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China Balls

Otter Moore
 

Hey guys I'm gonna be using a couple of China Balls for a shoot coming up. I was wondering if anyone has any opinions, tips, or tricks on them. Also I'm interested to hear about your thoughts on what light bulbs to get, either LED or condescent, thanks for your time.

Jonathon Sendall
 

Hi

If you want a cheap way to do this then buy an inexpensive china ball like a Selens 80cm on EBay then buy some high grade LED strips (I got mine from Koraled/Brandon Fowler with a very accurate colour rendition TLCI of 97+) and wrap it around a piece of cut plastic plumbing pipe from homedepot/B&Q. It can be dropped in the ball with minimal fuss. Wiring is cheap but a controller will add to the cost but still a lot cheaper than ready made china balls. They can be connected to a v-lock no problem. Even cheaper if you’re doing a run of them for a walking shot etc.

Jonathon Sendall
DP London UK.
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vefilm@...
 

Hey man, I would get a some duc or black wrap to help co trol spill. I'd also get a variety of day light or tungsten bulbs, 250 & 500w. Definitely use incandescent bulbs. 

Greg Harriott
 

I like tying china balls to an empty 18"x24" frame so it can be gripped a little easier.  It's also a lot nicer to clip a duvy skirt to the frame than a fussy paper ball.

Greg Harriott
DP NYC
www.gregharriott.com

Daniel Drasin
 

Cool trick for China balls: Cut a piece of Reflectix insulation (aluminized bubblewrap) to form a large reflector that you insert into the china ball behind the light source (non-incandescent, for safety!). It can nearly double the light output and also give you some measure of directional control and spill control. Round the corners, and experiment with size and shape for the best fit and easiest insertion/removal.  See https://www.reflectixinc.com/products/double-reflective-insulation. You can also use Reflectix as removable case padding that's usable as a freestanding reflector in a pinch. Or attach it to a rigid board for use as a full-size reflector -- it has high reflectivity but produces an interesting, softly mottled or textured pattern.

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA

Thomas Townend
 

On 22 Oct 2018, at 20:54, Daniel Drasin <danieldrasin@...> wrote:

Cool trick for China balls: Cut a piece of Reflectix insulation (aluminized bubblewrap) to form a large reflector that you insert into the china ball behind the light source
Another thing worth carrying with China balls is black 'Bobbinet tulle’. It works as a half stop net but you can wrap the fabric directly around the paper and hold it in place with one clip. For further lowering of output without futzing with colour temperature or dimmers just add another layer… and another. The quality of light starts exactly the same as the output drops.

Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London

Paul Mcilvaine
 

Ive used a lot of tricks with China balls but never that one,
Thanks for the tip.


On Oct 22, 2018, at 1:36 PM, Thomas Townend via Cml.News <tomtownend=yahoo.co.uk@...> wrote:

On 22 Oct 2018, at 20:54, Daniel Drasin <danieldrasin@...> wrote:

Cool trick for China balls: Cut a piece of Reflectix insulation (aluminized bubblewrap) to form a large reflector that you insert into the china ball behind the light source
Another thing worth carrying with China balls is black 'Bobbinet tulle’. It works as a half stop net but you can wrap the fabric directly around the paper and hold it in place with one clip. For further lowering of output without futzing with colour temperature or dimmers just add another layer… and another. The quality of light starts exactly the same as the output drops.

Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London

Thomas Townend
 

On 22 Oct 2018, at 22:38, Paul Mcilvaine via Cml.News <PMacSix=aol.com@...> wrote:

Ive used a lot of tricks with China balls but never that one,
Thanks for the tip.

Credit where it’s due, that was devised by the gaffer who I’d made install a 400w Sodium vapour bulb inside a gem ball to carry around as ‘fill’ light on a night street exterior. The damn thing was so bright it took about 10’ of fabric wrapped around it to bring it down in volume. Naturally the nature of the bulb meant it couldn’t be dimmed - but it matched the street lighting to a ’T’.

Tom Townend
Cinematographer/London

Mark Weingartner, ASC
 

Credit where it’s due, that was devised by the gaffer who I’d made install a 400w Sodium vapour bulb inside a gem ball to carry around as ‘fill’ light on a night street exterior.
I like this!

Two tricks with China balls:

When figuring out how to light a restaurant “back room” for a round table for a documentary I helped out on [years ago], the DP and I settled on China balls with incandescent bulbs…

We wanted to warm up the look a bit and also control the light a bit… I got some fabric dye (Rit Dye is the one to use here in the US) and used a spray bottle to spray some brown on the paper
to warm up the color… worked a treat! I rigged one or 2 wooden 2x4 wall stretchers and ran a few pieces of nice straight-grain 1x3 batten over them to get the balls where we needed them without coming more than a few inches below the ceiling with the rigging… a bit of faux walnut-grain contact paper on one piece of vertical wood holding up one end of the wall stretcher hidden in plain site and we were off to the races in a very low-tech way that didn’t scare the restaurant owners.

