Many of you requested information on the go to lighting package that I use. Having a package that can do many types of lighting is the secret. Lights that can multi-task are my recipe for success. You don’t need tons of lights. My gaffer on Need for Speed would beg to differ. He says that I use every light available on our 40 foot truck.
I tell him that is not true. HA HA! Any good lighting package starts with an incredible grip and lighting team, and I have one of the best on Need for Speed. Dan Cornwall, my Gaffer, and his talented Best Boy Dale Fowler rock the lighting side. On the grip side is my Key Grip Alan Rawlins and his Best Boy Riko Schatke. I cannot forget my extraordinary car mount rigging team, which is headed by Kent Baker. This grip team is OFF THE CHAIN. They make it so easy to paint with light. Dan and I have been working together for many years. We started on Drumline. From there it was Into the Blue, Mr. 3000, We Are Marshall and now Need for Speed. He is one of the best gaffers I have ever worked with. He is so organized and he inspires his crew to give their best for him every day. Dan is always calm, cool, collected and he has the eyes of a Director of Photography. So many times, I have walked into locations that he has pre-lit and I say, “OK, we are good to go.” I don’t normally do this. Actually I NEVER do this, but with Dan, it has been an ongoing experience that I am starting to like.
I will break down a few lights at a time, as my whole go to lighting package would take up 47 pages and be cerebral overload. So consider this part one of five.
“Lights That Multitask”
If there was ever a light that can do a hundred different things, it would be a Kino Flo. Kino Flos were created by Frieder Hochheim, an absolute genius and a great friend. We have collaborated on so many things over the years. I love his passion and continued excitement to create lights that rock my lighting world. I don’t care what kind of Kino Flo you have, they can do it all. They can be a key light, a back light, a fill light, a TV gag light. They can be used for out of focus background lights, light bars, and to motivate all different color temps. You name it, they can do it.
My Go To Kino Flos:
6” and 9” Mini Kino Flo- These Mini Flos are awesome and come in a two head kit, with both color temp tubes, 3200 and 5500. They are great for hiding in cars to simulate dashboard light. They are perfect to hide in weird places. On Need for Speed, I had Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots in a hospital scene. He goes down to talk with her at her bedside. I needed to get a light into his baby blue eyes. There was no way to do it without adding a light that went all over the room and this was a night scene. So Dan Cornwall, my gaffer, came in with a 9” Mini Flo and we slid it under the pillow case so that it would diffuse and make it nice and subtle, not overpowering.
2’ and 4’ Kino Flo Single- I use this for eye lights when I am working under fluorescents. In The Ticket, I used a 2’ single to get into our actress’ eyes at the hospital location.
I use this light to put behind bar bottles, under bars, hide in nooks, rig under kitchen cabinets, and in the background of shots for out of focus highlights. All Kinos come with egg crates that help direct the light.
2’ and 4’ Kino Flo Double- This light puts out twice the output of a single. I like using these behind bars to light the bartenders. You can use them as a key light, back light or a fill light.
2’ 4-Bank Kino Flo (The Fat Boy)- I use this light a lot. It is a much bigger source for key lights and fill lights so that it will be softer. It puts out four times the light as a single. It can fit in tight areas when you need that light to come from the side that has little room. They are lightweight so that you can hang them with not much rigging. They are easy to menace arm for that back light.
4’ 4-Bank Kino Flo (The Industry Standard for Excellence)- I have used this light in some way on every movie and commercial I have ever lensed. It is that light that you push up in the false ceiling tiles to create more light when you are shooting an office scene. It is the perfect beauty key light, diffused to perfection. It is the green and blue screen lighter, lightweight to rig, easy to focus and control. Their ballasts have individual control on every tube. This is essential on these types of sources. So many times I find that I want just one or two tubes out of it and having that individual control is paramount.
4’ 4- Bank Tegra Kino Flo (The new version of the 4’ 4-Bank)- This light is everything we have been hoping for with the new digital sensor sensitivity. It is an amazing unit that dims beautifully at the head. You can control the head via DMX cable to a dimmer board. No color shift when dimming. New ball mounting plate that gives you much more pan ability. No need for high output or low output with dimming at the head. Also, no ballast, which is huge. Just rig the light with a stinger. No need for head cable, just another thing that can go bad.
4’ Flathead 80- This is an amazing light to connect to your dimmer board. I use them to light white, green and blue cycloramas. They are soft and spread so beautifully. They put out very little heat. They can be a key light. Easy to hang and have individual control on every tube. Ballast is in the head as well.
