I'll have an electrician look at the grounding when they arrive...if it's necessary to do so (??)
I'm wondering if this is enough light to do simple, tight shots for short films in basic, small rooms. Typical scenarios. Or if you see something GLARINGLY omitted from my little baby kit there I should still get.
Also...any advice on proper practices for as far as changing bulbs in these? Do I need gloves or really need to use a volt-meter pen thingy? I've seen some tutorial vids that seem like they are overly-cautious with the use of those pens after cutting power off and unplugging and all that...they still use a pen on the wire and then use gloves to change the halogen bulbs. To be honest, it freaks me out. All this high voltage jazz does.
You don't need to wear gloves when changing the bulbs, unless the one you are removing is hot. What's important is that you don't get any grease from your fingers on the glass part of the bulb as this can seriously shorten it's life.
With chinese lamps, it might be worth having them checked over, but generally the wiring in these lamps is so simple it's hard to get wrong.
Well, hopefully they come with stands, barndoors, scrims would also be nice, and the proper plugs. You may need to buy globes (bulbs for them)-- if they don't have them-- and they probably won't last very long in a production enviorment.
It is a good start. I would look into a C-Stand or two with knuckles and arms as well as some flags, and probably a pack of gels, like a Lee Location Lighting pack (some pre-cuts to cover basic needs).
You'll also need to get a set of gloves for handling the lights when on/hot. I highly recommend Setware Hot Hands. They last pretty well and are very comfortable for me, though I don't use them nearly as much as I used to given what I'm up to these days.
As for changing globes-- the key is not to touch the glass (quartz) with your hands at all. If you do you may get oils on them and the bulbs will blow prematurely and may result in a major failure (also, for that open face light-- you'll really need to get a scrim in front of it to contain any broken glass if a bulb does explode. in the Fresnel, the lens will protect talent, but with an open face it wont.) For normal screw base bulbs-- such as you find in your house-- wearing gloves isn't as important, but I find it good practice when handling the bulbs. The problem you'll have with some fixtures is actually getting your gloved hand in there to chance the bulb. Most of the pro bulbs come with a little protective foam wrapper in the box with them so I'll often keep this on as I put the bulb in the socket without a glove (the foam takes the place of).
I have never needed a voltmeter to change a light bulb-- though you most certainly need to turn off and unplug the fixture, and when you turn it back on make sure it's not pointing towards anyone. This may be my own paranoia but I've seen brand new bulbs literally explode from time to time for who knows what reason. It doesn't happen often, but better safe than sorry.
as for "simple" shots, you may actually be lacking on smaller lights. For myself, normally I am often reaching for 300s and 150 fresnels when lighting small and simple things to serve as an eye light, a rim, or a quick punch of of a dark corner ect. It depends on what you're shooting of course and the lights you've chosen are a good starting point, I'd say, in terms of wattages ect which if they hold up construction wise, should be useable for something on most shoots.
also don't forget to get the proper extension cords for your lights. Read up on wire gauge in terms of amps it can deliver (and also learn Watts=Volts*Amps) so you don't mistakenly use the wrong gauge wire when running power cords. it'll often result in melted terminals on the cord/outlet and at least a pain for you re-wiring things. It does happen though (I type as I look at 2 melted power cords on my floor from a "let me borrow your stuff for a quick shoot")
Thanks very much for all that insight into it! I appreciate that a lot.
I have a couple of those very basic Home Depot silver fixtures with tungsten balanced 150W bulbs too in case something needs way, way less light too.
The Chinese red head comes equipped with a little scrim-like shield that doesn't really cut the light, so hopefully that will hold in shattered globe shards, should fate come exploding. Both come with barn doors. I'm thinking if I can get a flag or two, I could probably use the 1K Fresnel to mold a lot of the shot, and then use the red head 800W with barndoors for a lot of HOT backlighting, playing with placement. It's for a lot of horror/art-horror-ish images. Probably going to get crafty with the lights anyway, but for the most part, I am looking for low key, pronounced chiaroscuro. I figure I'd do a lot of floating that china ball around, draped with something to shape it (??? what would I use for that you think??) as a fill light, and play with hot rim lights using the redhead, either bounced behind the talent indirectly or directly highlighting them...
Those gloves sound like just what I need, and thanks for the advice on globe-handling in general. I find it hilarious that my 1K fresnel was $129 and a C-stand is about $150! Ughh.
Edited by Matthew B Clark, 29 December 2013 - 04:06 PM.
See if you can buy some used C Stands-- it's what I did and a lot of times can be very cheap. Check on craigslist ect, see what's around. It was easier for me when i bought since I was right outside of NYC (and now i'm in LA so even easier!)
Yes, that scrim is there to hold the globe in and what i was referring to-- though personally I'd not use the 800 as a backlight. Rather, i'd use that as my key, punched through diffusion or bounced off of something- -open faces are good for that sort of thing I find. then I'd use the fresnel as a back since I can control it more on the fixture and with the door.
One thing I forgot to mention which is super helpful are some K dimmers. You can build your own if you're so inclined-- though I highly recommend buying and not exceeding their rating. Most should be fused.
Wescott makes some rather cheap "fast flags" kits which aren't great, but not horrible either, and small enough to fit behind the seats in m F150 if i ever needed to fit them there. They'll contain a solid, single, double, and silk, and it's nice to have a 18x24 and 24x36 set handy whenever anyway. I did until they walked from a shoot.
Oh, I forgot to mention, the reason I went in for the 1K as opposed to a 300 or 650 is because for interiors, I am shooting on the Peleng 8mm lens with a Krasnogorsk-3 16mm camera, using Tri-X, so that lens is not really very fast at all - F3.5. I would need to get something to cut the room up nicely with hot lights in order to shoot in the middle of that lens...maybe even open....or maybe I'm wrong there/missing something...
one of the first things I would add would be an in-line dimmer (can buy or make, depending on you skills in terms of electrics and wiring) dimmers have saved my life so many times on productions.
with the Chinese brand you want to make sure that its all wired the right way, I brought a set of 3 Red Heads gave them the ones over and my live and neutral where crossed over. The volt pen I only use when trying to work out why a cable run isn't working or if I don't trust the wiring of the place I'm working in.
when working with the bubbles (bulbs) just don't touch the glass and your good really you can get cotton gloves that you can wear when changing them but I've ever seen someone on set with them unless its art dept.
I would also get some RCD's (Residual Current Device) which is something you put at the mains and acts as a another barker. (but I don't know if you use them in the USA)
gloves wise I go with dirty rigger glovers, one because I love the name, but mainly there have a strap that keeps them on my hands the set wears one would all ways slowly fall off my hands ='[
Darryl, are RCDs similar to GFIs or am I missing something thereon. You 240v folks are lucky with the amps you can draw off of household.
You're not missing much-- that will require a lot of light-- well not a lot but light. I wasn't suggesting a 650 or a 300 for an overall ambience. However, when you start playing something in close, or just need to punch up something a bit (for example, let's say you want a bit more exposure on a back bookcase-- not much, just that little extra bit you need to get it out of the muck) then these things become very important. Moreso in Color than B/W where you have to be mindful of the color change when dimming (though scrimming and ND are also options i personally find it best to use the closest "right" sized fixture I can if only to best optimize how much power is needed. Hard to justify using a 1K and killing 1/2 of a 20A (paper-amps) circuit when a 150 would work!)
But those things can come about later on. I also find that for the smaller wattage stuff, fresnels are really necessary.
Oh also, a lamp I really like and it's on hell of a brute force kinda lamp-- but I always find some use for it-- is a PAR64. They're very cheap (about $130 new once you get the bulbs and the TVMP adapters to put them on baby/junior stands) and put out a lot of light. I keep most of my PAR64s VNSP (Very Narrow Spot) globed and I have a few MWF (Medium Wide Flood). I also have a few PAR56s which I got over the years which are all WF (wide flood). Sometimes I'll use them as a shaft of light coming from somewhere (normally in the background as they aren't super pretty or punched through Opal to take the edges off a bit) or one can also just bang them into a corner to get an overall room illumination. They also have a good long throw for a pretty small power draw (also i really prefer tungsten lighting to anything else). There was an ebay company, BulbAmerica, I think, which I got a case of 4 from for a good fair price.
The biggest issue I've noticed with Chinese knock offs of Tungsten lights is that they burn out bulbs alot faster than say an Arri fresnel. I did a shoot where I had six 150wt fresnels. 3 of them were rented arri's and 3 were chinese knockoffs bought by the director. The arri's never lost a bulb but the others all burned out within 2 days of shooting.
I have always wondered how the HMI equivalents are as I've seen those all over Ebay but never had a chance to see them in action. Point is, always go out on a shoot with spare bulbs and in the case of knockoffs, bring several spares.
PAR's are great too. If you have to do night exteriors pars can help you light up street scapes without running tons of cable as they can send hard light for a distance.
The C-stands, flags, nets, diff, blackwrap, etc. bead board. All those things will allow you to shape and cut the light in ways that the units may not allow. So when you have limited lights, make sure you create a setcrate for yourself with all those extras.