Another trick - if you want to dim the ball and are using incandescent globes, you can buy some black bobinette material at any fabric place ( more or less what single nets are made out of)
as “raw goods” and wrap it around the ball or drape it on one side of the ball to dim it without covering it if that is your intent… it weighs nearly nothing and you can use cotton or synthetic since the outside of the china ball doesn’t get hot enough to worry about it… and you just add layers or scrunch it up to make it cut more light.

I learned this from watching Greg Gardiner on Men In Black 2 where he used wads of bobinette to slow down all sorts of light sources in a more variable way than mounting nets in front of the source… some clothespins and oversized pieces of bobinette and off you go!


Mark Weingartner, ASC

DP/VFX/etc

Lost Angeles-based but usually shooting elsewhere

Paul Mcilvaine
 

That’s what I love about China balls. They are so flexible to most any situation.
Lite weight, soft as you need and rather inexpensive. Just add your imagination

Paul McIlvaine
LA / Gaffer

On Oct 22, 2018, at 3:24 PM, Mark Weingartner, ASC via Cml.News <vfxmark=me.com@...> wrote:

Credit where it’s due, that was devised by the gaffer who I’d made install a 400w Sodium vapour bulb inside a gem ball to carry around as ‘fill’ light on a night street exterior.
I like this!

filmist@...
 

I use cheap 24-inch (60-cm) China Balls from places like Pier 1 Imports or World Market.

I "Gerry-Rig" them by putting a lamp rod (from Home Depot or Lowe's) down the top using the wire China Ball frame to "clamp it in place," along with a couple washers and nuts.  I put a ceramic lamp socket on the end, then position it so the lamp hangs dead center in the ball.  This way the rod can be easily clamped to a gobo head on a C-stand.

I also cut a small circle of ToughSpun to cover the bottom hole, if need be, to avoid light spill.  I never use one for the top hole, as that's where the heat from the bulb dissipates.

For light spill control I use some lightweight black fabric to cover 1/3, 1/2, and full diameter of the China Ball that I simply clip to the top opening edge of the ball.  I use the full as kind of a top light, or a space light skirt.

I've tried a handful of non-tungsten lamps in them, but generally haven't been happy with their color or CRI.  I generally put in the standard GE 211, 212, & 213 photofloods -- sometimes ganging them with 2- and 4-socket adapters (which requires fudging the lamp rod's position a bit).

I also make cylinders of CTO/CTB and other gels I can slide in for color correction as needed.

Hope that helps.

:-J

Gerry Williams
DP, San Diego CA

Marshall Harrington
 

I’d be most interested in hearing all the little details of putting together portable china balls. I’ve been using paper lanterns semi-permentaly mounted. I’d like to make one to put on a boom for use with with a battery. The paper lanterns I’m using seem to fragile for what I’m thinking. Bi-color LED seems to be the right direction for my use though listening from those of you who have already done it makes a more sense that anything.

Cheers

Marshall Harrington
Filmmaker | Photographer
San Diego, California
619.291.2775

On Oct 22, 2018, at 3:09 PM, Thomas Townend via Cml.News <tomtownend=yahoo.co.uk@...> wrote:

On 22 Oct 2018, at 22:38, Paul Mcilvaine via Cml.News <PMacSix=aol.com@...> wrote:

Ive used a lot of tricks with China balls but never that one,
Thanks for the tip.

Credit where it’s due, that was devised by the gaffer who I’d made install a 400w Sodium vapour bulb inside a gem ball to carry around as ‘fill’ light on a night street exterior. The damn thing was so bright it took about 10’ of fabric wrapped around it to bring it down in volume. Naturally the nature of the bulb meant it couldn’t be dimmed - but it matched the street lighting to a ’T’.

Tom Townend
Cinematographer/London

Leonard Levy
 

The Falconeyes LED roll up panels available on Amazon have an option for a diffusion ball that is basically a 180 degree china ball - so it only faces below and to the sides , but the light that results seems to be pretty even in all directions and it puts out a lot of light. Constantly adjustable from 3000 to about 5000 Kelvin though it says to 5600. .  The color is good and price is right for sure. Runs off AC or V mount batts. Has a baby stud for rigging. Pretty nice but I’m planning to reinforce the way the diffusion frame mounts from a seamstress. 
Comes in 12x18, 18x24 and 24x24 sizes. 

I love the idea of that  reflective bubble wrap BTW - That’s a new one.

On Oct 22, 2018, at 3:27 PM, Marshall Harrington <mail@...> wrote:

I’d be most interested in hearing all the little details of putting together portable china balls. I’ve been using paper lanterns semi-permentaly mounted. I’d like to make one to put on a boom for use with with a battery. The paper lanterns I’m using seem to fragile for what I’m thinking. Bi-color LED seems to be the right direction for my use though listening from those of you who have already done it makes a more sense that anything.


Leonard Levy, DP
San Rafael, CA







Geoff Boyle
 

If you do to www.cinematography.net , you may recognise that address 😊, and type china ball into the search form at the top of the page you’ll find a lot of info on use of, construction of and many other things to do with China Balls.

 

cheers
Geoff Boyle NSC
EU based cinematographer
+31 637155076

www.gboyle.nl

www.cinematography.net