pin connector, they're 5A-capable and used - not very commonly - for switched lighting sockets. The idea of having permanently-installed switched sockets for lighting isn't very commonly implemented in the UK, except possibly for hotel rooms and other places where they might want to control what people plug in. Normally, wall switches here control pendant lighting in the ceiling. You can get connectors which, in a pinch, allow you to abstract power from a pendant light socket. How safe this is remains a matter of some debate and I'm not sure how much power is supposed to be available.

In more rugged circumstances, such as concert lighting and film sets, you'll find IEC60309 connectors, colloquially "ceeform". This image is actually rather atypical; usually they're entirely blue, or at least blue and white:

Posted Image


These are to a degree waterproof. Yellow indicates 110V (really only seen on construction sites where it's achieved with 50-0-50 tapped transformers down from 240, for safety). Blue indicates 240V, and red 415, generally meaning 3-phase. They're available in 16 (pictured), 32 and 63A, plus bigger ones you won't see much. There are other colours used for high and low voltage, high frequency, and DC applications, but you'll only see those in specialist circumstances such as aircraft or ships where the power is generated by a high-frequency alternator.

To recap, much as the US is considerably better than the UK at making films, the subject of mains wiring is probably one place we got it right

- 240V provides the same power at reduced current, which is probably more robust engineering;
- The current available is actually similar, so the amount of power really available is considerably higher;
- The connectors are much better engineered. Particularly, domestic mains connectors in the US always seem appallingly flimsy and inadequate, particularly for 20A circuits, compared to the huge brass pins of BS1363 types. Trying to make BS1363 hang onto a US mains socket in a travel adaptor is a real game.
- The ceeform series of connectors is very robust and user-friendly, although they are tricky to mate or unmate one-handed.

In short, the situation could be worse.

The only problem we have now is that EU legislation forced us to go over to their ridiculous 3-phase wiring of black, brown and grey - yes seriously, three phase cables in the european union have a phase and neutral swapped over with respect to single-phase domestic wiring, which is brown (live) and blue (neutral), which is quite laughably unsafe and idiotic. Ho hum, looks like the EU may be going down the toilet anyway.

P
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#9 Victor Bareno

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 02:25 PM

Not exactly. If the 1.2k HMI ballast is not Power Factor Corrected (most in this country are not) the head will have an Apparent Power of 2220W and draw about 18.5 Amps. The Honda EU2000i is a pretty robust machine and most people's experience is that it can power a 1.2k HMI, but nothing more.


...I will almost positively have a mag ballast rather than electronic when I get an HMI. Does PFC apply? I always believed mag's ran at a few less amps than electronic ballasts and had less to worry for generally. As I am not too concerned with shooting any other than 1/50 shutter speed, flicker won't an issue.


Not exactly. You don’t have to run Bates if you have the voltage boost capacity in the Transformer. In our system we run 10/3 Twistlock between the generator and transformer/distro. If you use a “Boost” Transformer, you can run 200-300 ft of your 10/3 twist-lock extension, and the transformer will compensate for the voltage drop from Line Loss over the cable run. That way you can operate the generator out of your grip truck or van and don’t need to build a special enclosure. If you don’t have Bates extensions and break-outs, you can wire 20A circuits directly into the secondary (load) side of the transformer.

.......


That's just perfect. A 30A 250v twistlock equates to 60A of power coming from that distro box, which conveniently boosts the voltages to proper levels(do you calibrate/adjust the transformer for this compensation? Isn't it dangerous to go even 1 volt over 120 feeding the instruments?). Where would I acquire such a transformer, or find plans to build one? I'm very intrigued... However, I think I will probably settle for the EU3000, but it's 120v operation only if I am not mistaken - Meaning I'd have to park the genny closer to the set and utilize 10/3 stringers... I suppose.... But it would still be significantly quieter than my Generac, and could give me a shot at real location audio I believe.

...My Generac does have a 240v twist-lock output but only at 20A. Could such a distro be created to split it into a 40A 120v load? I do like the idea of using heavier gauge 250v cables. It just makes sense for those long runs when I'd wanna hide it behind an alley or something. If I could get my 5500w Generac to distribute 40A of power 200-300' away, it -might- just be possible to record audio.

weird looking plugs



sounds like higher voltages overall make for much easier power distribution..naturally, 240v makes for a better electrical system there..

