Intermediate Video Checkout
Inventory & Check
Each kit’s case is labeled with the number and type of lights it should contain, usually a mix of the following:
- 650 Watt Tungsten Frensel (AKA “tweenie”)
- 1000 Watt Tungsten Fresnel (AKA “1K”, AKA “baby”)
- Check for frayed cords.
- Inspect bulb for blisters or bulges in the glass.
- Check that the lens is clean and free from cracks.
- Inspect plugs for discoloration or warping.
- Plug in and test each light. Wiggle the cord at the switch, lamp housing and plug to find issues.
1 for each light in the kit
A right and left-hand glove would be helpful.
Check the fit of the barn doors. Make sure the hinges are tight.
- Full single (green)
- Full double (red)
Recommended Additional Items
- Assorted gels
- Chimera softbox (650W only)
- Speed ring
- Gel roll(s)
- Half single scrim (green)
- Half double scrim (red)
First, Do No Harm
Safety first. Seriously. A respectful fear of electricity is healthy.
Don’t endanger yourself. Don’t endanger others.
Check the power cords and lights for damage before plugging in.
Use the gloves. It’s okay. You’re Doing Work.
Wear thick rubber sole shoes. They should be your only point of contact with the ground when dealing with the lights.
Spread stand’s legs as wide as possible for maximum stability.
Point the weight load of a light in the same direction as one of the light stand’s legs. This should help keep it from tipping. Sandbag this leg.
Sandbag any stand that’s been set. Lay the sandbag over a leg so that it does not touch the floor. If necessary, hang it by its strap handle to secure it.
Tuck the power cord under a stand leg. This prevents a potential clothesline or tipping situation if the cord is pulled too tight.
Arrange power cords carefully to avoid slack, trip hazards, etc. Use gaffer tape to tape down cords in high traffic areas.
Avoid water. Sounds obvious. It should.
Only use grounded outlets and cords. Never use a “cheater plug” to lift the ground.
Never use a dimmer that is not rated for these high wattage lights. A $7 IKEA dimmer will probably melt into your carpet in a few seconds.
Never touch the bulb with your bare hand, even if it’s not hot. The oils from your skin will cause a point of failure on the bulb’s surface as it heats up, and it will likely explode. If you accidentally touch a bulb with your are hands, wipe it with a rag and small amount of rubbing alcohol. Let it dry thoroughly before using.
Do not let gels touch the front surface of the light — the barn doors are fine.
Do not get the lights too close to flammable or heat-sensitive materials, like a painted wall or curtains.
Shut down and unplug all unnecessary electronic equipment on the location. If computer equipment is needed for the shoot, be sure it’s isolated on its own circuit and/or behind a UPS (uninterruptible power supply).
Have a reasonable understanding of electricity (see below).
If you know next to nothing about electricity, this should at least help you avoid overloading circuits.
- For one of our Arri kits, you should be able to power all of the lights on 2 or 3 residential circuits.
- Plug in a maximum of two (2) 650W lamps or one (1) 1000W lamp into a single residential outlet.
- Consider that outlet maxed out, even if you have other open outlets or a power strip. Don’t plug anything else into it.
- Consider the circuit maxed out also.
Don’t know what outlets are on what circuits?
Run one stinger from the kitchen and one from the bathroom. In most relatively modern homes, many kitchen outlets around the countertops are on their own circuit. The bathroom usually has at least one circuit as well.
Hide the blow dryer(?W) and coffee pot (~900W). Someone will get the bright idea to turn on one of these heavy load appliances during the shoot and trip the circuit.
If a fuse is blown, either turn off or unplug lights before resetting. A sudden surge could overload the lights.
WATTS ÷ VOLTS = AMPS
Lighting for Digital Video and Television, 3rd Ed., p.42–44:
When you plug something into an outlet, the electrical power you use is measured in two different ways: voltage and amperage. Voltage is a measurement most folks are familiar with. Normal household voltage in the United States is 110–120 volts AC.
Amperage is a measure of how much electricity is being consumed. A 100-watt household light bulb and a 1000-watt fresnel will both use 120 volts in the United States. But the first will “pull” less than 1 amp, while the second will “pull” 8.5 amps.
Think of the flow of electricity as if it were the flow of water in a pipe. Voltage might be thought of as the speed that the water is traveling, or its velocity; amperage would be the amount of water that is flowing at that speed. A tiny little garden hose can deliver water at the same physical velocity as a whopping great drainage pipe; but the big drainage pipe can deliver a lot more of the water at the set velocity. This isn’t a perfect simile, but it will do for the moment.
