Quick setup using what you have…

Yesterday was a really good example of what you can achieve when you PICK YOUR LOCATION and USE YOUR IMAGINATION.  We were doing press with danish Director Susanne Bier and Actor Pierce Brosnan.  All press was to be gathered in the same room, TV and print divided up into 4 areas.  We did not have access to a lot of light and grip and very little time to set up.  This also goes back to the post yesterday with the amount of gear I could carry along. Had we been a crew of 4 things would have looked differently.  Now you are given and location and have to find the best way possible to deal with that.

First thing’s first; GET THERE early.  Even if you’re not allowed to setup you can scout and choose the best setup location.

With the amount of time to setup and only using 2 lights and no grip this was an easy choice for me.  Big window light! I setup the camera 12 inches away from a huge window with white drapes. The big 50inch plasma on the right served as Neg fill giving some contrast to the face.  On the other side I places a big ad board 2,5m x 2m as a big bounce.  On that side I also placed the key, a fluorescent light on top of which I added a Lastolite Trigrip Difflector.  This is a great piece of kit as it serves as both a bounce and a diffusor. The Trigrip is taped with electrical tape to the fluo-light!
I also added the mildest touch of a backlight hanging from the TV, battery operated light.



Easy as pie. A really quick setup, less than 10 min and I think the final result turned out pretty good.  It was funny when the publicist came and saw the setup, with a light on a tv and electrical tape holding a diffusor in place.  However I was glad to show them the shot in the monitor and actually got a smile back.
p.s.   The shot you see of Pierce Brosnan is obviously the opposite of the setup in the pictures above.  That is the other great thing with this setup, is that in less than 3 min I hade reversed the setup to make it work for 2 different interviews. 🙂


5 minute setup

Its not my first choice, but when it pays and its a loyal client you go along. The sit-down interview, and this time we are talking about the quick setup, no softboxes, no flags, dimmers, no fancy. But you still want the interview to look as good as possible. In my opinion background is key. If you only have time to set a couple of lights, pick a background that doesn’t need to be lit.

In this example we entered an apartment, a fairly dark apartment with not a lot of lights. Walls were pretty thin with exciting backgrounds. The living room was big but dark and sterile. So I choose the kitchen, a very small kitchen where we barely fit, but the background is the nicest I can find in the apartment. Out of respect I didn’t run around this person’s apartment taking still pictures so you’ll have to take my word for it. 🙂

Kitchen before setup

This interview setup is nothing I’ll put on my reel but when you need a talking head shot and time and space is a luxury this was the best option. The clipping in the window looks worse on the still than it really was but there is some and I’ll live with it. Why I chose the window as a background? There was no time to light any other background in the apartment and Not lighting the background would have left it dead and dark… Also the curtains in the back worked as a backdrop. My first thought was to take a bead board (or styrofoam board) cut it in half and bounce light into it. But time did not allow the rig.

Final frame from on-board monitor. (XDCam disk left with the client and I didn’t have time to grab an actual frame)

The worst part of these run ‘n gun setups is spending the next 2 days thinking how I could have made it better, look a little cleaner, changed this and tweaked that… 🙂

One more example. A hotel room in a foreign land. Limited light kit and again, space is really tight. Grab a towel from the bathroom, gaffer tape it to the wall. Hit a 300w into it, and set one quick backligt. Choose your background and setup something of color to break the background perhaps. Done. A setup in less than 5 minutes.

Cineroid LED light- First Look

At NAB as IBC last year these lights were announced and now its time to have a look.  I am looking for a nice small fill light for a car interior and thought the Cineroid LED a try.

I went over to our dealer and borrowed one of their lights. It is a small battery powered LED light made up of 96 small flat LED lights. The kit comes with 2 “fronts”, light grills, one tungsten (3000K) and one daylight (5000K) as well as charger, battery and battery plate. The “light fronts” snaps on and off with 1 release on each side of the light. There is no glass or protective cover over the LEDs but the construction seems solid enough, and only time will tell if they stand up to regular field use.

The light is made of a hard plastic and feels like a pretty solid build. The buttons on the back, both On/Off  as well as the for switch controlling the fan, are recessed and fairly protected against damage.  The fan has an option of running automatically or manually. In manual mode it has 5 different speeds. At the higher settings it could cause audio issues in a really quiet room. Since I’ve not spent any time shooting with this light yet I can’t say how much the fan is needed to cool the unit. The back of the detachable LED also work as a heat sink which hopefully reduces the need for the fan. You can set the manual setting to 0 and effectively turning the fan off. In case of overheating the display will warn.

One minus is the power connecter which sticks out on the side and is a regular consumer connector. I don’t understand why every manufacturer making these lights insist on NOT using a more robust power connector. I really doubt it would affect the price that much and I think people would gladly pay and extra $20 for a connector that will actually last during regular field use. It is not as flimsy as other lights I’ve seen but one improvement for the next version would be to incorporate the power connector in the battery plate, attaching between the plate and the light. This would eliminate the need for the external cable.

On top of the light there is a rotary wheel which controls the dimming in 30 different steps. This is also a possible weak point in case the light would take a hit. The level of dimming is shown on the little LCD display on the back of the light.



SO how does the light actually light?

Positive first: A powerful little light.  What I really like about the output is the spread. At a distance of 2m (6,5ft) the spread is 3m (10ft) and with a difference of only 2/3 of a stop between the sides and the middle. So no more of the flashlight look that is a dead give away of an onboard light. This is Great. Output is roughly 12fc at 2 m giving a f2,8/800iso/180degree shutter/25fps.

If you want to narrow the throw there is a detachable grill that snaps on with 4 magnets holding it in place. This of course also cuts the output of the light.

The negative. As with most LED lights there is a problem with multiple shadows especially when lighting something close up, so also here.

This shows up mostly on a flat bright surface and it almost not noticeable on a face as you can see below.

You can reduce this greatly by putting some diffusion (Lee 216 in picture below) over it which softens the shadows enough not to show.

Conclusion. Before I actually published this post I popped over to Scandinavian Photo and bought one of these lights. I think it is a nice little light to use as fill or for a car interior for example. The dimming feature is nice but one thing I miss is the ability to dial in different color temperatures.  I will post back what I think once I’ve actually used it in production a few times. Then I’ll really know what’s what especially when it comes to color and such… 🙂

Disclaimer: I Borrowed the light for the testing and bought one to keep. I have received no compensation in writing this article and all opinions are my own.

Sun Scout

Here is another great app I use a lot for both filming and location scouting. It is called Sun Scout and will show the sun’s path at any point during the day. So if you need to know when the sun will sneak over that rooftop behind you and hit your location this is the app that will tell you. It is not 100% accurate but really close enough. You can also change the setting to see the path at a different date, nice feature for a scout.
This time of year in Sweden finding the sun requires a LOT more than this app though… 🙂

Great app for your iphone at $10.