DIY quick build – $50 Large LED Light

4ft photo/video lighting for around $50?

LED Light

LED light on C-Stand

Lately I have been experimenting with DIY lighting.  It’s cheap and with a little effort you can get something than works really well.  LED light is bright, dim-able, and stays relatively cool.  LED light panels have been my go-to production lights, so when I saw this video by David Mudre on how to build a DIY 4ft LED light, I was inspired to take a trip to Loews and try it out.  I was tempted by another model which is a larger, more powerful shop light by the same company for $5 more.  I bought them both to see how they would stack up.  This article shows my build for the shop light.  (I suggest you watch David’s video as a primer if you plan on following along.)

Here is how the shop light stacks up out of the box:

Pros:  higher output;  diffusion panel;  pre-installed power cable;  on/off switch

Cons:  flimsy sheet metal shell;  cannot install a center mount

Overall the two lights are about the same price, taking into consideration the shop light’s built-in power cable and switch.  You’ll also need to purchase (1) 1/2″-20 x 4″ bolt, (2) 1/2″-20 nuts, and a pack of 1 1/2″ washers; setting the price before tax just short of $50.

The Build

My build will take around 5-10 minutes to complete once you have the proper items.  I drilled out the rivet to open the side panel, which I will replace with a small screw at the end.  A 1/2″ hole had to be drilled for the bolt.  Stop here.

LED light 1The light is pretty much done depending on how you want to use it.  Be warned that if you try to mount it at an angle the light’s metal housing will flex.  If that’s not a problem for you, attach your bolt and get shooting.  If not, read on…

Adding Additional Support

We need some supports surrounding the mount to counter this flex issue.  These are items I used that are not in David’s build.  1/8″ flat aluminum plates will act as our supports.

LED light 2I had pieces lying around which I cut to size, but this item may work nicely (Disclaimer: I’m going off the website’s description, so please let me know if you find a more fitting product!)  This may work for the outside plate as well, but I chose a wider piece for extra support.  Don’t forget our tiny screw.

Construction

LED light 3Carefully measure, mark, and drill holes to accommodate 1/2″ bolts.

LED light 4

LED light 5Here’s an inside look.  Measure accurately to leave room for the ballast and the area where the side piece will be replaced.  The smaller plate should fit snugly inside.

LED light 6Put your bolt through the outside support.

LED light 7Tighten down.  Ratchet wrenches save time.

LED light 8Replace the side panel with a screw.  You have a perfect mount for a C-Stand grip head.

LED light 9 As a final touch I attached the pull tab higher up.  The pull tab creates no shadow whatsoever with the diffusion panel, which I was very happy about.

LED Light – Results

So okay, after all this hassle what does it look like?  These images were taken without the additional supports.

DIY LED Light 1

Image 1

DIY LED Light 2

Image 2

DIY LED Light 3

Image 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

I love it as a rim light.  Good God, look at that thing (Image 2).  Though it can be used as a soft key light when placed further away (Image 1), I’m not a fan of the long catch light.  It can get pretty harsh close up, which may be better suited for something other than beauty lighting (Image 3).  I intend to use this as a video light, so I’m excited to try it out on set.

Any questions or requests for a future DIY Quick Build?  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Special Thanks to Jeff Kusant and Nick Jack for their assistance and expertise.

New Short Involving Yoga and Death

May has been a big month for shorts. I completed Star Wars: Smuggler’s Choice at the end of April which left May open for the completion of two other projects, one of which was started 9 months ago!  I am officially in three film festivals for three different films this month.Death Yoga BTSIt was strange to have everything come together so quickly and I needed a void filling project.  Along came My Rode Reel, which is a contest setup by Rode Microphones that encourages filmmakers to make a project under 3 minutes and enter to win filmmaking gear.

I had only three weeks to enter, so my team and I got to work on a simple idea that could be really interesting and somewhat funny.  Hilarity ensued.  Also a requirement was a behind the scenes video, which was really fun and Edited by my brother Colin Froening.

