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Simon Danaher

General advice for 1st time using redheads

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This is my 1st post so hi to everyone, I've lurked for a bit and have been impressed by the very helpful replies, the forum is a great resource for learners like me.

 

I'll be shooting a music video shortly and have bought some used photon beard 800w redheads but have never used them before. I've read they can explode and shouldn't be kept on for long periods. Is that correct?

 

I'm a photographer and cgi artist by day so I have experience and intuition with lighting but with studio strobes not continuous lights and not in such a big space (a hangar).

 

We were planning on using 120-400w worklights for practicals, a lot of tight shots and close lighting, the 4 redheads are a bonus that I picked up very cheap. Am I right in thinking the power of the redheads will give me more options for wider shots in a big space? Limited budget meant I was going to shoot around what light we had and just keep the bg black, but I'm thinking I might actually be able to light it now?

 

What else do I need to know regarding safely using redheads? Common pitfalls, etc. Any general advice and tips from pros would be very much appreciated.

 

Thanks

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Lamps can explode, it can happen with any tungsten halogen light, not just Redheads. You should put a safety glass or at the very least safety wire onto the light, Photon Beard or their agents should be able to supply these for you.

 

I've never run into a running limit with Redheads, I've had them running for hours without a problem, However, wear gloves if you're going to adjust the barndoors, since these get hot.

 

Switch them off if moving them, otherwise the bulb life can be reduced.

 

Redheads are good workhorse lights, however, you've got limited control with the barndoors and they are best for putting light through diffusion or bouncing it..

 

Fresnel spots offer much more control overall

Edited by Brian Drysdale

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Thanks Brian that's really helpful. I haven't picked up the lights yet but pics show they come with a wire mesh and also a glass pane.

 

I should buy some spare bulbs too I guess. Any recommendations there? Stick to branded or not necessary?

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Make sure when you're handling the bulbs you DONT TOUCH THE GLASS (well Quartz) of the bulb. Wear leather gloves, and/or use an alcohol wipe when touching the thing and wipe off any finger grease which may get on there with the alcohol wipe.

For redheads generally they are most useful as a bounced source or going through a frame of diffusion. Rarely would you want to use them directly on someone as they aren't the most flattering light in the world. They could work well as a back-light, however, and in such case a little cut of Opal on the doors can help them look a big better and even them out a bit.

That said they're nice lights. I had quite a few myself which I bought for a steal ($25 each!) many moons ago, but got rid of them as I divested myself from owning equipment (not so much so necessary in Los Angeles as it was in Philadelphia).

As for the lighting; I would wonder why the BG of the shot needs to be lit? If it's a Music Video it might be ok to let the BG fall off on it's own anyway and to keep focus just on the talent in the shot. That said, you could do some fun up-lighting with the red-heads.

I would also think about getting dimmers on them, just to control output and/or warm them up color wise if you're into that kind of thing.

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Thanks Adrian. Good advice about the bulbs, I wouldn't have know that, I'll make sure I bring gloves.

 

Re the BG, yes until I get in there I won't really know if it'll be usable lit (haven't seen it in person yet). I wasn't planning on using the redheads to light the talent, but maybe I should consider it. Dimmers also a good idea, will look into it.

 

thanks!

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I usually just use toilet paper or something similar to change the bulps. The important thing is that no oil of your skin comes in contact to the glass.

Most redheads have a grid in the front preventing shards from the bulb flying into your actors face. (That sounds really bad :huh: but that is not likely at all.)

One more important thing is to remember to relief the strain on the cable. So if someone trips over the cable, the lamp will not fall. It will also help to prevent the cable braking where it enters the case of the lamp.

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I've had a redhead bulb explode a few times and I've also see the bulb particles land close to people in the days when the safetly glass wasn't always used.

