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Home Depot lighting rig for interview


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#1 Ben Danner

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:45 PM

Hello Cinematography.com Community,

 

I am going to be shooting a very low budget interview with multiple members of a religious group for documentary purposes. Our budget does not permit the cost of Kino-Flo lights, so I was thinking that I could purchase one or two Husky 65-Watt Fluorescent Work Lights from Home Depot for $58 bucks a piece. Certainly, these lights are not dimmable, but seem to be pretty darn close to a Kino-Flo for a fraction of the cost. Are there any pitfalls here that I'm not thinking about? I feel like if I affixed a white sheet to the exterior, I could spread out the light and make it softer. I want to make it known that I'm knew to continous lighting as I am a photographer beginning to make my journey into video.

 

For the moderator, I apologize if this question has already been asked. I have searched for it and found nothing.

 

Many thanks,

Ben

 

 

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#2 Alan Rencher

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 12:20 AM

You may be better off buying some clamp-light or china-ball fixtures and incandescent bulbs in the wattage range from 100-300W.

 

Those light fixtures may flicker, and who knows what color temperatures you might get.


Edited by Alan Rencher, 06 March 2013 - 12:22 AM.

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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 06:59 AM

The main problem you're likely to hit is colour balance, with flicker another concern, especially on rolling-shutter cameras. I own quite a bit of lighting based around similar technology, and flicker is generally absent, even at higher-than-usual framerates. Modern fluorescent lighting commonly uses electronic rather than old-style iron ballasts; don't worry if that doesn't make sense, but the likelihood is that you'll be fine as it means the light does flicker, but at such a high rate neither you or the camera will ever see it. If in doubt, take your camera down to the store and shoot a quick test if they have one on display.

 

Colour can be a bit of a bind. All you can do is test it and apply filters or grade as necessary. Some of the made-in-the-shed fluorescent lighting I own is fine; some of it makes people look a bit pasty in the wrong circumstances. In no case have I ever had it produce absolutely horrible results.

 

In general I suspect you'll be fine.

 

P


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#4 Ben Danner

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 08:18 AM

I plan on filiming in 24 P with a Panasonic AG-HMC-150 (most likely, but subject to change). I'm probably going to pickup the lights and shoot some test shots. I am going to be color correcting the footage, so does getting the white balance in-camera really matter? The china ball idea is something I'm looking into as well. Thanks!

 

Ben


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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 11:21 AM

I plan on filiming in 24 P with a Panasonic AG-HMC-150

 

It's difficult to be specific about a camera system; you're just going to have to try it. If you find yourself with a really old-school fluorescent light (one that flickers when it's switched on rather than just snapping on) you may find that there are flicker problems at 24p, though probably not at 30 if your camera supports it. For what it's worth, I shot a whole load of stuff on a Sony FS700 last weekend under electronic-ballast fluorescents and it was fine all the way up to 960fps. Try it.

 

The real problem-children regarding flicker tend to be metal halide lights in big buildings - public buildings, outdoor and street lighting, etc - which are very commonly iron ballast and often flicker like hell.

 

I am going to be color correcting the footage, so does getting the white balance in-camera really matter?

 

We need to differentiate between white balance and colour rendering.

 

White balance is the adjustment required to ensure that white and grey objects don't have a colour cast. This is always required and should normally produce workable results unless you're literally shooting under brightly-coloured disco lights.

 

Colour rendering refers to the accuracy with which various non-grey colours are reproduced. White balance influences this, but generally incorrect white balance will simply tint the entire scene toward a particular colour, whereas colour rendering problems may be seen as a tendency for certain colours to become dingy, shifted in hue, or underexposed. This is caused by the fact that real-world objects may reflect light at any hue within the human visual range, whereas most artificial lighting devices do not emit a continuous spectrum of light which coveres all those hues. The following chart illustrates some common light sources and the missing parts of their output.

 

lightsourcesChart.jpg

 

An example of this is that "cool white" fluorescent tubes invariably make people look slightly wan and pasty because they simply don't emit light of the colour that human skin reflects. It has red, green and blue in it, so it looks white, but it doesn't have any of that pinkish-beige of caucasian skin.

 

Now, how do we solve this?

 

Almost no light source other than sunlight has theoretically perfect colour rendering. Tungsten lights do OK, since they're a fairly complete spectrum, just very heavy in the red. Metal halide lights such as HMIs are almost as good. Fluorescent tubes were traditionally rather poor, but modern types are much better. Fluorescent lights are, in the end, subject to the types of rare-earth phosphor used in their manufacture, with the better types (including Kino Flo's products) using carefully-selected phosphor blends which allow them to be used in more or less any circumstances without any concern over how things will eventually look.

