The One Thing Jack Bauer Never Did on '24'


After watching the last episode of '24' I realized that of all the things Jack Bauer ever did to his adversaries - and there's little he didn't do to them over the years - the one thing he never ever did was to have  them sit for a formal portrait before he did whatever he ultimately did to them. And this got me thinking.

If anybody had to work within tight guidelines it was Jack and his cohorts at CTU. They had to pick and choose their 'work tools' and leave little to chance. And they often had to pack light and tight as they never knew where they might end up at the 59th minute of each episode. So if for some reason the writers decided it would be a good idea for Jack to grab a few flattering headshots of his adversaries before removing them from the story line, he'd need a lighting kit that's compact , easy to set up on the fly, and easy to travel with. Keeping within these parameters the first lighting system that came to mind were Rosco LitePads.

Rosco LitePads are flat (under a half-inch thick) high output LED lights that come in a variety of sizes ranging from larger 24 x 24" squares down to smaller 3" circles and 3 x 6" and 3 x 12" striplights that you can slip over the rear view mirror of your car. LitePads are also daylight balanced (6000°K) and can be powered by AC (120VAC or 240VAC) or 12-volt DC power sources including  your car's cigarette lighter, as well as AA batteries. Equally important is the fact LED light sources produce little if any heat, which means nobody's make-up will start running until Jack decides it's time for his 'subjects' to start sweating.

Also notable is the estimated 60,000-hour lamp life of Rosco LitePads, which is 59,808 hours longer than the 192 'real-time' hours that made up the show's 8-year run.

Because CTU agents have to pack light we decided to create a lighting kit capable of lighting one, maybe two subjects and that can be packed up as carry-on baggage, or in the case of crammed flights and puddle-jumpers, be strong enough to survive among the checked baggage.

Using these guidelines we've outlined the following plan of attack. For starters, we'll need three 12x12" Rosco  LitePad HO units, which by using each units dimming controls can be used as the main, fill, and hair lights. To support the LitePads, we'll have to forgo traditional lightstands (they're too bulky for carry-ons) and instead pack a small selection of grip gear which we can use for clamping the LitePads to doorposts, railings, steampipes, and perhaps the very chairs Jack's subjects are shackled to.

Each LitePad features a 1/4-20 thread  for mounting the LitePads to their respective supports. Some of the grip components we could use for our portrait kit include Manfrotto 386B Nano clamps, Matthews Gaffer Grips, Avenger 043R Gaffer Grips clamps, and other gaffer and mafer clamps we carry at B&H.

Gaffer and Mafer Grips for Hanging Rosco LitePads Most Anywhere

The next thing we need is a case to carry all these toys, and here we can go 2 ways. In terms of crash-worthiness and protection from the elements, our 1st choice would have to be the HPRC 3500F backpack, a tough-as-heck (ATA 300-rated / IP67 Military spec / STANAG 4280 NATO specification for high and low temperatures for extended periods of time (up to 131° Fahrenheit for 48 hours and as low as -4.0° Fahrenheit for 16 hours), which can probably also survive being blown out of the sky altogether. (This should make Jack happy... no?) 

Tough Cases to carry all of the above.

 By separating the 12x12" LitePads with foam padding ( or maybe thin padded laptop sleeves from InCase, Case Logic, or Built NY) we can protect the LitePads from scratches and dings. As for all of the clamps and grips, we suggest a Hardigg iM2306 Storm case, which should be small enough to smuggle aboard the plane along with the HPRC backpack. 

And if Jack should decide the hard cases are overkill (Overkill on '24'?) he can also take a look at Lowepro's Dryzone 200 backpack, which is totally waterproof if he and/or his lighting kit should somehow end up in the drink. (Note to Jack - If you go with the Dryzone 200 you can easily strap a couple of compact Manfrotto 5001B Nano light stands onto the sides of the backpack. They open up to 6.2", but fold down to 19".)

The choice is yours Jack... and thanks for the wonderful job you've done protecting us from the evil ways of the world.

Discussion 8

Add new comment

Add comment Cancel

Unfortunately, 24 missed a huge plot opportunity. Jack works undercover as a photographer handling student photos for the largest school in the country -- he has a scant 24 hours to photograph thousands of uncooperative children. Gripping television -- just think of it as one of those episodes of 'Night Court' when they had to clear out a few hundred cases in a matter of hours, except a lot longer and with more split-screen.

Oh, and the lights look pretty neat, too.

These are excellent suggestions for Jack's potential photography needs. I know that he uses a Zoom Q3 to make professional sounding videos in the field, but as far as I know he currently doesn't have any run-and-gun portraiture gear.


How many times were you people beat up on in school? This is worse than being named Skippy!

this is all very cute and all,, but I would be happier to read about cool innovative

ways of using equipment like this, without the tv show references. I don't even own a tv, let alone have the time to watch all these stupid shows!

good info though!

All Jack needs is a G11, white shirt (for fill) and open shade.

Is it just me, or would it be a cool idea to have some actual photos of the Rosco Light Pads with this article?

The bags, cases and gaffer gear are cool, but they don't help you take the picture.

As a producer of the show, I got together with the writers for an idea about "24 -The Movie" that we always had plans to morph our wildly-popular TV show into - but were unsure right to the very end that it would fly .... 

I'd like to run this by everyone for their opinion:  We're gonna find a way to  work in a cafeteria food fighting sequence into the 2-3 AM episode of the show!  We here think this would be the winning formula for the movie version of 24.


Dont ride Amtrak with a camera or equipment on your shoulder or around your neck. Cameras and equip. will get you ******** by Amtrak police. Yes it says so in there  national timetable.