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Lighting questions from a newbie


Edith blazek
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1.how big of a space could I light with 2 2.5k hmis and 2 1.2k hmis? I found 2 lights that are equivalent to those and I'm curious how well it would work in terms of versatility for lighting spaces with top light for ambience and hard ba, this would be done in tandem with practicals, speaking of which.

2. For a practicals heavy lighting setup, how many 4 foot tubes like astera titans, how many light bulbs like astera nyx, and how many feet of flexible strip like litegear literibbon xq chroma cine five should I have in my kit to light a large room or space that would use florescent tubes or light bulbs or flexible light? And before you say I should just rent for the project or go to a home depot, 1, the rental houses in my area don't have everything I need, and 2, I'm willing to bet that your average home depot or whatever would have crmx compatible RGB led lights, or if so, in what I want. Also, if you can't give me an answer for this, could you tell me the average size of a club, an office, and the most amount of light bulbs you've seen in a place?

3. Can I use a fabric for a larger frame like a 8x8 and use it on a smaller frame like a 6x6 or 4x4 by folding it?

4. Can I get around the issue of a parabolic softbox not being an inward lit device by using muslin on the front? The main issue I know of on a parabolic softbox is the light is 1. Not inward facing, and 2, is not focusable, I suppose you could use a fresnel to solve the focus issue but I know one of the things that makes the parabolic softbox kinda pointless is the it's usually not lit inwards, considering muslin not only diffuses but bounces (the entire point of the cove light), could I use that instead of magic cloth and have at least some of the light bounce inwards onto the reflector part and would we then have the parabolic softbox that is actually useful? Could this apply to any softbox with a silver reflector like a lantern?

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It all depends on the look and mood you are going for.  I could light a wide shot of a gymnasium with one 1.2K HMI with a Chimera on it if all I wanted was a moody pool of soft light in one area.  And if it had a high white ceiling, I probably could just get away with bouncing two 2.5Ks and two 1.2Ks into it for a flood-lit look at ISO 500 or 800, depends on the space. 

I'd talk to a gaffer who is working at the scale you are thinking of and ask them about the size of their personal truck package. Or look at what some people are renting out as a kit and add up the costs.

(Personally, I own some filters and a few light meters, that's about it.)

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Are you planning a career as a gaffer or a cinematographer or a director? Or do you own a soundstage space that you want to rent out?  I'm trying to understand the desire to spend a lot of money to own a lot of lighting equipment.

It's always better to know first what you need based on past experience rather than buy a lot of gear and then go looking for situations to use it.  Most people scale up as well, they discover the limits of a smaller package in order to learn what to add to it over time.

I learned by owning one 650w tungsten open-faced lamp I found in a garage sale for $5 (later I discovered the bulb alone was worth $25), plus some reflector dish lamp with light bulbs in them.  In film school we were limited to tungsten lamps under 20A, so 2K's and lower.  We rented small HMI's and Kinoflos as needed.  When I had the budget for a generator, I rented a 6K HMI and learned what its limitations were. The next shoot I rented a 9K HMI. A couple of years later I was able to afford to rent an 18K HMI.  One thing I learned on those small shoots is to get two of everything because if a light goes down, you don't want to have to rethink everything with a different type of light, and HMI's almost always act up at some point, which is why stage work avoided them and stuck with tungsten. As one gaffer told me, when I asked him why he preferred to put big MaxiBrutes on condors for night exteriors rather than HMI's, he said "because a tungsten light always turns on."  I've had a big HMI 75 feet in the air on a condor and not come on, and the crew was switching out the ballast on the ground, and if that didn't work, they were switching out the lamp head in the bucket, and if that didn't work, they were replacing all of the headfeeder cable between the ground and the bucket, etc.  Too many points of failure.  But I've also lit big night exteriors with ARRI Skypanel LED's only to discover that they didn't like getting wet in the rain.

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Edith,

To answer the last lines of your second question... look around you, wherever you are: How is it lit?  Treat the space you're in as if it was your stage/set.  Take a footcandle meter and measure top light, side light, front light, back light etc. and notate that in a 5x7 or 8x10 sketch book of various places that interest you.  Take cell phone pictures since many places are camera phobic.  Step off the distances between points discreetly and sketch it out in the notebook so you have data to support the photos.  Stay there for as much time as you can and observe time of day light changes.

