results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

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results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby Wouter » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:15 pm

Hello,

thought I'd share some results of this experiment. (these are just LOW RES screen shots; the actual footage is even more amazing, thanks to the wonders of the small GH2 dslr)

First of all a big thank you to you, Roger. A hexagonal light rig made of house hold bulbs is just amazing... I don't know how you got the idea but I'm glad you did! It looks so soft and yet punchy and very realistic... No troubles hiding the lamps AT ALL. You get total freedom in terms of composition. Virtually no strange multiple shadows against walls or whatever...

I'll post some pictures of the rig itself asap. Need to contact the set photographer.

In short: I made two rigs consisting of 36 bulbs each. Outer ring was 24 bulbs, inner ring was 12 bulbs. Bulbs were spaced 50cm (which is quite a lot; it does give multiple shadows but they are barely noticeable.
The whole thing measured 4-5 meter in diameter and was made out of common PVC pipes.. I had some difficulty rigging it because the PVC pipes started to bend from the moment I started pulling them to the ceiling. Fortunately the venue was equipped with a lot of pipes, hooks and TL fixtures to attach ropes to so the whole thing was kept straight while hanging on the ceiling.


These shots are ungraded. Only added just a little bit more contrast in VLC player to make it a little bit more punchy.

Image

Image

Image

I would have bounce a bit more light in the actor's eyes in the last shot but I felt it wasn't right for the story because in the scene the actor just got to hear he lost a game.
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby Roger » Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:47 pm

That's interesting. The times I used that trick were larger space such as the ballroom in 'The Assassination of Jesse Jame...' and in the Synagogue in 'A Serious Man'. In such larger spaces the light will fall of before it reaches the walls and you get the feeling of soft 'pools' of light. You seem to have been able to control it quite successfully in quite a small space. I hope not everyone will be doing it now!
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby Wouter » Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:22 am

To be honest I didn't control it at all. Constructing the thing and getting in up in the air was already too big of a challenge (about 10 bulbs didn't survive it until the ceiling). I did think about the skirt but I didn't have the money nor a safe way to attach it to the rig so I took the risk.

Fortunately I turned out well enough for what the story needed.

Also it wasn't really a small space. The previous shots don't give a good sense of the space. Also the sensor is half the size of the 35mm format and those previous shots were done with a 50mm.

This one is done with a 28mm and still I had to place the camera very far away to get enough of the hall in the frame to make the venue look like its real size.

Image

the reason why the back wall looks that bright is because this venue consisted of 2 large square halls which were connected with some kind of fake wall to either close the 2 halls off from each other and create 2 separate rooms or to open it and create one large hall.
I hung a rig of 36 bulbs in the 2 rooms (one above the stage and one in second room; but after testing I realized the rig in the second room (the one that wasn't above the stage) wasn't needed. It was nicer to have the backs of the people in the crowd a lot darker to make the light appear to come more from above the stage.
In the second shot I posted in my first post the wall behind the actor is a lot darker because that was one of the walls of the room where the rig was turned off.
As you can see in these wider shots the walls are a lot brighter... but since the stage was practically against the wall, even a skirt wouldn't have helped to block some of the light falling on the wall without risking the people on the stage losing too much exposure.

This one is on a 50mm, a little bit closer from the side:

Image



Also: that night when people asked me where I got the crazy idea from to hang odd light bulbs on the ceiling I always credited you. Perhaps this trick should be named after you :)
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby koltron » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:18 am

looks very good Wouter, well done!

-Colemar
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby Wouter » Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:38 pm

Thank you! :)
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby EddieThomas » Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:13 am

Any danger of seeing some pictures of the rig, Wouter? :D The frames you have posted look great!

