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HMI vs Tungsten?


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#1 Jason Banker

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 01:33 PM

Hi,
I own a 650w Arri spotlight and 3 lowell pro 250w lights. This has been my base package for a few years now and they have served me well. Reading these forums I am constantly hearing about HMI lights, so I checked the lighting department at B&H photo to check out what these lights can do.

The sales guy was showing me how they are daylight balanced and run on a lower wattage but produce brighter light than typical tungsten lights. This is basically the limit of my knowledge of HMI lighting. Oh yeah the other thing I know is that they are damn expensive!!

One question I have is if you are shooting a typical night scene that contains practical lights. They are tungsten balanced so wouldn't you normally want to use tungsten balanced kits for additional lighting.

If shooting indoors during the day with sunlight coming in thru windows, use of diffused HMI light makes sense as a fill.

Any additional info would be great, just to get me up to speed.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 01:36 PM

HMI's are often used at night, at a distance or through a window, as a blue moonlight effect, either ungelled or with 1/2 CTO to create a half-blue look on tungsten stock.
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#3 Chris Cooke

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 02:27 PM

HMI's are mercury based metal-halide iodide lamps. They have a multiline spectrum that is the same as daylight (5600 degrees Kelvin). A 4k HMI will be marginally brighter than a 10k quartz. They are also a lot more money but when it comes to getting a generator, you can cut your amperage in half or more. You might want to look at some k5600 jokers (http://k5600.com/).
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#4 Jason Banker

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 03:12 PM

So for lighting indoor at night with practials in the shot you should use tungsten lights like the arri series of spotlights...right?

If you could only buy one HMI light which one would you choose?

Which HMI has the best value for the money?

Does the ballast supply power?

Is HMI 2x the light per wattage?

Edited by Jason B, 24 July 2005 - 03:22 PM.

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#5 Chris Cooke

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 03:50 PM

So for lighting indoor at night with practials in the shot you should use tungsten lights like the arri series of spotlights...right?
Is HMI 2x the light per wattage?

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For a night interior with practicals in the shot. I would use an HMI bounced off bead board coming through the window either ungeled, with 1/4 or 1/2 CTO. This will give you that blue night look. For your interior lighting, tungsten lights are the way to go. Then either white balance with the HMI off or use tungsten balanced film (depending on your medium).
Some HMI lights are up to 3 times the output of quartz per wattage. I might not count on quite this much though.
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#6 Alvin Pingol

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 04:41 PM

If you could only buy one HMI light which one would you choose?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If you'll be working without a genny, a 1.2k HMI fresnel would be your best bet, as it can run off of a standard 20 amp residential electrical socket without blowing a fuse.
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#7 Matt Irwin

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 04:49 PM

Does the ballast supply power?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Check out this page for a detailed explaination on HMI ballasts.

If you could only buy one HMI light which one would you choose?

If you're seriously thinking of buying one, you might want to look into a 1200w PAR because it's the highest output head that you can plug into a wall. Visual Products usually has some good deals on HMIs. Arri, K5600, Desisti are good; I'm not a big fan of Moles though (their HMIs leave something to be desired).

Edited by Matt Irwin, 24 July 2005 - 04:51 PM.

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#8 Jason Banker

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 05:17 PM

Check out this page for a detailed explaination on HMI ballasts.
If you're seriously thinking of buying one, you might want to look into a 1200w PAR because it's the highest output head that you can plug into a wall.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Does anyone have a simple resource that breaks down lighting vocabulary, so I don't have to keep asking things like...

...what exactly is a PAR light? :rolleyes:

I am starting to dive into the more professional level of super16 filmmaking and want to get these terms under my belt, so I can make the best decisions when I am shooting a feature.

Do HMI lights make people "look" better?

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and other tim burton films, he always makes people look this pale almost glowing white. Is that all about HMI or can you get that effect with tungsten and just good makeup?

Also do they make a good range of daylight balanced Vision 2 for HMI use or is there a filter to compensate for tungsten balanced film?
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#9 Matt Irwin

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 06:55 PM

...what exactly is a PAR light?


Parabolic Aluminum Reflector. It's a sealed-beam (non-focusing) light that can put out intense light over longer distances when compared with other types of fixtures (like fresnels, open faced, and broads). Fixtures are either tungsten or HMI.
HMI PAR:
Posted Image
HMI Fresnel
Posted Image

PARs have a "dirty" pattern, ie. the center of the spread is very intense (you can sometimes see the filament projected) while the outer area is less intense; becasue of this, some PAR heads allow the use of lenses to widen or soften the beam. PARs are usually what I use for "punch"-- they're great for slashes through a window, backlight from a distance, etc.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 07:28 PM

Tungstens can also come in PAR or Fresnel designs, not just HMI's.

