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DIY Home Depot Lights

INCLUDED IN THIS LESSON: In-Depth Written Breakdown

IN THIS LESSON YOU WILL LEARN: Home Depot is an amazing resource for filmmakers and slowly the industry is starting to realize the possibilities. In this lesson, Shane Hurlbut, ASC takes you through some of the lights he’s designed out of Home Depot and what they are best suited for. This is an in-depth look at DIY lighting and how to control your sources on a budget.

  • Understanding what DIY is and why it’s the next step in the evolution.
  • The Pros and Cons of DIY.
  • How to be creative with your resources at hand.
  • How to be crafty with your lights.
  • Understanding the best methods for mixed light and utilizing DIY lights on the day.
  • Additional lighting accessories you can purchase at Home Depot.

The high ISO range to minimum noise ratio of newer cameras opened up a whole new way to light as a cinematographer. Whether it be daylight interior or exterior, dawn, dusk, night exterior or interiors the option now exist to use available light in new ways, as well as working with less. On the films that I shot prior to Act of Valor, our lighting package fit into a 48’ semi truck along with multiple 10-ton truck drop loads to expose film. We are in very exciting times and they are being shaken again with Canon’s November 3rd announcement . Using available light is one thing, but shaping the available is what cinematography is all about. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Here is a perfect example. St. Germain Puerto Rico. We needed to light 8 city blocks. I had two lighting technicians. So I rented two 1200 watt HMI par lights and a 3000 Watt Honda Generator that I hid behind the church to block the sound so that it would not effect our dialogue. Added six 4’ green and yellow single KINO Flos in the store windows behind the actors as they walk in the plaza, this would also help add color dimension as well as great out of focus highlights when I went in for close ups. Their key light would be two stings of carnival bulbs that were 200’ long, and the edge/back lights would be the street lamps that lined the side of the plaza as they took their stroll. There was way too much light at 1600 ISO. So I started to manicure and shape the wide shot. Bottom left corner I used black wrap to block out the streetlamp because it was too hot on the left side of frame and took my eye away from the actors on the cobblestone street in the center of the plaza.

The building on the left that has a coolish tone was smoking hot. I wrapped Neutral Density .9 gel around that so that I kept the cool color contrast but it took it down. A church is such an important part of the Hispanic culture. I wanted to highlight the steeple as well as its body. We were under serious time constraints that day and I should have taken the 1200 HMI par down about two stops that hit the body of the church. The steeple looked great but I burned the church up just a bit too much. I added Rosco full plus green to the HMIs so that they felt dirty and not perfect.

Here are the units that lit the Plaza:

My lighting package now is pretty much everything you can either purchase from Home Depot or out of a Grainger catalog. I always used practical light to motivate my sources but now the practical can be the source. There is no need to hide lights or hang them to simulate what that particular light would be doing. I have a very simple package which is a mix of some movie lights, some theatrical lights and then your local hardware store. Here you go:

LOCAL HARDWARE STORE PKG

4-Single bulb shop fluorescents w/ cool white tubes, with daylight & tungsten bulbs. Vitalight for Daylight and Optima 3200 for Tungsten. This is easy to hide behind bars, bottles, in corners, great top light in a garage, office, etc.

4-Dbl Bulb shop fluorescents w/ cool white tubes, with daylight & tungsten bulbs. Vitalight for Daylight and Optima 3200 for Tungsten. This is easy to hide behind bars, bottles, in corners, great top light in a garage, office, etc. On Swing Vote I hung 4 double units in the kitchen with cool white globes in them to give a cool/green feel in Bud’s trailer. It felt real and not so polished.

4-12” Silver Reflector Clamp lights w/ 150 watt globes, 50 watt Halogen Spots. You can add diffusion on the front if you would like to make it softer. This can be used as a harder source with a spot globe.

4-6” Silver Reflector Clamp lights w/ 100 watt globes, 50 watt Halogen Spot

4-18” Under Cabinet Fluorescent w/ cool white tubes, with daylight & tungsten

6-MR-16 50 Watt Flood screw in household socket

6-Household socket dimmers

6-1000 Watt in-line dimmer

6-600 Watt Wall outlet dimmers

2-70 Watt Dusk to Dawn lamps Metal Halide (MH) This is my go to source for lighting the exterior of barns, houses, and in the case of Swing Vote this Dusk to Dawn was to illuminate his driveway to his trailer and bring ambience to his truck driving in at night. I also mounted it to Kate’s garage to give me some color contrast in the deep background. They’re so versatile, lightweight and require little power.

2-100 Watt Dusk to Dawn High Pressure Sodium (HPS)
I used this in the night scene on Swing Vote where Molly finds Bud in his car drunk. She walks down the street and then gets to his truck and looks off camera. The HPS fixture is giving her a beautiful back light and then I used a 12 x 12 ultra bounce to reflect light into her face.

2-Wall mounted 70 Watt High Pressure Sodium (HPS)
Great to mount in background of night exteriors for out of focus highlights, hide in tight spaces to light people.

