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LIghting kit for novice


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#1 Zac Gordon

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 03:59 AM

Hey Guys, been lurking this site for a while along with many others, I have come to the realization that my lighting kit sucks, it consist of 3 x 650w strand lights. they are pretty old I think and pretty useless, though fun for a basic tungsten light. 

So I am looking at spending about $5,000 on a decent lighting kit that I can use to light interior and exterior day and night shots with. 

I am also looking for any material, books or anything that you may recommend for me to fast track my knowledge in lighting. 

Thank you all very much for your time. 


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#2 Albion Hockney

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 08:54 AM

Every production calls for something different which is why most people rent packages for shoots. Most people who own, own paticular things they always like to use or rent it out.

 

if you are a novice I would say that money might be better spent in a different way right now. Just get out and shoot its really not about the equipment ...beautiful films have been lit with nothing more then a few light bulbs (a movie like eternal sunshine has no "movie lights" on set even).


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#3 Rob McGreevy

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 12:18 AM

Light kit consisting of 3x lights for under $5k for day ex, day in, nite ex, and nite in does not exist...that being said you're better off using grip stuff for day ex anyway and not even using lights, you can't afford a big HMI on your budget.

 

Arri makes good little tungsten kits, I'm not sure what they're running these days but a soft bank 1 kit would be a good start...probably around your budget range. Just keep in mind that it doesn't stop there - you're going to want stingers, dimmers, spare bulbs, tape, bullets, gels...not to mention grippery items such as flags, c-stands, bags, and at least some rudimentary rigging stuff. There are pretty versatile kits out there, but there's still only so much you can do with just a light; all lights need support items to really work and it can get pretty crazy when you get into all that - something worth considering for any novice looking to get into buying stuff. Not trying to dissuade you, just helping you figure out what you're getting into.


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#4 Zac Gordon

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 01:23 AM

What about this kit? 


http://www.bhphotovi...III_Plus_5.html


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#5 Micheal Dean

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 06:52 AM

Never used Arri lights but seems OK...

 

While purchasing LED lights we should keep following points in mind

 

Lights Should be Eco friendly

High Intensity

Cool touch

Dimmer control

Bright

Power saving..  saves your electricity bill

Battery etc.

 

All these important points I got in Camtree lights, Two months back I bought 1000 white LED lights on my friends recommendation that time i was little afraid but know i am fully satisfied with my Camtree lights. These are extremely durable and built with sturdy components that are highly rugged. I like the dimmer control most and gel filters. These lights are really very bright and added a value in my production. At very less price i got 4 lights with stand. I am very happy.


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#6 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 10:24 AM

Based around that Arri kit, here's the basic kit I'd recommend:

 

kUakl8X.png

 

You'll also need some spare bulbs, rolls of diffusion (I'd suggest a roll of 216 and 250 for starters), and a few sandbags - but that's a kit that will get you quite a long way.


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#7 Rob McGreevy

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 11:25 AM

Arri is slightly better than OK, they are currently the industry standard for lighting.

 

I don't know that I would make eco-friendly one of my conditions for buying a light...it's admirable, and in my personal life I recycle and donate to environmentally friendly causes. But from a professional standpoint the reality is we don't work in one of the more environmentally friendly industries, there's just no way around that - a big film set can burn hundreds of gallons of diesel a day for the lights alone and probably kills an entire tree for one day's worth of call sheets.

 

That being said, all four lights in that camtree setup can all be plugged into one circuit, which apart from being eco-friendly is also very convenient if you're drawing from house power and don't know how the circuits are laid out. However, they look to basically be off-brand Litepanels, and I'd be careful buying stuff that's off brand in general but especially something like an LED which can have serious color accuracy issues if it's not made well - even Litepanel has it's issues there and one of those costs the same as the whole camtree kit, there's probably a reason for that. I wasn't able to find any photometric specs on that link provided so I couldn't compare with anything industry standard, but I'd be willing to bet based on the price it's probably not as good as something professional-grade. I know it gets pricey buying legit film lights, but there's very good reason they cost what they cost.

 

I think you're on the right track starting out with tungsten, as a novice it's going to make your life easier and I'll give you one reason why that no one else has mentioned yet - if I'm on set and a tungsten light goes wrong I take it to the truck and I grab my continuity tester and my wire strippers and I fix it. If any other type of light goes wrong I send it back to the rental house and get a new one.

 

But ultimately you have to decide what your needs are based on what you want to shoot? The Arri kits are good and the one you're looking at is pretty versatile, but they're designed for interviews, talking head type stuff. You can use them for other stuff, but if you have a specific need you may look into buying a specific light with that purpose in mind.