3rd Question:  In a darkened room shine a small flashlight through a handkerchief stretched out, then through it folded and see what happens.

A Chinese fortune cookie I got with my meal had this message:  Do not let what you don't have prevent you from using what you do have.  

 

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1 hour ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Are you planning a career as a gaffer or a cinematographer or a director? Or do you own a soundstage space that you want to rent out?  I'm trying to understand the desire to spend a lot of money to own a lot of lighting equipment.

It's always better to know first what you need based on past experience rather than buy a lot of gear and then go looking for situations to use it.  Most people scale up as well, they discover the limits of a smaller package in order to learn what to add to it over time.

I learned by owning one 650w tungsten open-faced lamp I found in a garage sale for $5 (later I discovered the bulb alone was worth $25), plus some reflector dish lamp with light bulbs in them.  In film school we were limited to tungsten lamps under 20A, so 2K's and lower.  We rented small HMI's and Kinoflos as needed.  When I had the budget for a generator, I rented a 6K HMI and learned what its limitations were. The next shoot I rented a 9K HMI. A couple of years later I was able to afford to rent an 18K HMI.  One thing I learned on those small shoots is to get two of everything because if a light goes down, you don't want to have to rethink everything with a different type of light, and HMI's almost always act up at some point, which is why stage work avoided them and stuck with tungsten. As one gaffer told me, when I asked him why he preferred to put big MaxiBrutes on condors for night exteriors rather than HMI's, he said "because a tungsten light always turns on."  I've had a big HMI 75 feet in the air on a condor and not come on, and the crew was switching out the ballast on the ground, and if that didn't work, they were switching out the lamp head in the bucket, and if that didn't work, they were replacing all of the headfeeder cable between the ground and the bucket, etc.  Too many points of failure.  But I've also lit big night exteriors with ARRI Skypanel LED's only to discover that they didn't like getting wet in the rain.

I'm planning on being a cinematographer but I would like to have lights to rent out, alongside cameras and lenses.

I agree it should preferably be on past experience, which is why I'm here asking people their experience with similar output lights. I realize scaling based on experience is the best and I'm still probably going to do that, but I have a budget for going in the outset, in money somewhat but more in space, I'm just trying to tread carefully and yes I can rent, but I don't know how long shoots I'm on can go for so I just don't want to get into a situation where I'm spending more in total by renting and I would like to make money by renting my gear, basically the idea of renting scares me.

Also, would you say it was harder to do the night exteriors with the sky panels than with the hmi? And just note whenever I talk about hmis, unless I'm talking about a specific model, I'm using the number as a reference for output, I'm not interested in using hmis as they seem like a pain in the ass to use as your post clearly shows from experience.

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I just updated my small personal lighting kit last year. It is meant mainly for documentary stuff, low budget short films and corporate videos type of stuff. But I had some good guidelines which are useful for anyone updating their personal lighting kit:

- Only purchase gear which you will use on practically every shoot you'll have. In most shoots you don't have time and budget to rig tons of gear even if you would have them available in your truck. So you will really need to figure out every piece of gear if it is absolutely required on every shoot or if some of it is rarely used stuff which can be rented only when needed (usually once or twice a year) instead of having it with you on every shoot but not using it at all

- Only purchase the amount of gear you can transport by yourself in your own car. If you want to purchase a bigger car for your kit that is totally fine but if you have no means to transport all of your kit at once with your own car the rest of it will inevitably be left behind to storage on most of your shoots and then you don't benefit of that extra gear at all

- Have a mix of Led and Tungsten lights which are very versatile and relatively affordable. The leds are very useful to be battery powered so that they are quicker to use (and you need to make sure you have enough money left for the batteries too! vmounts can be expensive and you will need tons of them) . The reason I recommend having tungsten lights too is that you can get couple of powerful and punchy tungsten lights for very cheap which can be used for relatively large sets and are still very budget friendly compared to led or hmi. So it is possible to have "lots of available headroom" in your lighting kit by having some standby tunsten units around. Calculate how much power you can get on typical sets and then determine what kind of tungsten kit could be powered with it and if you can rig it in reasonable time and manpower available.  For example I typically carry two 2kw blondes, two 800w redheads, two or three par64 nsp/vnsp and 300+650+1000 fresnel set on shoots where I know I will have enough power to use most of them. You can get that kind of extra tungsten kit used for very cheap (about similar price than one new 500w mid quality cob led unit) .  This way I can use smaller and more affordable led units because I can substitute the expensive powerful ones with tungsten in some cases.  I have some 575 hmi's too but there is often not enough time to rig them so they are kind of extra units and not used on every shoot.

