Lighting 201: Gear Setup – Setting Up a Manual Flash “Big Boom Stick”
Gear Setup – Setting Up a Manual Flash “Big Boom Stick” | Transcription
It’s time to show you how to set up the biggest of our big boomstick. We’re going to be doing this with the Bolt VB-22. They are medium-sized strobes. With this setup here, we’re going to get to a total of close to 500 watt seconds of manual flash power. It’s a really great setup. Now let me show you how you’re going to do this. We have right here our Profoto RFi Speedring. Now when it comes to using solutions like the Bolt or other manual strobe solutions, you’re going to have to play around with things.
This is the best setup that we’ve found to get the most out of these flashes and out of the modifier. We’ve found they work best so far with the Profoto RFi Speedring. Now what we’re going to do is we have our Benro Monopod. This is, again, what I’d always say. I’m going to remind you guys. When putting a couple grand worth of gear, $1,500 worth of lighting gear, onto a monopod do not use a cheap monopod. We have our Benro Monopod and we have taken off the S4 head and we’ve just placed this brass spigot on.
I think we did that earlier too, so we don’t need to redemonstrate that. Right now I’m just going to place the Profoto Speedring right onto this and then we’re just going to tighten down the Speedring so it’s sufficiently tight. Now this is, again, just a reminder. When you put that spigot on, be sure to use a wrench to tighten it because once you start putting heavier modifiers, like the Profoto Speedring, if that’s loose it can have a tendency to spin and turn while you’re using it, which is dangerous and it can also fall off and you end up breaking all your lights.
Okay, so on this guy what you’ll notice is that we have this little thumb screw right here that allows us to basically push in and out this bracket. This is what makes this bracket so perfect for the Bolt. Number one, this port is fairly large, so we can actually fit two of them into it. Number two, we actually have this movable bracket that allows us to place the Bolt flashes in there so we don’t have any light spilling out the back. We need to do one thing, though, before we go there.
What we need to do is actually take off this little T portion of the bracket which comes with the RFi Speedring because we don’t really need it. All we’re going to do is just undo this. Remember, almost every piece of gear comes with industry-standard quarter 20 screws on it. What we’re going to do is take that off. We’re going to take this guy off as well. This is just another flash bracket right here. We don’t actually need this flash bracket. We don’t need this guy. We’re going to take this one, just off and out. Now with these two screws out, we can take this little T bracket off.
Now we take that bracket off. We don’t need that guy. Now look at the bottom of the bolt right here. I’m not sure … It was such a while ago when we bought them new that I’m not sure what comes on the bottom. If there’s an adapter or anything on the bottom, just take it off and you’ll reveal the quarter 20 bolt right at the bottom. All we need do to is we have quarter 20 bolts right here. We have a quarter 20 female right here. We just place the quarter 20 males into our little bracket and we place the strobe right there. Then we’re just going to start to tighten. There we go. Get it all lined up. Let me actually set one of these guys down. Let me set this guy down so I’m not dropping stuff. I’m going to go ahead and grab that guy.
All I did was, I just mounted this flash by screwing in our quarter 20 male bolt into the quarter 20 female port on the end of the flash right there. Now I’m just going to push this down so we have space to put in our other flash. Okay? Now it might be just a little bit helpful to tighten that just a little bit so this doesn’t move all around. Now with the second flash, the only way that these mount really well is you could possibly place them like this, but it’s still kind of difficult. What I like to do is mount them.
Basically, what we’re going to is we’re going to have this guy. Let’s just do this. We’ll push this guy all the way to the bottom and let’s mount our second one. Okay. Yes. I’m going to show you in just one second that if you want both of the, basically these plates, to be adjustable … See how we have all of our buttons and everything? You can leave space there if you’d like to. You can leave space that you can make manual adjustments to flash power and so forth, or you could flip one of the ones upside down. I find it easier just to leave space between them than trying to adjust them up and down.
What we need to do first is we need to push the bracket just a little bit in so that we get the flash heads all the way in. This is exactly what I’m talking about. When it comes to other units, with other setups, we don’t end up getting these bare bulb … This is a bare bulb strobe system where we have these protruding bulbs like this. When we don’t get those all the way in through this port, we end up getting spill that comes out of the outside. We got this when we basically did a setup with the Bolt with the Westcott Rapid Box, and we couldn’t get it into a position where we didn’t get spill.
What happens with that spill is it generally flares into the camera. That becomes a problem. With this, we can get the heads all the way through the port, or through that Speedring entrance, and then now we’re not going to get that spill. Okay? We can leave a little bit of space here just so we can have a bit of adjustment space to adjust power settings and so forth. That is very much adequate. Just make sure that all your bolts are tightened at this point. This is by far the most complex setup that we’re going to be doing. All right, now when it comes to mounting the battery, I have a very ghetto-fabulous solution to this. Watch this.
All I’m going to do is lift this up so you guys can see down here. Let me get this guy up a little bit higher. Is that all the way out? There we go. Okay. All right. Can you see this nice, lovely piece of Velcroed tape? Basically, all I did was I attached the hard side of the Velcro underneath directly to the monopod. I just have a piece of Velcro up around the top. This, I just didn’t take the plastic off the backside, so it’s just that same plastic there on the backside. I know there’s a billion better ways to do this, but I’ve been using this for like a year now and it’s worked fine so I haven’t bothered fixing it.
