There's a Reason You Yell "Lights!" First

One of the most important things you can do as a filmmaker, is light properly. Good lighting will not only give the best image possible (even on cheaper camcorders), but make the proper impression on your viewer. It gives credibility to your project, and makes you look good. It is also one of the most elusive skills out there, something that can't "just be picked up". I'm always looking for someone who knows how to really light, hoping they can replace my feeble skills.

Recently, a post has been circulating about a do-it-yourself C-stand over at DIY Photo Gear. This cool stand is made out of plumbing parts from your local hardware store, and even sports casters to zip it around your studio! I like this design a lot (especially for $30), even if it's not very portable. It seems like a great solution to that ever-nagging problem of no money to spend, despite the number of problems you have to solve.

I have been wondering if I could build the thing using PVC pipe instead. I couldn't attach a light to the top, but what I really need is a basic post to clamp stuff to. I use the cheap clamp on lights quite a bit, but am always gripping them to table legs, shelves and other non-convenient areas. I also want to build some of the low cost fluorescents mentioned here, which also need a spot to lock onto. The PVC would also be much more portable (and lightweight) and could breakdown much easier. There may be a wobble factor, however, but I won't know how much until I try building the thing.

This is also a good time to mention some "classic articles" about inexpensive light kits. There's a great one mentioned here in an old DV article, as well as this link from cinematographer Scott Spears. I also stumbled across a good tip from FreshDV about some cheap dimmers from Harbor Freight. The great news is that they are now even less expensive then when the post was written--under ten bucks!

Of course, you can nab any and all sorts of gear, and still not know how to light anything. Poking around the aforementioned websites should give you a good start. Then you can be like me and kinda know how to light while you search for someone who can bring your stuff to the next level.