Notes for creating cheap video light kit. Below are notes and quotes from the excellent articles by Director of Photography Scott Spears

A cheap 500 watt tungsten work light makes a good key light. Can be found at hardware and car parts stores. It comes with its own stand; however the stand is usually short. Setup gives a lot of power, but it's hard to control, so don’t aim them directly at your actors--bounce them off a wall or ceiling to create a nice soft light.

Place the shower curtain in front of one of cheap work lights to create a wall of soft light. Again, don’t get too close, otherwise your melt a hole in shower curtain.

China Lanterns with a regular 200 watt bulb inside and they make a nice softlight for close-ups. Since they’re made of paper, be very careful--they can burst into flames.

Small sealed beam halogen lamps make great kicker/backlight and for lighting items in the background. They come in different beam patterns, from narrow to wide. Use medium and narrow beam lamps. The wide beam lamp is too wide.

The old reliable aluminum "scoop" light which comes with a handy clamp is a great option. Pop in a 200 watt bulb or a photo flood to light your set. According to legend, Robert Rodriguez used this setup to light El Mariachi.

Sources for used stuff are: Local camera stores. Goodwill & Salvation Army – it’s rare, but sometimes deals can be found. Ebay – get on-line and start searching under movie and video equipment. Local production companies – sometimes they clear out older gear. Local Rental Houses - occasionally they sell off older gear. – they sell used camera gear, but have lights. – Hollywood rental house that sells used gear.

Tyvek household insulating foam board, but the cool thing is it’s coated with a shiny foil outside which can reflect a ton of light. If you need to fill in some actor or pound some light through window onto your set, Tyvek or some other insulation will do the trick.

fold up windshield covers works well as portable reflector. Look for one coated with silver material on one side.

In a pinch, just coat a hunk of foam core with aluminum foil; remember to crinkle the foil up some so the reflected light is not too sharp. Makes a great fill light.

Get at least one decent light stand. You can clamp things to them. Get yourself a C-stand, a collapsible, three legged stand which comes with a attachable arm that can be used for an infinite number of tasks, like light stand and holding up any number of items.

Get yourself a $20 to $40 mafer clamp. It’s a device which clamps to about anything and has a spud for lights.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 9:03:54 PM
Assemble a Low-Budget Light Kit, Pt. 1 by Scott Spears

Assemble a Low-Budget Light Kit, Pt. 2 by Scott Spears

Gels and Diffusion - First, how do you attach these gels to your lights? Wooden clothes pins. And remember that daylight is blue and tungsten light is orange (generally) If you have a small window, you may place an orange gel on the window to get daylight to match your movie lights.

Odds and Ends -

Extension cords, or as they’re called in Hollywood, stingers, are a must have item. Get lots of them. At least one 50 foot and a couple 25 foot stingers handy. I like the ones with multi-plugs on the end. Some come with a LED in the end so you know it’s plugged in. Get black cords if possible because you can hide them easier in shots than the bright orange ones which seem to overrun hardware stores.

Power strip - Make sure they can handle 15 or more amps;

Cube taps are handy little boxes you plug into an outlet which triples the amount of plugs

Screw in socket to plug adapter - Screw it into a light socket and turn it into a 2 prong outlet.

Spring clamps

Gaffer tape. Get some 2 inch black. Duct tape is cheap, but leaves residue everywhere you stick and can pull paint off the walls. Gaf tape leave very little residue.

Cheapie circuit tester to test if plugs you thing you want to use are working or not. Nothing is more a pain in the butt than setting up all your lights and finding out that the outlets you’re using are non-functioning.

Hand dimmer - they will handle around 300 watts.

Gloves - leather gloves because these lights get very friggin’ hot

Black Wrap/Cine Foil/just plain old aluminum foil. Black wrap is heavy duty foil painted black and is great to attach to scoop lights and the 500 watt work lights which will allow to shape the light coming out. You can use regular aluminum foil, but the reflections off it can cause problems and it’s not as durable as black wrap.

Plastic tub for all these goodies

Price Breakdown
500 watt work light $20
China Lantern(complete w/cord) $22
Halogen light (complete w/cord) $20
One light stand (used) $40
Gels (packet if no freebies) $20
Diffusion (packet if no freebies) $20
Stingers $40
Cube tap $4
Power strip $5
Gloves $6
Gaf tape $15
C-47 (bag) $6
Spring clamps (2) $12
Tota Clamp $12
Circuit tester $2
3 Prong adaptor (2) $2
Screw in plug adapter $3
Hand dimmer $10
Plastic storage tub $6
Total: $265

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 9:39:03 PM
Assemble a Low-Budget Light Kit, Pt. 2 by Scott Spears

Assemble a Low-Budget Light Kit, Pt. 2 by Scott Spears
Basic Studio Lighting: The Photographer's Complete Guide to Professional Techniques
Smith-Victor KT750U 3-Light 750-Watt Thrifty Photoflood Kit with Umbrellas

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Tom Follosby15 May 2007, 20:54

Very cool. I also found this page for Low Budget Lighting as well.