taking one frame at a time since 1999

Guys and gals, I need your opinion on this. I found this item on ebay:

I know nothing about electronics, but my dad does and he said it would be pretty simple to separate out the lights to have them as single spotlights. I am wondering what you all think about them? I could throw them on some light stands and connect a dimmer to each (if that would work?) and have some super cheapo lights for animation. 

Just looking for a step-up from the desk lamps I am currently using which can never get in to exactly the right spot!

Any thoughts or knowledge appreciated.


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They should work.  It says "high-voltage" which I am guessing means they run off 240 volts AC mains power, rather than have a transformer to reduce it down to 12v.  (Check out the GU-whaterver type globe to see what it is.)   If that is so, yes, it is easy to split them up.  They have barn doors on them, which is good for controlling where the light goes, and for clipping coloured lighting gel onto them, so as far as I can tell they are good.

I use 50 watt 240v halogen lights from disco lighting suppliers,  which cost about that much for one light, so 15 quid for 4 is very good.  I also have some converted ceiling down lights that came with a transformer for each light, but going directly from mains power is more efficient so I'm gradually switching over.

A dimmer should work on these with halogen globes in them.  Most fluorescent lights and LEDs, which use less energy, don't work with dimmers.

They look good. The nearest comparable thing would be PAR 16 lights, which take the same bulbs. They work out at about 8 pounds each, plus the barn doors, which can cost as much as the lamp. Separating and rewiring the lights should be no problem. You will need plugs for each, of course, and don't forget the earth wire for safety.

Consider how to attach the lights to whatever you have. I am using wardrobe rail mounted overhead with magic arms for supporting the lights, which give good positioning flexibility. The problem with light stands is that it is so easy to knock them while animating...

You might also want to consider spraying the barn doors black, so they don't reflect light out at funny angles when closed in.

..... 2 mins later.....Just bought some myself! Will see how they work out.

Ah that's brill that you bought some Simon. Let me know how they are and possibly pictures of their set up? Being a student as I am, I'm going to wait a month or two until i have a bit more cash in my pocket (just bought a new cardoid microphone set up and now I feel like there's a bit of a hole in my wallet...) before I buy one, but I'm definitely interested. Thanks for your input guys.

I'll post something on this thread when I have them. Should be by the end of the week.

The PAR 16 is what I am using to replace my home-made lights.  They cost $24 each in Australia, and don't come with barn doors, though they do have a gel holder on the front.  So that set of 4 works out pretty good.  The only difference is, the PAR 16 can take a 50 watt halogen globe, and that set says max 35 watts.  Of course, an LED would be brighter but still way under 35w.

The Par16s come in chrome or black, I try to get the black ones so they don't reflect light into odd places.  It's the barn doors that matter though, so just get a can of matte black spray paint, if these lights don't come in black.


Maybe sand the surface down before painting, so the paint will stick better. Or ask the seller if they're available in black. 

Nick, I did a little searching and found a place that sells all kinds of barn doors, including for PAR 16's. Of course it's in the US - most of the places turning up were in the UK - but who knows, if you search for PAR 16 barn door you might find somebody selling them in Australia. Of course I know for you making them isn't a problem though. The ones I found actually slip down into the gel holder slot, leaving enough room to still get a gel or 2 in there, especially if you skip the gel holder frame and just put gels in bareback. 

Thanks Strider - If I need to use the barn doors on a particular light, I use one of my converted ceiling downlights with my home-made barn doors.  I use the PAR 16s where I don't need barn doors, which is most of the time.  I'm sure I could get them here if I needed to, but I'm not earning any money on this hobby so I'm getting to be a cheapskate!

I saw that I somehow misread the price on this set of 4 lights in my first reply, thought it was 15 pounds, which would be amazing,  but it's actually  L 54.99 I think.  That works out to $100 Australian dollars, so it is no cheaper than buying 4 Par16s.  I would check the price of PAR16s in the UK.  They would come with a power cord on each light, and you could start with one or two of them.

 With the 4, what I would do is buy a cheap extension cord for each one and chop the socket end off (cheaper than buying a length of wire plus the plug to go on the end), and wire that into the light so it can be plugged in individually.  (Well, not me because it's illegal for anyone but a licensed electrician to do anything with 240v mains power in this country, so I'd ask my neighbour who is an electrician to wire it up after I got all the bits ready.)

StopmoNick said:

They would come with a power cord on each light, and you could start with one or two of them.

You want to make sure of that first - a lot of places sell the PAR lights with no plug and you're expected to wire them up yourself, since there are several different types of connectors you might want to use - DMX, ordinary household Edison connectors, or possibly just wire them permanently into a ceiling grid or something. But most of those places will also wire them up the way you want if you request it - probably for a slight extra fee. Or some will sell them pre-wired in different configurations and you need to make sure you're getting the right kind of connector. 

I think the places that sell them without connectors usually sell to professionals - if you find a place selling mostly to consumers they'll probably come with Edison connectors for standard household current. 

^ Of course not having a plug is quite different from not having a cord..  

Ah noooo!!! The ebay lights have indeed gone up to £54.99 after several days of being at £14.99. I expect someone had put in the price wrong, as when I was originally researching them I found exactly the same set on ebay for £54.99. Simon, well done for buying them in that short window...I really wish I had now! Oh well, time to start researching PAR 16s!

Oh dear! Sorry to hear that. I wonder if my lights will ever be delivered in that case, but we'll see. He has my money, so that's a contract.

PAR 16s come either as plain cans or as LED versions. The LED one costs about £36 (but won't need a new bulb ever), and the plain ones are about £8. The barndoors cost about £10 a set, so they are more than the light itself. Worth looking to see if there are any secondhand PARs on eBay.

And PARs have the bulb towards the back of the can, which makes the beam narrow, whereas the cheapie has it right at the front, which means light will spill. As Nick pointed out, they are also fitted for 35W bulbs (though this might be to do with the overhead bar rather than the individual can.)

I'll let you know if they arrive, and if they are any good.

Nick, how did you make your home-made barndoors?

If you don't need the ability to focus the light, or barn door it (without making your own barn doors), I absolutely recommend PAR 20 SPOT lightbulbs. You can get a dish-style aluminum light and take the reflector off, and that will give you a nice concentrated spot. Anywhere you point it. If that's too much light, one of the tricks I like to do is use a clear halogen light bulb and put it in the aluminum housing, with gels stacked over the large opening, then turn the light around and aim one of the air vents at the puppet.  You can also bounce spots off mirrors, and have even more control that way.

Homemade barn doors can be made from black wrap (heavy lighting foil that has been painted matte). If you want to use a spot bulb aluminum dish mentioned earlier, you can C47 a gel over the front to get a colored spotlight. It's a cheapie solution, but that's all I used in animation class and it got me through.

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