Hi, I'm in the process of setting up a semi-professional workspace for animating, in the spare room of a rental apartment. Hoping for advice about lighting options and blocking out windows and stuff? My previous experience at Uni was with professional film equipment, way out of my price range, so I'm hoping you guys know of some ways to get decent results without the multi-thousand dollar price tag. I'm in Australia, if that makes any difference to your suggestions. Thanks in advance for any help, this is something I've been wanting to do for a long time.

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The 3 watt LED pinspot I ordered has arrived.  Like most LEDs it is quite a cold bluish white light, and not as bright as my 6 volt, 30 watt halogen pinspots like the one I showed a pic of earlier.  But if I want a blueish light and use a full CTB (colour Temperature Blue) gel on the halogen, the difference is not as great.  At the moment I am using 2 halogens with blue gel and diffuser to backlight a puppet, so I might be able to put this new LED thing in as well to cover a wider area as the puppet runs into the set.

It has a lens on the front, which makes it project a very sharp edged, well defined circle.  There is no focussing adjustment.   It is not as tight a beam as the halogen pinspot,  but it does work for the purpose of backlighting puppets without throwing a lot of light onto the set.

This is what I mostly use the pinspots for:

If you put a full CTO (colour temperature orange) gel on it, it is still a bit bluer than the halogen, but dimmer by one stop, and if you put diffuser on it as well to soften the edges it is two stops dimmer, so I suspect I will only use it when I want a blueish light, like a bit of moonlight pinging up the edges of the character in a night scene.  

I think if all your lighting was LEDs and equally blueish, you would just set your white balance to suit.  So it does offer a sort-of replacement for the halogen pinspots which don't seen to be sold at disco lighting places any more.  It seems to be the case with most LEDs that they are less bright than the old halogens they supposedly replace, the ceiling downlights are the same.

Nick, thank you for posting all this information. I'm navigating the minefield that is lighting for the first time, and you posting your results, as well as discussing what you are looking for, is absolute gold dust. Thank you.

I'm not an expert, but for what it's worth I've heard anecdotally that Philips HUE bulbs contain their own power regulation, and therefore don't have flicker problems:

https://www.reddit.com/r/stop_motion/wiki/flicker

I've used them and never had any issues. There's the added bonus that you can easily change the color and brightness. 

Monica Broadley said:

Thanks for the black sheeting tip, I have the nightmare of blocking out a full bay window and this will make it much easier! I aiming for the sub $1000 for lights, I know if I want a semi-decent set-up I'll need to fork out a bit. I think I might have missed the boat on picking up older stage lights, as none of the companies I've looked at seem to have them anymore, even in their ex-rental clearance sections. Do you have any other suggestions for lights? Do the new LED ones work, or does the multi-LED thing cause weird lighting effects? Also, do they cause flicker?

Sean O'Hara said:

I fully understand trying to avoid the multi-thousand dollar price tag, but where is your new goal? Under one thousand, under one hundred, etc?

The cheapest way I've found to black out windows is via black plastic sheeting found at any hardware store. For under $10, you should be able to find (at least) 3.5mil 10x25ft (3x7.62m) black sheeting.

For lights, I contacted a few local professional lighting rental shops. With the advent and changeover to LEDs, I was able to purchase plenty of their older fixtures for far lower than cost. That said, a basic light set-up shouldn't cost too much.

C-Stands and various other equipment... it's back to the hardware store, this time int he either the plumbing or electrical departments (depending on weight requirements). I've found that EMT Conduit is extremely inexpensive, easy to work with, has plenty of fittings, and can support a good deal. If something significantly stronger is needed, 1/2" steel pipe and plumbing fixtures.

There are plenty of pages and YouTube channels devoted to DIY stage equipment. Depending on your needs, I'd recommend searching and watching a few different tutorials and going from there.

For me, I've found that it's an open mind and always being on the lookout for how something could be used as something else... but that seems to describe most of my experience in stop motion.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to reading any other ideas or cheats people could recommend.

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