2-50’ Strands of Rope light, I use this to light under counters, under cabinets in kitchens. I use very long strands of it that I fold back and forth on itself about 6 times to create what we call a colon light. Look at the still shot from Act of Valor. That warm glow in the background was the colon rope light giving that beautiful glow.

1- LED Hockey Puck Light kit w/ 3 heads perfect to light paintings, under light bars, streak walls, light bar backs, under light bottles,etc.

2- 100 Watt Tungsten Hockey Puck lights, perfect to light paintings, under light bars, streak walls, light bar backs, under light bottles,etc.

2-12”, 2-18”, 2-24”, 1-30” China Balls w/ 100 watt & 150 watt globes. These are beautiful key and or fill lights. I use black wrap to shape them sometimes by blacking the back half to cut down on spill. Philippe Rousselot uses these on every film he shoots, wonderful soft ambient lighting tool for cheap.

1- Fluorescent Trouble light, hang in places quickly to give yourself nice out of focus highlights in the background

4-50’ 12 Gauge Stingers

4-25’ 12 Gauge Stingers

6-Power Strips

8- Cube taps

This lighting package should get you started on your way to create and light on a budget. Try new things work with less and see how it turns out. Remember the secret to exposing HD is to starve the CMOS chip of light.

DIY Home Depot Lights INCLUDED IN THIS LESSON: In-Depth Written Breakdown IN THIS LESSON YOU WILL LEARN: Home Depot is an amazing resource for filmmakers and slowly the industry is

Mh bulbs home depot

Ok, tell me if this would work. My friend purchased a metal halide fixture from Lowes over the summer to light her backyard during a party. It doesnt look too different from the ones we pay HUNDREDS for that are for our tanks. She paid around $10-$20 for this 150 watt fixture. It ran an internal ballast and the only thing I could see that sets it apart is the quality of the bulb inside.
So, if I purchase a 14K bulb, suspend it over my tank, why should I pay a couple hundred bucks for one if I can get it at any local hardware store for less? Is there something about it Im not seeing that makes it less safe or different? Let me know, cause Im tired of PC bulbs causing algae blooms in my 29. I just had to do a water change, drop Chemi Clean in and lights out for 3 days! Im done with PC all together!

(ps. I did check my water parms, they are fine, its the lights)

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We Don’t Have a Signature.

Current Tank Info: 125 Gallon Reef

I dont see a problem if you can find them. I recently completed a 125gal diy stand, canopy, lighting, sump, fuge and even drilled the tank! Man that took a long time to complete. I too ran the isles of the hardware stores for lighting. At first I found what looked like a MH but turned out to be halogen lighting at 14k. you can use this option just be prepared to change the bulb more often.
Andrew

I have PC lighting too. I want to get some sps coral for my aquarium, but the
PC bulbs don’t cut it. MH brake the bank, and T5s are a bit to expensive as well.

I would like to know if you can use hardware store MH.

If, that is they are safe.

I can’t say with certainty. But as a good rule of thumb, if no one is using it, it’s because it won’t cut it. Given how many broke reefers there are (such as myself ) the fact that none are using these lights should give you a sign. But this may be a phenomenon, so there is no harm in trying it out.

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Check out my tank.

Current Tank Info: 30G Nano Rimless

blennymower
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You won’t find any halide fixture for $10-20, most likely it was halogen which is cheap.
You can take one of the halogen floodlights and gut the fixture putting in DE halide holders a new ballast and bulb and use them, but they you’re spending close to the cost of a new fixture.

Nothing wrong with MH from hardware stores. I’ve been using metal halide for over 10 yrs on reef tanks and i have never bought one from a pet shop. My first one was an outdoor MH fixture from the hardware store. ( think it cost me about $60) Then i bought some parts and made a retrofit one which i still use today.( parts including ballast cost me less than $100) You want somethings that safe and works and looks reasonable good.

buffalo123
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You can definitely use a HD or Lowes MH fixture. There are only 3 types of MH ballasts – electronic, mag probe start and mag pulse start (HQI). Check which ballast it’s made with and go from there.

Current Tank Info: 125 reef

Most outer MH fixtures are regular magnetic ballasts. You can order the ballast just about any place online from $50-70 and the socket for $5-8, build your own reflector and mount it any way you like would be my suggestion. The MH fixtures at HD or Lowes will cost about the same but the aquarium bulb might be a little too long for the fixture (get the bulb before buying the fixture if your going this route). The fixture also tends to trap a lot more heat then a DIY fixture because it is enclosed.

OceanLandlord
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one of the reasons people dont go that route is the same reason people really dont use the old gull wing style reflector anymore. you can get better results out of a well designed reflector running a 250 watt bulb than a garbage reflector running a 400 watt bulb. so in the end it will eventually equal out.

Metal Halide Fixture from Lowes, Home Depot or Tru Value? Lighting, Filtration & Other Equipment