Eddie
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby Wouter » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:01 am

gotta ask the set photographer. Thanks for the complement :)


EDIT:

Image

Yes it looks crappy as hell but it did work! :p as you can see a lot of bulbs didn't make it to the ceiling


And this is the camera we used:

Image
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby koltron » Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:00 am

the results look great, the rig looks dangerous as hell..

love that Canon FD glass on the GH2!
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby Wouter » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:24 am

yeah a lot of people were very suspicious but we made sure everything was locked safely. The bulbs were soldered to the wire which was a pain in the ass but saved me a lot of $$. Especially that was dangerous. But we only fired up the rig when it was up in the air when no one could touch it so it was good.

Yeah those old canon lenses are amazing. I payed just 25€ for the 50mm and I'm blown away by its sharpness @ f2.0. I also used a 28mm f2.0 which was much more expensive and yet a lot less sharp @ f2.0
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby Heks » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:39 am

Wow thats cool! Apart from the fact it is completely hidden by being rigged to the ceiling, do you feel this has an advantage over just shooting a few lamps with controlled beams (like source 4s or snooted fres) into points around the ceiling?
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby koltron » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:30 am

this method of lighting will produce a much stronger toplight with a more controlled and flattering fall-off. similar to bouncing pars or fesnels off the ceiling, you will get more fill in the eye sockets and underneath the cheeckbones and nose. Also, a rigid handheld version of this rig is very useful as a soft key or backlight or ringlight, although depending on how the globes are spaced, the effect in the eyes if shot straight on can be offputting.
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby Wouter » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:38 am

@Heks:
As Koltron said: it gives a soft yet punchy toplight which is more flattering than direct toplight. The main advantage of this technique is that you actually light the entire room without having to place lamps all over the place, trying to hide them. It makes finding the right camera angles for composition a lot easier/faster since you don't have to worry about lamps/flags/stands all over the place. Once the rig is up in the air (which takes about 10 minutes; if the rig itself is built well) you have total freedom.
One thing with this technique: make sure you measure, measure and measure some more! You have to know how bright the background walls are going to be, you have to know how bright you want the people in the room to be, on the various places they are going to be! I didn't give this thought but in the end it turned out okay (lucky for me!!)
The reason why I liked this over bouncing fresnels from the ceiling is that you can have a much larger area of illumination without it becoming too soft. If you would bounce a couple fresnels to the ceiling you would have an entire, big circle. In this case you have a lot of very small 'circles' spread over a large area. It does give a slightly sharper look on the skin than a normal bounce from the ceiling I think because there's direct light hitting the face from all over the place without causing too much multiple shadow effects.
Another advantage is the energy efficiency (direct light vs. bounced light). In this case I didn't have a lot of power because the building was very old and had old school wiring in the building. Couldn't afford a fuse blowing on me while shooting. I think the director might have killed me on the spot :p

Although it gives a flattering/natural top light look, the actors' eyes don't usually pick up a good amount of light (I didn't realize this on set). So it might be useful to add an additional reflector to solve that little problem.
Also: make sure the rig is far away from the walls especially if they are white; otherwise you might have to use a skirt. Usually one thing to mess up the mood of a room is having too much light: as you can see in these ultra wide shots. The wall behind the band turned out too be a bit too bright; could have been a stop or 2 less.. ah well, better next time :)

here's some comparison:

2x 1K PAR bounced off ceiling @ f 2.0 / 800iso (to light one small classroom)
Image

hex rig about 1.5K @ f 4 (or thereabouts) / 800iso (to light a big room)
Image
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby ropbo » Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:13 pm

Hi Wouter, thanks for sharing this with us. What's the wattage of these bulbs?
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby Wouter » Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:18 am

60 watt, but in the EU it can be a pain to get a hold of these bulbs because of the ban.

It is harder to find them but not impossible. They cost a little bit more than they used to 3-5 year ago but they're still very cheap. Amazon has bulbs that run up to 40 watt I believe but if you can find a local distributor in your country they probably have them in 60 watt versions as well if you really need them.
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Re: results diy hexagonal rig - house hold bulbs

Postby sk85 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:58 pm

What is a skirt?
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