Archive for the 'Effects' Category

13
Apr
17

ProLights Lumipix Batten

Looking at lights like this makes me wonder if we will soon see the demise of the gel industry altogether. I must admit that I hope we don’t, having spent years learning about CTO, CTB and the ever-amusing oddball amber (162) and seedy pink (748) amongst the plethora of other coloured gels available. I guess we will all get used to dialing in a colour on the back of the lights rather than correcting them at the front with giant sweetie wrappers and no doubt it will be easier, cheaper, and more accurate this way. I can’t help feeling we are likely to lose something of the craft of lighting along the way.

 

Still, far be it for us to stand in the way of progress, so we are fully embracing the new LED technology and it’s minimal need for gel. A good example of this is the new Lumipix batten from ProLights. This is a 12 bank LED light batten with the ability to produce more than 16 million colours without having to use a single sheet of gel. And I thought there were only 7 colours, well that’s how the rainbow works isn’t it?

ProLights LUMIPIX16H LED Batten

Not only will the Lumipix display lots of pretty colours but it will allow you to do all sorts of combinations and effects with them. I feel that this has been designed with the stage in mind rather than the big (or small) screen. They would be perfect for concerts and that type of show with in-built microphones and adjustable sensitivity to allow for music mode where the lights will respond to music themselves. Also full Dmx control is available right down to the individual LED’s so you can change colours and make pretty patterns to your hearts content.

But before you tune out its not only rock bands that can use this, you image-makers may find them useful too. In our world we would think of them less as a disco light and more of an all-purpose flood or fill light.

ProLights LUMIPIX 12 x 3w RGB:FC LED Batten - A

Rather nicely they have a flicker-free operating frequency of 400HZ to allow for relatively high speed filming, and a LCD display user interface so you can play with the settings without having to put it through a complicated control desk.

IP33 protection and a maximum power consumption of 40W will keep the gaffers happy. You folks will also appreciate the minimal 3.2 kg weight and the robust aluminum body designed to disperse heat and also protect the lights.

Interestingly these battens are also capable of being “pixel mapped” This term describes how a bitmap or image can be displayed pixel by pixel on a series of lights thus creating a video screen of sorts. I presume this would be used for displaying simple moving patterns or images.

However, I can’t help thinking that this feature could be employed to make the ultimate big HD screen experience. As each unit has 12 x LED lights, I calculate that 158 ½ units side by side would do one line of a HD display and about 170 thousand units stacked up would complete it. What an impressive screen that would make, being 150metres wide, however, you may have to watch it from outer space. Anyway we don’t quite have enough of them for that and even with the minimal 40 w max power draw per unit it would still draw 6912000.00 watts in total that’s over 30 thousand amps.

As far as specifications go each unit has 12 tri colour High-efficiency CREE LEDs giving a LUX of 1360 @ 1m, the optics give a beam spread of 19 degrees. Several DMX selectable configurations are available (2,4,6,7,9,18 or36) for advanced or basic controlling. A tough aluminum body to aid with heat dispersal and a controllable fan for forced ventilation will prevent over-heating.

Each unit has twin brackets for hanging that can also be used for floor positioning.

A power output has also been built in to allow for up to 10 units to be joined together using the one 230-v supply (less distro required)

So all in all this is a very nicely thought through product with some great features and I will give it a 7 / 10 for my Brucie Coolness Rating, only slipping slightly because its too difficult to ride home with on my bike for parties.

 

Cheers all BB

 

25
Jan
17

Wind Machines

Well I never for a moment realised how much was involved in a wind machine, or how hard it is to find any information regarding them and their use.

I will provide you all with a simple comparison between a range of the units that we hire. Anyway below is my take on the subject and the technical details.

I guess the most important thing that I have learned regarding wind machines is that it’s not all about power and the amount of air moved.

We need to think about wind machines in terms of spread and power, much like a light.

For example do you want your wind machine to blow the hair of just one model or are you trying to flutter a group? Obviously if you are just aiming at one model then a narrow channel of wind is great but if you are going for a group “blow” then a wider spread would be better.

Power is obvious, the harder it blows the more movement you will get in the subject but control is the key here, what you are looking for is the ability to vary the intensity of the wind from a gentle breeze to a full on hurricane and varying levels in between.

There are other factors to consider such as the method of control; use a DMX or a remote? The size, weight, and the amount of noise it makes during operation need to be thought about in relation to your project.

Also a rapid on or off “bump/gust” feature is useful. For example, in a film scene when a door is opened or closed, a rapid on/off feature would be useful.

And finally, the ability to disperse smoke, fog, fake snow, or dust (normally fullers earth) without destroying the machine is a bonus.

Personally I am a great enthusiast for waving a ½ poly board up and down for most “normal” looking movements in a models hair, its very basic but also very cheap and very effective for a one-off breeze of air. Having said that we are in the business of getting equipment out on hire so lets not recommend that too often and needless to say wind machines are far more consistent and precise and also don’t complain about having aching arms by lunchtime.

Detailed tech specs for our stocked units can be found at the end of this article.

The Bowens units are a “point and shoot”; they are neat and compact and have variable speed but do not allow for adjusting the spread of wind. The basic unit (now discontinued) has a corded remote and its two bigger brothers have wireless remotes.

The Reel EFX Turbo units both have an adjustable spread facility and a burst function, but no remote control.

The Mole Richardson is the big daddy of our range and has a bump function to rapidly increase the power and produce a blast above the set output. A DMX control and an “almost instant-off function” are standard features. It also has an integrated radial-vein collimator that narrows the spread of the wind but can be removed for a wider dispersal. This is the only unit we have that is actually recommended for the dispersal of dust. Exhaust fans from a plant hire store are great for this but are far less controllable.

1. Bowens Jet stream

Power Requirements 120V, 50/60 Hz, 2.5 Amps
Maximum Power 2,500 RPM, 940 CFM

 

1

2. Bowens Jetstream 250

Output at 1 m 8MPS
Max Power 240V
Control Cable Length Wireless Remote
Length 315mm
Width 260mm
Height 260mm
Weight 9.6kg

2

3. Bowens Jetstream 350

Output at 1 m 7MPS
Max Power 240V
Control Cable Length Wireless Remote
Length 390mm
Width 365mm
Height 365mm
Weight 13.3kg

3

4. Reel EFX Turbo 2

Motor: Brushless, AC, Ball bearing

Power: 110 – 125v/4 amp or 220v/2 amp (50 – 60) cycle.  RPM 3450  CFM 2000

Controls: Solid state speed control, one touch blast

Weight: 20lbs

Mounting: Floor stand with adjustable tilt and universal mount, C stand, Junior stand

Dimensions: 14″L x 19″W x 22″H

Peak Velocity: (Focused Beam): 20mph at 10ft

Focused Beam: 10 degrees (3.5foot diameter beam at 10ft)

Flood: 45 degrees (8ft beam at 10ft)

 

5

5. Reel EFX Turbo 4

 

Motor: 2 HP Baldor® Premium Efficient 3-Phase

Power: 110 – 125v/4 amp or 220v/2 amp (50 – 60) cycle.  RPM 3450  CFM 2000

Speed Control: Solid-state variable-frequency drive with active silent smart-switching & active power-factor correction

DMX Control: USITT-compliant DMX 512 w/5-pin XLR

Weight: 54 lbs

Mounting: steel floor stand with spud mount

Dimensions: 22″ x 24″

 

7

 

6. Mole Richardson

Construction Sheet, Tubular Steel, 3 Blade Fan, 15′ power cable

Removable 1-1/8″ yoke pin

Rating 110-240VAC or DC, 3.25 Amps, on-off toggle switch on housing side

6″ Rheostat fan speed control switch

Rectifier with capacitor for AC or DC operation

Dimensions Housing: 26.25″ Diameter x 20″ Long (66.6 x 50.8 cm)
  Weight 88 lbs (40 kg)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

15
Dec
16

Chroma Q Space Force

Let’s start this blog with a little question,

What has Britain’s Got Talent, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Welsh National Opera, Kaiser Chiefs, The Killers, Stereophonics, Michael Buble and The Eurovision Song Contest all got in common?

Some of you folks may have guessed it’s something to do with lighting and you would be correct, no prize however as with this being a blog about lighting it wasn’t really hard to work out, was it?