 

A low-cost work light is likely to use a lower-tech approach, although you might be lucky. If the tube in it is a commonly available type (it doesn't look that outlandish, from what I've seen) you may even be able to replace the tube with a more upmarket version with better colour rendering. You could also look around for fittings that take more common tubes, in which case you may find that there is a tube available which advertises high colour rendering index (my stuff simply uses 4-foot, 36 watt straight tubes, which are extremely common, used in every office block in the world, and available in dozens of varieties at relatively low cost). 

 

You can only sometimes solve these problems with filtration, since, if the light simply doesn't output certain colours, you can't conjure those colours up from somewhere with a filter that can, intrinsically, only subtract from the light output. Even so, unless that particular device happens to be sold only with the really cyan-ish cool white tubes, I suspect it would at least be usable as a kicker or backlight and you probably won't have too many problems.

 

P


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#6 Igor Trajkovski

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:24 PM

If you are set on fluorescents,
you can buy some cheap lampholders and high CRI (full spectrum) lamps.

For example a T8 single/double lampholder with elec.starter and high CRI tubes like:

http://www.amazon.co...=PHILIPS TL 950


A number that appears on flurescents to understand is CRI+Kelvin

950 means the lamp CRI is in the 90's and color temperature rated at 5000 Kelvin.
830 means CRI in 80's, temp is 3000 Kelvin.
765 means CRI in 70's, temp is 6500 Kelvin.

etc.


Why not tungsten worklights thru big diffusion?

181576_181820555188138_104346386268889_3

(image form the DVXuser forum)


Regards

Igor
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#7 Ben Danner

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 04:40 PM

Thanks Alan! and Thanks Phil for that wonderful explanation! I have never thought of light in full spectrums such as you folks have presented it here. I could buy a fixture and design my own 4-bank fluroscent light with high CRI lamps or just use a tungsten work light (Igor's image) as it seems to cover a much broader spectrum of light. Maybe I will try both and see what it looks like. I mean we can never have too many lights in our inventory right? At this point we are just trying to get good cheap interview lighting. Of course, I will post results as soon as I have a chance to test out the setup.

 

We hope to replicate something like this:

 

The interviews will be taking place seated indoors, so we will have full control over the lighting.


Edited by Ben Danner, 06 March 2013 - 04:41 PM.

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#8 Edward Lawrence Conley III

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 05:41 PM

Where are you located?


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#9 Ben Danner

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 07:06 PM

Philadelphia, PA in the US
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#10 M Joel W

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 07:54 PM

This will work, but I'd recommend against work lights (or if you get them, get halogen for cheaper and better color rendering). I like chinese lanterns as a cheap option (used in the highest budget movies because they work), but I bet you want softer...

 

Bounce your lights into bead board (white side) for more punch than using diffusion with a decent amount of softness (back the light and board up as needed, remember that softness is predicated on how big the source looks from the perspective of what it's lighting) and without worrying about melting your makeshift gels.

 

http://heatandnoisec...sulation~7.html

 

Bead board is $10 for an 8X4 at home depot. Cut it up in the store and fit it in your car. Bead board and chinese lanterns are Home Depot-budget items that are used on the biggest sets. They are cheap and cheaper still because you will continue to use them even after adding more expensive gear to your arsenal. Imo.

 

But bouncing into bead is my choice. Add a shower curtain way up front to make a makeshift book light if you need super soft.


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#11 Cory Lonas

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:19 AM

Bounce your lights into bead board (white side) for more punch than using diffusion with a decent amount of softness (back the light and board up as needed, remember that softness is predicated on how big the source looks from the perspective of what it's lighting) and without worrying about melting your makeshift gels.

 

http://heatandnoisec...sulation~7.html

 

Bead board is $10 for an 8X4 at home depot. Cut it up in the store and fit it in your car. Bead board and chinese lanterns are Home Depot-budget items that are used on the biggest sets. They are cheap and cheaper still because you will continue to use them even after adding more expensive gear to your arsenal. Imo.

 

But bouncing into bead is my choice. Add a shower curtain way up front to make a makeshift book light if you need super soft.

 

 

Never underestimate the power and flexibility of a $10 piece of styrofoam or a 5 dollar paper lantern... theres a reason they are used on almost any production regardless of budget.


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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 01:53 PM

The answer to all of the people who have suggested tungsten lighting because it's got better colour rendering is: yes, but it consumes four to six times the amount of power for the same amount of light, and as a result creates massive quantities of heat. Anything up to ten of those fluorescent work lights could be run from a single 110V domestic mains socket, assuming wiring to code, in the US. Equivalently bright tungsten lights would be about 400W and you could not run more than two.

 

This may be fine, or it may be a problem. Just sayin'. 


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#13 Ben Danner

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 02:29 PM

Interestingly enough, I have found a video where Halogen and Fluroscent (high CRI) lighting is compared. It seems that they are pretty darn close to each other when examining the flesh tones. Maybe practicality outpaces theory here? I'm more of a fluroscent fan because of less power usage and not burning up my talent (whom will be elderly). I definitely am going to pickup a china ball and styrofoam for the future :)

 


Edited by Ben Danner, 07 March 2013 - 02:31 PM.