- Like said, you can always rent if you need some extra gear which is not used every day of the year. I would avoid purchasing expensive gear unless you really know that you will use it every single shooting day and will certainly know you can transport all of it with your own car.

- I personally calculate and judge every gear piece purchase, even if it is just a simple clamp or spigot. I really do calculate whether I need 7 or 8 spigot adapters with me on the shoots, imagining different rigging and lighting scenarios. It helps if you purchase one kit piece at a time to be able to concentrate on it fully. This way you don't purchase anything you don't really need and can save a lot on gear costs and storage space

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I have some mixed feelings with the current extensive use of Led lights. They are pretty useful for most applications but one really needs to determine first how they will really actually use every single unit before purchasing one.

For example one thinks the all led units "must" be rgbww unit "because rgbww is most versatile and I don't know yet how I will use it so I want to have every option available". But what are the drawbacks (less powerful, more expensive, larger and heavier) of having the rgbww option on every single one of your leds?  I think one needs to mix and match different kind of units to get the most out of the lighting kit and single mindedly thinking that only rgbww is an option when purchasing gear may make the kit less versatile on shoots where more specialised gear would have been optimal.

 

For example, personally I think the LED tungsten balanced light generally looks pretty bad compared to real tungsten light (led usually having yellowish "rancid butter" kind of colour cast compared to real tungsten and old led units tend to add some green on top of that) . This is why I always try to use real tungsten if needing lower than about 4200K colour temperature on the light.  This has lead to me mostly purchasing Daylight Balanced Led units instead of adjustable colour temperature ones because I know I would very rarely use the "tungsten balanced" option on the Leds anyway and thus I will gladly take daylight-only unit with double the light power but cheaper and lighter than the adjustable balance one would be. I have some smaller rgbww leds for uses where I know I need the rgb colours... but most of my leds are actually daylight-only units because I know that in most cases I only need the maximum daylight balanced light with minimum amount of heat and the least power consumption possible and preferably battery powered.

If you do tons of music videos with coloured rgb light then the rgbww could be a good choice. But for example for my documentary use they would be totally useless and I instead need lightweight and affordable daylight-only leds which I do have purchased and using every day.

It is kind of a problematic to try to determine gear choices for future imagined uses which may not materialize the way you think they would. It would be much more useful to determine what you do actually need NOW and purchase that in mind. Additionally, it would be pretty depressing if you try to purchase all kinds of attractive gear for planned rental use and end up with lights you don't actually use much on your own shoots. So go with you own gear needs first and decide first what you really do need on your own everyday shoots. You don't have to purchase it all at once, just buy one piece of gear at a time and after using it for a while you will know what is the most urgently needed next piece of your kit

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4) Regarding the parabolic softbox. Karl Taylor explains that subject very well. 

 

To continue the rest of your question about the diffusion's bounceback into the reflector. That occurs in every softbox with white diffusion. But the return doesn't "intensify" as maybe you think. Some softboxes are white-lined as opposed to silver, which helps to create as much of an even glow from end to end on the diffusion layer.

I hope this was helpful.

 

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2 hours ago, Stephen Sanchez said:

4) Regarding the parabolic softbox. Karl Taylor explains that subject very well. 

 

To continue the rest of your question about the diffusion's bounceback into the reflector. That occurs in every softbox with white diffusion. But the return doesn't "intensify" as maybe you think. Some softboxes are white-lined as opposed to silver, which helps to create as much of an even glow from end to end on the diffusion layer.

I hope this was helpful.

 

I saw that video, it's where I thought to have this idea seeing the drawbacks of "parabolic" softboxes, and I know it would only work with silver internal softboxes hence softboxes with a silver reflector. But yeah maybe I'm overestimating the bounce properties of unbleached muslin.

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On 4/24/2022 at 6:37 AM, aapo lettinen said:

I have some mixed feelings with the current extensive use of Led lights. They are pretty useful for most applications but one really needs to determine first how they will really actually use every single unit before purchasing one.

