Any advice on continuous fluorescents for video?
January 18, 2008 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Could anyone please help a fellow videographer out with advice on fluorescent lighting kits? Lengthy extended question is enclosed.

Hi gang,

I am in the market to finally buy my own lighting kit (or cobble one together) after nearly a decade of being spoiled by working in a big name studio (with big name lighting and toys). I've gone the guerrilla route before using halogen work lights and after months of melting makeshift barn doors, gels and blowing a bazillion fuses, I'm finally ready to pony up some dough for some basic lighting.

I would really like to go the compact fluorescent route as they're cooler and the bulbs are readily available in my area. The question is how do they look with mini-dv or prosumer dv camcorders? I shoot mainly interviews, talking heads, small product/commercial shoots and educational videos for the medical/law enforcement world so a huge rig doesn't fit the bill. We do a lot of chroma key work as well.

I was looking at this set up first (really...the most I have available to spend at the moment)...but then noticed another online auction seller offering smaller lighting packages at even more desirable prices.

Has anyone out there used continuous fluorescent kits for shooting video? How many watts do you need to get a good looking SD image? Are the kits above worth the money? I would love to hear advice and recs from some of you video pros and guerrilla filmmakers out there.

Thanks a million for your advice and your time!
posted by MeetCleaverTheatre to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not a pro by any means, but I shoot a lot of video for corporate use. Almost any recent, decent DV cam has a white balance manual setting. I use Panasonics, and they have quite a bit of adjustment in their manual settings, so things generally look pretty good.
posted by sanka at 7:54 PM on January 18, 2008

check out He's a member here and has multiple articles on just this subject.
posted by gjc at 8:12 PM on January 18, 2008

Best answer: Go to your local Home Depot and buy some scoop lights with clamps. For interviews and such, I reccomend "Soft white" compact flurescent because they make people look good. If you're trying to simulate sunlight for greenscreen try "full spectrum" key lighting, it's a pretty decent . You also might buy some utility stands. You can get a really good lighting with 5 or six 100 watt CFBs, and it's nice and cool, so you can leave them on between takes and you don't melt actors and crew. Diffusion clips right over and it doesn't burn. I used a Lowell kit for a couple years, and now i use practical lighting from the hardware store for 1/8th the cost and much less set up and hassle.

In the last few years the technology has gotten so much better with fluorescents. It used to be you had to buy incredibly expensive professional kits if you wanted fluorescent, but now you can just make up your own kit and it's actually better than a pro kit from 10 years ago. Here's a guy in Las Vegas who started his own business because he realized he could make great lighting kits with hardware store materials. He will sell you a built kit, and provides info about assembling your own kit:

Bonus green screen advice: Forget those old $500 dollar cloth green screens. They take forever because you have to iron the cloth first, and clamp the edges to get the wrinkles out. For $40 bucks you can get a roll of 9x36 foot green paper. You just pin it to the wall and let it roll under your talent. No wrinkles, no hassle, and when your done you just cut the paper off and roll more out.
posted by Blingo at 2:19 AM on January 19, 2008 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the cost effective info Blingo!

I may pick up a couple of stands and umbrellas or soft boxes if I can find them cheaply online, but I will definitely be making a trip to the local hardware store instead of the local lighting shop. :)

posted by MeetCleaverTheatre at 7:52 AM on January 20, 2008

This does depend on how much you want to spend, and how quickly/how much help you have to rig. As a one/two person setup having to move quickly from shoot to shoot, I messed around with a whole array of options, before finding some budget and buying one of these these. I've hardly used anything else since.
posted by unless I'm very much mistaken at 3:39 AM on January 22, 2008

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