HMI's are just daylight-balanced lights. They aren't "better" for lighting faces. They are just for when you need a 5500K light instead of a 3200K light. They are also more power efficient than tungstens (although also more expensive), so a 1200watt HMI PAR is almost as bright as a 5K tungsten. A 575 watt HMI is as bright as a 2K tungsten.

A car headlamp is an example of a PAR light.
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#11 Robert C. FIsher

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 01:54 AM

Jason If you are considering buying an HMI Par consider a Booster 1200 Par. Less expensive than LTM, ARRI, K5600 and very well built. Globes last a long time in Booster fixtures due to better cooling and the 1200 wat Par is as bright as a 2500 watt Par, better optical design and boosting of the lamp current. The one thing no one talks much about is that HMIs are full spectrum light sources, if you need accurate color reproduction with either film or Digital HMIs provide that. Tungsten lamps are really heavy in red and light in blue and green so getting really accurate color is sometimes difficult.

I do work for Booster Lighting but I was floored by the first demo I saw of their lights 4 months ago. I just started there last week as the marketing director so if you have any questions please contact me off list. I think the Booster HMI Pars are really good products and in 30 years of shooting and lighting I can't say that about most lights.

Cheers
Robert C. Fisher
www.rcfisher.com
bob@rcfisher.com
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#12 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 05:52 AM

HMI's have about 4 times the light output as a comparable tungsten unit. That means that a 1200W HMI Par will kick out at least as much as 5000w tungsten unit, at least in theory.

This is great when you're tying into house mains or on a "lean current" budget. When I started doing cheapo music videos, a genny was often the biggest obstacle and cost (it needed someone with a truck license to drive it an it cost a fortune to rent), so we went for small portable suitcase-gennys and HMI's and Kino's instead.

Today, when juice and a genny is not a problem, I prefer tungsten lights. Tungsten just has a nicer quality in my eye. They're also easy and qick to setup, no hideous ballast, no flicker, you can dim them and they're light. That speeds up the rigging time.

As a sidenote, when are lighting rental houses going to offer a small pickup truck with a smaller genny on it that you can drive on a regular license (say, 20-40kva)? Today, it's either the suitcase, 2000W genny's, or the 150kva semi trucks - nothing in between.
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#13 Stephen Williams

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 06:26 AM

As a sidenote, when are lighting rental houses going to offer a small pickup truck with a smaller genny on it that you can drive on a regular license (say, 20-40kva)? Today, it's either the suitcase, 2000W genny's, or the 150kva semi trucks - nothing in between.

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Adam,

Thats about the 1 thing the local rental house in Zurich does have 50KVA trailer!

Stephen
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#14 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 08:17 AM

Adam,

Thats about the 1 thing the local rental house in Zurich does have 50KVA trailer!

Stephen

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


But I bet they built it so heavy that you need a special license to tow such a heavy load, right?
:D

I've actually looked into this years before and a 20kva silent genny doesn't weigh more than about 750kg's. A 40kva is about 1000kg's - both easily fittable on even the smallest of pickup trucks. And 40-50kva goes a long way.
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#15 Jonathan Spear

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 08:55 AM

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and other tim burton films, he always makes people look this pale almost glowing white. Is that all about HMI or can you get that effect with tungsten and just good makeup?

--

(can someone please answer that???? I'd like to know too :D )
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#16 Stephen Williams

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 08:56 AM

But I bet they built it so heavy that you need a special license to tow such a heavy load, right?
:D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Adam,

You an tow that one with a normal car driving license. The big 100 KVA one needs a Cat C1 and only about 4 electricians have that here!

Stephen
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#17 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 06:38 PM

Tim Burton often employs big soft lighters. Emmanuel Lubezki and Philipphe Rousselot both fall into that category. In the case of Sleppy Hollow it's a combination of soft light, makeup and production design - beautiful film. I visited the sets of Willy Wonka and can tell you that much of the light was buit in to the production design - very organicic and soft. Augmented by lots of soft front/toplight.
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#18 Jonathan Spear

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 07:28 AM

Thanks Adam.

Those soft lights cetainly add a sort of ghostly, ethereal beauty to the image.
Any diffusion on the lens in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

Did you meet any of the cast or crew when you visited the set?

-Jonathan

Edited by TSM, 26 July 2005 - 07:29 AM.

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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 10:30 AM

Rousselot has used mild diffusion in the past but I believe all the diffusion here was digitally added in post.
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#20 Matt Pacini

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 03:22 PM

That reminds me of something I've wondered about:

If you're going DI on a film, doesn't it make sense to shoot without diffusion, & add it all later?

MP
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