We're in the process of starting a small production company (shooting on DV and its variants, mostly dramatic short films and other experimental shorts) and have some questions about the various lighting kits out there. For our needs, the kits seem like the right way to go. They give you 80% of what you need in one box and are fairly well balanced. I've looked into piecing together a kit and the price goes north quickly. Given our meagre budget of $5,000, the big guns are pretty much ruled out.
I've personally only worked with the tungsten Arri kits (Softbanks) and I'm leaning in that direction only because I'm familiar with them and thought they performed well. I've read a lot about florescent and would like to mix in a KinoFlo -- Diva-200/400. What are your thoughts on Dedo light and Mole Richardson? I know a lot of DV folks favor Lowell products, and personally there is nothing I like about Lowell other then their price and that doesn't sell me.
I've also read, and it has been my experience as well, that the sensitivity of DV dictates less light in most situations. I found that we were having to heavily cut the 650 fresnels, sometimes favouring the 300s with dense scrims. I don't have a ton of experience lighting scenes so...
Currently I'm leaning towards the Arri Softbank I Tungsten kit (1 300 fresnel, 2 650 fresnel, 1 1000 Open face, Chimera, etc). It is the most expensive of the tungsten Arri kits ($3,000) but, it provides an additional unit and good balance of accessories. I'd like to add an additional soft box like the Diva-Lite 400 kit. I believe that a setup like this would give us a good start and we'd still have room for another $500 or so in additional accessories.
I don't' recommend the Arri kits. They're heavy and the stands aren't great. The Chimera isn't a 'plus' version and you won't use it if you have Diva's.
Dedos are nice but expensive. The Lowell's I touch always seem to break.
I recommend :
(1) Diva 400 (buy bare, fits in soft keyboard case)
(1) Diva 200
(3-4) 300 fresnels (mole,arri,,)
(put in soft case such as PortaBrace)
(1) set ea.:dots, fingers, Roadrags
12 yds duvatene, 6 yds gridfabric
(4) tall light stands (mattews..)
20 ponyclips, sand, showcards, 2 mafers, 2 Cardellini's, short C-arm, double head, pins etc.
Rent bigger lights. Buy gels as needed.
Grip, Sound, San Francisco
>Dedos are nice but expensive. The Lowellâ€™s I touch always seem to >break.
If you're going to trash Lowell at least be more specific.
We've had Lowell DP lights on our trucks for over 15 years and I find them to be a wonderful, durable and versatile lighting fixture. In almost all respects better than a redhead and certainly better than a Mickey. I find them to be an excellent choice for Doc work and they can be bulbed with a variety of globes. The light weight stands (we carry 5 to supplement the heavier beefy baby stuff) take up less space and are great for an inky or the like.
Even after 10 years, I can still drop off any broken to stand to
Lowell and they will fix it at no charge.
I'm sure my Mark W can wax on in more eloquent detail...
I agree that you should build a kit to your needs instead of a pre-packaged kit. Contact B&H Photo for their new Lighting Catalogue.
It is an excellent primer on much of the standard lighting available out there today. It also has some basic grip gear and terrific kit cases for you to package out. I'd go for a Kino of some sort (like a Diva 400 or perhaps a competing brand), at least one "big" light such as a 1k baby fresnel, some small open faced lights like a 650w nook and a bunch of 250w Inkies or peppers, which are infinitely useful. Then get some decent light stands, C-stands, some foldaway flags/nets/diffusion frames and some mafer and Cardellini clamps.
Don't forget some gels and a few extension cords. There are some terrific multi-compartment semi-soft cases out there that could hold most of this kit, so two cases will do it all for you.
Don't forget the work gloves.
Looks like the general consensus is to build a kit and that some parts included with Arri's kits are lousy I can attest personally to their stands (cheap).
Few questions here :
When would you substitute a fresnel with an open-faced unit? It would seem to me that the only benefit to owning open-faced units is cost cheaper -- No?
Those of you that are using Kinoflos and the like, are you finding that you have no need for Chimeras and other traditional soft-boxes? What about the size difference? Harder to lug around and setup? More easily damaged? Do you need to remove the tubes with each transport?
I've heard quite a bit of very positive feedback regarding Dedolights. Do you they live up to the marketing hype?
To generalize about Lowell products: Excellent, cost-effective, lightweight, compact, cleverly designed and flexible. They have particular advantages in documentary work.
But they're best owned, not rented. If you take care of them they'll last a lifetime, but don't expect rental units to hold up very well or very long. I don't think you'll see too many Lowell products in serious grip trucks, either.
Marin County, CA