Skip to main content

Grip Tools: Apple Boxes, C-Stands & Grip Heads

Lesson 10 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

Grip Tools: Apple Boxes, C-Stands & Grip Heads

Lesson 10 from: Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Chris Knight

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

10. Grip Tools: Apple Boxes, C-Stands & Grip Heads


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What is Cinematic Lighting?


Motivated & Practical Lighting


5 Cinematic Lighting Tips


Low-Key & Upstage Lighting


Control Your Fill Lighting


Show Depth In Your Image


Pre-Production for Cinematic Lighting


Grip Tools: Clamps


Grip Tools: Apple Boxes, C-Stands & Grip Heads


Grip Tools: Pins & Portable Gear


Grip Tools: Scrims, Silks, Flags & Tape


Grip Tools: Wind and Haze Machines


Grip Tools: Unusual Tools


Grip Tools: Filters


Grip Tools: Q&A


Theater Shoot: Concept


Theater Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations


Theater Shoot: Lighting Gear


Theater Shoot: Motivated Lighting Considerations


Theater Shoot: Lighting Walkthrough


Theater Shoot: Capturing The 1st Shot


Theater Shoot: Hero Shot


Theater Shoot: Capturing In The Seats


Airstrip Shoot: Concept


Airstrip Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations


The Haircut: Location Specifics and Motivated Lighting


Working With Scrims On Location


The Haircut: Getting the Shot


The Haircut: Shooting Plates


Staggered Planes: Location Specifics and Motivated Lighting


Staggered Planes: Getting The Shot


Capturing Plates With Talent In Background


Airstrip: Environmental Portraits


Airstrip: Location Shooting Q&A


Using Plates to Create a Pano in Lightroom®


Transform Tool


Post-Processing 1st Theater Shot


Retouching Details in Photoshop®


Color Grading in Alien Skin Exposure X3


Post-Processing Theater Hero Shot in Photoshop®


Creating a Spotlight in Photoshop®


Adjusting Color for Cinematic Lighting


Post-Processing: The Haircut


Coloring the Sky and Removing Modern Building


Creating a Pano Using Plates in Photoshop®


Developing Cinematic Portraits in Lightroom®


Retouching Cinematic Portraits in Photoshop®


Color Grading Cinematic Portraits in Alien Skin


Lesson Info

Grip Tools: Apple Boxes, C-Stands & Grip Heads

Let's talk about apple boxes. This is two sizes, they come in different finishes; you can get'em worn, you can get'em pretty fresh and clean looking like that. This is covered in black paint and gaff tape to be dark; totally fine. Generally what you use these for is anytime you want to raise or lower the height of anything. They're also are regularly used for seats on set cause you can just go grab one, tilt it up, sit on it. Or maybe you're shooting from the ground, you can turn it over, you can sit on it, you want to go a little higher, you turn it to the side. Like you can create different configurations of height out of one box; here, here, here, here, all different kinds of things. We've got a full which is obviously the big one, the one that is half the size of the full is called a half, half the size of that is called a quarter, and the smallest one is called a pancake. The pancake is basically just a piece of wood. You probably aren't gonna see that too, too much in photography...

