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I'm shooting a music video inside a restaurant with drop ceiling (location) and would like to create practical overhead lighting (like this) to give us more freedom with our framing. 

In the example above -- it looks like they popped out tiles where they needed light, laid out a large cut of diffusion across several tiles and placed individual fluorescent tubes (astera, quasar or kino?) on each rectangle. What do you think? Can anyone provide any helpful ideas on how to achieve lighting like this on a modest budget?

The restaurant also has several 3-bank T12 fluorescent fixtures already installed. I'd like to replace these fixtures with T12 kino tubes but the location is pretty dated and I'm worried about flickering because of old ballasts. How can I tell if the ballast will produce a flicker? I looked around the fixture and didn't find any specs printed on the side.

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Highly likely they will be old heavy magnetic ballasts.

they are located inside the fixture so you can't see from the outside anyway.

 

 

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They certainly could flicker, or worse be out of sync. Easiest way to test would be to see it on a camera with a 1/48th (or 50/th) of a second shutter speed, assuming you're shooting 23.98. And then messing around with shutter angle to see if you can get them to go away (172.8 degrees vs 180 for example).

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Are you certain they are T12's  and not T8's?  Lots of places upgraded existing fixtures years ago and T8 would most likely be electronic ballasts, possible high frequency versions.  Another scout, a close look and a test shoot.

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Went back to the location today and tried some kino t12 tubes in the fixtures. The fixture accepted the tubes but there was still a noticeable flicker. I think we're just going to have to rig our own lights overhead instead of replacing the bulbs inside the existing fixtures.

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