Celeb 200 LED Kino Flo- I used this light a ton on The Ticket. It had just come out and it was the best LED light that I have ever used. Perfect color temp without the weird green color that LED tends to give off. You can dial in whatever color you would like, as well as the intensity, on a remote. This was huge for me when I rigged them to simulate moonlight on the Ferris Wheel 58’ above the Pacific. I could not stand up and adjust. Everything had to be in my hand and I dialed it in right to my eye. LED tends to be a very harsh looking light with those light emitting diodes just staring at you. The Celeb is the softest LED source. This technology of using thousands of super small LED’s instead of a few high output ones really makes a difference.
Kino Flo tip: These lights need to warm up. Let them burn for at least ten minutes. They will get brighter as well as change their color temp. You want to base your decision on your camera once they heat up.
“All Different Color Temps”
The amazing thing about these beauties is that you can get all color temps. I have used Cool White and Warm White Flos in every movie I have ever lit. I love the mix of the cool green and the warm green tonality that they deliver. If you look at The Ticket , you will notice that I used a mix of Cool White in the hallways and then Warm Whites in the rooms. The reason for this was that our character, Emma, was in the hallway and she represented DEATH and the rooms of the hospital were where LIFE was still happening. Very subtle, but I think it plays nicely.
If you look back to The Last 3 Minutes, you will see how I used the power of the Kino Flo and different party colors on the poor man’s carousel in the background of the carnival scene where William proposes.
On Deadfall, I used the power of the different colors to deliver a magical night where Olivia Wilde and Charlie Hunnam fall in love at this truck stop bar/motel in the middle of a blizzard. The choice to go super saturated was Stefan Ruzowitsky’s idea. He wanted all the cold cyan tones of the blizzard to be offset with them walking into this warm, saturated world to escape the storm.
“Using Theatrical Lights”
For my whole career, I have tried not to use movie lights. I always try to use lights that were not necessarily made for what I ask them to do. I think forcing a light to do something that it is not necessarily made to do creates magic.
750 or 575 Watt Source 4 ETC Leko- These theatrical lights are used to focus in on a specific area. They are an ellipsoidal light. They use blades and an iris to shape the area that it hits. These lights are huge in theater, but not always used when you are making movies. Obviously, if you are doing a scene that has your characters on stage, then using those lights will help create the realism.
“Controlling the Spill”
But what about off the stage, on your set? I use these lights to bounce because I do not need a hundred flags to control the light. Starting my career as a Key Grip showed me the power of shaping and controlling light and how much time it takes to do it. When you use theatrical lights, they already have the shaping built into the source itself. You use the power of the theater to shape your light. Use the blades to cut the light to just the bounce card itself. Imagine you need a bounce light to key light your scene. But you are in a very tight space and you do not have room to set an open face or fresnel light and then control it with flags. I am talking about just handling the spill that comes out of most open face lights like a Lanairo Red Head or a Blonde, as well as a 1k Mole Baby Baby.
These lights have barn doors, but they do little to control the spill, especially if you are in tight quarters. The Source 4 Leko has multiple lens barrels that fit into its head. The Source 4 Leko with its built in blades will shape the light perfectly to whatever size your bounce happens to be, and it has a ton of punch. You can use a 56 degree, which is a very wide spread or a 19 degree, which is a more narrow spread. They go all the way down to a 5 degree barrel, which is what I used on The Rat Pack for some scenes where I needed a spotlight but did not want to pay for one.
The Source 4 Leko different barrels:
50 Degree Barrel
36 Degree Barrel
26 Degree Barrel
19 Degree Barrel
10 Degree Barrel
5 Degree Barrel
I lit Marilyn with a table lamp, along with a Source 4 with a 36 degree barrel into a bead board bounce card. I was also using the 5 Degree barrel on a Source 4, which turned it into a huge spotlight to illuminate JFK on stage.
I have used the Source 4 Leko lights for beauty lighting. Positioned high above camera and through a Rosco Half Soft Frost 4 x 4 diffusion frame, it instantly creates a light that falls off quickly with a nice drop shadow under the model’s chin.
I also like to use these lights for hot overexposed down lights in clubs, bars and large events. They create a perfect circle of light on the floor that you can use as a design element in your lighting plan. The other thing about these lights is that you can focus them to be sharp patterns or de-focus them.
See, I cannot give you just my gear list without telling you the reason for each choice. Please remember this while you surf other sites that just talk about gear. It is important to understand the thought process because that is where real learning occurs.
What’s in your package?