Edited by Victor Bareno, 20 May 2012 - 02:28 PM.

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#10 Victor Bareno

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 02:31 AM

(cannot edit above post)

O.K... so today I ended up trading 2 old junky used guitars for 3 1K fresnel and 2 400w non focus 8' scoops, plus a par64. not bad. I feel like I'm nearly rounded out somewhat.


...And another thought entered my mind regarding Generators. Some Ford work vans are equipped with Onan 4.5K generators, and often have very nice enclosures and external outlets. Since I may be purchasing my first vehicle in the foreseeable future it might be wise to consider one of these vans. They might be quiet enough to park real close to the set without much noise, but I really have no clue. might be worth checking out...?



Posted Image

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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 06:13 AM

Er, yes, sorry about the weird-looking plugs overdose, bit of a thread hijack there. Still, informative, I hope.

I like generators built into vehicles. Silencing is the thing, though.
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#12 Guy Holt

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:41 PM

[

...I will almost positively have a mag ballast rather than electronic when I get an HMI. Does PFC apply? I always believed mag's ran at a few less amps than electronic ballasts and had less to worry for generally. As I am not too concerned with shooting any other than 1/50 shutter speed, flicker won't an issue.


Actually, all mag ballasts have PFC incorporated into them in the form of capacitor banks. You are correct, mag ballasts will draw less amps than comparatively sized non-PFC electronic ballasts, but since your Generac is an AVR generator you require an electronic ballast to shoot flicker free (see www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/emailnewsletter_generators.html for details.)

Isn't it dangerous to go even 1 volt over 120 feeding the instruments?).


No. Most ballasts have a wide range of voltages in which they will operate – usually from 95V- 140V. You can usually over-volt incandescent fixtures by 140% without frying them, but their color temperature will change.

However, I think I will probably settle for the EU3000, but it's 120v operation only if I am not mistaken - Meaning I'd have to park the genny closer to the set and utilize 10/3 stringers... I suppose…


You are correct – the EU3000 is not a single phase generator (one that generates two legs of power that are 180 degrees out of phase) and so there is not the opportunity to use the boost capacity of a transformer to compensate for line loss in power from an EU3000.

...My Generac does have a 240v twist-lock output but only at 20A. Could such a distro be created to split it into a 40A 120v load? I do like the idea of using heavier gauge 250v cables. It just makes sense for those long runs when I'd wanna hide it behind an alley or something. If I could get my 5500w Generac to distribute 40A of power 200-300' away, it -might- just be possible to record audio.


A step down transformer will be able to convert the 240v/20A output from the 4-pin twist-lock output on your Generac to a 40A 120v circuit.

Where would I acquire such a transformer, or find plans to build one? I'm very intrigued...


See www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/emailnewsletter_generators.html for details.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip. Lighting Sales & Rental in Boston.
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#13 Guy Holt

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:41 PM

...And another thought entered my mind regarding Generators. Some Ford work vans are equipped with Onan 4.5K generators, and often have very nice enclosures and external outlets. Since I may be purchasing my first vehicle in the foreseeable future it might be wise to consider one of these vans. They might be quiet enough to park real close to the set without much noise, but I really have no clue. might be worth checking out...?


You will lose some flexibility with the generator permanently mounted in the van. You would do better to operate your Generac out of the van when possible - it will be no noisier.


Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip. Lighting Sales & Rental in Boston.

Edited by Guy Holt, 21 May 2012 - 05:45 PM.

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#14 Daniel Smith

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:47 PM

These are to a degree waterproof. Yellow indicates 110V (really only seen on construction sites where it's achieved with 50-0-50 tapped transformers down from 240, for safety).

On that note, if anybody's interested it's definitely worth looking up ingress protection: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code

Most 16a cee-forms are IP44, but you sometimes see IP67. Was quite a challenge during the Oxford vs Cambridge boat race trying to keep everything safe.

Fortunately the yellow cee-forms are designed with a slightly different 'key' shape and won't connect with blue cee-forms, even though they look the same (the notch that normally indicates up or down is rotated around 180 degrees.)
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