Of course, you probably don’t want to be hauling out a calculator every time you plug in a light. So the easy “quick-n-dirty” approach is to use 100 volts instead of 110, 115, or 120… This isn’t right, but it makes the math easier (just move the decimal point) and ends up on the safe side… This is sometimes known as paper amps and is very useful because of the extra safety margin it provides. It’s always best to err on the conservative side for amperage load, and using “paper amps” automatically does that for you.
Let’s calculate the “paper amps” draw of a 650W tweenie.
WATTS ÷ VOLTS = AMPS
650W ÷ 100V = 6.5 amps
A modern residence will likely have 15-amp service, meaning that’s the maximum load you can put on a single circuit. As long as that 650W is by itself on that circuit, it should be fine. In fact, you could put two (2) 650W lights (for a total of 13 “paper amps”) by themselves on a single 15-amp circuit. Be sure no one plugs anything else into that circuit though.
- The Grip Guide (PixelCorps.tv)
- Use scrims to reduce the amount of light without affecting its quality or color.
- Using a dimmer would affect the lamp’s color.
Hang cord in sash to relieve tension.
Run cables in straight lines
Raise stands from the top knuckle first
When placing a lamp on a stand, tighten the knob “finger tight” rather than “hand tight” to avoid breakage.
- When plugging in a light, check that light is off first.
- 0 = OFF, 1 or I = ON
- Avoid surprises.
- Avoids sparking with an extension cord since both ends are in your hands.
- Don’t move a light if it is still hot.
- Tungsten filaments are most likely to break when they are hot.
- This includes all movement that could jostle the lights:
- Moving the light stands
- Raising/lowering the lights on the stand
- When moving a light across set or “losing it” (getting rid of it entirely), first head wrap its cable (roll the cable and attach it to light via the sash cord).
- When lifting a light & stand
- Hold it close to your body
- Balance the load by holding something in your left and right hands
- Call “striking” before turning a light on or off.
- Call “re-striking” if turning right back on
- Call “re-patching” before turning a light off to adjust or move it, as this communicates your intent to the DOP, who might be taking a light reading.
- Call “going cold” before unplugging.
Let the lights cool before packing them up.
Rule of thumb: If you can touch the canisters with your bare hands, they can get packed in the kit.
- Roll cables using over/under technique
- Good for throwing
- Doesn’t curl
Store the lamps “clean” (no scrims in place).
Chimera Video Pro Bank
AKA “softbox” “softbank” or “baglight”
- Only compatible with the 650W
- Requires a separate Speed Ring
- Speed Ring attaches in place of the barn doors
- Scrims can still be loaded for less total output
- Can be gelled with large gels cut from roll
- Light stand absolutely needs to be sand bagged
- Flood the lamp
- Add the inner baffle for more evenly distributed lighting
- Excellent as a soft key for a MCU/CU or as fill in a FS/WS
More Research Notes
Lighting for Digital Video and Television, 3rd Ed., p.46:
I’m trying to make the point that you must never get overconfident in a building you’re not completely familiar with. You’ll run into amazing surprises, curious fudges, and even illegal workarounds. Don’t ever put full faith in breaker labels. Distribute power needs conservatively. Bear in mind anything else electrical that might come on while you’re shooting: projectors, refrigerators, prototypes of miniature hand-held weather control devices the speaker is demonstrating — hey, you never know! Ask! Ask again! Because (trust me on this one) if you blow a breaker at a critical moment, you will be the one blamed.
It’s a good idea to turn on all your lights early and let them run for a while. That way, if any circuit is overtaxed, the breaker will blow before the actual shoot, and you’ll have a chance to redistribute the load. Bear in mind that the strongest instrument you can typically use in a normal household 15-amp Edison plug in the United States is a 1200-W light — provided there is nothing else plugged into that circuit!
Lighting for Digital Video and Television, 3rd Ed., p.54–55:
Current electrical codes require the use of special circuit breakers for circuits that will be used outdoors or in bathrooms near water. These safety devices, known in the United States as ground fault interrupters (GFI) or ground fault current interrupters (GFCI), will disconnect power if an imbalance is detected in electrical flow on either side of the circuit or if the ground connection is faulty… These are designed to quickly cut power if a leakage occurs on one of the sides of the circuit—say a short to your finger while you are standing on a wet bathroom floor. They work quickly enough to prevent serious damage or death. These devices all have a test button that will allow you to induce an imbalance and test the cutoff mechanism. It’s always a good idea to run a test on one of these circuits before using one for your lighting.