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Tutorial: Using CFL’s to Keep Cool on your Video Set

No matter what you’re filming, you always need to light your set for your video production. Regardless if it’s outdoors in the sun, or indoors in a dark small space…you’re going to need some light to fill in your subject matter somehow. One way to do this without overheating your talent or subject matter, is by using a CFL or Continuous Fluorescent Light!

Traditionally and historically, we’ve used Tungsten based Hot lights for production work, but as you might have guessed from their name, they do give off a lot of heat, causing some uncomfortable times on set as well as a nightmare for the hair/make up people if your actors are sweating from aforementioned heat, or your audio becomes a mess because you’ve got to run fans and air conditioning to keep things cooled down. Not to mention the power bill savings due to the CFL lights using 1/5th (on average) of the power compared to their Hot Light cousins.

I’ve recently been testing out the Impact Compact Fluorescent Kit 2 to do some video projects in Las Vegas, and one thing is for sure, you don’t need anything to make the room hotter when working in the Las Vegas Summer! Thankfully, with these lights we’ve been able to shoot for extender periods of time and haven’t had any issues with overheating as compared to my various hot-lights (Arri 150-350’s and Angler Green Screen 2-Light Kit). Even the tear-down after using this light kit was instant! (meaning we didn’t have to wait for 10-20 minutes for the lights to cool down to an acceptable level to touch and move like the hot-light counterparts).

Now i’ve been testing this kit using the included umbrella, which is fine, but would be MUCH better and provide a higher light quality for your production if you were to use a properly designed soft-box, (such as the Angler Silverbox Quartz Softbox). Why is this?  Well, CFL Bulbs emit light in a “figure 8” pattern going sideways from the socket, and as such, very little light is sent directly in front (or at the ends of the bulbs). Therefore, a soft-box with reflectors designed to collect the light and bounce it outwards is the ideal setup giving you farm more control, and power with your light source.

An alternative option is to aim the bulbs sideways to your subject and place a reflector behind the lights to catch and bounce the light forwards. (think about how effective Kino flow lights are….this is a perfect example)

Regardless, for the price point that this kit ships at, for the starting cinematographer (and even photographer), it’s more than worth it to get started on your storytelling journey. Keep in mind also, this kit ships with the following;

  • Porcelain Socket with Umbrella Mount
  • 43″ Beaded-Silver Umbrella
  • 9.5′ Light Stand
  • Four-Lamp Adapter for Porcelain Socket
  • 4x 42W Daylight Compact Fluorescent Lamp

So, adding a soft-box to this for added control won’t break the bank at all! (I’ve ordered one since writing this post and will update accordingly with some examples of umbrella vs soft-box once i have both to show)

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Here’s an example of a really quick”Model Hacks” video we put together with Olivia Gray using the Impact Compact Fluorescent Kit 2;

 

And another Jingle we did for the World Series of Poker using the lights for the indoor scenes.

 

As you can see, the Impact Compact Fluorescent Kit 2 has a variety of different setups to control the light and is very cost effective for the beginning visual artist needing something to start with and learn, or the seasoned pro needing something to add a little extra fill for their existing lighting system on set. The best part of it though, is it gives off next to no heat making your summer, (or enclosed set), productions so much more enjoyable for everyone involved!

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