Belgium-based Tom Van den Abbeele is busy working on feature films, episodic television and occasionally, commercials. As a gaffer and owner of Watts rental company, he knows his way around lighting gear.
He was an early-adopter of DoPchoice, first appreciating their “no tummy” Snapgrids for Chimera light banks and then the company’s 4’ x 4’ diffusion frames.
“They made customised products. I had a feature coming up and the DP wanted a key-light through an octagonal 5’ Chimera. This was when the Area 48 LED fixture just came on to the market, and I was a huge fan so I asked DoPchoice’s Stephan Karle if he could make me an octagonal Snapbag that would fit on an Area 48. He made it happen and I had a very happy DP on-set because we had this amazing Octa dome that we could dim down and use in all kinds of colour temperatures. Stefan made up a new type of speed ring mount that had a lot of similarities to their current Rabbit Ears, but in a very early stage!”
Van den Abbeele is a big fan of LEDs explaining that actors like the lack of heat and noise. He appreciates that, along with LED lights, DoPchoice gear saves space on set.
He was also an early adopter of Quasar Science tubular lights. “I love working with them but I was unable to control spill. So, first I used them in old KinoFlo 1-bank and 2-bank fixtures. I had wanted to ask DoPchoice to make a Snapgrid that fit the tubes. Before I had the time to contact them I saw a picture on Instagram that they were launching just what I needed.”
DoPchoice introduced the Single Tube SnapGrid, a neat fit for a slim tube of up to 4’ in length that sets up in a snap. “I immediately bought 15 pieces,” says Van den Abbeele, “and I find them a gamechanger. Everybody loves them.”
How does he use them? “On a film we are lighting now, there’s a two-camera scene in a kitchen where we have a simple shot and reverse shot, but in both there’s a window in the frame. One camera shoots a frontal with a little bit of window in the background and the second camera takes a profile with the window in the background.
“Because of the silk curtains we cannot bring a lot of light through the window or it would blow out and we need detail. So we bounce two M40s through the window to compensate for the sun in the background. Inside I placed two Quasar Science Rainbow fixtures rigged in the centre of the two windows. Because of the Snapgrids we can use the Rainbows to overtake the windows without lighting the whole set.”
DoPchoice makes some of Abbeele’s favourite tools, whether on tubular lights or rectangulars. “A Skypanel S30 with an Octa 3 Snapbag and a Snapgrid is my go-to key-light. The Octa 3 is just big enough to make it one of the most beautiful and easy-to-use keylights that we have available now.”
He concludes: “It seems we always get less time to do the same work. Now DoPchoice gives us tools to help us to do just that! We can work a lot faster and create even more beautiful images, just because their products are so great.”