For example one thinks the all led units "must" be rgbww unit "because rgbww is most versatile and I don't know yet how I will use it so I want to have every option available". But what are the drawbacks (less powerful, more expensive, larger and heavier) of having the rgbww option on every single one of your leds?  I think one needs to mix and match different kind of units to get the most out of the lighting kit and single mindedly thinking that only rgbww is an option when purchasing gear may make the kit less versatile on shoots where more specialised gear would have been optimal.

 

For example, personally I think the LED tungsten balanced light generally looks pretty bad compared to real tungsten light (led usually having yellowish "rancid butter" kind of colour cast compared to real tungsten and old led units tend to add some green on top of that) . This is why I always try to use real tungsten if needing lower than about 4200K colour temperature on the light.  This has lead to me mostly purchasing Daylight Balanced Led units instead of adjustable colour temperature ones because I know I would very rarely use the "tungsten balanced" option on the Leds anyway and thus I will gladly take daylight-only unit with double the light power but cheaper and lighter than the adjustable balance one would be. I have some smaller rgbww leds for uses where I know I need the rgb colours... but most of my leds are actually daylight-only units because I know that in most cases I only need the maximum daylight balanced light with minimum amount of heat and the least power consumption possible and preferably battery powered.

If you do tons of music videos with coloured rgb light then the rgbww could be a good choice. But for example for my documentary use they would be totally useless and I instead need lightweight and affordable daylight-only leds which I do have purchased and using every day.

It is kind of a problematic to try to determine gear choices for future imagined uses which may not materialize the way you think they would. It would be much more useful to determine what you do actually need NOW and purchase that in mind. Additionally, it would be pretty depressing if you try to purchase all kinds of attractive gear for planned rental use and end up with lights you don't actually use much on your own shoots. So go with you own gear needs first and decide first what you really do need on your own everyday shoots. You don't have to purchase it all at once, just buy one piece of gear at a time and after using it for a while you will know what is the most urgently needed next piece of your kit

I care about quality of light very much, which is why I'm looking at lights such as the astera titans and Prolycht orions of the worlds and I'm not only looking at RGB lights, the main light I'm looking to use as key would be the hive wasp 1000 which is a plasma light. That's the thing, I think I know what I need, but what I think I need and what I actually need can be drastically different, I see so many amateurs underestimate how much light they need, thinking they only need those tiny RGB led panel lights, and I only have so much power to work with so I'm trying to see what can do with certain lights by asking those who have used equivalent lights what they can do, these lights I put up are the maximum I can work with in terms of power.

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On 5/1/2022 at 2:47 PM, Edith blazek said:

... I see so many amateurs underestimate how much light they need, thinking they only need those tiny RGB led panel lights, and I only have so much power to work with ... these lights I put up are the maximum I can work with in terms of power.

Don't impose artificial limitations on yourself.  If by the "maximum I can work with in terms of power" you mean what you can plug into household electrical outlets you are imposing artificial limitations on yourself.  If you expand your horizons to include 240V range and dryer plugs you can safely and legally power much bigger lights like tungsten 5ks and 4k HMIs.

Regardless what LED manufacturers claim, I have yet to see a LED fixture that can match a 2.5 HMI Par. And as Aapo Lettinen correctly stated, LEDs can't match a tungsten light for color rendition at 3200K - especially skin-tones. As you get into lighting dramas you will need these larger lights to maintain continuity.

You can safely and legally power any tungsten 5k or 4kHMI on a 240V wall outlet if you use a 240V-to-120V step down transformer like the one we manufacture for our modified Honda EU7000s inverter generator.  A transformer converts the 240 volts supplied by industrial and household 240V receptacles back to 120V in a single circuit that is the sum of the two legs of the circuit.  For instance, a transformer can make a 60A/120V circuit out of a 30A/240V dryer circuit that can power a 4k HMI or tungsten 5k.  What makes it safe to plug a 4k HMI into a 240V outlet is that a transformer automatically splits the load of whatever you plug into it evenly over the two legs of the 240V circuit so that you have 100 percent phase cancellation.

