"Home Depot" style work light
Buy these for about $40 from your large DIY, barely pays its employees a livable wage, home improvement center. It is a tripod that extends about five feet in the air and has two 500watt halogen lights. These lights are closest to Lowel Tota video lights. In fact, 500-watt Tota bulbs fit in these lights (to get balanced light). They normally come with a wire protector that is great for clothes pining gels or diffusion material to. However, be careful when using this as it casts a lot of lights and doesn’t offer much control. Plus, they get very hot, especially when diffused, gelled, or when using homemade barn doors like these (check this out!). Turn it off between takes. Every kit should have one or two of these lights.
Reflector Clamp Light
These can be found for fewer than ten dollars. It takes a regular medium base light bulb, so buy color balanced “ECA” lights for $3.50. The reflector is great for clipping gels and diffusion to. Best of all, they clamp onto anything in any positions. These are very versatile. I’d have 4-6 in a basic kit.
Color balanced regular 48 inch florescent bulbs can be bought to go into any regular florescent fixture. The trick is to find fixtures that don’t have cheap, flickering ballasts. If you’re buying a fixture, spend at least $30. But, how is it mounted it in a portable way? I know people have designed stands for whole fixtures. … and that is one way to go. Alternately, pull apart the fixture and attach the light and connecting element to walls or anything else with gaffers tape. It ain’t pretty, but it is ultra versatile. If the thought of pulling apart a lighting fixture with thousands of volts passing through it scares you, aquarium florescent lighting is great because it’s comes without a metal fixture and is fully sealed, but it will be more expensive. The use of these lights are great because they don’t get as hot as other lights and they diffuse naturally because they are a four foot long light source. Note: 18 and 24 inch “under cabinet” florescent lights are also available for smaller areas where less light is needed. Further, you can find 12-volt florescent lights for car “emergency kits” that work in and around cars–try gaffer’s taping one to the driver’s visor for a driving scene.
Theses are also great for a diffused light. Consumer paper lanterns are sold for about ten dollars (30” diameter) or professional video lighting Chinese lanterns for about $40). The main difference is the pro one won’t catch fire as fast. Yes, now is a good time to suggest buying a 15-dollar dry powder fire extinguisher for your video kit. Even the pros need an extinguisher from time-to-time. Back to Chinese lanterns, don’t exceed the wattage recommendation and turn them off between takes. They are super easy to hang off a C-stand. Or, just make a crewmember hold it (very still), micro budget style!
White Christmas Lights
They make night scenes look more interesting. Hang them on a railing, in a tree, or around any post or beam to add an accent to the picture. Also, they do provide a good amount of light in larger quantities. The unfortunate thing about Christmas lights is they will never white balance, as they’re too warm.