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#14 Alan Rencher

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 05:30 PM

The answer to all of the people who have suggested tungsten lighting because it's got better colour rendering is: yes, but it consumes four to six times the amount of power for the same amount of light, and as a result creates massive quantities of heat. Anything up to ten of those fluorescent work lights could be run from a single 110V domestic mains socket, assuming wiring to code, in the US. Equivalently bright tungsten lights would be about 400W and you could not run more than two.

 

This may be fine, or it may be a problem. Just sayin'. 

 

A normal 120V circuit in a US household has a 20A breaker, so that means you could run up to 2000W on a circuit. Using 200 watt bulbs from your local hardware store means you could run 10 bulbs. 200W bulbs do put out more heat than fluorescents, but how many lights do you need for a simple interview anyway? Kids these days are so confused, just sayin'.


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#15 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 06:51 PM

I was always told that domestic mains sockets in the US are good for 10A each; is this untrue? Are we confusing individual sockets with the circuits they're on, which may involve more than one?


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#16 Travis Gray

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 08:44 PM

Untrue. Some crappy ones may not be able to handle 10+, but I have yet to encounter one.

Most household circuits are 15A, just based on what I've seen in most places I've been to/lived. 20A is a general standard, and you see it more commonly in commercial spaces.

 

 

Now, you could hook into a washer/dryer circuit, but that's usually 220. They do make converters to split that out though.


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#17 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:29 PM

I think it also has a lot to do with age of the building. I'd say 15A in the US is pretty standard, but most new(er) construction I've been in has been 20A.

Also, remember, Watts=Volts*Amps, or West VirginiA. US should always be really around 120v, but I use 100V for my paper-amps to make it simpler as well as to give some headroom in case someone happens to turns on house lights, and/or voltage drops and/or striking power draw (HMIs).
Also don't forget too that Floros will have a Power Factor which means that, say, a 100w Floro will draw more than 1Amp due to internal Resistance. This should be listed on the ballast somewhere. Same is true for HMIs or pretty much any non Tungsten/Incandescent bulb (not sure about LEDs, though, as I hate them and never use them)


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#18 M Joel W

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 08:30 AM

I think it also has a lot to do with age of the building. I'd say 15A in the US is pretty standard, but most new(er) construction I've been in has been 20A.

Also, remember, Watts=Volts*Amps, or West VirginiA. US should always be really around 120v, but I use 100V for my paper-amps to make it simpler as well as to give some headroom in case someone happens to turns on house lights, and/or voltage drops and/or striking power draw (HMIs).
Also don't forget too that Floros will have a Power Factor which means that, say, a 100w Floro will draw more than 1Amp due to internal Resistance. This should be listed on the ballast somewhere. Same is true for HMIs or pretty much any non Tungsten/Incandescent bulb (not sure about LEDs, though, as I hate them and never use them)

 

Yep. I usually count on about 2000w per circuit (or one M18 or 1.2k HMI) in modern locations. I'd be more conservative if you don't have access to the circuit breaker and/or don't know which outlets draw from where.

 

Fluorescent lighting is surely more efficient, but ballasts draw more amps than the lights' wattage would indicate and often fluorescent light isn't really as bright as you'd expect. Color rendering of a good CFL is fine in isolation (though it won't match tungsten exactly if there are practicals or other sources in frame), but what's more efficient: spending $200 getting fluorescent work lights with questionable CRIs or spending $20 on a 500w or 1000w work tungsten work light and using $0.03 more electricity? If your camera is even decently power efficient you'll do fine with tungsten and get a legitimately better, warmer look. If your camera is extremely slow (low ISO) you might need to make some compromises in terms of how you light.

 

Just by pure coincidence, I noticed that someone build a makeshift book light as I described above:

 

http://mattscottvisu...beauty-lighting

 

The article is pretty silly. It's just a book light! But it shows that it works.


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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 08:50 AM

In my experience it's not so much about financial cost of power, it's just about availability of power. I recently lit a big interior with 36KW of tungsten (Stephen was right, readers) and we had enormous trouble simply obtaining that much electricity.

 

In situations such as interviews, heat can be an issue too. I like fluorescent.

 

LED power factor is a function of the driver electronics. Good quality, well-built switching power supplies can have a power factor near unity. Cheap ones won't.

 

P


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#20 Ben Danner

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 10:36 PM

So it turns out the director does not want any artificial lighting on the interviewees as they are a religious group and sensitive to such practices. Thank you everyone for the help here. I am going to invest in some decent cheap lighting rig for the future and have learned a lot. I guess I will have to bring out my flags and reflectors :-O


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