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Protecting Equipment in Portable Light Kits

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/12/2009

Here are some tips on how to protect the sensitive light bulbs in portable lighting kits as well as why portable light kits may be a good investment if you're filming video in certain locations.

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    Importance of Portable Light Kits

    Portable light kits are one essential key that makes field production possible. Instead of just relying on the simple creation of an image that comes when you have to rely on natural light, a portable light kit allows you to really create an entire produced situation in any area. This can mean that you maintain image control of a particular scene, have more freedom when and how to shoot it, and can really capture the essence of the area and how it plays to whatever you may be filming. As great as these portable light kits are they still are very sensitive and can be very open to damage at all times. A central reason for this lies in the sensitivity of the light bulbs, which end up at extremely high heats. It can be difficult, at times even nearly impossible, to prevent these lights from getting injured or broken. Here are a few tips for protecting the light bulbs that come in portable light kits.

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    Damp Conditions

    The first thing that you have to remember is that cold and damp tends to not mix well with hot light bulbs. When cold moisture hits the ultra-heated bulb it can cause it to crack and break, not to mention what it does to the other electrical elements. This does not just mean out right rain, but also heavy mist and fog in the area. When you are shooting outdoors try to avoid placing your portable light kits into these situations. If you absolutely must make sure to place water proof covers over the lights, especially the key, and uses some type of draping cover over the entire portable light kit.

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    Moving to Different Set Locations

    Portable light kits carry their main purpose in their name: they are portable. This means that you are going to be moving around quite a bit with them. This creates many situations for the light bulbs to be broken in transit. The best way to deal with this is to spend the money on a protective case. Have the entire inside fitted directly to your light video equipment with foam pockets for each bulb.

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    Using Gloves to Change Bulbs

    Oils from your hand and the outside environment can be very damaging to the light bulbs in your portable light kits. This is especially true when they are somewhat hot still, which can cause the same affect as cold water. Try to wear gloves whenever possible to avoid these situations. This is smart for safety anyway due to the high heat of portable light kits.

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    Protecting Light Bulbs

    The bulbs in portable light kits are great for producing the kind of light you need for digital video, but are not built for endurance. Any kind of direct trauma will likely break the light bulb. Since you are constantly setting up and the breaking down digital video camera set ups with portable light kits there are many more opportunities for mistakes than with studio lighting equipment. Try to make sure that all of your light stands are working well and are stable, as well as the environment you are working in. Wind and chaotic public areas are going to present problems and should be avoided when possible.

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    Portable Light Kit Plan B

    The best way to deal with bulb damage is to create back up plans for when it does. Always bring extra light bulbs with you, as well as other elements of your portable light kit.