Big Light On A 30ft Crane


30th July 2007

Is it possible to put an 18K HMI on the end of a 30' crane, for a big, sun-like arc across a man asleep on a hill top for a time-lapse sort of effect? This is for an anamorphic feature.

Thanks in advance for the advice

Byron Shah
DP Los Angeles

Hi Byron!

How about using a condor or lift? You need someone to focus the light as it passes, even if you mount it on a crane.

Another thought : What about using a balloon light?


Graham Futerfas
Los Angeles DP

>>is it possible to put an 18K HMI on the end of a 30' crane, for a big, >>sun-like arc across a man asleep on a hill top for a time-lapse sort of >>effect? This is for an anamorphic feature.

Yes! I've done it several times with varying results. you can get "burned" with a cherry picker if you try to do it at 2-4fps and just let the lift move down or up, as it will most likely give a jarring effect.

I would prefer a camera crane with an operator panning/tilting a flooded lamp. For 2-4fps, or a more stop-motion like thing where you stop the cherry picker.

Every time you want to shoot a frame. 30 feet (9 meters I Europe) sounds a bit small unless its a close-up. If you do the stop motion version you can have control over the colour temp and quality of light, but it will of course take longer and be more difficult for the actor.

My 2 euros

Best regards

Jens Jakob Thorsen
Director of Photography

You can do anything.

The question is doing it safely.

What about using an articulating condor? I've seen similar done with a camera crane, though the unit wasn't the size of an 18. [ I think it may have been a 4 or 6k LTM]

Jared Hoy
Gaffer || BBE
Los Angeles, CA

>>is it possible to put an 18K HMI on the end of a 30' crane, for a big, >>sun-like arc

Hi Byron,

I have put a 12K par on a 30'+ Lenny arm on a few occasions. I have even rigged a pulley system so that the light may be panned from the crane base as it swings along. If it becomes imperative that it is operated then the old "Titan" crane is perfect. You can drive it anywhere, drive during the shot, swing the arm, and pan the light ! I have some pics if you want to see them.

Some one said...."How about using a condor or lift?"

The condor would suck because it is not very smooth and is very noisy, hard to get into position and now with all the safety rules would probably not be a good choice.

..."What about using a balloon light?"

I don't see the balloon giving you the hard quality of the sun travelling through the sky and they are very unwieldy, if there is any wind at all you can't really control them. Don't get me wrong I use them all the time, just not in this application.

James Kniest
Los Angeles

Hey Byron,

Another thought might be using one of the larger Soft-Sun units. The 50K and The 100K are heavier than an 18k but they might give you a more "realistic" sunlight plus you can control the intensity during the shot without affecting the colour temp.


Nathan Hope


There is a pretty unorthodox crane which may be perfect for your was created by a artist/director called Tony Hill and is called the satellite crane ....designed to carry a 35mm camera in the arc of the sun rotating about a single axis...think you can see the shots at under his name ...

It'd need some extra support to carry a head like an 18k but nothing your grip dept couldn't handle...its spring loaded and when balanced allows pretty accurate and smooth operation... have a look and get in touch if you need more info...

I've worked with him and the crane on a number of projects.

Good luck

Rich Stewart DP UK
tel +44(0)7775900742

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