Cinematography Mailing List - CML

>Xenon Flashlights

I have a scene to shoot and need a small flashlight for a 10 year old child to use. It should look like a "child's flashlight" (plastic, about six - eight inches long)

In researching at LA prop houses and lighting specialty companies, all we can find are the "true" xenon flashlights which are very large (like a policeman's mag light).

Anyone got any ideas on how to rig something? Or maybe someone has had this same problem ?

It will be a night interior on Vision 320 or 500.

Jim Dollarhide Director of Photography

Jim, I have a Xenon flashlight that's well under 6-8 inches long, more like 3 inches long... although it is black metal and not plastic.

I think you can get these, or something like them, at Mole Studio Depot.

(I've used a regular maglight with Vision 500 and it worked out very well - but I was only looking at the actor holding the flashlight towards the camera, I never needed to see the flashlight beam illuminating anything.)

George Hupka Director/DP,

Downstream Pictures Saskatoon, Canada

Does it need to be Xenon?

Both Scorpion and Laserlight make small extremely bright (60-120 lumen) flashlights. They are slightly larger in diameter than a MiniMag Lite, but a little shorter for models using two lithium battereies. Single lithium battery models are much shorter. They don't look like a"child's flashlight", but recently, a prop guy on a commercial took one of these and stuck it inside a small pink plastic "child's flashlight" ( 2 'C' cells) with hot glue after removing most of the innards -- There was room to spare. It took him about 15 minutes, start to finish. Apparently it worked great.

In researching at LA prop houses and lighting specialty companies, all we can find >are the "true" xenon flashlights which are very large (like a policeman's mag light).

Check out a Scorpion at the following or a Laser or Nitrolon at

Brian Heller IA 600 DP

Also, the Magic Gadgets people have an insert for a 2 D Cell flashlight that lets you put 8 AA Batteries and a MagLite type bulb inside it. Makes it much brighter and it's the real thing...

Ted "hasn't used one yet" Hayash CLT Los Angeles, CA

Try a diving shop, there are some xenon UW torches on the market that are brilliant, some extremely small and very bright.

-- Franz Pagot GBCT MBKS

Director of Photography/Underwater Cameraman

Get a Surefire flashlight and have the prop person carve a hole in the toy flashlight so you can hide it in the casing you desire. They're only about 4 or 5 inches long, bright as can be, and you'll have a cool flashlight for yourself when you're done.

You can put some light diffusion on the lens of the prop if the beam is too small or too hard. Make sure that you can get it in and out easily so that you can turn it off in between takes to save the batteries and to keep from melting down the other casing if you let the heat build up too much.

Sean Murray, s.o.c.

Camera Operator/Gaffer Burbank, CA / Pittsburgh, PA

I used a Scorpion xenon flashlight from Studio Depot ($59.95) for this purpose. The child scanned it around a small darkened room looking at the walls and furnishings. We were shooting on 200T, at about T2.4. You should be able to do it readily on the faster stocks.

You could even rig it inside a gutted plastic flashlight if you think necessary. It's about the size George describes. Hottest little flashlight you've ever seen, but keep spare lithium batteries handy and turn it off at every opportunity.

Wade K. Ramsey, DP

Dept. of Cinema & Video Production

Bob Jones University Greenville, SC 29614


-- Steven Gladstone Cinematographer --

Gladstone Films

Cinematography Mailing List - East Coast List Administrator

Better off Broadcast (B.O.B.)

New York, U.S.A.

In regard to flash lights: I have been using the Surefire on camera since I used them in a Sci Fi TV series called "Earth 2," and they and the other Xenon brands are great. But, be careful; they should NEVER be pointed into anyone's eyes, they will cause irreparable damage. And, they are powerful enough to ignite anything that they are close to when turned on (your pocket, holster, etc.).

Stephen Lighthill, ASC



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