I am in pre-production of a film at the moment that will require an 'aerial work platform' and a lighting rig to imitate moonlight above a wooded area.
It's part of an ambitious project and none of the crew members have had any experience with this kind of set-up other than our University, Greenwich, is often a film set (twice a month) and we often see similar set-ups, for a beginner with this kind of project, what would you recommend?
Extra info: filming in an area in the UK where no films have ever been made and its a bit of a novelty.
Some rough terrain and at least 400ft to the nearest power supply if we get the location we would like.
Currently we are looking at a 60ft high platform holding a single 12k Arri HMI Fresnel.
Any advice will be hugely appreciated
(I understand that I have recently posted in a similar topic however it was 6 years old and I would prefer much more recent experience as advice)
I would never go into principal photography without the necessary safety precautions in place, as regards to the lift, I have spoken with 5 different companies and requested that a staff member come out onto set with us, solely to operate the lift and have a supervisor with them. We also have a Lighting operator working on this production who has experience with almost every different type of standard sized lighting rig that you can name so by all means we have a very safe operation.
My question was aimed more at which lights and which grip equipment to use, as although the lift companies are very accommodating, they have only used camera and lighting rigs on older machines and as we will be filming next year, I wondered if anyone has any recommendations on high production value equipment to use within this set-up?
When I mentioned an experienced guy, I not only meant one that can operate the lift, but also know how to rig one and suggest the right lighting equipment for what you want to do. Sometimes very heavy equipment that gets rigged to a lift and cable will be rigged to the arm that needs to be done safely. It is very possible for equipment to fall off a lift or to tear and break energized cables that may cause injuries. It's not like one needs to have a Phd to do this, but you could use a key grip or gaffer with the experience and knowledge to do so.
I wouldn't want to see anyone get hurt. These are just movies and not worth injury or even death with large machines.
Thank for the advice, I'll make sure I get a team together that can cover all requirements, thinking about the budget, even this process is in question as shooting during the day and editing as night time might be required instead to ensure safety and maximise production value. Either way, we just want to make the best little movie we can.
My question was aimed more at which lights and which grip equipment to use,... I wondered if anyone has any recommendations on high production value equipment to use within this set-up?
There are several ways of rigging lights onto or under the basket of a condor depending on the light and application. The preferred means of rigging onto the basket is to use the condor bracket below.
There have been several developments in the use of aerial lifts recently that you should be aware of. The first is that the lift manufacturers are finally supporting their use in motion picture production. The upside to this development is that they now provide them painted black (see picture below) and they have endorsed the rigging of lights on their baskets, which is a good thing except that in doing so the manufacturers have set strict weight restrictions that vary depending on the height and reach of the basket and how far off the basket pivot point the light is rigged (see representative illustration below.)
When rigging lights with a condor bracket on the front rail of a condor basket (as pictured above), the endorsements are in fact so restrictive that electric trailers now carry shipping scales to weigh the equipment and only the smallest guys on a crew qualify for “condor duty.” Quite often the lifts have to be sent up unmanned, and the lights focused from the ground by panning and tilting the basket with the ground controls because there is not sufficient capacity in the basket for an operator. For this reason, Arri has incorporated their new MAX reflector technology into a new power class of HMI light: theM90.
(The light generated by the CAD designed Max Reflector of the new M90/60 is incredibly bright and sharp.)
Utilizing a new 9 kW HMI lamp, the unique MAX reflector of the M90 creates diverging parallel rays to produce a crisp light with even distribution through a wide spot/flood range. The result is a lens-less open face fixture with a quality of light close to that of a Fresnel. The elimination of spread lenses like those used on HMI Pars, makes the ARRI MAX reflector lamp heads comparable to par configurations of even a higher wattage. In fact, the M90 is brighter than some 18K Fresnels on the market, yet weighs 67lbs less. Weighing only 87lbs, verses the 154lbs of a their 18k Fresnel, two M90s can be rigged into a condor basket and operated by a technician where only one 18k Fresnel could before.
(The Active Line Filtration (ALF) of the new ARRI EB 6000/9000 ballast makes it an incredibly efficient and clean load.)
To power the new M90 head, ARRI has engineered a dual wattage ballast. The EB 6000/9000 will operate either the traditional 6kw SE globe in the M90 head, or the new 9kw SE globe, on supply voltages ranging from 195-250V. With Active Line Filtration (ARRI's system of Power Factor Correction) built in, the EB 6000/9000 ballast is incredibly efficient and generates virtually no harmonic noise - enabling it to reliably operate on portable gas generators like Honda's new Digital AVR 10kw EB10000 (pictured below.)
Not only does the MAX reflector of this head provide more output, but it is also incredibly versatile. When you don't need the punch of a 18kw Fresnel, you can swap the 9kw globe for a 6kw globe making more power available to run additional lights on an EB10000. For example, you save 27 Amps when you swap out a 9kw bulb for a 6kw bulb. The 27 Amps you save by burning the smaller 6kw globe will power quite a few more lights when you consider that both the ARRI L7 LED Fresnel and Kino Flo Parabeam 400 use approximately 2 Amps. In fact, such versatility now enables the operation on a portable generator, like Honda’s new EB10000, of just about all the lights needed to shoot a night exterior on a digital cinema camera. This combination of smaller, brighter, more efficient lights, with more sensitive digital cameras, and new more powerful portable generators makes it now possible to achieve remarkable results on a tight budget.
(Our modified Honda EB10000 with Voltage Select 84A Transformer/Distro and 14 Gallon Fuel Caddy.)
One of the biggest hurdles to obtaining good production values in low budget digital cinema productions is the high cost of the blimped studio generators required to power large HMIs. Not only are blimped generators expensive to rent, but they also come with hidden costs. Since rental trucks like those from Ryder or Penske are not equipped to tow, you quite often have to hire the rental house's grip truck to tow them. And, since most rental houses require that one of their employees drive their trucks (for insurance reasons), the production has to hire a driver at roughly $575/10hrs - which is probably more than anyone else on a typical indie crew is getting paid. All of this makes the use of an 18k Fresnel in a condor very expensive. Powering a M90 with a Honda EB10000 will not only save Sean a lot of money but also save him from having to run out 400ft of feeder cable over rough terrain.
Guy Holt, Gaffer, Lighting and Grip Equipment Rental & Sales in Boston
For your situation I would recommend you consider a slightly different but in many ways simpler and safer approach...
What if you hire a balloon operator along with his/her rig?
1) Hiring a balloon operator and equipment would probably be similar in price to hiring and having delivered an aerial lift along with the light and cable needed to power it.
2) you would have an experienced and qualified operator
3) it's relatively mobile and and flexible (compared to a condor).
4) a balloon is far safer - ie. it won't topple over and crush someone/ kill he person in the basket if it isn't properly leveled or the ground shifts.
Best of luck!
Thank you Mathew, I have seen these on the set of 'The man from U.N.C.L.E'. Are the balloon lights anywhere near as bright as the Arri M90s? would they be bright enough to replicate moonlight at a distance?
Are the balloon lights anywhere near as bright as the Arri M90s? would they be bright enough to replicate moonlight at a distance?
HMI Balloon Lights usually come in 4k sizes. The smaller wattage and the fact that they are a much more diffuse omni-directional source means they have considerably less output than a 9kw M90 that uses a polished reflector to focus the light output of the globe in one direction. Check with your local rental house for rental rates for the Arri M90 and Honda EB10000 generator.
Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston