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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Moscow, Russia
    Medium Format

    Dots and fingers - way to use them?

    Hello friends,
    how are usually used dot and finger flags with continuous lighting? I am in need of some shadows on, say, hands in portrait. These thingies are made to control the hotspots in the image, right? The assortment of them is quite large, and I'm confused what to use for what - there are black single scrims, double scrims, golden fingers, etc., and I have never used any! How are they put between the subject and lights, what support do I need for these? Looks like Manfrotto stuff is available in Moscow.

    Cheers, and thanks - Zhenya

  2. #2
    df cardwell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Dearborn,Michigan & Cape Breton Island
    Multi Format
    These are good old Hollywood gadgets evolved over the decades. Clever clamps are made for these little beauties, and they end up fastening to small or large stands.

    They are meant, for instance, to cast delicate shadows on the subject... imagine them as enlarging tools. Two 200 mm circles were made to slightly intersect and the lighting assitant could cast a heart shaped shadow on the actress's face... thereby allowing s ingle broad light source to be perceived as being multiple lights, lighting the face quickly and efficiently, but giving a 3 dimensional form, from the shadows under the cheekbones.

    No reason simple carpenter's clamps and bits of wood and modleing clay can't work as well !

    Embroidery hoops and a good fabric shop can be helpful.

    The very best diffusion material, however, were the black silk stocking made by Dior.

    When their discontinuation was announced, a hoarde of English cinema cameramen stormed Harrods to buy the remaining stock.

    Not a pretty sight !


    Matthews of Hollywood came up with most of this stuff, and is far and away better than Manfrotto. Visit the Matthews website and look over the product descriptions... and their 'Griptionary'...

    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  3. #3
    wildbill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Grand Rapids
    Multi Format
    They are usually held in place with a "flex arm" which is basically a spring loaded "A" shaped clamp with multiple articulating joints attached to it. They generally aren't used all that much. They are very usefull for table top shots and in situations where a larger flag or net isn't convienent.

    Check out my low volume sheet film tanks.

  4. #4
    Helen B's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Hell's Kitchen, New York, USA
    Multi Format
    You might be interested in the Matthews 'Road Rags' system and 'Mini-Grip' to begin with. They include black scrims (to cut down light without diffusing it), flags and silks (diffusers) in a pair of handy roll-up pouch thingies. Scrims and diffusers are quite widely used (at least by me!) as well as large and small flags for stopping light from going where it shouldn't.

    Manfrotto don't make equipment to quite the same degree of robustness as Matthews, but the price is more attractive and it is still very good stuff. I have a few super clamps with friction arms (which I prefer to the magic arm) for holding things in odd positions. They make grip heads and grip arms as well. Those can be rigged to hold the flag, scrim or diffuser on the same stand as the light. You can't have enough grip heads and arms, whether they be Arri-badged, Matthews, Manfrotto or whatever. Matthews make the single most useful lighting stand in the world, the magic stand with the runway base, and Manfrotto make (or made) a similar thing at a much lower cost, but I can't find it on their website.

    I've seen Matthews dots and fingers in the grip trucks of big productions here in NYC, but I've never seen them used, and I've never asked for them. If I want that kind of control I'm much happier with black cinefoil - which is heavyweight aluminium foil. That's versatile stuff.

    Lowel make a few useful, reasonably-priced light control things which are OK if you are handling them yourself. I find that grips who expect bomb-proof Matthews equipment can't get used to the lighter Lowel gear. Things like lobos, lobo arms (like a lightweight grip head and arm), maxa-mounts, tota-flags, flexi arms, tota-clamps and other names I wish that I couldn't remember. www.lowel.com




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