 

This can happen with fresnel spots, this has been the highlight of a live news or TV programme on a number of occasions.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2VCFuRWUls

 

 

 

https://www.comedy.co.uk/tv/qi/videos/10385/exploding_light/

Edited by Brian Drysdale

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Thanks guys. I saw a YT video of a guy showing the wire screen from a burst redhead bulb. It had a hole right through it. That's what made me think I should only use them for the BG or at a considerable distance from people. That said it was probably cheap Chinese kit rather than the Photon Beard units I've bought. Picking them up today, so I'll know exactly what and how many safety guards they come with.

 

Its an industrial location so I'm not expecting any issues powering everything but getting them into position is a bit of a worry due to the size of the space and as yet I have no idea where the power points are located. If current draw is Watts/Volts that's about 3.3A per light on 240v mains IIUC. Would that mean I could safely run 3 redheads off a single 13A 240v extension cable if need be?

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In the UK you won't have a problem with the standard 13 AMP plug, you can easily run 3 lights from one plug.

 

Personally. I'd go with safety glass over the wire mesh, it stops the small particles and I've seen the glass working when bulbs explode. You then don't have to worry about the cast and crew, because, in practice, people will be close to the lights.

 

Edited by Brian Drysdale

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You won't be able to space the lights very wide apart if you do, but if you do run them all off a single extension, make sure it's fully unwound. 10A will melt the lead if it's still rolled up.

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Put each light on it's own extension lead, you can either use a multi socket tail or string them out from each other, using extensions with double sockets,. The latter is very flexible, but don't save on the cable lengths and use cable that can carry a full 13 Amp load, the lead on the redhead basically gets you to the base of the light stand.

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You can daisychain extension cords, but as they get longer (over 100ft) you'll start to get voltage drop, which will make the lamps run dimmer, and warmer in color. As the voltage drops, the current will increase. If you are using the cable at close to its maximum load, the increase in amps will cause the cable to heat up, and possibly even melt.

 

If you have to do long cable runs, reduce the load on each one.

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On long runs I'd use a higher capacity cable than you usually get on the extension spools, which are OK for running a lawnmower, It's rare that you need 50 metre runs unless you're shooting exteriors.

Edited by Brian Drysdale

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, max length of 13A extension I've seen on a spool is 50m.

There's a reason for that.

I've run blondes off 50m, but it wasn't the standard 13A gauge. Maybe 20m tops for one of those. Actually our lawnmower is more powerful than a redhead!

Just another reminder to unspool it all so it doesn't end up doubling as an electric heater.

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I'd like to setup in the centre of the hangar so I'm anticipating some longish runs of cable. if 20m gets me there I'm good as I already have some of those (they will be fully unwound :) can't afford heavier gauge cables so I'll just have to keep an eye on it.

 

Of the 4 redheads one is an Ianbeam (sp?), I notice it's a fair bit brighter than the photon beards but still 800w, could it be a shinier reflector?

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The reflector does make a difference, the Quartz Color Ianebeam (the original Redhead) does have a untextured reflector and gives out a bit more than some other brands

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Good point re globes. Ah yes the Ianebeam reflector is untextured. Not sure if that affects the quality of the light, both looked nice and even, but definitely different in quality somehow...I'll have to recheck the focus settings. I suppose it won't hurt to give all the reflectors a bit of a clean as well.

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Just a thought- if not done by the seller, get them checked for electrical safety, or as you sound fairly competent, do it yourself. Check plugs, leads and switches and the earth connections on the lamp bodies. Redheads are simple and robust but they could be decades old.
Edited by Mark Dunn

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Thanks guys, good advice for anyone buying 2nd hand powered kit. I'll give them a check over for safety issues.

 

They actually do have PAT test stickers on them, but dated '09... actually I'd already established that one of the PBs doesn't work and checked it over, changed fuse, bulb and checked continuity, but no joy. As far as I can tell there's nothing but the rubberised cable between the bulb fitting and switch but there's no sign of wear or distress to it so it must be open circuit somewhere. Seller is swapping it out for another unit for me though or I'd have opened it up.

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