TTOU: Home made LED Fixture Tutorial.
In this tutorial post I will explain how I built an LED fixture to light a night time car scene.
Photo Credits: Myself & Mathew Hodgkin.
Thanks to the TTOU production team for the use of these images.
During one of the night shoots on The Three of Us (TTOU), I needed to light the inside of a car, at night.
In the past I have either relied just on available light such as passing cars and street lamps, but on TTOU I wanted to achieve something with a higher standard.
I know the Sony FS700 isn’t the happiest in no light situations, with awful noise and artefacts. So lighting was essential. I also knew I would be shooting from the back seat, with a fast turn around between shots. I had little choice but to light from the dash, and use the cigarette lighter for power. So I needed a light that was low wattage for power reasons, and one that wasn’t too bright it would blind the driver. As the actors themselves would be driving the car for real, no Low Loaders on this shoot!
The solution was something I was quite excited about and had planned since my visit to BVE, back in February. I had come across the LED Lite Ribbon, by LiteGear. It was on the LCA stand, who’s owner, Nick Shapley, was kind enough to give me a through walk through of the product range and even kinder to give me a tester kit of the product to try.
You can read more about it on my blog post here.
As soon as I saw the technology and as soon as I had a sample kit in my hands, I knew I would be lighting the car scenes in TTOU with these lights. They are perfect!
But in the state that they where, they needed modification to get them ready for what I needed them for.
Tutorial – Light Build
First of all I added some card to the back of the square LED LiteRibbon sample I had. It was Tungsten and would suit the look and shape I wanted for the light.
This is fixed with Gorrilla Tape, which is the only tape I trust when it comes to precise equipment and reliability . I left and extra tab of card sticking out, so I could use clamps to hold the light in other scenarios.
After buying a box of eggs, placing the eggs to one side, scrambling them in a frying pan with butter and then consuming them with toast, I took the box and cut it in half at the joint. So you have the top and the bottom separate.
Next I cut a hole that matched the size and shape of the LEDs.
Next I placed the LEDs in the hole ready to fix with more Gorilla Tape.
Once the light is secured with tape, I covered the whole box with tape. This was to make it blend in with the dash more, which I knew was black.
I also added a layer of tin foil to the inside of the box, just to add a bit more reflectivity to the fixture, and to help with the soft nature of the effect wanted.
The light was now ready for use in the car.
Tutorial – Positioning & Fitting
Once on set I rigged the car light ready for the shoot.
The light was power by a coiled wire from the cigarette lighter socket. This was taped out of the way from any essential controls, such as the gear stick.
I then fixed the light with more Gorilla tape onto the dash. Positioning it so it was in the middle of the dash board and pointing upward towards the actor.
It was time to add diffusion. I cut a rectangle of LEE Half White Diffusion. This was doubled up over the light and fixed using tape.
This worked well, but had a slight hot spot in the middle, so I added a layer of LEE Heavy Frost that just took the edge off and spread the light nicely.
It was time to turn it on and test for the wrap and reflections.
I am incredibly happy with this little light. It helped create my finest work in a car, at night.
It will be a long while before I have any frames to share. But I can’t wait for everyone to see the results and for me to play in the grade with the footage.
Thanks for reading, and comment bellow if you have any questions!