I’m just going to show you my ghetto-fab setup. I like ghetto-fab setups. Okay, so I just pop that little there, just a little belt holder kind of thing right there. All I do is I just fasten that Velcro back to this. It’s actually very, very secure. That thing is not going anywhere. I have my battery now mounted to this. Obviously, you can find better ways of mounting your battery pack, but whatever. Touche. I’m okay with this. I’m okay with ghetto-fab setups. Now we’re going to take our cables and we’re going to place this directly into here. Place that in, and you’ll notice that which side basically you can get in there. You can probably get to it from … You can creep under there. Get under my legs like that. Nice. Well done, sir. Okay. Here, it’s plugged in. All I’m going to do is just twist this to the right to tighten that. Now it’s just basically locked in place. Then all we’re going to do is open up our port right here. We have a battery port right there on that guy and we’re going to pop this in.
It can only go in one direction, so it’s not like you can mess this up. In the past, batteries used to be able to actually go in … You used to be able to flip cables the wrong direction, and that was a nightmare because you’d blow up your flashes. Basically they’d just die right as soon as you turn them on. That was not fun. It’s nice now. They just made everything go only one way, so you can’t really mess it up. Same thing on this side. We’re just going to pop this in right here. We’re going to tighten it. We’re going to go up to the top. If you want, you can just wrap the cables around.
If you wrap the cables just once around this, it gets rid of some of the slack. I’ll do that with the other cable too, just a little bit more. Okay, that goes up there. Let’s unplug this guy, wrap this guy around so we get a little bit less slack going on. Okay. I’m going to let you guys … I’m not not mounting a RFi modifier to this because it’s gigantic. We’re not going to put that on there. We’ll show you how it’s done. It’s very simple. If you’ve ever put together an OctoBox, they all work the same way. You have your little rods that you pop in there and you’re good to go.
We have this now set up. Now what we need to do is put together our syncing. Let’s go ahead and just turn this on right now. I’m going to turn it on from the battery pack. Right when we turn it on, you have to hold this down actually for it to go. There we go. Okay, so now our flashes power up right there. We can see that that one’s on. Our top one is on. This one is set to 1/1 power. I’m just going to reduce this to 1/16 and have the bottom one on 1/16 as well so we get actually good recycle times. Okay. That is good to go.
Now what we need to do is actually set up the radio. For the radio, usually you can put this really anywhere you want, but I’m just going to put this around the top piece right here. Let’s just unplug this cable for one-second while I get this around. Perfect. Okay, we’ll power this guy on. Check this out. I have my 3.5-millimeter jack on this side, right? Oh, I almost dropped … Logan, you almost had to come back to get that again, but no. I caught it. Here’s our 3.5. now, we have two 3.5-millimeter ports right here on the left side of our bolts.
The problem is, it’s right here under the sync category. It also has PC sync, by the way, but we don’t want to touch PC sync. PC sync sucks. The thing is that if I were to use one cable I would need two PocketWizards, right? Again, it gets expensive. Why would you need two PocketWizards if you just need both of them to fire together? You just need one PocketWizard. The problem is we need a cable that splits. We have this little adapter cable. It’s just a female side 3.5-millimeter stereo cable that goes to two males 3.5-millimeter cables. We just pop this adapter cable on here, and you can get this for like 10 bucks off Amazon. Just look for a 3.5 millimeter female to split 3.5-millimeter male.
Okay, pop that right into here. Pop it right into here. Now we can control both … Oh, I just blinded myself. That was fantastic. That was like 200 watts in my face. Okay. Now we can control both of these from a single PocketWizard. Let’s go ahead. We’re on Channel 1. Transmit and receive. Let’s find our camera right here. This is not a stand that I want to try and let balance by itself. Do I? Do I? Oh, yeah. Let’s do this fast. Do this fast. Don’t blow it. Don’t breathe, people. Get that on there. Don’t try this at home, folks. Watch it fall right on its face and everything shatters.
Okay, so there we go. Now you can see we have both of these firing. Look at that. Pretty lovely, right? I’m going to stop looking at it because I basically can’t even see right now. I can’t even see where the cameras are now. I’m pretty much just blind, but that’s okay. Now we have up to 500 watt seconds because basically each of these is roughly around 250 to, they say that they’re 360. Who knows what they are? They’re roughly about five pocket strobes. With this setup we have essentially 10 pocket strobes worth of light with manual triggering. Keep in mind that this is all manual power, right? We have to make all of our adjustments from this guy, but we have up to 10 pocket strobes worth of power.
We can put whatever modifier we want on the front of it, and we are now good to go. We have a super powerful light source and this, with modification, with an Octa, with whatever you have over it, this is actually enough power now to overpower the sun in midday sun. Again, you still have to play with distances from the model. You can’t get 30 feet back and expect to overpower the sun, but at around five to 10, even up to 15 feet, you can expect to get a good amount of light power onto your subject.
From this point, all we’re going to do is put our desired RFi modifier on there. You might find it easier, actually, to apply. I would recommend putting on the modifier of your choice before you go and put the flashes and everything else on here. What I typically do is we put on the modifier that we’re going to use and then we put in onto the monopod. We have everything face down, and then we start mounting everything that way. If you try and mount everything right now with these on there, it’s very cumbersome.
You have these things jutting out and you can potentially throw a rod right through one of the bulbs, which would be kind of a problem. Do that, and then put the modifiers on. We wanted to demonstrate this whole setup. You can see how convoluted this is. I’m going to leave this setup because in the next video we’re going to show you another big boomstick, but we’re going to use a full feature strobe with a Profoto B2. We’re going to show you how much more simple that setup actually is.