. I don't know hardly any photographers that have a pancake. The other ones are a little bit more common and they're used for a variety of situations. One of the most common ways you would use different degrees of apple boxes is when you are putting multiple people in a frame, and you need to equalize out height. So let's say you're posing a couple and the two happen to have a huge height difference, you can use the apple boxes to equalize them out without having one person hunch over or slouch down; very, very useful way to achieve that. So you know, maybe such and such actor is really short and the actress is really tall, and they need to make them a little bit more equalized, so they'll use an apple box under one, and equalize the height. Super common trick for that and then again, just use as seats all over the place. C-stands which I know I mentioned already are my preferred way to put up lights. They are unfortunately a lot heavier than a regular light stand, and they're more expensive. But when you are on location, when you are dealing with things that are relatively heavy and go way up in the air, it's a safety thing. And so I don't use a single, a single light stand I think for this entire production. I don't think there, there might be one or two maybe somewhere far way, but anything that really I have to be careful of is getting a C-stand, that's because I can weight it down with weights, I can do a lot more things to it, like I can add boom arms and I can get the light way off the stand. And so this really just is about creating the most stable platform for lights that I can. I will always, always, always try to use a C-stand instead of a light stand wherever I can. I know it's a little bit heavier but it really is just, it's lot more sturdy and a lot safer across the board. C-stands come in a variety of different configurations; you can get'em in silver, you can get'em in black. I actually really like the black ones, A because I just to own to despite my shirt, buy most things in black (chuckles) and they're a little bit more of a matte finish so they don't catch and reflect light. If that is ever a consideration, it's usually not, but it's just nice to have. So you have that, there's different sizes, there are different ways that the legs can collapse. So this is what probably a normal C-stand leg looks like and you basically have to just apply a lot of pressure to close them up, and force them close. What'll happen is you can close them all up, they'll stack really nice and cleanly if you want to flatten them up, or store them. You can also if you have the space to have many of them, because the legs are all different heights they'll nest really cleanly. So you put like the tall leg right up against the tall leg, and they'll pack in you know, in a relatively compressed space. There are also C-stands that use, there's like a turtle, it's a turtle lock is what it's called and so basically what you do is you pull up a latch on the pin, or on the legs, and they all just kind of, like with weight, just collapse to one thing. I prefer that, I think it's a lot easier to to set up and break down, but it's just something that you can do. The main portion will also come out of the legs so know that you can break it down even further once it's collapsed, and broken apart, you can really you know, get that. These also you know, you can get bigger versions that have wheels on them, that are more heavy duty, but for the most part just keep in mind that this is gonna be a lot more of a stable way to go. Now sitting on top of this is the arm and the Grip Head or the Knuckle. So, this is generally gonna give us a whole lot more flexibility on what the light is doing here. So when it comes to getting the light pushed away from the stand or in the shot from somewhere else, I'm gonna use something like this which is an arm which gives me a little bit of distance off the light, so it gives me a whole extra element of (stutters), of distance, or I'm gonna use like an Avenger Stand, it's called an Avenger, it's a boom arm. There's also a Cambo which is a really big weighted stand that I use at home when I really need distance. So there are all different kinds of solutions for how you should be setting these up. Now, when you are using an, when you're using an arm like this, when you're using an Avenger Stand, there are a few safety precautions you are really gonna wanna take note of. So remember, when something gets really high and really off, off, off-plane of the vertical, it's really likely to tip over, and if you're inside, you're obviously less susceptible to certain things. When you are outside, wind can catch it and scare, scare the crap out of ya when it starts to move a little bit. I've had huge, huge panels and lights catch wind and cause tons of problems. Not me personally but when you're setting stuff up, it's something you have to be really, really careful of. So in one of the shoots we had these kind of way hung out over the mezzanine, and with the light and everything else, so we have to be very careful when we are setting this up, and one of the ways we do that is making sure whatever is extended, goes over it, lines up with the tall leg of the C-stand. And so when it's kind of in between the legs it's more likely to tip, but when gravity has to fit the tallest leg, it makes it the most difficult, so that's one of the key things to setting up something with an arm on it. The other thing is you wanna make sure that when the arm is tightened, so you want it to tighten in the way that the pressure pushes on the arm. So what that basically means is the more weight that goes on the arm, the tighter it's going to be, because if you go the opposite way it's kinda like someone gradually just pulling on it, and the more, the more you pull on it, the more it's gonna loosen, and eventually your light's gonna fall. So you wanna make sure that the arm goes in the direction of the way that you tighten it, so I'm twisting it let's see, I'm twisting it this way, it's here, and so the more pressure I put on it, the more it locks into place. Whereas if I go the opposite way, you're more likely to loosen it and it'll fall. Another thing that you can do is you can counter-weight one side of it to help keep it balance and I'll talk more about sandbags in just a minute. When you are raising and lowering C-stands, good practice is to raise from the highest rung first, right, which seems kinda silly, but you wanna raise the top one first so that if you need more height, and maybe you're at the very end of it, it's already right here versus let me raise from the bottom, and get it all the way up in the air and you're like I need more height, and you're like, (audience member chuckles) right, it's a little bit awkward. So raise from the top first and then work your way down. This is a very heavy duty situation so you know, you can get away with it. I know with like the light stands, if you're raising from the top one and you've got something heavy on it, it's like sometimes it'll bow a little bit and it just you know, you're a little bit more able to do it with this. Now, what is kind of connecting these arms, well one is already mounted to one end and then one is allowing it to be mounted to the C-stand. This is called a Grip Head or a Knuckle, okay? And that's this right here or this right here, and this allows you to connect a zillion different things. So basically it feeds in through the hole that closely fits it, you lock it down, and you have the arm. You can put stuff on any one of these ends. There are many different holes that allow you to mount a lot of different things. You'll notice many of the things that we have have different size holes in them. So like a flag for example which I'm gonna talk about in a little bit, tiny, tiny metal piece that mounts it, you use the small hole. The Quacker for example, this uses something called a baby pin. Baby pin, fits here, right, get it, tighten it down, and you come over, probably wanna put that in first but. So you can get a variety of different positions out of this, like alright well it's here, okay that's not what I want, what do you want? You wanna make it higher? You rotate it up here. Oh I got a locked in Grip Head. Well, that one's kind of locked into place, break it down, you know, you know, a lot of different ways you can move it; this Grip Head just happens to be a little bit frozen but you get the idea. This would normally rotate and you know, you can rotate from all different kinds of axes to get whatever side you want, where you want it, floating, you know whatever, whatever the case may be.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Chris Knight - Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture Grip Quick Reference Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Bruce Walker

