Hey everyone, I'm looking for some lights I can use for stop motion..Any ideas of what would work good? I'm hoping to get some lights that are cold and don't heat up really hot. Also all I would need is 2 or maybe 3.

Even 1 would do for now, using a reflector I could reflect it and make like 2 lights.

Thanks all,

~StampMotionStudio

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I'm curious why you would want cold lights. Compact fluorescent bulbs would do it, though. In an aluminum artist's light (clamp style).

Because hot lights can melt/soften clay and other materials, and can be a fire risk.

While, you don't want to put the lights right next to a paper building, or a puppet, please do not dismiss warm lighting completely out of hand! Some projects depend on it. Tungsten Halogen lightning, as in Fresnels, can not easily be duplicated with colder lighting. That might be on its way, but not any time soon. The most popular lights used in professional stop motion to make the films you love were very hot to the touch. Films like Nightmare Before Christmas utilized many of these lights that are commonly used on film sets:

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Movie_Making_Manual/Lighting

You can use these as well, you just have to have the lights several feet from your set.

In animation class at NW Film Center, we were encouraged to use Tungsten Halogens in clamp lights.This advice came from the pioneers of clay animation, who used these and hotter lights with thermoplastic modeling clay throughout the 70's and 80's.   While those get pretty warm, they are not nearly the temperature on the bulb's surface as some Hollywood lighting. But all types of lights can have distinct advantages over others for some purposes.

If your clay is sensitive to heat, you might not even be able to animate it without warm lights. One version of the clay I make is like that.  A cold room would cause it to be too hard and brittle. Some clays, like Chavant are even designed to only get soft under warm lights and don't work at all without heat.

Use whatever lights give you the best result, but to only go with cold lighting, you are going to limit yourself  severely to what those lights can do and the kind of clay you can use.  You may not be able to focus them, as in a spotlight. They might only give diffuse, even light, making high contrast lighting impossible. The best results I've ever had were with several energy-saving 50 watt Tungsten Halogen flood and spotlights. For background lighting, you might even want a big 2K work light, which would burn you if you touched it- but even with heat-proof diffusion, such as baking paper or shining it on bounce card, it would be bright enough to shed all the light you needed on your set background that your cold, dim lights couldn't even begin to illuminate. That is, unless you used a long exposure on the camera (there are exceptions to every rule).

The risk of fire posed by a light is more often going to be caused by bad judgement on the part of the person using it than the light itself. As long as you use common sense, you can enjoy the benefits of many different types of lighting, from hot to cold. Typically the hotter the light, the farther away it must be placed from the set.




Buckner said:

Because hot lights can melt/soften clay and other materials, and can be a fire risk.
I use mostly halogen lights, which do get hot, but they don't make the set and puppets warm from 1 to 3 metres away. Especially as most are only 50 watts. But the cooler lights are also the ones that use less power (a lot of energy is wasted generating all that heat) so there are a couple of energy saving options around now which are beginning to drop in price.
Compact fluoros will do well for a slightly soft light, and are available in cool and warm colour temperatures. That is nothing to do with the heat they put out, just whether they are blueish (cool) or yellowish (warm) like the old incandescent light bulbs we used to have. I go for the "warm white" for lighting an interior scene. I have a cool white one that is good for lighting my backdrop painting of a night sky. Theynare made to replace the older incandesent bulbs so they go into normal fittings like the bayonet fitting we mostly use hear, or the Edison Screw fitting used in the US.
The other type is LED lights. There are some made to replace the halogens in my disco/stage lighting fixtures, which are 240v AC here, or 120v AC in the US. (I think the globes are called G10s, they have 2 pins on the back.) I'm not sure about the home-made ones I made from the halogen ceiling downlight kits, they have a transformer and the halogen globe actually runs on 12v DC.
The LEDs still tend to cost more than the halogen equivalent halogens, but the cost is coming down as more people go for energy saving lighting.

There are probably more ordinary household lights like desk lamps that will take the compact fluoros.

Both types have a softer light than the halogens. Halogens have a small bright point of light which means they cast shadows with a sharper edge. The coiled fluoro tube in the compact fluoro is bigger, and the LEDs need an array of many small LEDs to produce a bright enough light, so it is spread over a wider area. The sun on a clear day casts hard shadows, and it is far bigger, but it is very far away, so that is a way way to get harder shadows when you need them , move the light further away. A lot of the time I put diffuser on my halogens to soften them, so mostly the fluoros or LEDs will be fine to use.
Most compact fluoros and LEDs don't work with a dimmer, so you have to either move the light further away, or use a neutral density filter (or a piece of fly screen) over it if you need to dim down one particular light. (If tou want to dim them all, just change the aperture or exposure time on the camera, too easy!)
Thank you for elaborating, Don and Nick! I have a lot to learn.

You actually  have a distinct advantage there, Buckner! You're coming up at a time when there are more options in lighting than there were a few years ago.

thanks for the replies, guys. :)

This thread inspired me to tweak my clay formula to work well with CFL and LED lights. :) It will soon be available in the store. Thanks Stamp, for making me work harder to keep up with the changing needs of animators.  :)


lol sure thing, Don! btw, I want to buy some of your clay sometime soon.
Don Carlson said:

This thread inspired me to tweak my clay formula to work well with CFL and LED lights. :) It will soon be available in the store. Thanks Stamp, for making me work harder to keep up with the changing needs of animators.  :)

The problem with cool lights is often the lack of gamma curve coverage, particularly in the reds. For the best results with non-halogen or HMI lighting, you need to be looking at the CRI ratings of the bulbs (although a lot of companies have pretty dubious ratings on their bulbs, so buyer beware). I personally wouldn't use anything less than 95% CRI.

This immediately puts you in a different world price wise though, and high CRI Led fresnels still get hot and need heatsinks. They do use a lot less power though.

You can get high CRI Led softbanks for a reasonable price though. Few hundred bucks for a small one. Have a look on BHphotovideo. 

And then there are those of us who went way overboard when buying lights and are now "dummying down" to the tin bowl clamp lights......

Powerful heads, wimpy tripods

I'll keep these around for when the garage is finally converted into a 25X25 trapdoor laden set ; )

Thanks for the post - I needed the reminder.


The tin bowl clamp lights are kind of all we used at NW Film Center...You can do way more with them than it first appears! If, for example, you screwed in a Halogen flood bulb, it gives you an intense spot in the middle. That is great for key and kicker lighting. In fact, I've gotten more out of it than the PAR 30 disco pinspots I bought for that purpose. The bowls are lighter weight, too. I use microphone stands to hang them in front of sets or extend the arm to make an overhead.

Animatters said:

And then there are those of us who went way overboard when buying lights and are now "dummying down" to the tin bowl clamp lights......

Powerful heads, wimpy tripods

I'll keep these around for when the garage is finally converted into a 25X25 trapdoor laden set ; )

Thanks for the post - I needed the reminder.

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