I use transformers not only to power big HMIs (2.5-4kW) and big tungsten (5kW), but also more smaller lights, in situations where a tie-in is not an option, and the budget doesn't permit for a tow generator.  If you outfit the transformer like our HD Plug-n-Play Transformer/Distro, with a 60A Bates receptacle, you can use 60A Bates extension cables, 60-to-60 splitters, and fused 60A Bates-to-Edison breakouts (snack boxes) to run power around set - breaking out to 20A Edison outlets at convenient  points rather than running stingers all over the place trying to find a separate circuit so that you don't trip a breaker.  The best part about using a transformer/distro with a 240V receptacle in this fashion is that no matter where in the distribution system you plug in, the transformer automatically balances the additional load, so that you don't have to be an experienced spark to distribute power on set.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting & Grip Equipment Rental and Sales in Boston

 

 

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1 hour ago, Guy Holt said:

I use transformers not only to power big HMIs (2.5-4kW) and big tungsten (5kW), but also more smaller lights, in situations where a tie-in is not an option, and the budget doesn't permit for a tow generator. 

For example, I have used this same package repeatedly at historical house/museums like the Ames Estate in Easton MA that has served as the location for numerous American Experience PBS historical biographies. A popular state fee free location, the Ames Estate, like many historical  house/museums does not permit tie-ins and the electrical wiring is so antiquated that it is unusable. Fortunately, they have a 50A/240V circuit in the carriage house for a welder they use to repair the mowers they use at the park.  Our standard mode of operations when shooting there is to run 250V extension cable from the 240V receptacle  to a 60A HD Plug-n-Play transformer/distro in the entry hall of the house. Using a 60A Siamese at the transformer/distro, we then run 60A 6/3 Bates extensions, down to the library, to the second floor, and back to the maid's pantry.  At the end of each run we put another 60A Siamese.  A 60A snack box on one side of the Siamese gives us 20A branch circuits. The other side we leave open for a large HMI or tungsten light.  Now we can safely plug HMIs up to 4K or tungsten up to 5k into our own distributions anywhere in the house to balance  the interior levels to the exteriors and maintain continuity. A good example of this approach is an American Experience program titled "The Most Dangerous Women in America" about Typhoid Mary that I lit for PBS.  

For part of her life, Typhoid Mary was quarantined on an island in New York's East River.  Because New York's East River today looks nothing like it did when she was in quarantine, we used a 30' blowup of a picture of the East River at the turn of the century rigged outside the windows of the house.  We had to strike a delicate balance between the interior and exterior levels. We wanted to overexpose the exterior by one stope so that it would look realistic and hide the fact that the exterior was a blown-up picture.  We rigged a 20x20 solid over the porch windows and the blow-up to keep the sun off both.  That way we could light the blow-up and interior so that it remained consistent even though the sun moved on and off the porch in the course of the day. To take the edge off the blow-up, we used a single scrim outside the window to help throw it out of focus.

To maintain continuity between shots, we brought a 4kw HMI Fresnel in a window on one side of the room as a sun source and a diffused 1200 par through a window on the other side as a northern light source.  We powered both heads off the 240V receptacle in the garage using one  of our 60A transformer/distros.  The two 2.5k W Par lights used outside to light the blow-up were powered by a Honda EU6500 through a second 60A transformer/distro.  Since the Honda could be placed right on the lawn, we were saved from running hundreds of feet of feeder back to a tow generator.

I have been able to use this same basic package at numerous museums and historical houses throughout  New England.  Fortunately for us, to make ends meet, many historical houses rent themselves out for events and weddings.  For that reason, they usually have at least one updated service with 30 or 50A 240V circuit for the warming ovens of caterers.

For production stills from this show and other PBS and History Channel historical documentaries shot entirely , or in part, with just a couple of transformer/distros and a Honda use these links:

http://www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/tmintro.html

http://www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/unhisintro.html

http://www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/franklinintro.html

In my experience, every show requires slightly different lights but they all benefit by the additional power that can be accessed through 240V circuits with a step-down transformer, so you might consider investing in distribution equipment that you will use on every shoot rather than lights that you will only use on some. Besides, these days the older HMI Fresnels and  Pars can be rented very cheaply.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Sales and Rental in Boston

 

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Guy Holt said:

Don't impose artificial limitations on yourself.  If by the "maximum I can work with in terms of power" you mean what you can plug into household electrical outlets you are imposing artificial limitations on yourself.  If you expand your horizons to include 240V range and dryer plugs you can safely and legally power much bigger lights like tungsten 5ks and 4k HMIs.

Regardless what LED manufacturers claim, I have yet to see a LED fixture that can match a 2.5 HMI Par. And as Aapo Lettinen correctly stated, LEDs can't match a tungsten light for color rendition at 3200K - especially skin-tones. As you get into lighting dramas you will need these larger lights to maintain continuity.