PAR64 was, hilariously, right at the top of my list too! I feel like yeah, it will be a great option/source for pointed light, probably especially in low-key set ups. I mean, I could shoot it right as something, defining it easily, even in the midst of other set ups, without needing to fuss around with extra flagging etc. Good call...nice to have all these wonderful people on this forum btw. I'm really amazed at the kind of expertise gathered here. Thanks.
Oh, PS, I'll look into those flags now....and Craigslist. Thanks for that. PPS, what did you mean when referring to the proper gauge extensions cords? Should I buy from a particular source that manufactures film equipment? Or is there a standard gauge number that I should refer too? Like somewhere saying "this can handle 1000 watts current?"
I'm not sure what your gauges are (I'm sure a google will know) but with cables you don't what to overload them as its a fire risk. say you have a cable that you should at max run 3K through but run 4K your overloading and are at risk of fire.
but the gauge will also factor into line lose the thicker the cable the less line loss the thiner the more line loss as the thiner cables have more resistance. through if your in a small location you shouldn't have to worry about line loss. (again google will do a better job then me at explaining it)
It's not watts, but Amps, but you can derive amps based on knowing the wattage and the voltage (120 for the Us for MOST outlets). The formula is simple:
To make it even simpler, I use something called "paper amps," which rounds the voltage down to 100 (and hence makes a fixture draw a higher apparent amperage which is good to avoid maxing out circuits and just makes the maths easier-- though you shouldn't do this for load balancing applications-- which you really needn't worry about yet.)_
So let's take the 1K in paper amps
we're trying to figure out amps here so it's simple, 1000/100 which would give us 10Amps.
not, cable comes in wire gauges, which is to say thicknesses. The thicker the cable the more amperage it can carry at a given voltage, hence the more watts you can plug into it.
Most extension cords will be stamped on the cord with that gauge and amps it can pull, as well your connectors (Edison (normal household) or otherwise), but it's still good to know how much a certain gauge can actually hold.
You'll notice as well that as your cable run gets longer you need to use a larger gauge cable. This is due to Resistance which drops voltage and hence ups amperage for the same given watts of delivery-- this is known as line loss and is sometimes a reason why one would "trim" a generator to provide more voltage (say 130V) at the outlets to account for it-- but again this is something for larger shoots, along with load balancing.
You also don't need to worry about line loss as much for tungsten units-- as it will cause the bulb to dim and warm but it will still strike. However, when dealing with LED, Florescent, and HMI units you need to make sure you supple atleast x voltage to it and line loss becomes something to take into account There are formulas for line loss should you be interested (and I recommend them)
Also you should normally not run a cable to it's 100% load-- which is another reason why I use paper amps as opposed to "real" amps since it allows for this overheat.
Also don't forget to always check your location for a breaker box and you may be well to carry a few fuses 15 and 20A screw ins because you never know.
Also also a gaffer i recently worked with had this nifty little tool which you put on your breaker box and then into an outlet to trace circuits. Really cool, might be worth looking into if anyone knows the name of it.
Any way of playing it safe is good with me. I will use the paper watt method....and I'll buy heavy gauge chords. The circuit testing baffles me a bit. I know I will be messing with flipping on and off random breaker switches with a radio in every possible socket to alert me....which I plan to do before shooting to take my time at locations. But, I still am such a novice, I don't understand how to completely rule out or rule in the sockets....whats on them....especially when running risky lights like 1Ks. I will do my best to find where circuits go for sure...but I hope a box breaker switches off if I royally mess up.
As for knowing what's on what outlet, generally in a location you make sure you're the only thing on those outlets, and then you just keep track. This means, of course, unplugging things that are there elsewise and keeping and eye out for other departments/people plugging in without you knowing (i can't tell you how many times I've blown a circuit only to see someone's plugged in a hair dryer, or a coffee maker or something or even a brick charger. )
You guys are the best. Thanks much. Once I settle in with all this jazz I'll be shooting a few test rolls which I'll probably post (not like anybody necessarily cares what my tests look like haha), so thanks for the help. Got me out from under the cinder block of "phone book" info weighing me down. Speaking with people always helps.
I just picked up a pair of these dimmers, for the 800W RED HEAD and 1K FRESNEL. Will these do - rated at exactly 1K? Or do I need to leave some headroom on these dimmers....perhaps only using for the 800W redhead? Spare fuses etc needed? I may pick up another very cheap 300W FRESNEL and make my pallette a little more rounded....