DIY lighting

Professional Kits

Let’s start out with the professional kits. There’s a reason that most people sink a lot of money into their lighting kits – they’re durable and reliable. So let’s talk a little about these two points.

Durability. Most tungsten lights (like Arri, Mole Richardson or DiSisti) are extremely durable. You can probably drop them off the roof of a house and the only thing that will break is the bulb. They’re designed this way – probably because clumsy PAs usually drop them.
Reliability. I know that when I get off of a plane and pick up my Arri kit from baggage claim I can start shooting right away. There’s a lot of research and development dollars spent to make sure that they do so. I like to know that when I’m on a job, my gear will work. There’s nothing worse than unreliable equipment – especially lighting – when the client is paying for your time.

Arri Fresnel – Tungsten Light

Above, I was talking about tungsten lighting but the same thing holds true for LED lighting and Fluorescent lighting. Professional LED and Fluorescent lights have the same reliability and durability but they are much cooler. Put two Litepanels 1x1s in a small room and you won’t have to worry about the talent sweating – I can’t say the same for two fresnel lights.

Litepanels LED Light — Kino Flo Fluorescent Light

If you have a few thousand dollars to drop on a light kit there are plenty of kits out there that will provide years of service to you. I’m guessing that if you’re reading this article – you’re not ready to buy a $2000 light kit. I’m here to say that’s totally fine. There’s really no need, especially if you’re just starting out in this business or if this is a hobby to you. Here are a few things that you can do to get great images without spending tons of money.
DIY lighting

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Remember when I said that lighting is lighting? It’s absolutely true. I have seen plenty of great images captured using the clamp-on work lights from Home Depot, or using tungsten lights that were found around the house. You will have to pay close attention to color temperature though.

Professionals spend a great deal of money on expensive light kits for the consistancy of the light. They know that when they put two of the same instruments together they will have the same color temperature. Homemade kits will probably vary greatly in color temperature – so make sure that you keep this in mind when shooting.

If you’re freelancing for a living, homemade fixtures may not be for you. I mean, do you want to show up to a high-paying gig with a Home Depot work light? Probably not.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t use your homemade stuff – just make sure that you don’t charge a client for a specific light kit and then roll up with a lamp from your house. Some clients don’t have a clue, but others are pretty savvy. However, if you’re putting together a short film with only enough money to feed the crew – you’ll probably want to read

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