This course is simply terrific, and I highly recommend it. Firstly it arrived at the perfect time for me as I am soon to do a studio shoot very much in keeping with a cinematic or theatrical aesthetic. Secondly it's taught by Chris Knight who I swear is like a long-lost twin brother. :-) There are so many parallels in the way he thinks and works to my own style. So I avidly watched this as soon as it was available for anytime streaming. This is the first time I have made extensive use of the CL iPhone app, btw, and I love how it pretty much enabled me to seamlessly switch back and forth from desktop viewing to my iPad that I carry around the house during the day. I was able to make coffee and still carry on taking in the course, uninterrupted. The content is fantastic, delivered succinctly yet entertainingly. Some material and ideas are already in my repertoire and were reinforced and validated by Chris' demonstrations. But he also introduced a lot of ideas and methods new to me and very welcome. I was particularly glad to see how practical it is to stitch a series of tripod shots into a wide pano. I have been afraid to try that but I will now be using that in my next shoot, for sure. As alway, his post production practices revealed all kinds of tips about Lightroom and Photoshop I didn't know. Negatives. The volume level mastering is iffy. It started out at a decent level then midway through one of the early lessons dropped so much I had to turn up my sound system to compensate. And as I write this one lesson (34) is missing and in its place was a duplicate of the next lesson (35). I expect CL will have that fixed shortly though (I sent support a note).

Jeph DeLorme

One of the best classes I have viewed at Creative Live. Definitely worth the investment of time and money. The pace of the class allows you to learn extra tips and tricks throughout the process. Great instructor, highly recommend this class to anyone looking to step up their creative game.

a Creativelive Student

excellent class in all regards. outstanding instructor with experience in complicated cinematic shoots but who also is willing to thoroughly cover the basic nuts and bolts. i wish all creative live classes were of this quality.

Student Work