I'm looking to build a light kit for my home studio and I have done quite a bit of research but now I am to the point where I want to buy something by the end of the week.
What are some of the lighting setups that others are using for their work? I've been thinking about grabbing a few Red Head Tungstens from Came Tv. I can pick up 3 for around $300 and I know Aardman uses a few of them around their sets.
I am unsure of what I should buy that will light my set from above? Maybe a large softbox from Westcott?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Don't buy tungsten redheads! They are 800W and run very hot, likely way too bright for any stopmo stuff except lighting huge sets.
LED panels seem to be the way to go for general lighting, and there are quite a few on offer. I have a 300 LED Yongnuo panel with barn doors and dimmer. Although it is a battery light, I have bought a mains power converter and adapted a battery case so it can be mains powered.
My best lights are a set of Dedolights. These are tungsten, so very warm white, and are 100W operating off a 12V ballast. A secondhand kit can be around £1000, so it is not cheap, but these are excellent, robust and a perfect size for stopmo. Try eBay for them. Dedo now make LED version, but they are incredibly pricey. One day!
I also have some compact fluorescents (CFLs) as floodlights. Not so useful, but they don't get particularly hot. And I still use my cheap 500W builder's halogen work lights as floods for e.g. green screens. Against a blue screen these over expose it enough to give a nice pale blue sky effect. But they are hot and not easy to adjust. There are now some LED work lights available at incredibly low prices - £10 or so each - and I shall be changing over to them soon.
I also have some little PAR 16s, with halogen bulbs, not great, but you can get barn doors for them. My LED version (about £35) puts out a reasonable small spot, but needs some orange filter to adjust the blueish light.
You also need some blackwrap, to screen off unwanted light from straying across the set.
If you use long exposures, your problem is likely to be too much rather than too little light, especially if you want to control depth of field. So some ND filters, either on the lights or possibly on the lens, would help here. Another reason not to go for redheads!
Hope this helps. Sorry, prices are for the UK.
I agree, don't use the redheads. They use too much power, get hot, and are much brighter than we need these days. Also the globes are unpredictable, they can blow after an hour, a week, or a month or two. I used a set of redheads loaned to me by the ABC lighting dept for a while, went through lots of globes.
I'm not finding the little halogen PAR lights I use at disco lighting places any more, at least not around here. They seem to have gone over to LEDs. And not event LED replacement globes that can fit in the same light housings, but things with a big array of LEDS in red, blue, and green, that can produce white light if all are on at once, or different colours.
Dede lights are excellent, if you have the money to spend.
I also used to use the 500 watt halogen builder's flood lights for lighting my backdrop, but switched to smaller 150 watt halogen floods, also from the hardware store. Sometimes I just need a couple of compact fluoro lights for the backdrop instead. I have used long 4 ft fluoro tube lights just under the back the set to lighten up the horizon on the backdrop at times.
I'm normally taking 1 sec exposures, so the rapid flicker in flours is not a problem, it averages out during each exposure.
If you have a very large studio, then the big lights you mention might just be needed. Otherwise even the 650 is too much. Lights don't really need to be much above 150W equivalent. Bear in mind that dimming can present its own problems with flicker, so you mostly want to run them at full power. For overhead general lighting, use a reflector board.
My best suggestion is to buy a couple of lights, do some tests and build up gradually. I am wary of the RGB LED lights, as they might not stay steady - they are disco lights after all, but if someone has a good experience of them, it would be interesting to know.
And although the Dedos are expensive, you might be able to pick up an old set at a good price. I got my 4th light for £25 as it was not working. Took about half an hour to sort it out!
If you have outdoor scenes that cover a large area (like maybe 3 or 4 metres wide) then you may want one big bright light to act as the sun. I used to shoot on film, and used a 2000 watt Blondie for that. But now I find a PAR 56 300 watt does the job well enough. It looks like this, only black: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/4x-American-Polish-PAR56-Light-Silver-Ca...
I have my camera set to 100 or 200 ISO, and with long exposures I don't need the really bright lights. Most of those TV/Film lights are made with live action in mind, where you have to light a bigger area, and you can't take a long exposure because you are shooting at 24, 25, or 30 frames a second - the actual exposure time is about half of the time so about a 50th of a second is all the exposure time there is. A 1/2 second exposure is 25 times longer than that, to let the sensor react to the light. I can even stop down to f-11 or f-16 to get greater depth of field (so it looks more like a full scale set) and have plenty of light with 2 or 3 50 watt halogens. The only difficulty is with the live view in Dragonframe, which has to be boosted to plus 4 to look bright enough to see what I am doing, since the live video doesn't get the benefit of the long exposure that the still image does.
Most of my other lights are 50 watt halogens. Some were made from 12 v downlights with a transformer, some were bought as 240v Par 16 lights at a disco lighting place, before they switched over to the 3-colour LEDs. (The Par 16s look like this: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/5-x-PAR-16-Pulse-Black-Birdie-240V-Spot-... - these are 240v lights to suit the mains power in Australia/UK, in the US they would come as 120v.)
I also use a couple of 6 volt, 30 watt halogen Pinspots that throw a bright, but very tight and narrow beam, which are good for backlighting a puppet without spreading a lot of light around the set. (Used in discos to hit the mirror ball so it reflects spots of light around the room.)
The PAR 36 pinspot globe looks like this: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Sylvania-Par36-Lamp-Bulb-for-Pinspot-Lig... and here's the light fitting it got into: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/American-DJ-PL-1000-Par-36-Pinspot-/3119...
I have found an LED with a similar tight beam, but it is a very blueish light so I'm not happy with it yet. Great if I want moonlight pinging up the edges of the character, but too blue for anything else. It's only about 3 watts, but equivalent to maybe 20 watts? Similar to this one: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/3W-Mini-LED-White-Stage-Lighting-Beam-Pi...
All the ceiling downlights with the 50 watt halogen globes I use are gone from the lighting stores now, with LED GU10 globes taking their place. I fitted one to one of my PAR lights, and it was a little dimmer than the halogen, more like being equivalent to a 35 watt halogen, and you can get them in warm white as well as cool white now. We just bought some LED GU10s for installing in an extension to our house that is being built, from a regular domestic lighting store. You could actually use the little spotlights they sell there, though they won't have barn doors to cut off the stray light, or clip lighting gels onto.
The Arri lights sound good, especially the smaller ones, and if you can get them at a good price. I understand the Chinese knock-offs are pretty variable in quality. Things like barn doors are really important.
I also have some little wire mesh half-screens that are handy. These fit in front of the light and block out some light from one part of where it is thrown. This enables me to make the point of interest slightly brighter than the rest of the set. Very useful, could easily be made from some scrap mesh.
I still think your best bet for diffuse lighting would be an LED panel, or perhaps a fluorescent one. Yes, not cheap, but they last. It all depends what you want to be doing in the end.