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Hack 17. Compile a Cheap Lighting Kit

Hack 17. Compile a Cheap Lighting Kit

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HerearetheadditionalitemsIfeltIneededtohaveinmykit,butdidn'tbring

withmeduetothedifferenceinvoltage:

Twoclamplightswithflexiblenecks(thekindyoucanclamptoyour

bedpostforreading)

Twodimmers(tocontroltheamountoflightcomingoffthelights)

Apowerstrip

About100feetofextensioncords

Additionaldimmerstocontrolanyadditionallights

Youshouldbeabletofindalloftheseitemsatahomeimprovementstore,such

asHomeDepot.Unfortunately,therewasn'taHomeDepotinBangkok,butIdid

managetolocatesomeinasmalllightingshop.Figure2-1showsthelightingkit

initsfullglory.Thebluecontainersontheleftareextensioncords(25feet

each).

Ihavefoundcertainextensioncords,designedwherethecordcoilsupintothe

caseofabout7inchesindiameter,areeasytotransportandstore.Everythingin

thekitcanfitintoamedium-sizedbackpack.



2.2.2.UsingtheKit

Obviously,lightingislightingandusingakitisamatterofplacinglightsas

needed.Buthere'sanexampleoftheversatilityofthiskit.

DuringtheshootinCambodia,Ineededtolightashowerthatwaslocatedonthe

secondstoryofabuilding.Iwasplanningonbeamingbothclamplightsthrough

arowofglassblocksrunningaboutshoulderhighintheshower.TheproblemI

hadwasthattherewasnowayofclampingthelightstothewalloutsidethe

shower.



Gelsareatremendoushelpwhenlightingascene.Asarule,you

shouldrememberthatColorTemperatureOrange(CTO)gelsmatch

tungstenlights,whileColorTemperatureBlue(CTB)gelsmatch

naturalsunlight.



2.2.2.1.Placingthelights.

WhenIlookedaroundthelocationInoticedthattherewasanabundanceof

bamboostalkslyingontheground.IdecidedthatIwouldbuildmyselfa

bambooC-Stand(astandtoholdthelights)andclampthelightstothetopofthe

stand.Ifoundasolid-lookingbambooshaftabout10feetlong.Aboutafoot

downfromthetopoftheshaft,Itapedathree-footbamboocrossmemberand

clampedbothlampsonleftandrightsideofthecrossmember.Imountedmy

newC-Standtothetopofanearbyfence;thelightsalignedjustrightwiththe

glass.Youjustcan'tdothatwiththe"professional"lightsshowninFigure2-2.

Figure2-1.Thelightingkit



2.2.2.2.Usingthedimmers.

WhileIwassettingup,itwaslateafternoon,butIwasgoingtoshootthescene

aftersundown.Ineededsomewaytocontroltheleveloflightenteringthe

showerwithoutpullingthelightsdowneverytimeandmanipulatingthe

dimmersthatarehardwiredtothelampcord.Thisiswheretheextradimmers

comeinhandy,whenyou'replacinglightsthatareoutofreachbutneedtobe

adjustedperiodically.



2.2.3.StayingFunctional

Thislightingkitisextremelyversatileandfunctional,whilestayingaffordable.

Professionallightingkitsusuallystartat$500andgoupdramaticallyfromthere.

IfIlosealightfrommykit,it'snobigdeal.

Figure2-2.Heavy-dutymountingrequiredforprofessionallighting



Thefactthekitishighlyportableissimplyanotherbonus.Shooting

independent,low-budget(orno-budget!)moviesofteninvolvesgettingshots

quicklyandmovingontothenextone."Shootandrun"isoftenarealityinthe

truestsense,andbeingabletocarryyourlightingkitinabackpackisessential.

IlyaLyudmirsky



Hack18.LightwithWorkLights



"Worklights"areverybrightlights,often500to1000watts,thataresold

inhomeimprovementstores.Theymakegreatvideolights.

Unlessyouplanonacareerthatinvolveslighting,oryou'rereallyseriousabout

makingthenextgreatindependentmovie,purchasingaprofessionalsetoflights

justisn'tworththecost.Ifyou'reluckyenoughtolivesomewherewhereyoucan

rentlightingpackages,youalwayshavethatoption.Butifyoudon't,orifyou're

stucksomewherebetweenrentingoften(expensive)andpurchasing(expensive),

youmightbelookingforawaytolightyouvideowithoutagreatexpense.



2.3.1.PurchasingWorkLights

Practicallyeveryhomeimprovementstoresellsverybright,portablelights,often

calledworkorshoplights.Thelightsrangeinpower,fromsmall50-wattlights

tolarge1000-wattlights.Therangeofpowermakesthemagreatchoiceforthe

aspiringmoviemaker,becauseyoucangrabafewacrosstherange.What'sbetter

istheirprice:youcanoftenfindthemforlessthan$25each.Figure2-3showsa

500Wworklight.

Figure2-3.Aworklight



2.3.2.UsingWorkLights

Usingonereallybright,powerfullight,alongwithasmalllightkit[Hack#17],

canfulfillmostofyourneeds.Byusingyourbrightlightasyourkeylight(the

lightmostfocusedonyoursubject)andthenusingsmallerlightsasfillandback

lights(lightstocutdownshadowsandbalanceoutthekey),youcaneffectively

lightascene.Figure2-4showsashotlitbyakeylightonly,contrastedwithone

thatuseskeyandafilllight.Akeylightcancauseshadows;afillcanreduce

them.

Thetechniqueofusingakeylightalongwithafilllightandabacklightis

calledthree-pointlighting.Yourkeylightshouldalwaysbebrighterthanyour

otherlights;agoodruleofthumbisthatitshouldbetwiceasbright.Bothyour

keyandfilllightsshouldbeaimedfromthesamedirectionasyourcamera,

somewhatoppositeofeachotherandslightlyaboveyoursubject.Yourback

light,asitsnameimplies,shouldbeaimedfrombehindandslightlyabovethe

subjectyouareshooting.Figure2-5showsadiagramofathree-pointlighting

scenario.



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Hack 17. Compile a Cheap Lighting Kit

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