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UER Forum > Private Boards Index > A/V Club > Lights! (Viewed 7648 times)
Kay O. Sweaver 


Location: Montreal, Quebec
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Happiness is saying yes more often than no.

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Lights!
< on 9/29/2005 12:15 AM >
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UE provides some unique problems in terms of lighting for film and video. Chances are you're not going to be plugging a 2K baby fresnel into the wall, assuming of course you managed to get it over the barbed wire. The most basic solution I've come across of course is the proverbial 1M candle power sun gun, even this is pretty weak though.

How have people dealt with lighting in less than ideal circumstances? I've got a few ideas but it'll require more technical explanation than I want to go into right now.




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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 1 on 9/29/2005 2:51 AM >
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Your going to laugh at this one, but Costco sells a 12 million candlelight flashlight for $24.95 USD (the Canadian ones sell them as well) that turns light into day. Av actually showed me this flashlight. Its quite big and heavy though but does the job.




EatsTooMuchJam 


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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 2 on 11/8/2005 6:51 PM >
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The handheld sun guns are nice for a few minutes, but they don't last long. As long as you only want to shoot a few minutes of video all is well, I suppose.

I've been messing around with a Bolex H16 reflex that I just bought and some Tri-X I pushed two stops. I found that a cityscape at night was still a little too dark even at f/1.9 and 16fps. I might try again at 8fps, but it'll still most likely be too dark to be usable. The shutter speed doesn't change as much as one might hope. Candles were similarly too dark.
The old lights inside one of our semi-active buildings were just fine, though, and produced a very nice picture - and the lights in one of our local active tunnels were sufficient as well. Having a friend light me with nothing but a flashlight yielded some very dark unusable footage.

I still have some more stuff to play with, though. I have my 3M candlepower portable sun which is amazingly bright, but limited as I mentioned before. I also have a small rechargeable Sunpak light that I bought at a thrift store which is astonishingly bright for its size, but it only lasts around 2-3 minutes total. At least it's a lot lighter than the portable sun.

Another thing I've meant to play with, and which I probably will soon, is rigging up a motorcycle battery or two in a backpack to some car headlamps set up with some form of handles/stands. The batteries last a decent amount of time and some of the brighter headlamps are amazingly bright. Putting the heavy batteries in a backpack will make them a lot easier to lug around.

Has anybody else played with that at all for film or DV work?




"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away."
-Tom Waits
Kay O. Sweaver 


Location: Montreal, Quebec
Gender: Male
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Happiness is saying yes more often than no.

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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 3 on 11/10/2005 7:13 AM >
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It looks like I might be buying a powerpack (http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/8/type.asp) along with an assortment of 120VAC and 12VDC lights. More juice than the battery in typical spotlights and more versitile, if heavy. I'll post my results as I try new things.




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EatsTooMuchJam 


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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 4 on 11/14/2005 3:31 PM >
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I built the superlight this weekend. It definitely needs some adjustment, but initial performance is up to expectations.

I went to my local batteries plus and bought a nice 31AH gel cell battery. Then I bought some connectors at Radio Shack to hook it up to a cigarette lighter-type plug and then I found a 1M candlepower spotlight without a built-in battery that's made to plug into a cigarette lighter.

I took it into some tunnels the other night. I goofed around with both my DV camera and my little point and shoot camera's video mode (as well as some semi-long exposures in still mode). In the end I ran the light for nearly a solid hour and there was no sign of it fading in any way. Given the draw of a 55W bulb (which it has) at 12V, it should last at least 7 hours while plugged into the gel cell.

Tweak 1: The beam on the light is too focused. I am going to have to go to plan b which is a 100W offroad light and it will require some cutting of wires and splicing, etc. It'll also result in about half the battery life due to the more powerful light.
Tweak 2: While the 31AH battery is nice and I'll definitely want to bring it for longer shoots (like when I convince someone to make a good script involving tunnels and caves) it's a bit heavy for normal use. It's at least 20 pounds - probably more. It's not terrible when the weight is distributed across backpack straps, but it barely fit through a couple of squeezes and when we had to hand it up a climb, it really sucked. I bet I could find a nice ~16AH battery that will be about half the size and weigh half as much that would still last for around 4 hours of continuous usage - far more than I require for most UE.




