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Guy Holt

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Guy Holt last won the day on July 27

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About Guy Holt

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    Gaffer
  • Location
    Boston
  • Specialties
    Custom Honda generator systems for motion picture production including paralleling systems with 100A output.

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    http://www.screenlightandgrip.com

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  1. Time to revive this thread with some indie tricks-of-the-trade for lighting night exteriors in the woods in the winter. Michael Patti's biggest challenge will be keeping his light off the snow. If he doesn't, it will bloom. I see two problems with his approach. It will be impossible to cut the bounce light from the overhead 8x off the snow and it will be hard to get the reverse key modeling that a night scene requires from a single large bounce source. I would suggest that he instead use the M18 to light the deep background from ground level and use the S60s on boom arms to model your talent. Better yet, I would swap the S60s for a very lightweight fixture like the Litemat 2 that you can arm out on a 20' menace arm to get them into reverse key positions. Having the fixtures on a menace arm will give you the flexibility to quickly adjust their position to get just the right reverse angle to get the modeling required by a night scene. You can also put egg crates on the Litmats to keep them from spilling onto the snow in shot. I would use the M18 on a stand deep in the background to one side to back light the deep background. As a hard source it offers a number of advantages over an S60 in this capacity. It will project more deeply into the woods. You will be able to cut it off the snow easily, and you will be able to use blades or fat nets to cut it off trees so that it lights the background evenly. As an added touch I would use a dry ice fogger to add ground level fog. Since working in snow is tantamount to working in water, you should have ground fault protection on your distro. With a small package like this you can get by with a Honda EU6500 or EU7000 generator which will be much easier to get into the woods. A small step-down transformer will provide a 60A 120V circuit from the Honda's 240v receptacle (plenty of power for both lighting and camera) using the industry standard Bates receptacle. Since the ground and neutral are bonded in the transformer, you can use film style GFCIs like the LifeGuard, Shock Block, or Shock Stop GFCIs (pictured below) to bring the Hondas into OSHA compliance for use on set (they don't meet OSHA requirements otherwise.) From the GFCI you. can run 60A Bates extensions, splitters and breakout boxes to distribute power around set (the M18 in the deep background will operate much more reliably if you run 60A Bates extensions to it and then break out to 20A Edison at its ballast rather than running 300' of stingers to it from the generator.) This way you can avoid using the hardware store style 15A GFCI dongles that are prone to nuisance tripping with HMIs and non-pfc LEDs like the Litemats. A single LifeGuard, Shock Block, or Shock Stop GFCI will offer much more reliable ground fault protection (without a propensity to nuisance trip) anywhere downstream of the transformer. An added benefit to using a transformer is that it automatically splits the load of whatever you plug into its secondary over its primary so you no longer have to worry about balancing the load on the generator. Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting rental & sales in Boston.
  2. Your biggest challenge will be keeping your light off the snow. If you don't, it will bloom. I see two problems with your approach. It will be impossible to cut the bounce light from the overhead 8x off the snow and it will be hard to get the reverse key modeling that a night scene requires from a single large bounce source. I would suggest that you instead use the M18 to light the deep background from ground level and use the S60s on boom arms to model your talent. Better yet, I would swap the S60s for a very lightweight fixture like the Litemat 2 that you can arm out on a 20' menace arm to get them into reverse key positions. Having the fixtures on a menace arm will give you the flexibility to quickly adjust their position to get just the right reverse angle to get the modeling required by a night scene. You can also put egg crates on the Litmats to keep them from spilling onto the snow in shot. I would use the M18 on a stand deep in the background to one side to back light the deep background. As a hard source it offers a number of advantages over an S60 in this capacity. It will project more deeply into the woods. You will be able to cut it off the snow easily, and you will be able to use blades or fat nets to cut it off trees so that it lights the background evenly. As an added touch I would use a dry ice fogger to add ground level fog. Since working in snow is tantamount to working in water, you should have ground fault protection on your distro. With a small package like this you can get by with a Honda EU6500 or EU7000 generator which will be much easier to get into the woods. A small step-down transformer will provide a 60A 120V circuit from the Honda's 240v receptacle (plenty of power for both lighting and camera) using the industry standard Bates receptacle. Since the ground and neutral are bonded in the transformer, you can use film style GFCIs like the LifeGuard, Shock Block, or Shock Stop GFCIs (pictured below) to bring the Hondas into OSHA compliance for use on set (they don't meet OSHA requirements otherwise.) From the GFCI you. can run 60A Bates extensions, splitters and breakout boxes to distribute power around set (the M18 in the deep background will operate much more reliably if you run 60A Bates extensions to it and then break out to 20A Edison at its ballast rather than running 300' of stingers to it from the generator.) This way you can avoid using the hardware store style 15A GFCI dongles that are prone to nuisance tripping with HMIs and non-pfc LEDs like the Litemats. A single LifeGuard, Shock Block, or Shock Stop GFCI will offer much more reliable ground fault protection (without a propensity to nuisance trip) anywhere downstream of the transformer. An added benefit to using a transformer is that it automatically splits the load of whatever you plug into its secondary over its primary so you no longer have to worry about balancing the load on the generator.An added benefit to using a transformer is that it automatically splits the load of whatever you plug into its secondary over its primary so you no longer have to worry about balancing the load on the generator. Good Luck. It sounds like a fun project. Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting rental & sales in Boston.
  3. I’m a total Newbie when it comers to wireless DMX and want to put together a portable dimming system in a pelican case. I was thinking of getting Nomad for my 2013 Macbook Pro with Retina display. So that I can easily jump from there to a desk size EOS console I was thinking of also getting a Dell 16x9 Touchscreen to mount under the lid of the case and the cmd keyboard for ETC Eos. To output dmx to fixtures I was also planning on getting the ETC Gadget that provides two universes. What would be a good transmitter? Is there anything else I am missing? What more do I need in my Pelican case for a complete mobile package. Attached are some pictures I found online of such a system and I am trying to figure out what all the ports on the side of the pelican case are for? Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rentals & Sales in Boston
  4. I’m a total Newbie and want to put together a portable wireless dmx system in a pelican case as well. I was thinking of getting Nomad for my 2013 Macbook Pro with Retina display. So that I can easily jump onto on a desk size EOS console I was thinking of also getting a Dell 16x9 Touchscreen to mount under the lid of the case and the CMd Eos keyboard. To output dmx to fixtures I was also planning on getting the ETC Gadget that provides two universes. Is the Ratpac AKS Plus a good transmitter for this set-up or would you suggest something else? Do you think this covers all the bases for a system or am I missing something ? What more do I need in my Pelican case for a complete mobile package. Attached are some pictures I found online of such a system and I am trying to figure out what all the ports on the side of the pelican case are for? Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rentals & Sales in Boston
  5. While 60 and 100A Bates females are listed for 240V use, they are customarily used for 120V and so will cause confusion on set leading to the possibility that someone might plug a 120V light into 240V and fry it. If you want to run a large light at 240V off a dryer or range plug be sure to use the yellow coded 220 100A Bates female. On a four-wire system cap off the neutral. Again, bonding ground and neutral downstream of the main service head, as you suggest here, is against the code. Yes, the disadvantage is that you don’t have access to 120V and it is an inefficient use of the power available from 240V receptacles for the reason given above. Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental and Sales in Boston
  6. The number of higher wattage lights that can run 240V are limited. While 240V 5k & 10K bulbs do exist, most rental houses lamp their fixtures with 120V bulbs. 4k HMIs with electronic ballasts will operate either 240 or 120, but operating them at 240 is a not very efficient use of power. A 4kw HIM with Power Factor corrected ballast will draw about 19A per leg operating at 240V. Which means you are tying up the remaining 11A/leg on a 30A dryer plug or 31A/leg on a 50A range plug just to power that one 4k. A more efficient way to operate the 4k is at 120V through a step-down transformer. That way you still have access to the 22A on a 30A dryer plug or 62A on a 50A range plug to power other 120V lights (you can power quite a few more lights with that 22A or 62A.) Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental and Sales in Boston
  7. Same issue as other "splitter box" when adapting to the more prevalent three-wire circuit. This box has the added problem of having the inexpensive GFCIs that are prone to tripping with motion picture lighting loads on each circuit. Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston
  8. This style of lunchbox has very limited application. In most situations an Inspector would have an issue with its use. You have to be really careful when splitting 240V circuits. If the 240V circuit is a four-wire system, one can use a "splitter box" like this as long as it does not bond ground and neutral. Where you run into trouble is that almost all residential and industrial 240V receptacles use a three-wire system (the receptacle has three slots: one for ground, and two for hots, and no neutral.) Most household and industrial 240V receptacles use a three-wire system because they were wired for the sole purpose of powering single phase motors, compressors, or heating elements that draw a perfectly balanced load and return no current. A perfectly balanced load doesn't require a neutral because the single phase service legs are 180 degrees out of phase and cancel each other out - hence there is no return that would require a separate neutral. You run into trouble with this kind of circuit when you start to pull an unbalanced load on your splitter box. And, where under most production situations you can never perfectly balance your lighting load, the two 120V circuits that make up this 240V circuit will not have 100% phase cancellation and the extra current of the high leg will need a return path. By necessity with a three-wire system you then have to bond the ground and the neutral together in the 4-pin to 3-pin adapter you use to plug it in, so that the extra current returns on the ground (after all what else can you do with the neutral when plugging into a three-wire 240V circuit.) There are some people that will argue that it is not such a big deal to carry current on the ground wire. I would argue that it is both unsafe and unwise to carry current on the ground wire. It is unsafe because the ground wire connects all the non-current carrying metal parts of your system (metal light housings, metal distro boxes, generator frames, etc.) The ground wire is only intended to carry current in the event of an electrical fault to open the breaker. It is unwise because bonding ground and neutral after the service side of the main service head (which is what you have to do with the ground and neutral of a splitter box when plugging into a three-wire 240V circuit) is a violation of NEC Sections 250-23(a) & 250-24(a)(5). If someone were to fall off a ladder because they took a non-lethal shock because the equipment they were handling was energized your liability insurance would be null and void because you were using equipment that did not meet code. 4k & 1.2k HMIs powered from a 30A/240V dryer outlet through one of our step-down transformer/distros in a sixth floor loft for a Bose shoot. The only safe way to pull power from three-wire 240V circuits that meets the requirements of the National Electrical Code is to run your lighting load through a small 240V-to-120V step-down transformer. A transformer can make a 60A/120V circuit out of a 30A/240V dryer circuit that is capable of powering bigger lights, like a 5k Tungsten or 4k HMI, or more smaller lights than you could otherwise. What makes it safe to use a step-down transformer is that the transformer automatically splits the load of whatever you plug into it evenly over the two legs of the 240V circuit. Where there is no high leg, the loads on each leg of the 240V circuit cancel out and there is no return that would require a ground/neutral bond. Beside creating a larger 120V circuit capable of powering larger lights, or more smaller lights, than you could otherwise, transformers offer other benefits over splitter boxes. For instance, since you typically have to run cable some distance to find a 240V receptacle, we tap our transformer/distros to boost the voltage slightly in order to compensate for the voltage drop over the long cable run from the receptacle to set. Using transformers with the Honda EU6500 and EU7000 generators bring them into OSHA compliance (they don't meet OSHA requirements for use on job sites otherwise.) For more details about these benefits, as well as others, see my white paper on the use of portable generators in motion picture production. Guy Holt, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rentals and Sales in Boston
  9. My concern with your two-fer is that it would not pass a spot electrical inspection. I once had an electrical inspector pop into one of my sets simply because he drove by it on his way home from work. An electrical inspector is not required by Code (Section 90.7) to re-evaluate the safety of equipment that is "listed" and "labeled". However, if equipment has been modified from its original condition or is installed or used under conditions not stipulated in its' listing, the inspector will likely require it be taken out of service. An inspector will likel reject this two-fer for its misuse of listed equipment. A better approach is to use a small step-down transformer to convert the two 50A legs of this 240V receptacle into a single 100A circuit at 120V. That way you can use a 100A lunchbox without reservation or caveat. A transformer/distro like that pictured here offers a number of other benefits as well. For details see a white paper I wrote on the use of portable generators in motion picture production, of which Harry Box said "Following the prescriptions contained in this article enables the operation of bigger lights, or more maller lights, on portable generators than has ever been possible before." The white paper can be found at http://www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/emailnewsletter_generators.html. Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting rental and sales in Boston
  10. I’m a total Newbie as well and want to put together a portable system in a pelican case and have some questions. I just completed ETC’s four day intensive Eos family board operating workshop and now need to get some board time, so I was thinking of getting Nomad for my 2013 Macbook Pro with Retina display to practice with. To simulate the experience of working on a real console I was thinking of also getting a couple of Dell 16x9 Touchscreens and the lxkey for Eos keyboard (http://www.lxkey.co.uk/#features); and so that I can test the operability of the Magic Sheets I build. I was also planning on getting the ETC Gadget to output dmx to fixtures. Do you think this covers all the bases for a system to practice on or am I missing something? What more do I need in my Pelican case for a complete mobile package. Attached are some pictures I found online of such a system and I am trying to figure out what all the ports on the side of the pelican case are for.
  11. A battery charger of sufficient size will charge the battery from an AC source at the same rate that the lights deplete it. Put an amp probe on the positive lead of the battery to see what the headlights draw. Then go to a boat supply store to find a charger that will charge the batteries at the same rate. Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight and Grip, Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston
  12. This is another example where forethought and planning can save your budget. The problem shooting daylight exteriors is that the sun moves throughout the day, so lights are needed to maintain continuity between shots filmed at different times of day. If you plan your shots properly, you don't need as big and HMI as you may think to maintain continuity. With proper planning you can get way with nothing more than a 4kw par and 1.2kw Par - which you can run on a modified Honda EU7000 generator with a Transformer/Distro that provides a single 60A/120V circuit. The approach that I find works best is to wait to shoot the establishing master shot until the sun is in a backlight position. Up to that point shoot the close coverage under a large silk (12x or 20x.) Shooting the close coverage under a silk offers a number of advantages. The silk takes the direction out of the sun and knocks down its' level by two and one half stops so now you can use a smaller HMI to create consistent modeling in all the close-ups. Shooting into talents' down side under a silk, I find that a 4K par through a diffusion frame is a sufficient key source for a good size shot. You need the diffusion because a bare par will be too harsh. When shooting close coverage under the silk, nets behind our talent will control the background from blowing out. The advantages to waiting to shoot the wide master until the sun has moved around to a back light position are many. One, the background is also back-lit so the discrepancy in exposure between the background and our talent under the silk is not that great and so you can open up to gain exposure of our talent in the foreground without burning out the background. Two, your background looks better because it is not flatly lit, but has some contrast. And three, with the sun in a backlight position, the shadows of the silk frame and stands are thrown forward, which enables you to frame wide without picking up the shadow of the hardware. Finally, since the silk takes the direction out of the sun and knocks down its' level by two and one half stops a 4k HMI par has enough output to create the look and feel of natural sunlight. For more detailed information on powering 4k HMIs on portable gas generators, I would suggest you read an article I wrote on the use of portable generators in motion picture production. Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston
  13. The problem shooting daylight exteriors is that the sun moves throughout the day, so lights are needed to maintain continuity between shots filmed at different times of day. If you plan your shots properly, you don't need as big and HMI as you may think to maintain continuity. With proper planning you can get way with nothing more than a 4kw par and 1.2kw Par - which you can run on a modified Honda EU7000 generator with a Transformer/Distro that provides a single 60A/120V circuit. The approach that I find works best is to wait to shoot the establishing master shot until the sun is in a backlight position. Up to that point shoot the close coverage under a large silk (12x or 20x.) Shooting the close coverage under a silk offers a number of advantages. The silk takes the direction out of the sun and knocks down its' level by two and one half stops so now you can use a smaller HMI to create consistent modeling in all the close-ups. Shooting into talents' down side under a silk, I find that a 4K par through a diffusion frame is a sufficient key source for a good size shot. You need the diffusion because a bare par will be too harsh. When shooting close coverage under the silk, nets behind our talent will control the background from blowing out. The advantages to waiting to shoot the wide master until the sun has moved around to a back light position are many. One, the background is also back-lit so the discrepancy in exposure between the background and our talent under the silk is not that great and so you can open up to gain exposure of our talent in the foreground without burning out the background. Two, your background looks better because it is not flatly lit, but has some contrast. And three, with the sun in a backlight position, the shadows of the silk frame and stands are thrown forward, which enables you to frame wide without picking up the shadow of the hardware. Finally, since the silk takes the direction out of the sun and knocks down its' level by two and one half stops a 4k HMI par has enough output to create the look and feel of natural sunlight. For more detailed information on powering 4k HMIs on portable gas generators, I would suggest you read an article I wrote on the use of portable generators in motion picture production. Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston
  14. Time to get back to the original purpose of this thread: to share the tricks of the trade that will add more to your film’s production values than all the big budget toys found on bloated Hollywood productions. Without a doubt night scenes are the hardest to light on a tight budget. You must first story board and block out the scene so that you know exactly what you need to light (there is no point spending money to lighting an area of the location that will never appear on the screen.) From there you can figure out an innovative approach to accomplish the look you are after. What tools who need and how you deploy them will follow. A good example is a scene I lit for a “low budget” feature called "Black Irish." It was a pivotal scene where the youngest son of an Boston Irish family crashes his derelict older brother's car setting off an unfortunate series of events. Our biggest challenge was to create the feel of a car hurdling down the road at high speed. The traditional approach of under-cranking the camera to increase the speed on screen was not an option because the scene was a pivotal one with extensive dialogue inside the car. And, without the budget for performance drivers, a Porsche Panamera chase car (like that pictured below), and the ability to light city block after city block, we had to settle for an old process trailer and a block of an industrial section of Boston. The problem we faced was that even after lighting the equivalent of three football fields, the process trailer couldn't obtain a speed of more than 30 mph before it was out of the light. So, we had to create the effect of speed through the lighting. I came up with a concept that was, if I say so myself, as beautiful in its practical simplicity as in its psychological complexity. To heighten the sense of speed of the process trailer shots we rigged 500w practical fixtures along a four hundred foot wall on one side of the road. We spaced the practical wall lights twice as close together as they would be normally. This way, as the car passed by, areas of light and dark would pass rapidly by in the background and exaggerate the speed at which the car was traveling. When it came time to shoot the static wide establishing shot of the car racing down the road, we dismantled every other wall practical in order to reinforce the effect. On an unconscious level the viewer's mind registers in the establishing shot the wider spacing of the wall lamps. So when in the close up process shots the pools of light in the background are racing past at twice the rate because there are, in fact, twice as many lights, the viewer's mind registers the car is traveling at twice the speed it is, in fact, traveling. In addition to the wall practicals, I simulated car dash board light on the actor's faces with a 12v 9" Kino Car kit. The play of the passing wall lights on the actor's faces were created by a revolving 650W Fresnel with diffusion on its doors rigged on the process trailer. To light the long stretch of road, I simulated the pools of light that would be created by street lights by rigging 6kw space lights under the baskets of 60' condors that were spaced about 200' apart over the road. In addition to the Space Light, each condor basket also carried a 4k HMI Par that filled the stretches of road between the pools of tungsten light with a cool moonlight. To continue the moonlight down the road there was yet another 4k HMI Par on a Mambo Combo Stand. Because this 4K was further down the road than was practical to run cable, it was powered by a Honda 5500W portable generator. A 12kw HMI Fresnel with 1/2 CTO through a 12x frame of Soft Frost served to pick up the deep background from the front on one end of Marginal Street while a 6kw HMI Par lit the other end. To supply power on both sides of the road for a 1000' stretch was no small task. I used three generator plants strategically placed so that our cable would never cross the road in a shot. In addition to the Honda 5500W portable generator that powered the 4kw HMI Par light for the deep background, I used a 800A plant to power the 4kw HMI Pars and 6kw Space Lights in the condors, the 12kw Fresnel, and the base camp trailers and work lights. The 6kw Par, 12 - 500W practicals, and an assortment of smaller HMI's used to light the post crash scene were powered by a 450A plant on the far end of the roadway. This example, demonstrates that once you have a concept you can come up with an innovative approach to accomplish it on a low budget. Of course “low budget” is a relative term. Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston
  15. Time to resurrect this thread with a low budget trick of the trade on how to maximize production value in an environment that might not be inherently cinematic. That was the question Mike Kozlenko faced in shooting a spot for a chain of gyms. How I approach such situations is to identify the one element I can’t change and then tailor the look and style of the shot to it. For example, on this location the one thing you have no control over is the high contrast created by the sun streaming in the open roll-up doors. Typically they blow out and look awful. Since you can’t net those doors, the way to deal with them is to go for a stylized look. If you white balance your camera under a tungsten light with full CTO on it, the daylight coming through those doors will turn a deep blue. If you then light your talent with tungsten lights with full CTO, you get a very appealing look where the foreground is under white light, while the deep background is bathed in blue light. Guy Holt, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental and Sales in Boston
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