Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996
class="Paragraph" Published : 11th February 2004
I’m still working on specing out a decent array of lights for a small indie film studio. The help from the last responses was invaluable BTW, thanks again. Their goal is to own 80% or so of what they need (lighting wise) for small/medium sized location shoots, but this is just a start so, they’re not interested in sacrificing quality simply to have more units today, for the same money — they’d rather rent. Basically we’ve settled on a good mix of 5 tungsten units (1k, 650s, 300s -- fresnel, open faced) with an assortment of mix-and-match stands and accessories. For soft, we’ve speced two KinoFlo Diva-400s.
Now, yesterday the HMI question arose again and they asked “why don’t we have any HMIs on the list” and I said “price — look at your budget” but, now they’re saying “well, if it’s something that we should have then maybe we should reconsider our budget”. Now they want me to tell them why or why not spend on say two Joker-Bug 200/400s and drop two tungsten’s. I understand the stock benefits — daylight, a lot less power for the same output, easy to gel to tungsten, but, does the benefit outweigh the cost?
I see a price tag of $6K for two Joker-bugs and say “no way, doesn’t make sense”. On the other hand, I’ve never worked with HMI so I’m at a bit of a loss. What do you think?
I shoot a lot of independent features on location and very seldom use tungsten lights. Normally I use a combination of Kino’s and HMIs.
Most of what I shoot is scheduled to be shot during the day, and tungsten units don't have enough output to compete with ambient light, esp. if you're trying to bring up you day interiors enough to keep windows from blowing out.
Heat is another consideration - the rooms of the house, office, apartment, etc. that you're shooting in will get uncomfortably hot very quickly under tungsten lights. HMIs and Kino’s don't get anywhere near as hot.
Also, since HMIs have a greater output than tungsten units, you can use fewer units to light an room which means it takes less time to set up, adjust and tear down. Fewer units also means fewer shadows to deal with, fewer cables to run, less power being drawn, etc.
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List
Joker lights are wonderful units, I use them all the time. The one down side to them is the noise that they make. It's a high frequency buzz that is constant anytime the light is on. As you may know, many HMI's "buzz" while coming up to speed but the noise usually goes away once the light reaches it's full output.
We've swapped heads, ballasts, head cables and anything else that we can try. We've actually had the heads and ballasts replaced by K5600 (they are very friendly and went out of their way to help us solve the problem) but nothing helped. I've rented other people's/company's jokers and they all have had the same "buzz". It's no big deal if you're shooting MOS or if the light itself is set a good distance from the mics but if you want to use them as a key source for an interview...get ready for the soundman to complain about the noise from the key light.
Again, I love the Jokers and their versatility but for the budget that you are working from, you could get a lot more units if you went tungsten. Check e-bay for "Mole Richardson" or "Arrilite" and you can find some great deals on smaller lights (bigger lights too for what it's worth).
Hope this helps.
I don’t think you don’t need HMI’s in a studio in your situation and it would be a waste of money. Stick with the units you have and you’ll be able to get more fixtures and save yourself a lot of money.
Producer, Director, Creative Director, Cinematographer
HellGate Pictures, Inc.
The post was about a small location truck, not a studio. I'd vote for a couple of HMI par lights, but I'd skip the little Jokers and go straight to a 1200w HMI unit. You can plug these into a 15 amp circuit and that's the maximum daylight power for bringing up ambient daylight in a room, punching through a window or giving a "sunlight slash" across a wall. You'll want the strength to punch the light through diffusion or bounce it off of a card, wall or ceiling. I believe the Arrisun-Plus units give the maximum output for wattage in a 1200 par, but these are also physically relatively large units, which could be an issue in a small truck.
Steve McLelland wrote :
> yesterday the HMI question arose again
With the small budget you have, buy the lights you'll use most on your first project or two, rent the rest. Add as you go. Do not even think about HMI on a studio budget of 5-6K (unless for some reason your first project calls for them extensively, then its a buy vs. rent question). With so little money, you need to ask the first question "What are we shooting".
Also, do not confuse quality with price.
Don't forget the extras; scrims, doors, spare bulbs-- some HMI's do not come with bulbs and they are not cheap.
Remember that (multiple) tungsten units create heat, that is one advantage of the Kino's if your working in a small space for long hours w/o Air Conditioning.
Mitch Gross wrote:
> The post was about a small location truck, not a studio.
Odd, the post I just read said small indie studio.
John Roche, gaffer
<The post was about a small location truck, not a studio.
Thanks I misread it.
Now with that I say if up don’t use HMIs you don’t need them. In my independent film days we used 125 watt halogen bulbs and anything else we could make work. Today folks are spoiled blowing their whole budget on a few HMIs when in the end it’s cheaper to rent a few when you need them. And in the end, most of the time you simply don’t need them.
Producer, Director, Creative Director, Cinematographer
HellGate Pictures, Inc.
John Roche writes :
>The post was about a small location truck, not a studio. Odd, the post I >just read said small indie studio.
From the original post:
>Their goal is to own 80% or so of what they need (lighting wise) for >small/medium sized location shoots
To me this means a small location truck. I think a couple of 1.2k pars is a great thing to have in such a package if it can be afforded. I think I'd rather own an older used 1.2k par (single end) over a new 400w Joker.
>Thanks I misread it.
There seems to be a lot of that going around. I misread
Thanks for all of the comments everyone!
Looks like the general consensus is “rent larger HMIs when you need them”. Oh, and yes, this is for a small location truck. I do like the idea of picking up a used 1200W PAR. Someone mentioned high maintenance though, is it that the transformers fail or the lamps or...? Have you found that one brand has more problems then the other?
Also, do the 200W HMIs really put out the same amount of light as a 500-600W tungsten?
>Someone mentioned high maintenance though, is it that the >transformers fail or the lamps or...? Have you found that one brand has >more problems then the other?
I've had a pair of old Desisti 1200w Par HMI's with magnetic ballasts for about three years. The worst thing is the rarity of the globes which at one point ONE replacement cost me over $600. Here on CML I was directed to the company I mentioned previously that has them for $210. I have had to re-connect and reinforce the 12/3 wire into each ballast twice in those three years - and that's IT. I've never had a problem with them being unreliable or tedious to maintain. Just PROTECT all of the points where wiring attaches to heads or ballasts - that is where problems are likely to occur.
I've heard the electronic ballasts are a different story - but they sure are lighter...
Az. D.P. (flicker - shmicker)
12 On / 12 Off
>Also, do the 200W HMIs really put out the same amount of light as a >500-600W tungsten?
Shooooot Yes! Way more actually. Well, maybe I should slow down. I've never done a side by side using a meter and if I put the fresnel lens in my Joker 200 it may not blow away the 650 but I never use it that way. I'll use it to scream across an out of focus background or burn a hot edge on a interview subject, often with no lens in which case it blows away a 650 or 1K, or maybe even a 2K with blue gel. I'm not saying you should get a 200 HMI instead of the tweenie, they each have their uses, Heed the previous advise you've received! The short answer to your question, however is an unqualified YES! You should check out the web sites of the mfg's your looking into and dig up the photometric data for a more scientific answer. Let us know the answer when you get it.
Tom Burke wrote :
>You should check out the web sites of the mfg's your looking into and >dig up the photometric data for a more scientific answer. Let us know the >answer when you get it.
You'll find links on the CML "Photometrics" page.
ICG, New York
HMI lights are stunningly more efficient than tungsten quartz units, which give off something like 90% of their energy in heat not light. I know you're asking about larger units than this, but here's a quick comparison I have stuck in my head. Frezzi's little Micro-Fill sungun on camera lights use identical housings for HMI (Micro-Sun) or tungsten (Micro-Fill) light. The 10w HMI unit is equal in output to the 35w tungsten unit (25 footcandles at 5ft.). With color correction, a 50w tungsten unit would be needed to equal the output of the 10w HMI.
Mitch Gross wrote :
>HMI lights are stunningly more efficient than tungsten quartz units, >which give off something like 90% of their energy in heat not light.
I recall the tungsten lamps producing about 12 lumens/watt while HMI discharge lamps produce about 80-85 lumens/watt.
>HMI lights are stunningly more efficient than tungsten quartz units
Speaking of which -- has anyone had a chance to road test the Booster HMIs yet? Supposedly almost twice the light output of a "conventional" PAR...
(recently graduated) Student Shooter
Further Information :
(Refer to Booster HMI web page)...