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Black Swan Chinaball

Ryan Sloan

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Hey everyone,

I’m shootings a film that has a ton of night sequences on city streets with little light. I saw Black Swan bts where their gaffer was using what looked like a handheld battery powered China ball. Could someone offer any advice on where to buy one of these and/or how to build one?




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I have been using the Aputure Lanterns (both sizes) with their b7c e27 lamps for handheld walk and talk kind of situations at night. Because both are so cheap, I recommend putting a e27 splitter with 3 or 5 bulbs in there. That way, the batteries last longer and if you need it (which in those classical night ext 800 iso, t2.8 situations you wont) the output is still there. If you want to run them of a v mount, I recommend using a Tether Tools d-tap to edison adapter in a backpack and wiring the lantern up to that. Of course, if you are using said adapter, you could also use Astera Nyx at that point, whatever is easier and more accessible to you.

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I'll second the aperture lantern which comes with a black skirt with velcro which is very handy.  I couples it with a Genaray portabright led that has a battery and an xlr power connection for 12v. Put it on a good boom pole and you're set. 

It's basic Wes Anderson lighting which Bob Yeoman explains in Team Deakins podcast #92.

I tried it on a recent walk and talk piece and it was great. So easy or you can mount the boom pole on a stand and hang a sandbag off the end to balance the light. 

Here's a good behind the scenes where you can see it in action. 


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