I've got a project coming up filming a cookery video. There's no budget for big HMI's to punch through the windows so I wanted to ask what other solutions people were using when you don't have access to the bigger lights?
The sun will be on the other side of the house so I don't think we'll be having to work against it which is a slight bonus! We're shooting between 9am and 4pm.
There will be a presenter/chef stood just behind the chopping board for the duration of the video talking to camera and going through the recipe.
I want a relatively bright, daylight look with a nice shaping to the face (the presenter is female and around 40). We do have money for a couple of smaller lights but can't rig them outside unfortunately.
Kinos will probably be your least expensive daylight balanced option with decent wrap around. I would bring a tungsten fresnel kit with ctb as well just for rim light options, and have some shiny board and showcard or beadboard ready. Scope out your options for LEDs too. Those little 1x1 foot panels are pretty nifty, but they can make some nasty shadows if you shoot close ups, and especially if you flag them. You'll definitely notice that it's not a single source, but an array of tiny lights.
I used a set of Hive plasma lights with great success in a similar setting. Tungsten would have generated too much heat. The daylight Kino's don't match daylight color temperature very well (they are actually 6500-6900K) in mixed lighting situations. I've also been use the Cineo LED lights lately and love them.
Shooting a few of the plasma lights or LED lights through a large piece of bleached muslin should give you a nice soft key for your talent. It's too bad you can't throw some light through the window to add a bit of pop. That made a great deal of difference in my shoot.
Stuart, interesting lights! The color in your screengrabs looks very nice, and you're right, Kinos are definitely a bit bluer than daylight, but if they're matching only skylight, and not direct sun, they're not so bad as to be unusable, and they're certainly low-budget friendly, which is a main issue here.
It's too bad you can't throw some light through the window to add a bit of pop.
+1. The back wall, especially frame left, needs to be raked with something to give the shot more contrast. I wouldn’t automatically assume an HMI is out of your budget. You can probably rent 4k HMI Fresnel with magnetic ballast for very little money and power it off a 240V wall receptacle like a dryer or range outlet with the help of a transformer/distro. I did something very similar to create a warm sunny feel for an iRobot commercial that was shot on a rainy day (see pictures below.)
Master shot of an iRobot commercial lit with a 4kw HMI Par (outside) & 1.8kw HMI Par (inside) powered from a 30A/240V dryer outlet through a step-down transformer/distro. Note: Sunny feel created by 4k Par on an overcast day.
If you look at the breakers of dryer and range outlets you will notice that they use two pole breakers - either 30A or 50A. Each pole of the breaker is in a sense an independent 30A or 50A 120V circuit. That is, if you measure the voltage from each pole of the breaker to ground it will be 120 volts, and if you measure the voltage between the two poles of the breaker you will notice that it is 240 volts. The 120 volts of the two poles adds up to 240V because the 120V circuits are on opposing legs (and are therefore additive.) In residential settings, this is how higher voltages are supplied to household appliances like Dryers, Electric Ranges, Air Conditioners, Motors, etc. that require more power than can be reasonably supplied by a single 120V circuit.
Left: Transformer/Distro plugged into a 30A/240V dryer outlet. Right: 4K HMI Par under rain protection powered by Transformer/Distro
To operate a 120V 4kw magnetic ballast from a 240V circuit requires a 240v-to-120v step down transformer like the 60A Full Power Transformer/Distro we make for the Honda EU6500is generators. Like it does with the 240V output of the Honda EU6500is Generator, our 60A Transformer/Distro can convert the 240 volts supplied by these household receptacles back to 120 volts in a single circuit that is the sum of the two single-phase legs of 30/50 amps each. That is how our 60A Transformer/Distro makes a 60A/120v circuit out of a “30A/240v” or a “50A/240v” circuit and is capable of powering bigger lights, like 4ks with magnetic ballasts, 5ks, or even a 6000W Six Light Mole Par that will make the background of shots pop.
Left: Arri AS18 1800W Par powered from Transformer/Distro. Right: 4Kw and 1800W HMI ballasts powered from Transformer/Distro.
By giving you access to more "house power" through common 240V household outlets, a Transformer/Distro can eliminate the need for dangerous tie-ins or expensive tow generators to power larger lights (use this linik for details.)
Hi all, thank you so much for your advice - really appreciate you taking the time to reply to my post.
Dan - Kino's are a great idea and what I was leaning towards too
Stuart - Love the example, it's really helpful to see something that's similar to what we have planned and done well! I'll have to check out those plasma lights..
David - I like the idea of using a tungsten tube amongst daylight to give that little bit of warmth
Guy - I only wish I had you on the set with us! I'll see if there's any way of hiring a 4k, my only worry is that there's a big drop right outside the window so actually getting the light high enough would be a whole problem in itself (as well as the lack of budget!). But it's great to know that it's possible to power such a big light using household if you know what you're doing.
The shoot's not til next week so I'll try and post some screen grabs from it to show you how it went.
Have you looked into smaller HMI's ? I wouldn't assume you can't use hmi if you can't rig outside. I think atleast for your key light for that nice soft wrap you could consider it.
I'd get an arri M18 or a couple joker 800's and make a book light or put it through a couple layers of diff inside the house. Maybe get another joker 400 to use for background or w/e else you might want.
You could also ND the windows considerably (with ND gels of course) and create the indoor exposure with your key and fill lights. Instead of fighting the outdoor exposure, make it the exposure you want.
I like the M40 and we use it all the time in the commercials I am working on but maybe Guy has something to say about it that he has not said yet and his comments are always very technical and interesting
.... maybe Guy has something to say about it that he has not said yet....
The ARRIMAX reflector is a computer-aided design (CAD) consisting of multiple facets that create 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 (but not quite) to that of a Fresnel. The elimination of spread lenses like those used on HMI Pars makes ARRIMAX reflector lamp heads, like the M40, comparable in output to par configurations of a higher wattage. For example, as already pointed out, the M40 is brighter than some 6K Pars on the market.
About the only thing I can say about the M40 that hasn’t already been said it that ARRI has paired it with a ballast with Active Line Filtration (ARRI's system of Power Factor Correction.) The advanced electronics of the ballast makes it incredibly efficient and it generates virtually no harmonic noise. This is a major consideration if you are using a generator to power your lights (use this link for details.)
Because of the added cost, weight, and complexity of PFC circuitry, ballast manufacturers offered PFC circuitry only as an option in medium-sized 2.5-4kw ballasts in the US. Which means that when you rent a HMI Fresnel or Par in the US you don’t always know if the ballast you get from the rental house is power factor corrected or not. Whereas, when you rent a M40 you are more or less guaranteed of getting a power factor corrected ballast.
If you haven't already, I would suggest you read the article I wrote for our company newsletter on the use of portable generators in motion picture lighting. In it I cover some of the basic electrical engineering principles behind harmonic distortion and how it can adversely affect generators. The article is available on our website.
On a smaller scale you can use a joker 800 or joker 1600 and play with CTO levels inside and or outside the window to create pretty nice sunlight in the room and mess with jo lekos or dedolights hmi to create sunspots and grip for contrast.
I would definitely look into smaller HMIs. A few weeks ago I lit a small scale commercial with 3 1,2kW Arri HMIs from outside, and used to 575W for fill. Especially when you are not fighting the sun, it should give you enough light to work with. If I remember correctly, we ended up with T2,8 @ ISO100 after shooting them through one stop silks..
In reference to running larger HMI ballasts off of household outlets my my questions is why use a step-down transformer and run them at 120v? If your ballast can work at 240v, then why not just wire a plug to a 60amp bates and go directly to the ballast?