Jump to content

Small lighting (& some other kit) advice


norliss
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm currently working on an idea for a documentary film (or possibly TV) and I've decided to make a short 'taster' to use to gain funding/a commission. I have a couple of good contributors lined up with whom I need to shoot some simple talking heads. Unlike a good many people here, I am no DoP or cameraman and truth be told I don't aspire to be one albeit I do of course have an interest in cameras, lenses etc as part and parcel of being a filmmaker. I did think of posting here to see if there was anyone in (or very near London) that would be prepared to help me out alas there is no budget for this as yet and I'm loathe to ask for people's time without payment :flushed:

In any case, perhaps doing it myself would be a good thing (even if it does cause me a little worry!): not because I have aspirations to become the next Roger Deakins, but I can envisage being in a similar scenario in future and the more self-sufficient I could be at this pre-pre production phase, the better. 

However, I'm currently not adequately kitted out to do this properly: I have a Sony a6000, lenses, a tripod (with head suitable for locked-off camera which should suffice for this purpose), a grey/white card but little else! So what I'm after is some advice for kit that 1/ won't break the bank and 2/ is small/light enough for me to be able to lug to London (probably alone and via train) where one of the interviews will take place.

Sound: given I cannot record proper audio with the a6000, I have already been looking at the various Tascam/Zoom audio recorders and am leaning toward the Tascam DR-60DMkII. I appreciate this doesn't include the little in-built mics of other recorders, meaning I'd need to buy a mic and stand etc...

Lighting: I'm going to try and do these interviews in a cinema and theatre respectively meaning I *should* be ok for some sort of back-light (?) but can't be 100% sure at this point if those locales will be available meaning they could be in a house, so need something that will cover me for most scenarios.

Other kit: there's also going to be stands for the lights/mics plus numerous other things which I doubtless haven't even considered!!

Any help/advice greatly appreciated!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

EOSHD Pro Color 5 for Sony cameras EOSHD Z LOG for Nikon CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

That's a ton of great info.  Listen to that man!  :). Don't be perturbed if you can't afford that kit, you can still get amazing quality with lesser kit.  But I'd agree 4k is key.  If you don't have a monitor you can use an old PC monitor or TV. I've got decent sound out of this: http://tascam.com/product/dr-08/reviews/. On location even, but you need some judicious work in audition, and it's foibles are hidden for me with music.  There's a super cheap mic here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ecs0GWaPtto and that guys channel is worth having a gander at.  But If you have the budget, and you know you're going to use the kit, buy quality, buy once.  

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is this an NX1?! 

Do you care to share what's on/in/above/under the camera?!

I have a limited setup my self with the Varabond cage and a few other things, but this thing looks just amazing.

What's your tripod/tripod head? What bags do you use for the camera?

Do you have the "Bourne" Nikon lens? Do you have any comment about lenses? I am considering buying a great zoom lens, and I am split between the 16-50S lens or this Nikon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do your research before buying an audio device. Make sure that the MIC you'll buy will go well with the recorder.

I shot several documentaries in the past years with the Zoom H4N + Shure lav mic + Rode NTG-2. Both mics have different output levels, the H4N has a really rubbish built in preamp, so it did not work well with the RODE NTG-2. It was a pain in the ass to adjust those levels in the post production (one was around -6db, the other at -40 db), there is a sw update availabe for adjusting the channel levels separately, but that won't solve the shitty preamp issue. I switched to TASCAM DR-40 and everything works flawlessly.

To sum it up: make sure your recorder has a good preamp, personally I can recommend the tascam.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

M Carter's post is great.

I've found 4k to be a godsend when shooting interviews as well. Before 4k, I would punch in/out between questions, now its just one less thing to fuss with while shooting. If I can, I use a B cam for cutaways - but as mentioned 4k is invaluable for reframing or just creating movement.

The a6000 has a hotshoe, Sony makes two XLR adapters that work with the MIS shoe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many thanks to all of you that have responded and particular thanks to @M Carter for taking the time to write such a helpful, detailed reply :)

I've absolutely taken onboard the 4K advice and I'm sure that the next proper full project I do will be 4K. That said, I'm not really in a position to buy a camera right now (nor am I sure there is one that I'd want to buy at the moment) meaning if I was to do 4k it would likely be a rental. I *may* just stick with HD for this given it's a very short 'taster' but I will certainly ponder this...

I'm certainly going to buy the Tascam DR-60MkII and a SmallRig cage although I'm loathe to spend too much on camera-specific kit as I don't see myself using the a6000 for a huge amount of stuff or for too far into the future. I'm hoping I shall be able to scrounge (or rent very cheaply) a mic and some lighting from my former workplace although moving forward, of course I realise I'm going to need this stuff so I'll have to acquire kit a bit at a time.

One thing no-one seems to have mentioned is a monitor or monitor/recorder. The screen on the a6000 is just too small to rely on for accurate focus (as I just proved to myself with some of the test shots I did earlier!) so I know I need some solution for this. I'm thinking it would be just as well to get my mits on a Atomos Ninja? I appreciate that the quality benefits of 8bit 4:2:2 over the internal 8bit 4:2:0 are marginal at best but it does mean I have a backup recording running in addition to the better/bigger screen. This is something of a quandary for me as I'm loath to buy an HD-only model here for reasons of future proofing alas the Ninja/Shogun Flame (let alone the Shogun Inferno) is a bit rich for my blood at this current time...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, norliss said:

One thing no-one seems to have mentioned is a monitor or monitor/recorder. The screen on the a6000 is just too small to rely on for accurate focus (as I just proved to myself with some of the test shots I did earlier!) so I know I need some solution for this. I'm thinking it would be just as well to get my mits on a Atomos Ninja? I appreciate that the quality benefits of 8bit 4:2:2 over the internal 8bit 4:2:0 are marginal at best but it does mean I have a backup recording running in addition to the better/bigger screen. This is something of a quandary for me as I'm loath to buy an HD-only model here for reasons of future proofing alas the Ninja/Shogun Flame (let alone the Shogun Inferno) is a bit rich for my blood at this current time...

I generally use a small monitor and for critical setups, I use the camera's LCD for framing and color, and use the montior at 1:1 with peaking on, and look for eyelashes/eye catchlights/pores/ to get best focus. Most people seem to have found that even if a recorder can do 422, if it's getting 420, the benefits aren't always worth the extra gear and cost and hassle. Metaphor alert: I can record a tiny AM radio into ProTools with an Apogee preamp and killer mic - it's still gonna sound like a tiny AM radio. The recorder isn't getting a raw signal, it's getting a visually-compressed feed that hasn't been compressed data-wise.

11 hours ago, Kisaha said:

Is this an NX1?! 

Do you care to share what's on/in/above/under the camera?!

I have a limited setup my self with the Varabond cage and a few other things, but this thing looks just amazing.

What's your tripod/tripod head? What bags do you use for the camera?

Do you have the "Bourne" Nikon lens? Do you have any comment about lenses? I am considering buying a great zoom lens, and I am split between the 16-50S lens or this Nikon.

Yep, NX1; it's on a set of rails I cobbled together out of various bits - I really want two risers from tripod-to-rails and two risers from rails to baseplate - I find heavy lenses cause the whole rig to sag with just one riser, which is a nightmare. It has a Manfrotto 577 QR on top - everything's manfrotto QR so I can pull the camera from the rails (steadicam) or stick the whole rig on a crane or slider. The rig itself is 577 and the camera is 577'd as well. I can stick front handles and shoulder mount on it in a second, too.

Decent 2-stage matte box without the flags that day (that Matthews flag in the shot was blocking the LED hair light from hitting the lens); Fotga DPII follow focus (amazing value, that thing!!) with whip, Nikkor 28-70 2.8 (known as "the beast" in some circles) with a rubber hood - I use rubber hoods vs donuts or knickers, very fast to squish 'em against the matte box. if I'm doing focus pulls, I add a lens support and "lift" the front of the lens enough to kill any play - DSLR lenses tend to jump up when you start a follow focus pull.

I use a 90° rail block and an extra piece of rod to mount the DR60 next to the camera, found a 1/4-20 adjustable rail piece on eBay that lets me tilt the recorder. The recorder has a 90° headphone jack extender to get the headphone cable clear of the recorder controls. That's an Anker USB battery which powers the DR all day.

The monitor is a Marshall 5", has 1:1, peaking, and blue-only to check color with a source of bars. The mic is an AT 4053b in a Rode blimp. Killer mic, really detailed and worth every penny vs. a Rode or cheapie. Tons of presence. I use an XLR on-off barrel switch to get the mic right to the front and gain a couple inches (the blimp is expecting a shotgun...)

I don't use a cage, don't really need to bolt the kitchen sink to my camera and I like to be able to go from tripod to crane to steadicam very quickly. I have a simple railblock cable lock that holds a short HDMI cable and a short 1/8 headphone extension, so I plug the monitor and camera-synch-audio into those vs hunting for tiny ports with a flashlight, less cycles on the ports, protects from snagging, etc. I really try to minimize change-up time.

Tripod is a Manfrotto with 503 (no panning at this gig) - it's taken a hell of a beating from sticking an 8' Kessler on it for years and will someday likely explode in a pile of springs and oil, but a decent head. I have a couple smaller tripods as well, nothing super-pricey (I got my film-school son one of those "fancier" fluid tripods... and then got myself one, amazing for $150 or so. Still want to get a sachtler or something...)

Cases are ever-changing and I pack per-gig to try for the "one cart in" thing - pelicans, eBay pelican knockoffs (saves some bucks!), and I got an amazing deal on a used 4x5 view camera custom case that the entire rig can go in, completely assembled, with room for 4x4's and lenses and so on - AWESOME to just lift the rig out and click it onto a tripod and roll. It's a very big case though so only goes to bigger gigs. I have a wheeled case from Cool-Lights that was the only thing I've found to reasonably pack two quad biax units, or one and a bunch of stuff. Generally takes one quad and also the HID softbox and ballast stuff, I know when I walk in if I need the bigger kick of the HID. But the quads are just the shit when 1k will do, I use metal binder clips and stick a sheet or two of diffusion across the barn doors, instant softbox - in fact, the barn doors will fold up with diffusion clipped on, talk about fast! it's not a "real" kino and needs 1/4 CTB and 1/8 minus green to hit clean 5200k or so, I just leave that on.

Lately I've been thinking more about popping faces from backgrounds - if there's a window with greenery, say, I'll put more magenta on the key and manually WB - the camera kicks up the green, and since the BG isn't affected by the gelled light, it gets greener and more saturated in the greens. You'll blow the gag if your key hits other visible stuff in the shot, but overall, I've been working on cooling down backgrounds more, since faces are warm-toned - gets more pop, more 3D look, and our brains tend to say "warmer=closer, cooler=distant". If someone is really pale, I might go the opposite, bluer key and the BG gets warm. Sometimes I manually white balance through1/4 or 1/8 CTB (actually I have an old 77mm camera filer that's very mild cooling and use that) which slightly warms the whole scene. Kind of feel like that's me "next step" for some of this stuff.

Whew, hope that helps!

 

Just now, M Carter said:

I generally use a small monitor and for critical setups, I use the camera's LCD for framing and color, and use the montior at 1:1 with peaking on, and look for eyelashes/eye catchlights/pores/ to get best focus. Most people seem to have found that even if a recorder can do 422, if it's getting 420, the benefits aren't always worth the extra gear and cost and hassle. Metaphor alert: I can record a tiny AM radio into ProTools with an Apogee preamp and killer mic - it's still gonna sound like a tiny AM radio. The recorder isn't getting a raw signal, it's getting a visually-compressed feed that hasn't been compressed data-wise.

Yep, NX1; it's on a set of rails I cobbled together out of various bits - I really want two risers from tripod-to-rails and two risers from rails to baseplate - I find heavy lenses cause the whole rig to sag with just one riser, which is a nightmare. It has a Manfrotto 577 QR on top - everything's manfrotto QR so I can pull the camera from the rails (steadicam) or stick the whole rig on a crane or slider. The rig itself is 577 and the camera is 577'd as well. I can stick front handles and shoulder mount on it in a second, too.

Decent 2-stage matte box without the flags that day (that Matthews flag in the shot was blocking the LED hair light from hitting the lens); Fotga DPII follow focus (amazing value, that thing!!) with whip, Nikkor 28-70 2.8 (known as "the beast" in some circles) with a rubber hood - I use rubber hoods vs donuts or knickers, very fast to squish 'em against the matte box. if I'm doing focus pulls, I add a lens support and "lift" the front of the lens enough to kill any play - DSLR lenses tend to jump up when you start a follow focus pull.

I use a 90° rail block and an extra piece of rod to mount the DR60 next to the camera, found a 1/4-20 adjustable rail piece on eBay that lets me tilt the recorder. The recorder has a 90° headphone jack extender to get the headphone cable clear of the recorder controls. That's an Anker USB battery which powers the DR all day.

The monitor is a Marshall 5", has 1:1, peaking, and blue-only to check color with a source of bars. The mic is an AT 4053b in a Rode blimp. Killer mic, really detailed and worth every penny vs. a Rode or cheapie. Tons of presence. I use an XLR on-off barrel switch to get the mic right to the front and gain a couple inches (the blimp is expecting a shotgun...)

I don't use a cage, don't really need to bolt the kitchen sink to my camera and I like to be able to go from tripod to crane to steadicam very quickly. I have a simple railblock cable lock that holds a short HDMI cable and a short 1/8 headphone extension, so I plug the monitor and camera-synch-audio into those vs hunting for tiny ports with a flashlight, less cycles on the ports, protects from snagging, etc. I really try to minimize change-up time.

Tripod is a Manfrotto with 503 (no panning at this gig) - it's taken a hell of a beating from sticking an 8' Kessler on it for years and will someday likely explode in a pile of springs and oil, but a decent head. I have a couple smaller tripods as well, nothing super-pricey (I got my film-school son one of those "fancier" fluid tripods... and then got myself one, amazing for $150 or so. Still want to get a sachtler or something...)

Cases are ever-changing and I pack per-gig to try for the "one cart in" thing - pelicans, eBay pelican knockoffs (saves some bucks!), and I got an amazing deal on a used 4x5 view camera custom case that the entire rig can go in, completely assembled, with room for 4x4's and lenses and so on - AWESOME to just lift the rig out and click it onto a tripod and roll. It's a very big case though so only goes to bigger gigs. I have a wheeled case from Cool-Lights that was the only thing I've found to reasonably pack two quad biax units, or one and a bunch of stuff. Generally takes one quad and also the HID softbox and ballast stuff, I know when I walk in if I need the bigger kick of the HID. But the quads are just the shit when 1k will do, I use metal binder clips and stick a sheet or two of diffusion across the barn doors, instant softbox - in fact, the barn doors will fold up with diffusion clipped on, talk about fast! it's not a "real" kino and needs 1/4 CTB and 1/8 minus green to hit clean 5200k or so, I just leave that on.

Lately I've been thinking more about popping faces from backgrounds - if there's a window with greenery, say, I'll put more magenta on the key and manually WB - the camera kicks up the green, and since the BG isn't affected by the gelled light, it gets greener and more saturated in the greens. You'll blow the gag if your key hits other visible stuff in the shot, but overall, I've been working on cooling down backgrounds more, since faces are warm-toned - gets more pop, more 3D look, and our brains tend to say "warmer=closer, cooler=distant". If someone is really pale, I might go the opposite, bluer key and the BG gets warm. Sometimes I manually white balance through1/4 or 1/8 CTB (actually I have an old 77mm camera filer that's very mild cooling and use that) which slightly warms the whole scene. Kind of feel like that's me "next step" for some of this stuff.

Whew, hope that helps!

DOH, edit - I have the old OLD Nikkor 80-200 2.8 "push-pull" zoom, which was like a grand when I got it, now you can find a beater for $300 or less. Pardon my french, but fucking MOJO FOR DAYS. Wide-open at 200mm, it's "soft" but in a good way. Eyes are sharp and snappy, focus falloff is just mystical. Tons of perspective compression, amazing live music lens on a tripod. Seriously the shizz with 4K. the push-pull is sucky if you ant a crash zoom, one of these days I'll get a two-ring version.

And by the way - the NX being mirrorless means it takes about any glass ever made if there's an adapter. I still do B&W film and have a working darkroom... 1960's Canon FL lenses in a modern sensor are freaking magic. Maybe not for corporate, but beauty or music videos? Just sort of a Rembrandt vibe. Only two or three of the series got for over $50, too. You could have a set of primes for a few hundred bucks. 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...