July, 2007

Build Your Own Metal Halide (Low Cost HMI) Fresnel – Part IV

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

I posted the last and final part of the Metal Halide Fresnel series in the Articles section of the blog.  In Part IV, I discuss the Cool Lights Bulb choices for our coming Hardlight series.

Build Your Own Metal Halide (Low Cost “HMI”) Fresnel – Part IV

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

I got into this “Cool Lights” business of mine because I thought prices were outrageous on pro level fluorescent fixtures. You can see all over this site the manifestation of what I decided to do about it; starting with the Cool Lights video and ending with low cost fluorescent fixtures. Well, I’ve gotten the same feeling again on another lighting technology: HMI. I was searching for an energy efficient hard or point light source to complement our fluorescent Cool Lights Softlight Series product line and was learning about HMI as the natural solution. Crazy prices though and no good reason at this point to have them so high.

In the last part of this article series, we’ll take a look at the Cool Lights bulb choices for the various fixtures using Osram as the standard and then coming back and looking at other equivalents. You’ll see we chose to work with industry standards so you won’t be locked into using Cool Lights bulbs for sure. (more…)

Letter from Marcus Marchesseault / Hawaii

Friday, July 13th, 2007

As you know, I just shot an independent short where I used the Coollights CL-455 and it was a great asset.  I’ve come to realize that a strong artificial daylight source is very useful when taking advantage of natural sunlight.  It is much more efficient to work with the sun instead of fight against it.  I hate wasteful tungsten fixtures that heat up the set and risk blowing circuit breakers so I have been experimenting with daylight fluorescents.  I knew I wouldn’t have time to play with lights on this shoot so we ordered the CL-455.  It arrived over on Maui in just a few days.  As I hoped, it was bright enough to fill in an area that is side or partially back lit by the sun which everyone knows is often a challenge.  I liked that it is cool enough to pick up and move any time.  It’s design also made it easy to get light where I wanted it which was critical as I also needed to operate the camera.

For those who don’t know, the CL-455 uses bright 55W daylight-balanced PL55 tubes in either 3200K or daylight color.  The ballast is flicker-free and silent.  There was some confusion about installing the bulbs so be careful with them as it is easy to get excited when a new “toy” arrives.  I recommend reading the manual if you haven’t used these type of lamps before.  The case is sturdy metal and the yoke keeps the light balanced on the stand and is easy to adjust.  I was skeptical about mirrored barn doors, but I found them to be very useful.  The doors can be positioned to act as a reflector to bring up the light when a bright window is causing a back lit situation.  In other shots, I bounced the direct light off a wall or the ceiling and I used one of the barn doors to reflect some light straight at the talent.  This made the CL-455 effectively into two lights at the same time.  When needed the barn doors still perform their classic job of keeping light off certain areas.  At the end of the shoot, the barn doors close to protect the lamps and the already cool light can be put away immediately.

A single fixture like the CL-455 that is economical, fast to set up and re-locate, cool to the touch, energy efficient, and can allow me to take advantage of natural sunlight is a real time saver and a pleasure to use.  I can’t imagine wrestling all the hot tungsten it would require to fight the sun as I needed to spend most of my time behind the camera.  Instead, in most shots I worked with the sun and used the lights to fill in and add accents where necessary.  In other shots, I faked the look of the mixed sunlight shots by using the CL-455 as the key.

I would also like to thank you for your quick shipping and prompt customer service.  This shoot was much easier due to the timely arrival your light.


Marcus Marchesseault

Camera Operator, Gaffer

Kula, HI

CL-255 and 455 Opinions by Duncan Say / United Kingdom

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

I recently purchased a CL-455 and CL-255 fluorescent light fixtures for use in location filming. I have used two tungsten kits on location up to now. A Sachtler 650 reporter kit and an Arri light 650 kit. Matching with daylight has always been the major problem with these kits and using filters cuts down considerably on the amount of light available. Added to this I’ve always been a fan of diffuse light and have used umbrellas and other diffusion materials to create the look I’m after. The fluorescent kits are fantastic in that they allow the full wattage to be used to light the subject making interviews with window backgrounds much more possible. So no light loss through a filter and no light loss through a diffuser.

I have found the CL-455 and CL-255 to be a good match, using one as a key light and the other as a fill; and the fact that you can turn off one bank of lights on the CL-455 means that you can make an even spread more easily. They also been good used to light a blue chromakey background where the daylight matched fluorescent tubes can really punch out a lot of blue.

My main concerns were about the robustness of the light fixtures and the quality of the light that they produce and both counts they have exceeded my expectations.

The fixtures are both extremely well built and very robust. You should note though that they are no lightweights and taking them on location is a commitment.

If your looking for a new lighting kit these come highly recommended.

Duncan Say
Directions Films Ltd
United Kingdom