There is no question that lighting can either make or break a performance. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a film set, theater, or any other production. So, when it comes to outfitting yourself with studio and grip equipment staples, you’re going to need stands. For the most versatile and dependable stand in the industry, you can’t go wrong with C-stands.
Before the advent of artificial light and light stands, early films were all shot either outside or in studios that were specifically designed to let in large amounts of sunlight. This is because filmmakers relied almost entirely on bright sunlight to light their sets. Early filmmakers did not adopt the range of artificial light that photographers were using in their studios. Because of this, there was no nighttime filming and very little indoor filming. In fact, some credit California’s plentiful sunlight as the reason why the American film industry shifted from New York to the West Coast.
The first uses of artificial lights for the film industry began at the end of the 19th century. It wasn’t until 1905, however, that filmmakers began to explore all of the creative possibilities for light. Today, we know that lighting goes beyond simple exposure; lighting techniques are just as vital to visual storytelling. Additionally, using diffusers and filters with lighting can create your desired aesthetics.
Thankfully, we don’t need to worry about the sun nearly as much when it comes to filmmaking. Even when it comes to on-location shooting, we can fake it. Just because we’ve abandoned the simplicity of early film lighting, it doesn’t mean we don’t pay homage to it daily.
Take the C-stand, for example. This light stand, also known as a Century stand, is arguably one of the most important pieces of studio equipment you’ll find on set. The name itself is a tribute to the early days of filmmaking. When productions relied on continuous overhead lighting from the sun, filmmakers used large reflectors to bounce this light. The most popular size was the 100”, or century-sized reflector.
Part of what makes C-stand light mounts so popular is their versatility. Century stands can be used to hold a light, support a bounce board, position reflectors, block light with flags, and even organize clothing in the wardrobe. More than just a throwback to early film, these C-stands also have over one hundred uses.
A C-stands complete refers to a stand with an extension arm. These are the components that make up a complete C-stand:
MATTHEWS HOLLYWOOD GRIP HEAD
MATTHEWS JUNIOR STAND DOUBLE RISER – ROLLING
A regular C-stand, on the other hand, does not include an extension arm. These regular C-stands are used to holding light fixtures.
A “baby C-stand” measures only 20” at its shortest height and are sometimes called a "Gary Coleman" or a "Billy Barty" in the US.
A C-stand with a “turtle base” has a removable base. The opening at the top of the turtle base takes the base of either a C-stand upright or a junior pin. Stands with this type of base are great for setting up lights very low to the ground.
A “Stair Leg” C-stand or “Rocky Mountain leg” has an uppermost leg that is movable on the vertical axis.
If you do plan on taking advantage of Century stands’ one hundred uses, reliability is key. If you’re looking for the best of the best, it doesn’t get much better than Matthews Studio Equipment. They are the ones who made folding C-stands what they are today, after all.
At MTN Shop, we carry Matthews C-stands in a variety of configurations to meet your on-set demands. From adjustable C-stands with a spring-loaded turtle base to those with a low-profile base, we’ve got you covered. We even offer the new specifically designed for the run and gun shooter who’s always on the move.
You can find the following Matthews C-stands at MTN Shop: