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Thomas McNamara

Booklight technique

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Hi there!

 

I have an upcoming studio shoot in which I want to do a large booklight key (with the usual spacelight cyc wash in the background).

Now, I usually do this a certain way but I'd like to know if the same can be accomplished in another way. What I usually do is blast a 12k (Arri t12) into a 6x6 ultrabounce then into a larger 12x12 silk or muslin (depending on the shoot).

My question is what is the comparative difference between a single large source blasting into the bounce then into the diffusion vs multiple smaller sources (let's say a series of 2k open faces) filling the bounce frame then going into the diffusion? Is it more common place to utilize the bigger single source?

 

 

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It shouldn't really matter whether it was a 12k or 2ks hitting the bounce, the only thing that really matters for softness is how evenly lit the 12x12 is from edge to edge. Changing the 6x6 to a 8x8 would probably have more of an effect for evenly illuminating the 12x12.

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Hi Thomas!

You can indeed make a big ol' booklight using multiple smaller HMI's / Tungstens. I did a similar thing not long ago using an 8x8 Ultrabounce back through a 12x12 Silk, using a few Arri M18's.

I actually wrote a blog post about the shoot, check it out here:

https://medium.com/storm-shelter/the-cinematography-of-nineteen-fifty-eight-dark-blue-b56032cfc927

 

I've also attached a still with the resulting image, captures on a Sony FS700 (w/ Odyssey 7Q+, shooting in 4K RAW, with Samyang Primes and Tiffen Pearlescents.

Hope this is helpful, good luck with the shoot!

Lewis Jelley
Cinematographer
Storm & Shelter, Cardiff UK

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Thanks for the replies guys!

 

Lewis, thank you for that breakdown. Very informative and very cool of you to fully document it like you did.

 

So I guess depending on your power and space situation, it seems even preferable to light utilizing several smaller sources to ensure that both sources, bounce and diffusion, are evenly lit.

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No worries man!

Let me know how you get on, that solution certainly worked well for me in that situation, as you say I was limited on mains power and so couldn't have put a single 5K lamp up. I think the better you can evenly light the bounce and therefore the diff frame, the more effective, even and soft your light will be!



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Book lights are good if space is confined..but not inherently a softer light.. if you have the room ..you might get more out of your lights banging them straight through the one strong diff frame..or a frame infront of it..than bouncing the light ..if you can get far back enough and flag... they are good for filling the main diff frame..but you lose power from the bounce..

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The only concern I see with using 6 2ks as opposed to 1 12k would be that it will be a bigger hassle for crew to patch and move 6 lights; could take more time. Once the T12 is on a crank stand, itll move easily enough and one electric can adjust it. Maybe stacking 2ks on double or triple headers would make it quicker.

 

I can imagine in a tighter space where you cant back the T12 to get full flood on your bounce, a series of 2ks would be useful, but depends on location of course.

 

Tristan

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If you have multiple units then you can get identical results at higher efficiency by going direct through the 12x12 and spacing your units to evenly light the frame. I lit a show that needed super high intensity, but super soft, lighting. We use 4x 12-light Maxi Brutes rigged in a square array, each shining into one quadrant of a 12x12 diffuser. The resulting light was as soft as any booklight I've ever used, but we got tons of stop out of it too.

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Yes same as my advice.. there is an idea that book lights are intrinsically softer because you are bouncing a light into the diff frame ,.but they are not.. they just fill the diff frame effectively..but you lose power from the bounce.. no difference in "softness" from having the light go directly through ..IF you have the space the get back far enough to also fill the frame effectively .... and you don't lose strength from the bounce.. the softness of the light is only changed by the ratio of the size of the source to subject..

 

They do look sexy to build up .. for dir and prod/client and increase the overtime.. but if you have the space and flags.. just go direct .. if you want it softer move it closer to your subject or make your source bigger..

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Funny enough, on this very shoot on which this post is based on, I actually got a chance to compare both of these approaches on the same day, my book light (arri t12 into ultrabounce into 1/4 silk) and going direct through diffusion (the t12 through the bleached muslin). For one of our setups, I had to change things up from the book light setup because of space restrictions. So I got to literally see both side to side. I'm attaching some stills from our shoot so you can see the difference (or lack of) between the two. The first is the book light setup, the second is direct through bleached muslin. These are ungraded:

 

http://file:///Users/thomasmcnamara88/Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202018-02-01%20at%2012.41.47%20PM.png

 

http://file:///Users/thomasmcnamara88/Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202018-02-01%20at%2012.38.25%20PM.png

 

As you can see, the two are very similar in terms of softness, if not identical. From what I'm reading here and from what I saw during this shoot, with correct distance between diffusion, lighting unit and subject/scene, you can achieve pretty much the same quality of light with both techniques. So, I guess it comes down to output. With the book light, I'm losing around 3 stops of light vs let's say 1 1/2 stops by going direct through diffusion.

Edited by Thomas McNamara

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Hi there

 

You need to upload the images to some web space - that's just a link to your desktop.

 

You can upload them to the forum using the full post editor - look for a button labelled "more reply options" and attach the files to your post.

 

P

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post-34233-0-64271300-1517528917_thumb.jpg

Funny enough, on this very shoot on which this post is based on, I actually got a chance to compare both of these approaches on the same day, my book light (arri t12 into ultrabounce into 1/4 silk) and going direct through diffusion (the t12 through the bleached muslin). For one of our setups, I had to change things up from the book light setup because of space restrictions. So I got to literally see both side to side. I'm attaching some stills from our shoot so you can see the difference (or lack of) between the two. The first is the book light setup, the second is direct through bleached muslin. These are ungraded:

 

http://file:///Users/thomasmcnamara88/Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202018-02-01%20at%2012.41.47%20PM.png

 

http://file:///Users/thomasmcnamara88/Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202018-02-01%20at%2012.38.25%20PM.png

 

As you can see, the two are very similar in terms of softness, if not identical. From what I'm reading here and from what I saw during this shoot, with correct distance between diffusion, lighting unit and subject/scene, you can achieve pretty much the same quality of light with both techniques. So, I guess it comes down to output. With the book light, I'm losing around 3 stops of light vs let's say 1 1/2 stops by going direct through diffusion.

 

 

Its just a matter of effectively filling the final diff frame.. making that source as large as possible.. in cramped spaces the book light does that very effectively but you lose power from the bounce.. or need a bigger light than direct..but it doesn't change the laws of physics .. :).. recent example. ..plenty of room.. this is during set up.. T12 through a screen.. it is fairly evenly light but the honey comb front makes it look un even.. and the subject was relatively small.. one person standing..

 

 

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