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#8 Stuart Allman

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 07:33 PM

Zac,

 

I know this doesn't seem as fun as shopping for new gear, particularly with the Arri logo on it (drool), but in my experience you're better off renting on a dollar for dollar basis.  I know when I started out I bought a bunch of stuff thinking I needed to own it.  The reality is that I didn't because I couldn't buy a whole grip truck worth of stuff to fit every production.  Now I ask the producer to provide a small stipend to cover what I need after explaining exactly why I need it.  Usually it works out OK.  Since you can turbo-charge the rental allowance with the $5k that's burning a hole in your pocket it will afford you many, many productions worth of rentals for exactly what you need on that day.  Sometimes you need a 1.2k HMI and sometimes you need a Kino Diva.  If you buy a kit then that's all you're probably going to be stuck shoe horning into everything you shoot.

 

As for an outdoor kit - I keep a small number of inexpensive items like a reflector as well as fabrics.  In my case I just went to the fabric store and bought a few yards of bleached muslin, unbleached muslin, and thick black (duvatyne) cloth.  I might add a bit of silk to that soon.  It was something like $30-40 last time I went.  I also have a few lightweight stands that can pack up into duffle bags, which were inexpensive.  I don't do grip/gaffer work so I don't need heavy duty stands.  We rent those (cheap) along with sand bags, if required.

 

As for learning lighting, I found this is an excellent forum.  I also recommend joining the "Friends of the ASC" and getting American Cinematographer magazine, reading forums on rogerdeakins.com (many thanks to his amazingly generous time), reading the cinematographer documents on stephenmurphydop.blogspot.com (he's on this forum as well), as well as paying attention to any post by M. David Mullen, ASC.  The ASC hosts master classes a few times a year.  Your $5k might be better spent on attending a master class or two.  Shane Hurlbut, ASC has a new lighting tour that's going around the country.  You might want to look into that as well.  He's known for buying a lighting package from Home Depot when the story allows.

 

I know, I know...this isn't as exciting as a box of new gear to play with.  Sorry.  I guess what I've learned is to use all of this equipment, THEN decided what you REALLY need to haul around in the trunk of your car.  I've already made more than a few regrettable financial mistakes with regards to equipment.  Thank goodness for Ebay and Craigslist. 


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#9 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 08:24 PM

I am also looking for any material, books or anything that you may recommend for me to fast track my knowledge in lighting. 

 

How about you don't 'fast track'? How about you take your time, and learn your trade properly?

 

There's a lot to be said for the gradual accretion of knowledge, because along with the knowledge comes experience, which is every bit as important.

 

I get so fed up with hearing about 22 year old film school grads who call themselves 'DPs', when they actually know less about cameras and lighting than some of my ACs.

 

I'm not saying that's you, just saying don't be in too much of a hurry. The journey is valuable.


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#10 Rob McGreevy

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 08:40 PM

I actually also agree with Stuart (Allman) in regards to renting over buying - consider my advice relevant if you feel you must buy, but ultimately I recommend renting at least initially. The main reason is when you're first starting out you should be trying lots of different instruments to see what you like and what works for you. Eventually after some experience with the gear many gaffers and DPs will wind up buying the ones they use on almost every shoot, that will save money in the long haul. But until you know what that go-to fixture is for your personal preference, renting is probably the way to go.

 

But if you must buy, buy something simple, versatile, and reliable. An Arri kit isn't the be-all-end-all, but it's a very good start.


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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 04:33 AM

I'm not saying that's you, just saying don't be in too much of a hurry. The journey is valuable.

 

In an ideal world, I couldn't agree more. The problem is that you can be deferential and modest but there'll be some flat-cap-wearing Hoxton wunderkind who's got "Director of Photography" printed on his business cards and will get the job regardless of ability. Producers, despite their frequent appearance of bullish sophistication, can be charmingly naive in this regard. And yes, on this occasion, I am talking about behaviours and situations that have disadvantaged me personally.

 

P


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#12 John Thomas

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 03:45 PM

 

 

I know, I know...this isn't as exciting as a box of new gear to play with.  Sorry.  I guess what I've learned is to use all of this equipment, THEN decided what you REALLY need to haul around in the trunk of your car.  I've already made more than a few regrettable financial mistakes with regards to equipment.  Thank goodness for Ebay and Craigslist. 

I've made more than a few regrettable financial mistakes with regards to equipment myself.  I had a van with cable and a well balanced tungsten package. Sure I could rent it out and do some basic jobs but inevitably a camera person or gaffer would want 6 inkys and I only had 4.  Then there was the problem of finding and sub renting gear... I found I was trying to run a small business more than I was learning lighting.  

 

Buy a few small lights used that you can plug in the wall.  When you have a "one man band" gig they will come in handy.  You can practice by doing some set-ups in your house and photograph your results. Best training of all:  get on a set, work for free if you have to, learn by doing


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#13 Heikki Repo

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 04:11 PM

It's always tempting to buy more equipment. However, all that stuff needs space and needs maintenance. Owning a basic set of tungsten light and some reflectors/flags is a good idea because they don't require that much of either and can be bought really cheap. Those lights will be useful when you are doing something alone or need to be able to go somewhere without having to first visit rentals company.

 

However, for anything bigger, just rent. You'll have more options and you don't have to worry about maintaining (expensive) technology such as HMI ballasts. Nor will you just buy expensive equipment and have it sitting unused in your apartment...


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