You can safely and legally power any tungsten 5k or 4kHMI on a 240V wall outlet if you use a 240V-to-120V step down transformer like the one we manufacture for our modified Honda EU7000s inverter generator.  A transformer converts the 240 volts supplied by industrial and household 240V receptacles back to 120V in a single circuit that is the sum of the two legs of the circuit.  For instance, a transformer can make a 60A/120V circuit out of a 30A/240V dryer circuit that can power a 4k HMI or tungsten 5k.  What makes it safe to plug a 4k HMI into a 240V outlet is that a transformer automatically splits the load of whatever you plug into it evenly over the two legs of the 240V circuit so that you have 100 percent phase cancellation.

I use transformers not only to power big HMIs (2.5-4kW) and big tungsten (5kW), but also more smaller lights, in situations where a tie-in is not an option, and the budget doesn't permit for a tow generator.  If you outfit the transformer like our HD Plug-n-Play Transformer/Distro, with a 60A Bates receptacle, you can use 60A Bates extension cables, 60-to-60 splitters, and fused 60A Bates-to-Edison breakouts (snack boxes) to run power around set - breaking out to 20A Edison outlets at convenient  points rather than running stingers all over the place trying to find a separate circuit so that you don't trip a breaker.  The best part about using a transformer/distro with a 240V receptacle in this fashion is that no matter where in the distribution system you plug in, the transformer automatically balances the additional load, so that you don't have to be an experienced spark to distribute power on set.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting & Grip Equipment Rental and Sales in Boston

 

 

8 hours ago, Guy Holt said:

For example, I have used this same package repeatedly at historical house/museums like the Ames Estate in Easton MA that has served as the location for numerous American Experience PBS historical biographies. A popular state fee free location, the Ames Estate, like many historical  house/museums does not permit tie-ins and the electrical wiring is so antiquated that it is unusable. Fortunately, they have a 50A/240V circuit in the carriage house for a welder they use to repair the mowers they use at the park.  Our standard mode of operations when shooting there is to run 250V extension cable from the 240V receptacle  to a 60A HD Plug-n-Play transformer/distro in the entry hall of the house. Using a 60A Siamese at the transformer/distro, we then run 60A 6/3 Bates extensions, down to the library, to the second floor, and back to the maid's pantry.  At the end of each run we put another 60A Siamese.  A 60A snack box on one side of the Siamese gives us 20A branch circuits. The other side we leave open for a large HMI or tungsten light.  Now we can safely plug HMIs up to 4K or tungsten up to 5k into our own distributions anywhere in the house to balance  the interior levels to the exteriors and maintain continuity. A good example of this approach is an American Experience program titled "The Most Dangerous Women in America" about Typhoid Mary that I lit for PBS.  

For part of her life, Typhoid Mary was quarantined on an island in New York's East River.  Because New York's East River today looks nothing like it did when she was in quarantine, we used a 30' blowup of a picture of the East River at the turn of the century rigged outside the windows of the house.  We had to strike a delicate balance between the interior and exterior levels. We wanted to overexpose the exterior by one stope so that it would look realistic and hide the fact that the exterior was a blown-up picture.  We rigged a 20x20 solid over the porch windows and the blow-up to keep the sun off both.  That way we could light the blow-up and interior so that it remained consistent even though the sun moved on and off the porch in the course of the day. To take the edge off the blow-up, we used a single scrim outside the window to help throw it out of focus.

To maintain continuity between shots, we brought a 4kw HMI Fresnel in a window on one side of the room as a sun source and a diffused 1200 par through a window on the other side as a northern light source.  We powered both heads off the 240V receptacle in the garage using one  of our 60A transformer/distros.  The two 2.5k W Par lights used outside to light the blow-up were powered by a Honda EU6500 through a second 60A transformer/distro.  Since the Honda could be placed right on the lawn, we were saved from running hundreds of feet of feeder back to a tow generator.

I have been able to use this same basic package at numerous museums and historical houses throughout  New England.  Fortunately for us, to make ends meet, many historical houses rent themselves out for events and weddings.  For that reason, they usually have at least one updated service with 30 or 50A 240V circuit for the warming ovens of caterers.

