February 15, 2017

Learn How to Build a DIY Kino Flo with 4 Incandescent Lights

This tutorial will show you how to put together an inexpensive light that looks and works much like an expensive Kino Flo.

Kino Flos are a great option for lighting your film, but they tend to be out of most indie filmmakers' price range and can be less color accurate than what's desired. However in this tutorial from Indy Mogul, DP James Codeglia shows you how to build "covered wagons" like the ones he used while shooting behind-the-scenes on several J.J. Abrams films. Like Kino Flos, they are low profile, lightweight, powerful lights, but will cost a whole lot less.

As far as I can tell, Codeglia's DIY light is pretty standard compared to other covered wagons, except for one slight difference—a difference that gives it that Kino Flo functionality. Instead of designing it with the bulbs facing up, he sets the bulbs on their sides, which gives the light a low enough profile that it can be put just about anywhere.

He uses incandescent light bulbs, which are cheap, accessible, and make skin tones look nice. However, if those kinds of bulbs aren't your cup of tea, you can always switch them out (or even the fixtures) for something else. A possible alternative would be replacing the incandescents with LED lights—whichever ones you have on hand—because you solve the problem/risk of your light getting too hot and potentially starting a fire or just burning the shit out of your paw. You might lose a little color accuracy though.

My one beef with this tutorial is that it doesn't provide step-by-step instructions on how to build it. Since I'm no electrician and couldn't tell you how to wire a hanger, you're going to have to figure it out for yourself, which isn't that bad if you know your way around hammers and screws—and complex and potentially dangerous electrical wiring. I think Codeglia gives you just enough to have an idea of what to do, but you'll have to go the rest of the way on your own.

If you're daring enough to try this build, Codeglia has provided a materials list of all the things you'll need. Click here to check it out.

There are several conventional covered wagon DIY tutorials out there that explain the electrical side a bit more. You can check them out here and here. But again, if you're not an electrician, consult with one before you start wiring stuff.      

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3 Comments

This is rad. Simple and well thought out. Thanks for sharing!

February 16, 2017 at 2:26PM

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D Jones
DP, Editor, Animator
120

No need to DIY: Here's a cheap ($45) and off the shelf LED solution:
Light of America LED Utility Shoplight 40 watt 4200 Lumen 48": http://amzn.to/24UYNst

February 16, 2017 at 3:14PM

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I think using an LED shoplight bypasses the original point of using tungsten light.

February 17, 2017 at 2:58PM

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Steve Yager
Filmmaker
210