"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away."
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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 5 on 11/14/2005 3:46 PM >
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I can attest to the massive brilliance of the superlight. Nice work, ETMJ.




Like a fiend with his dope / a drunkard his wine / a man will have lust for the lure of the mine

"If you are not part of the solution, you are not dissolved in the solvent."
Kay O. Sweaver 


Location: Montreal, Quebec
Gender: Male
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Happiness is saying yes more often than no.

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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 6 on 11/14/2005 7:53 PM >
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Let me know about your battery experiences. That seems to be the main hurdle in making practical big lights. I was contemplating a series of NiMH D cells as a power source which deals well with the weight problem, but they're dammned expensive. I'd prefer a series of smaller batteries since you can distribute the weight more, you can also overcharge the lamp, which reduces the blub life but boosts the power as well.

As for the actual light I've got a recommendation. Go to your local XS Cargo or Liquidation centre, wherever gets rid of surplus. Chances are they have lots of running lights, fog lights, etc. for super cheap. I got a 55W flood for $12CAD and a 100W for $16CAD.

I found a great resource for homemade lights to be DIY bicycle lighting projects. There are a lot of bike geeks out there making custom lights for their bikes. I can't find my favourite site right now, but here's a link with a lot of other links on it; http://www.mikeben...ike/headlights.htm




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EatsTooMuchJam 


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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 7 on 11/14/2005 8:49 PM >
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I guess it depends on what you mean by "practical," but when connected to a 16Ah gel cell a 100W flood should last somewhere around 2 hours. My 31Ah battery was heavy, but not impossibly so. Something half the weight and size would be completely easy to carry around - but then I also am used to lugging around a camera that most people describe as too heavy to work as a field camera.




"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away."
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EatsTooMuchJam 


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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 8 on 11/16/2005 4:04 PM >
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For anybody that might be curious here are some preliminary pictures taken using the superlight. I'll post video later, maybe.







These were done with my little point and shoot digicam. They're 2 second exposures at ISO 50 at F/8. In a couple I swept the light around more trying to even the light a bit.
I think with a 100W flood the lighting will be closer to perfect!




"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away."
-Tom Waits
Asylunt 


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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 9 on 11/21/2005 7:45 PM >
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Nice stuff. Can't wait to see the results of that thing in a large Sandstone mine, especially around a lake or pool casting reflections.

Asylunt




"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain
Kay O. Sweaver 


Location: Montreal, Quebec
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Happiness is saying yes more often than no.

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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 10 on 11/22/2005 1:47 AM >
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Can you post some shots of the light itself? I'm curious as to how it all goes together.

Right now I'm thinking of going with a 50W MR16 floodlight overvotaged by 20%. It'll probably cost me $100 tho.




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Amy Smith is an infected slut
MacGyver 


Location: St Paul, Minnesota
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"Someone go find me a paperclip, a D-cell battery, and a cheese grater"

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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 11 on 11/22/2005 6:08 AM >
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When I saw it last, it still looks like just another innocent yellow sungun, with a wire coming out of the handle. The real magic is the bulb (which I guess is being upgraded to 100w) and the FREAKING HUGE motorcycle battery in the backpack that ETMJ is cursed to schlep around with him if he wishes to use this light. I think a slightly improved system could be devised that uses a modified small frame pack to hold the battery in a more comfortable and rigid manner. 50 lbs is not heavy for a frame pack, but it's downright painful in a common school bookbag (IMHO).

A framepack solution could possibly even be modified to include some kind of steadycam in front. I hear the worst problem with steadycams is the weight. It'll still be heavy, but you'll have all that lead on your back to help balance things out. Then again, this would be a downright insane lighting/shooting getup for the places this thing is designed for. Then again, maybe not... (ETMJ is somewhat crazy like that)




Like a fiend with his dope / a drunkard his wine / a man will have lust for the lure of the mine

"If you are not part of the solution, you are not dissolved in the solvent."
EatsTooMuchJam 


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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 12 on 11/22/2005 2:42 PM >
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I can post some pictures later.

And work is progressing on v2 of the superlight. The big battery (31AH/25+ pounds) will still be useful for longer shoots (like the next movie that we try to shoot in a weird place), but for shorter ones I got a somewhat smaller battery (18AH/15 pounds). I also picked up an offroad floodlight hoping it would be less focused, but if anything it seems a little more focused. The next step will be to try a halogen car headlight as soon as I have a chance to get to a car parts store on my way home.




"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away."
-Tom Waits
Kay O. Sweaver 


Location: Montreal, Quebec
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Happiness is saying yes more often than no.

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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 13 on 11/22/2005 8:52 PM >
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I'm going to be using RC car batteries since their weight to AH ratio is waaaay better and they're not all that expensive, not compared to lithium anyways. Good luck. Keep us posted.




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EatsTooMuchJam 


Location: Minneapolis, MN
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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 14 on 11/22/2005 9:08 PM >
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Posted by Kay O. Sweaver
I'm going to be using RC car batteries since their weight to AH ratio is waaaay better and they're not all that expensive, not compared to lithium anyways. Good luck. Keep us posted.


Probably not as "waaaay" better as you think as they're not 12v batteries.




"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away."
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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 15 on 11/23/2005 1:19 PM >
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ETMJ, what did you get for an offroad light? I would recommend the 55w chrome 6" (or so) round ones that Wally World sells. I have two on the front of the Monty and they are fretty floody for my taste. I also think that they lack the distinct hotspot in the center that your current setup features. These cost about $15 and you should be able to swap the bulb out for higher wattage.



[last edit 11/23/2005 1:20 PM by MacGyver - edited 1 times]

Like a fiend with his dope / a drunkard his wine / a man will have lust for the lure of the mine

"If you are not part of the solution, you are not dissolved in the solvent."
EatsTooMuchJam 


Location: Minneapolis, MN
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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 16 on 11/23/2005 2:38 PM >
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Ugh. I hate Wal-Mart. I guess I will go there if there's no other alternative.




"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away."
-Tom Waits
Kay O. Sweaver 


Location: Montreal, Quebec
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Happiness is saying yes more often than no.

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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 17 on 11/24/2005 1:38 AM >
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Two R/C batteries in series come out to 14.4V which means you're also over-volting your bulb 20%. More volts = more light but less bulb lifetime. Given the price of bulbs I'll go with more power over longer life any day.

Posted by EatsTooMuchJam


Probably not as "waaaay" better as you think as they're not 12v batteries.






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EatsTooMuchJam 


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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 18 on 11/24/2005 2:05 PM >
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Posted by Kay O. Sweaver
Two R/C batteries in series come out to 14.4V which means you're also over-volting your bulb 20%. More volts = more light but less bulb lifetime. Given the price of bulbs I'll go with more power over longer life any day.


You'll have to let me know how they work and how long they last!




"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away."
-Tom Waits
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Re: Lights!
< Reply # 19 on 2/21/2006 11:02 PM >
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For film or video work, another option is to synch a strobe to the shutter. It uses a lot less power for the same amount of light (with a sufficiently strong strobe) and the color temperature is much higher than a tungsten superlight.

You would have to have power source capable of high current draw, to recharge the strobe quickly enough, but a lead acid battery and a capacitor would suffice. There are also issues of things like falling water looking odd, and it could give you an epileptic seizure.

Battery life should be significantly better than most other options, since you're only illuminating the scene for 1/20,000th of a second (or whatever) 24 times per second, rather than for the entire second.

Doing this with a mechanical movie camera would require minor physical modification. Doing it with a digital video camera would probably require poking around its guts with an o-scope to find a clock signal. Then a little amp to trigger the strobe, etc.




UER Forum > Private Boards Index > A/V Club > Lights! (Viewed 7648 times)
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