For production stills from this show and other PBS and History Channel historical documentaries shot entirely , or in part, with just a couple of transformer/distros and a Honda use these links:

http://www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/tmintro.html

http://www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/unhisintro.html

http://www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/franklinintro.html

In my experience, every show requires slightly different lights but they all benefit by the additional power that can be accessed through 240V circuits with a step-down transformer, so you might consider investing in distribution equipment that you will use on every shoot rather than lights that you will only use on some. Besides, these days the older HMI Fresnels and  Pars can be rented very cheaply.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Sales and Rental in Boston

 

 

 

 

 

Good to know, however, I wasn't talking about outlet capacity, I was talking about generator output. I have limited space for a generator, I can only carry so big a generator.

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12 hours ago, Edith blazek said:

 

... I can only carry so big a generator.

Then you might consider paralleling two Honda EU7000s and using a step-down transformer to convert the combined 240V output to a 100A circuit at 120V, which is enough to power a 10K.  Paralleled Honda EU7000s  can also power an ARRIMAX 9k.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental and Sales in Boston

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On 4/24/2022 at 12:21 AM, David Mullen ASC said:

Are you planning a career as a gaffer or a cinematographer or a director? Or do you own a soundstage space that you want to rent out?  I'm trying to understand the desire to spend a lot of money to own a lot of lighting equipment.

It's always better to know first what you need based on past experience rather than buy a lot of gear and then go looking for situations to use it.  Most people scale up as well, they discover the limits of a smaller package in order to learn what to add to it over time.

I learned by owning one 650w tungsten open-faced lamp I found in a garage sale for $5 (later I discovered the bulb alone was worth $25), plus some reflector dish lamp with light bulbs in them.  In film school we were limited to tungsten lamps under 20A, so 2K's and lower.  We rented small HMI's and Kinoflos as needed.  When I had the budget for a generator, I rented a 6K HMI and learned what its limitations were. The next shoot I rented a 9K HMI. A couple of years later I was able to afford to rent an 18K HMI.  One thing I learned on those small shoots is to get two of everything because if a light goes down, you don't want to have to rethink everything with a different type of light, and HMI's almost always act up at some point, which is why stage work avoided them and stuck with tungsten. As one gaffer told me, when I asked him why he preferred to put big MaxiBrutes on condors for night exteriors rather than HMI's, he said "because a tungsten light always turns on."  I've had a big HMI 75 feet in the air on a condor and not come on, and the crew was switching out the ballast on the ground, and if that didn't work, they were switching out the lamp head in the bucket, and if that didn't work, they were replacing all of the headfeeder cable between the ground and the bucket, etc.  Too many points of failure.  But I've also lit big night exteriors with ARRI Skypanel LED's only to discover that they didn't like getting wet in the rain.

But seriously if you could tell me what it was like lighting night exteriors with skypanels versus generally more powerful hmis? that would really be cool. Did you need more skypanels than you did hmis?

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On 5/15/2022 at 9:21 PM, Edith blazek said:

But seriously if you could tell me what it was like lighting night exteriors with skypanels versus generally more powerful hmis? that would really be cool. Did you need more skypanels than you did hmis?

It really depends, having done both.

Example 1: 20k and 18k in a lift, 500 feet away from talent lighting a farm field, and trees in the deep background.  A 360 would have no where near the reach, and while it may be able to light a wider field of view, it would fall off too fast to be useful.

Example 2: 18k in a lift for heavy stylized moon night work.  We dropped a home run in it, and it should have probably been a 4k, but it was already mounted on the lift and we were running out of time.  It worked, but was, in reality, a little too much.  Even 100 feet back it was reading T8 on the meter.

Same show, different DP, we put a 360 in the basket for the same type of thing, and it was maybe 80 feet away. Backlighting a group of people was easy with this setup, dimming was simple, and fast to control. 

It really depends on what the situation is, what the shot is, and what the DP is requesting for the look.  It also depends on how fast you need to move through the day, or how constrained the physical location might be.

I will side with the rest and say, I never trust HMI's, and tungsten always strikes.  For the same power runs, Maxibrutes all day.

I've tried 4K's with soft boxes in a lift, but they are simply toooooo unweildy to do anything meaningful with. 

In large rigs/boxes on lifts, skypanels are great until you need quality tungsten, then its usually cheaper to go with parcans.

Don't get blinded by technology.  Tubes/Creamsourse/Digital Sputnik/new hotness, don't solve all problems.  They just help us learn new problems we didnt' know existed.

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