Our entry is called Death Yoga and you can view (and vote for) it here:

Click to View and Vote

#myrodereel

 

March Toward Star Wars

What are you doing this month?

FroVideo and friends are marching toward Star Wars.  We’re shooting a short film for Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Fan Film Awards 2016 in Lawrenceville, NJ and we are searching for extras to fill out a crowd scene.  Normally, I would be hesitant to do a fan film of a successful franchise, but this contest awards and encourages originality.  Many winners of previous years did the same teacher/apprentice Jedi story we’ve already seen in the movies.  I had writer’s block on a much different script.  Once I saw this contest, that script came together with the opportunities that arrive out of a setting and genre change.

SW invite

Join the Dark Side. We have cookies.

There’s a whole universe out there…

Location Crop

Our Location

I think an original story set in that galaxy far, far away fits the bill.  We are not limited to Jedis training and fighting the Sith, nor are we limited to known characters.  Some of the best characters in any movie are regular people trying to fit into their world.  Even though the movies are fantasy, this is a galaxy that’s in the middle of a war, no matter how far removed from the fighting a certain planet may be.  I probably can’t write or cast to match an existing character in a multi-million dollar movie, but I can create a new one with an intriguing story for a 5 minute film.

Join us on Sunday April 3, 2016 to help us create a winning film.

Visit marchtoward.wordpress.com for project information.  Here’s some clothing guidelines:

You will be part of a desert-like mining town.  Please wear earth-tones.  Regular clothing is fine, though we encourage you to add embellishments to help you fit into the Star Wars universe.  No logos can be visible.  Please wear nondescript footwear that is appropriate to the location.

Cosplayers welcome!  Snap a picture of you in your costume and send it to the email below so our art department can approve it.

Email us to register and be a part of Star Wars

and send any questions to marchtowardstarwars@gmail.com

We hope to see you there!  May the force be with you!

#marchtowardstarwars

P1040173_CC_web

Our Producers

So I bought a toy…

I have very fond memories of playing with action figures as a kid. In my formative years lesser known X-men played with Predator who was on the same side as G.I. Joe. I recently activated an Instagram account @fronizzle and immediately became a follower of some people who take pictures of action figures. Some were good and some were, er… less good, but I was intrigued. Yesterday I went to the store to pick up one small item and found myself in the toy aisle looking at a new display. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new Batman movie coming out appearing to be based heavily on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. The trend of higher quality, more detailed and pose-able action figures for $20 worked in my favor and I thought “down the rabbit-hole” as I purchased an Armored Batman (the coolest figure there!).

P1040066_CC_wmThe first step was finding a suitable background for my first foray into action figure photography. My Absolute Version of The Dark Knight Returns worked nicely, and later on I added The Long Halloween, which cover has cooler and more night-like tones. It worked great for close ups, and added more depth than my flat-colored laptop cooling pad. My wife bought it for me and it doesn’t get much use otherwise (I love it, honey!). The lesson is you shouldn’t always work entirely on black (or very very dark gray).

IMG_3560_CC_wmAfter this, the next and perhaps most important step is lighting. Flat light would flat-out not work here. Batman works at night. This means high contrast shadows and highlights. A spot light set up high would be the first order of business to emulate the moon or a streetlight. Then I wanted something from behind the subject to create some contrast and fill out the fine details of the action figure. I used a small fluorescent countertop light to highlight the figure evenly from top to bottom.

From there it’s all experimentation; finding the right lens and angles to tell your story. I got to use my Lensbaby Velvet 56 (a Christmas present put to good use) at f4 to minimize the built in softening effect and create the impression that this is not just a small figure (see image above). There’s a very iconic shot in the first trailer where they reveal Batman in his armored suit. This was something in the back of my head and I wanted to test my hand at recreating it from memory. What do you think?Batman-v-Superman comparisonDo you still play with toys? You Will.

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