So yes all the above artists have recently used lights by Chroma Q to add some light to their performances

Chroma Q have been producing high quality lights since the mid 1990’s and launched into the LED market in 2004.  They have a good reputation for producing award winning premium LED lights for concerts and theatre productions, retail and leisure, museum installations, exhibitions and so on.

Today I want to draw your attention to the nicely named “Space Force” soft light.

This latest offering from Chroma Q is a rather nice take on the good old space lights but now in LED form.

It only seems like yesterday when the LED lights made their debut on to our photographic world but we are already getting so used to them and the many advantages they offer us in the production side of things. It’s hardly necessary to explain the cool running reliability of LED’s or the 100% dim-ability and full colour temperature adjustability from 2800 – 6500k, so I won’t, but suffice to say the all new Space Force from Chroma Q has all of this.

Space lights are designed to flood large areas with lots of lovely uniform soft light and to do this they often have to be quite powerful and hence tend to run rather hot.  Historically they also require diffusion, usually in the form of a softbox or lantern.  Also as they tend to be pointed straight down heat can be an issue, only some lights are able to do this without “cooking” themselves. Rather nicely the Space Force produces an output of up to 26,700 lumens roughly comparable to a standard 6k fixture and without any form of extra cooling required they won’t cook themselves even if pointed down and with no fan required they run (almost) silently.

Diffusion is built in as with most LED fixtures so you don’t need to add anything else (we do have an egg crate and a lantern available to fit if you need). In normal operation (without the egg crate) it will give you a 60-degree beam angle.

Best of all (well as far as our drivers are concerned) its only 8kg in weight, so it’s easy to handle for its size, our unit comes with a yoke for mounting but also has options available to hang or stack numerous lights together.

pic4

Full onboard controls are on the rear of the unit allowing for complete stand-alone operation and just in case you need it full DMX control is also catered for.

Other nice functions include a “focus” button that causes the unit to revert to a pre-set intensity for when you need to check your focus (ok I had to look this up as focusing a space light seemed a bit of an oxymoron), 2 useful memory functions are available allowing you to “store” the settings on the light for recalling later.

Don’t be fooled by the name Space force or the term Space light, yes this is a space light but its far more use than that and can be put on a stand and used horizontally as a lovely simple soft light. All of our units are fitted with a yoke to allow for this sort of operation.

pic5

So in summary this is a lightweight, cool running, quiet and yet very powerful space light all of which make it an attractive alternative to the regular units. With impressively high CRI figures (up to 97) and a fraction of the energy consumption of the non-LED equivalent light (331w at 230V) it’s sure to be a winner.

The Space Force has already won an award at the Cine Gear Expo Technical Awards coming in first place however, I bet they are hanging on my BCR score, so here it is, 8 out of 10, that’s one point for each side as it’s an octagon, it’s a polygon too but that’s something to do with a missing parrot so I won’t go there.

Oh and we have forty of them ready and waiting for you so don’t look any further than Pixipixel, no matter how big your lighting needs are.

26
Apr
16

Something a little different again -Chroma-keying

Chroma-keying

chroma1.jpg

Chroma-Keying is the technical term for what most of us refer to as Green Screen shooting and for some of you that is probably the only thing I can teach you on the subject, however for the rest of the world here is my take on this popular and great fun technique.

Firstly the term “green screen” is confusing as the process of Chroma-keying can be done with various colours other than green, but more on this later.

So before I get too into it, let’s just have a quick think about what the process of Chroma-keying actually is and why we use it so often. The Chroma-keying process basically allows you as an image or filmmaker to remove a specific chosen colour in the image and replace it with another colour or background. Probably the most often seen use of this is the weather person and his or her map at the end of the news. Chroma-keying has allowed the weather forecast to be a far more immersive and polished presentation but I must admit to missing the likes of Michael Fish struggling with magnetic cloud and rain icons, obviously this keying technique is not limited to the daily precipitation forecast and is in fact used far more often than you might expect.

 

fish1

       BBC prior to chroma keying, lots has changed except the weather it seems

 

It may be obvious when you see a flying superhero at the movies that some trickery has taken place and this would often be done using chroma-keying but how often do we see a car scene with dialogue in a TV show? Well take it from me a very high percentage of those car scenes will have been shot against a green screen. This is down to the sound created by a moving car, even one on a trailer, this sound can interfere or drown out the actors lines causing the need for separately recording the dialogue and syncing it back to the film later with all the expense incurred. By filming in a stationary car in a nice quiet film studio and then chroma-keying in the background a lot of time and expense can be saved.

 

Right, I think we all know what chroma-keying is now so how do we do it? Well firstly get yourself a good digital operator as I wont be going through the computer side of things on this occasion. I’m going to concentrate on backgrounds and lighting for chroma-keying as that’s what we hire out. Having said that you can get the digital operator from us along with all the computer hardware and software required oh and the camera too….. needless to say.

 

To set up a Chroma-keying shot you first need to set up a background in whatever colour you are choosing to use, be it chroma green, chroma blue or something else. This can be as simple as hanging the appropriate colour background paper roll up or slopping some paint onto a cyc (someone else’s cyc preferably). But take care at this stage, ensure that the background has no nasty marks or scuffs, no wrinkles or creases and so on. Any imperfections in the background can have a negative effect on the keying process.

 

Background options are numerous ranging from that pot of paint to colorama paper rolls or fabrics, we carry various size fabrics from 6 x 6 ft up to 20 x 20 ft in chroma green and up to 12 x 12 ft in chroma blue. Appropriate goal post systems, frames and stands are here in abundance too so hanging the background is no problem at all.

 

One word of warning in regards to using a painted background and that is to be mindful of reflections, a painted surface is far more prone to this than a paper or fabric backdrop. In fact to make your life easier one of our fabric backdrops made from Rosco Digital Cloth is the ideal solution, it gives no bounce back and the perfect key when lit with green.

 

The next stage would be to light this background and the thing to look out for here is to light it evenly with no hot spots, shadows or fall off. You are looking to light the background about 1-2 stops less than your subject will be. Keep it soft and try not to blast the hell out of it as you may end up reflecting the background colour onto the rear of your subject causing fringing around the edges (not what you are after)

 

In practice the easiest way to get a consistent light across your green screen is to light it from both the left and right hand sides using matching lights, this way the lights will overlap each other creating a uniform brightness across the entire backdrop.

lightgreen

Again we have lots of options for lighting the background and many of you will have your own preferences but a couple of good options include Kino Flow lights with 2 x 4ft 4 bank units sufficient to light a 12 x 12 ft screen or for larger arrears our 8 x 4 light flo units are great. However if you want to really spoil yourself then try our very sexy new Cineo HS mk2 led panels (just back from some Wonder Woman chroma keying). All of these lights can all be provided in chroma green output specifically for green screens or in daylight or tungsten for lighting other colour backgrounds. If none of these tickle your fancy give us a call and we can work through your requirements with numerous other lighting options available.

 

kino

Kino 4ft 4 bank

kino2

Light flo 4 x 8

 

 

 

 

 

cineo hs2

Next light your subject, but just have a think at this point as you need to emulate the lighting required in the finished shot, so don’t do a 3 point daylight set up if the end result is someone driving a car at night and so on. Remember direction, quality, colour and power of light here and try to pre-visualize the finished shot.

 

Where possible and appropriate some kind of hair or rear light is great to separate your subject from the background. Positioning your subject at a distance to the background will help with this separation and also reduce the possibility of shadows on the background cast by the subject. If you have to have the subject close to the background you can try to light from a higher angle thus putting those shadows onto the floor and hopefully out of shot but this will only work if the end result calls for the light coming from that same high angle (getting the idea?)

 

As far as what lights to use for your subject its really down to the “look” you are after but whatever that is we have what you need to achieve it so just touch base and we can recommend some options.

 

This one may be obvious but I had better mention it, your subject needs to be a different colour to the background, so don’t shoot a Smurf against chroma blue or a bottle of Grolsch against chroma green ok.

 

smurf

Why not to shoot a Smurf against a Blue Screen?

Whilst shooting be mindful of reflections from the background in jewelry, watches and glasses etc these can spoil your day if you fail to notice them so take care.

Also consider shooting with a large aperture if possible as this will throw the background out of focus and that helps keep it a uniform colour and brightness whilst hiding any imperfections thus aiding with the keying process.

 

Now just before I go and let you all get on with some serious keying, I did mention using different colours to chroma green earlier and said I would expand on that. The go to colour for chroma keying is green but blue, yellow or red can be used instead, care must be taken with red and yellow as these can cause issues with skin tones. Chroma blue works extremely well but lots of people like to wear blue so this can cause you grief too. Back in the days of Mary Poppins and Ray Harryhausen, subjects were shot against WHITE but sodium vapor lights were used due to them having a narrow colour spectrum, this was part of a photochemical process and won an Academy Award back in 1965 so we aren’t doing anything new really are we, they used to call it yellow screen shooting.

marypoppins

Not bad keying for 1964 eh? I am particularly impressed with the shadow!! No wonder they won a Oscar!!!

 

The most convincing reason for using a “GREEN” green screen that I know of is to do with resolution, many cameras use a CMOS sensor topped with a bayer filter and this contains twice as many green sites as it does red or blue ones thus a 4k single chip camera recording at say 4:2:0 would record green at 2k and red and blue at 1k. So green is popular due to it capturing the highest resolution. Back in the film days blue was the go to colour for the same reason, as the blue layer in film stock had the finest grain. Remember with keying it’s the edge detail that makes or breaks the effect so the better resolution the better and more convincing the end result will be.

bayerpattern

 

Green screens also require less light than the blue ones to illuminate and this can be a bonus but on some occasions however the use of a blue screen may still be preferable, for example if the end result is a night time scene then any excess green will stand out against the blue hue that these scenes often have but any excess blue light will blend in nicely.

 

Ok, so I hope to see some amazing stuff from you all, why not let us know if you do anything fun or exciting as we are always on the look-out for something cool to blog about.

 

Cheers folks and happy shooting

 

BB

 

 

 

23
Mar
16

Something slightly different-Sunlight

Sunlight

sunlight1.jpg

I don’t know about the rest of you, but everyone here at Pixipixel is well and truly over winter. Short cold and dull days are not exactly the stuff of great photographs or location shoots are they? This has however given me an idea……….

As a departure from my normal rambling “Kit Of The Week” blogs I’m going to try something a little different, more along the lines of a how to guide, and what better place to start than how to recreate sunlight?

So please don’t take this the wrong way, I know many of you will be well versed in this but you never know you may pick something up even if it’s only a nice tan.

Firstly a small bit of Brucie theory:

Sunlight (I’m talking about a bright blue sky sort of sunlight not an overcast miserable day) is a hard light. You can see this if you look at your shadow on a bright day, it will be well defined with hard edges and a high contrast between it and the surrounding ground, in fact often exactly what we try and avoid as image makers. So why is this?

 

Ok, so back to photography basics for a moment, a hard light is produced by a small light source like the sun!

Yes I know the Sun is big (1392000 km across ish) but it is also a long way away, so to us it appears fairly small in the sky. This would be different if we stood on Mercury, but we aren’t so stop being awkward.

Now with the light source being small and far away the light rays that “hit” us are reasonably parallel to each other and this is what gives us the hard edged, high contrast shadows that we associate with summertime. With me so far?

 

So it makes sense that to recreate sunlight we either need to find a massive flaming orb and install it at the center of our solar system and pray for a break in the clouds or use a small light source in the studio itself. I know which option is easier, but exactly which light source should we use?

 

Now up until this point I’ve been thinking in general terms but obviously you moving image types are going to need a continuous light, whereas us stills guys can use flash or continuous. This is no big deal because we have numerous options for everyone.

 

Starting with us stills guys and looking at flash lighting we have a couple of options. Firstly and most simply a bare head will work fine, provided it is positioned at a reasonable distance from the subject. The trouble with this is that the light rays will be scattered causing a more diffused effect and also any stray light will bounce around the studio, becoming unwanted ambient light and further softening the effect. A small reflector or even a snoot will greatly help with this, however a purpose built modifier will yield much better results.

 

Both Profoto and Broncolor produce Fresnel lensed attachments for their lights and these help to bring those pesky light rays under control and more parallel to each other creating a beam of hard light (much the same as a lighthouse). This is a great starting point and works very well. The Broncolor attachment is called a “Flooter” and the Profoto version is the “Fresnel Spot”.  Both are fairly large so will need to be positioned at a distance from the subject. Very small versions are available such as the Broncolor Picolite Fresnel Spot Attachment but they are best used for tabletop macro sort of work, also we don’t carry them at the moment, so best you forget I ever mentioned them.

 

profres.jpgbronpico.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happily this Fresnel approach works well, but it can be done better and both the big names in flash have specific light shapers for this, they are radically different to each other but both work superbly.

 

Profoto have the “Hard Box” this is essentially a T shaped tube with the flash head inserted into the bottom, it decreases the size of the light source and eliminates unwanted stray light giving a light rich in contrast and very similar to sunlight.

prohard.jpg

Broncolor have gone down a different path with their “Satellite” reflector. It’s a highly polished disc reflector into which a standard head is fired this reflector concentrates the light giving the daylight effect, it’s a bit like burning ants with a magnifying glass back in the schoolyard and must not be left in the back of a car on a bright day (I learnt that one the hard way myself).

bronsatt.jpg

Both the Profoto and Broncolor solutions work better if the flash heads protection glass is replaced with a special purpose one. Just to confuse us the Profoto frosted dome should be replaced with a clear one and the Broncolor clear dome should be replaced with a frosted one!!

breisepara.jpg

The next method to consider is the use of a parabolic reflector, now these “Para” reflectors are designed to bring those light rays parallel again and do a far better job than a spherical reflector, I won’t go into detail why but it’s all to do with internal angles of reflection and is also probably why rugby is a better game than football!!!

Briese make a really magnificent version specifically designed for the recreation of sunlight, it produces a spectacular fresnel like light that is also very enveloping and it can be used with flash or continuous lights.

sphericalvparabolic.jpg

See how I made the move from flash to continuous so smoothly…….. I think that’s called a segway. I’m getting the hang of this I think??

 

Ok so you moving image people have been very patient with me again, thanking you, now it’s your turn.

 

Nothing changes as far as light modifying is concerned between flash and continuous, I am pleased to say so all that stuff about a small light source with parallel rays of light giving a hard light is still correct.

You can use numerous lights to give you the “sunlight” look. Traditionally an 18k hmi Fresnel has been the go to fixture for film crews looking to recreate sunlight but with recent improvements to lights we no longer always require so much power. A good alternative is the Arri max 12K or the Arri m90 9k both of which have the unique MAX reflector giving a light quality similar to a fresnel but without the lens.
maxref.jpg

With the extra power delivered by the Arri Max range of lights you can afford to use diffusion to “take the edge off” so for an exterior shoot often an 18k or 12k unit will be used with a 9k through a scrim (1/2 stop) as a fill. In studio the smaller Arri M series units often will be employed and Kino’s or LED’s used to fill in.

The Alpha 18K K5600 is another very powerful light that could be employed to recreate daylight/sunlight, with its clear front it will give a slightly less hard light than a Fresnel but it comes with a Fresnel lens too if you need to harden up a bit so it gives you some options.

 

It’s worth mentioning at this point that despite recent improvements to cameras 18k is still the goto strength required to override sunlight, yes the Arri max range will give you the equivalent oomph at a slightly lower power rating but the sun is the sun and its not getting any duller just because the chaps at Arri are getting smarter. Film crews use 18k for one very important reason, clouds, if they appear and you don’t want to hear “cut” then you need the power of 18K to keep shooting. From what I understand this is not going to change no matter what improvements are made to cameras, well not until the sun goes super nova anyway and I think we will be safe from that for a couple of years yet.

 

Now one last thing to consider is the good old inverse square rule (remember that) it states that the strength of a light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from its source. Now when you think about the Sun itself, it is so large and so far away from us that any exposure drop over say the length of a room is negligible, therefore a larger light positioned further away is going to give you more consistent light levels across your set than say a smaller one positioned closer. Now I don’t think I am contradicting myself as a large light positioned at a greater distance becomes a “smaller” light source just like the sun and hence retains the hard light characteristics.

tattoo.jpg

(I had to include this pic as it proves the inverse square law can also apply to people’s intelligence in relation to the distance from a tattooist shop.)

 

Ok so that’s how to recreate sunlight, easy eh it’s all about recreating the same characteristics in your light that would be present in real sunlight and in a studio when you don’t have real sunlight to work with it’s an extremely useful thing to be able to do, but once outside in the real sunlight is it a redundant skill, does it still have a use? Well to the uninitiated you would think that bright sunlight at lunchtime on a nice day would be about as good a light as you could get and it certainly is hard, high in contrast and powerful but that doesn’t really help us as photographers does it.

 

Bright sunshine is (somewhat counter-intuitively) not great for us image-makers. The high contrast nature of this light can cause us problems with tonal range and correctly exposing our subject and the background at the same time. Think about a beach scene on a bright summers day, you want to take a nice picture of the kids running out of the surf so you grab your snapper and shoot only to find that.

You have a beautiful blue sky and silhouettes for children or nicely exposed children and a washed out sky. “Damn it I spent a small fortune on this camera and  I can’t even get a snap of the kids!”

So how do we get round this problem?

Simple, you overpower the sun!

Now you can stop short of creating a small fusion reaction in your speedos to do this, as the sun is surprisingly easy to overpower (well for us stills guys it is anyway).

 

Essentially all we need to do is to meter for the background exposure and then add in some fill flash to light our subject. This flash needs to have the same characteristics as the sun to keep the feel, but we know how to do that now don’t we? Using flash for this is easy as we don’t actually need a particularly powerful flash, we as stills people only have to overcome the sun for a fraction of a second and flash equipment is good at that, it has the ability to push out large amounts of power (light) for very short amounts of time.

 

For you filmmakers however it’s a different story, yes the theory of exposing for the background and then filling the subject is the same but you need this light on for the full duration of each frame and for the entire shot. Therefore you need a lot more punch to do the same thing as us stills guys, traditionally an 18k Fresnel or similar is used for this (try running that off 4 AA’s) oh and if the kids are running any distance you’re going to need more than one to “keep them in sunlight”.

 

At this point I realize how lucky I am to be a stills guy, it puts me in mind of watching the odd orchestra walk through the green channel back in my former life, I always wondered if the double bass player was jealous of the flautist at airports.

 

That’s all folks,  let’s make this year’s summer brighter than last year by everyone using artificial lighting lots n lots. Perhaps we can bluff the sun into shining a bit more!!!!

Now before I go, the shrewd folks amongst you are probably jumping up and down screaming what about colour temperature but that’s something for a future blog I think as it’s a subject all on its own and depends a lot on what sort of sunlight you are simulating, be it midday or evening and so on I’ll get back to you on that.

Likewise if you are trying to recreate a diffused sunlight (overcast) look then we need a chat about scrims and so on, again that’s for another day.

 

I hope you all learnt something if only how to brighten up a miserable English “spring” day, or how to avoid work by reading a verbose and slightly silly blog?

Cheers for your time…… Now get back to work!

 

Merry Lighting BB

08
Jan
16

KOTW- Maxi Brute

Sonos this morning has been a bit more Brucie friendly than normal!!

I’ve been enjoying some classic Simon and Garfunkel, a bit of Fleetwood Mac and even one of my favorite Acca Dacca tracks (to use the Australian name, AC DC to the rest of the world). Its reminded me of my misspent youth hurling bottles of pee around at Donington Monsters of Rock Festival and generally trying to destroy as many brain cells as possible by over indulging in rhythmic head shaking, beer drinking!!! lol, those were the days.

donnigton.jpg

Thinking back to those gigs, I was always impressed by the wall of Marshall speakers and the fantastic lighting shows. Back then I did the lighting for school plays and the like but we never had more than a handful of par cans to play with so it wasn’t really very exciting, but the big bands had the budget and the lights to impress. I didn’t know what the particular lights were called and if someone had told me to look at the maxi brutes I would have been searching for a large bottle of dodgy aftershave (Well it was one better than Hai Karate anyway, splash it all over Mr Cooper).

mr cooper.jpg

So this leads me to a Rock inspired kit of the week and just like good rock music, good lights stand the test of time and the Maxi Brutes can almost be considered as a classic.

rock out.jpg

Ok, so these Maxi Brute lights are actually slightly different to the stage lighting equivalent but essentially they are much the same being. An array of par fittings sporting 6,8,9,12 or 24 bulbs in the one unit.

maxi brute.jpg

 

A few companies make versions of this light and you may hear them referred to as Fey lights or a molepars and so on. They are all much the same.

We stock units from Filmgear.

So the Brutes all take bulbs much the same as Par cans and as such are easy to replace and swap over for different characteristics i.e. spot, flood and so on. The Maxi Brutes take PAR64 1000w bulbs and a smaller version called the Mini Brute also exists and takes smaller 650w bulbs.

 

Generally these lights are used for lighting large areas in film and television productions, or as a backlight or house light (at rock concerts if nothing else). They are valued due to the punch (power) and the throw (distance) that they output. This means that less units are required to light large areas. The bulbs are arranged into a grid and each column of that grid can be angled out to increase the spread of light or angled in to increase the power.

Individual bulbs can be switched on and off to vary the power (or talk to the aliens like in Close Encounters Contact Bank perhaps)

contact

The brutes have always been popular due to them being an economical piece of kit. Producing large amounts of light for small amounts of money, Well, when compared to HMI’s, MSR’s etc etc

maxi brute1.jpg

 

One small issue with using this sort of light array, is that it can produce multiple shadows but this can be controlled by using diffusion gel like Hampshire frost, this will unify the individual bulbs into one light but it will have a negative effect on the power and throw so it’s a bit of a trade off, be aware however that these units can reach temperatures of around 200 deg C so keep the gels at least 1.5 m away.

At some distances this multiple shadow can be a benefit by helping to soften otherwise hard shadows.

Some people like to mix the bulbs in the fitting i.e. have some narrow and some medium bulbs in the one unit at the same time, this can create different effects that may be useful.

 

I guess that the biggest thing to watch for when thinking about using one of these units is the power supply needed, now I’m not trying to teach anyone to suck eggs but a 24 light maxi brute has 24 x 1000w bulbs so its not going to run off a 13amp plug in your front room. Even the 6 light Mini Brute pulls over 16 amps so has a 32-amp lead. But don’t worry about any of that because we will go through it all with you when you hire one.

Now I do think these are cool lights, they look industrial and follow the adage that “the more the merrier” I even like the name “Brutes” and that of course reminds me of another favorite film of mine by Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles and this scene right at the end ”you brute!!”

blazzing saddles.jpg

As far as the Brucie coolness rating goes, I think I will award one point per bulb so the 24 light version gets an outrageous 24/10 and so on.

Cheers Folks BB

Oh and have some links to save me from typing all the tech specs out, as I’m still slightly jaded from the New Year Eve’s indulgences!

Specifications on PDF via the lovely peeps at film gear – links below:

www.filmgear.net

Maxibrute 6

maxibrute 9

Maxibrute 12

Maxibrute 24

 

25
Nov
15

KOTW – Rogue 3-in-1 Flash Grid Starter Kit

Rogue 3-in-1 Flash Grid Starter Kit

Every now and again our camera department surprise me with a random purchase, the last one being a dog harness for the Gopro cameras, odd that Lawrence our Camera department manager has a dog, not that I am implying anything by that, “woof woof”.
RG040059

So yesterday I found myself being the subject of some unrequested portraits taken by Nerissa here using a Speedlight equipped with a rather natty little grid set.

Now the portraits are best forgotten about, but the grid set is another thing.

rogue 3.1

The Rogue 3-in-1 grid set as it is named is a small strap on (don’t start) grid set designed especially to fit onto speedlights. Now I’ve seen people stick drinking straws together in the past and use them as makeshift grids with reasonable results and that’s fine if you are playing at home or with some mates. But you really don’t want to spill a bunch of Mac D’s drinking tubes on the floor when your Heath Robinson grid set falls apart in the middle of a paying gig do you. So if you are in the market for a more dynamic look to your on camera flash and aren’t into the homemade look this may be a product for you.

roguekit

The Rogue 3-in-1 as its name somewhat gives away allows for 3 different levels of, err gridding for want of a better word. The kit contains 2 different depth grids that when used singularly or stacked together provide 3 different effects by limiting the beam angle of your flash to 16, 25 or 45 degrees. And the whole thing firmly attaches to your flash using a strap system so no need to stick Velcro onto your equipment thank goodness.

0913proshow31Grid-contents-in-hand

Cheers BB




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