LED lighting for image creators


Somehow I ended up on a growing number of LED Lighting equipment manufacturers e-mail mailing lists. Most of them were from China, some from the States and elsewhere. They must have thought that, as we supply broadcast, film and video lighting, that we would be interested in LED lighting. They were right. So I used to dutifully reply, asking them questions about the colour rendition index (CRI) of their LEDs. CRI is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reproduce an object’s colour accurately, in comparison to a natural source. The closer this value is to 100, the better. Of course, for image creators this is a very important issue. Or at least it should be. Suffice to say, not one of them replied. I assumed that they did not understand the importance of the question to us, let alone the answer. Eventually, I simplified the question to one about colour temperature. Surely they could answer this? But, no. Some simply said “blue”.
 
The point I want to make is that not all LED lights are suitable for video, broadcast or film use. In fact, most are not. If you are offered a light without the manufacturer being able to tell you the colour temperature or CRI, then walk away. Never mind the trendy features like low power consumption and low heat output; if it is the wrong “colour”, you should not try and use it. If the colour is so wrong that it has to be used with a set of correction filters to make it an acceptable colour, then again I suggest it is not the right product to choose for lighting your image.
 
In 2009, LED lighting has come of age in our industry. After many years of tantalising us with the new technology, a good number of manufacturers have now harnessed it to produce some excellent products. Not surprisingly, most already have a good understanding of our industry, and are well known to us. Most have been waiting for the basic technology to evolve into something we can use. The Light Emitting Diode (LED), much like a tungsten halogen or HMI lamp, is the start point in every design. The key is to harness or enhance the light energy emitted, and control it. Although the technologies applied in the LED manufacturing processes vary, the resultant emitter chosen will be “white” and bright. Most manufacturers will add a lens to the emitter to control the direction and quality of the output.
 
Arri, the world’s largest and leading manufacturer of broadcast and film lighting, have this year introduced three distinctive LED lighting products. The Caster series gives a bright, even, slightly soft quality of light from a 21 x 8.5cm. surface area. It is fully dimmable, with a dial-in colour temperature range from 2800K to 6500K, and a CRI of 90. The 11-36 volt powered fixture has a very robust housing, and is well designed for location use. The LoCaster has manual control, and the BroadCaster has DMX control. Priced from around £900. The Arri PAX is a clever and versatile system. It features their True Match LED technology to give natural light characteristics. About the same size as a Caster, its light quality can be varied with a selection of lenses and diffusers. Colour temperature, and indeed any colour, can be matched to filter references. CRI is 95. The unit can be remote controlled. A comprehensive two light kit costs around £10,000. The Arri BLM series is a multi-colour output background lighting system.
 
Litepanels, now owned by British plc, The Vitec Group, are a relatively young company. Nevertheless they have become a world leader in LED lighting with some popular products. The 1 x 1 Panel measures one foot square but less than 2 inches deep. With a tight array of 576 lenslet covered LEDs, the output is bright, even and fully dimmable. There are five principal models, some with variations. All feature a very lightweight but robust housing. 12 to 24 volt or mains adapter powered, you can also use your V-mount, PAG or Anton Bauer batteries. In either Daylight or Tungsten, there are Flood models with a 50 degree beam and a projected light value similar to a 300 watt fixture. The Spot model with a 30 degree beam has a projected soft light value similar to a 500 watt fixture. The Super-Spot model with a 15 degree beam has a projected soft light value similar to a 650 watt fixture. Prices start from around £1300. A Low Profile version has the LEDs mounted at a 40 degree angle off axis. This enables the light to be fitted in a tight corner flush to a ceiling, yet illuminate an area away from where it is mounted. Two new models were recently introduced. The Bi-Color model allows you to dial between daylight and tungsten, or any step in between. The two Bi-Focus models allow focusing from 50 to 30 degrees, or 30 to 15 degrees.
 
Litepanels MiniPlus units, offer soft, directional output in a robust package for location production, or on-camera use. There are flood or spot daylight models, or a tungsten model to choose from. Power is supplied by an optional on-board battery, or by the camera. Again, they are fully dimmable without changing the colour temperature. Prices from £540.
 
Lowel, the worlds leading manufacturer of portable lighting systems, has just introduced the Lowel Blender. In a typically compact, lightweight and versatile package, this unit allows you to intuitively mix twin arrays of high CRI LEDs, until you see the right blend of colour to suit a mixed source environment. With an output of 590 lux at about 2 metres it is punchy, but will probably be used most as a semi-soft fill light. Priced at £670 or less.
 
British manufacturer, Gekko Technology, has eight distinct products but is perhaps best known for their ring lights systems. Lenslite fits HDV camcorders, and Kisslite suits larger diameter lenses. These white light “beauty” or fill lights are versatile and lightweight, with a separate ballast mounted underneath the camera or on a flying lead. For different applications, they also offer a compact triangular cluster of 3 LEDs, a straight row, and a rectangular block. They recently acquired the Kelvin Tile design from Element Labs. It is a square semi soft source with dial-in colour temperature control, and full dimming. They have a unique mix of 6 LEDs per cluster to achieve a broad spectrum white light.
Bebob lights uniquely feature a cluster of LEDs on a spine in the middle of a circular reflector. This produces efficient focusing, clean shadows and high output. Two hand-held or stand mounted models run off 12 volt camera batteries mounted under the light. The LED40 model will run for over two hours from a 90 watt/hour battery, but produces the equivalent output of a 300 watt focusing light. The LED60 model consumes 60 watts, but with nearly double the output.
 
Of course, the low power consumption of LEDs makes them the ideal technology for lights run from the same battery you are using to power your camera. Let’s not forget to consider the colour and quality of light, though.
 
PAG have a plug-in LED unit for use with existing Paglights. With the lens covered daylight LED placed in the middle of the reflector, uniform output throughout the focusing range is achieved. It is fully dimmable too. List price for the plug-in is £174 + vat.
 
Dedo’s renowned optical engineering has been applied to their on-board LED light, also known as “Ledzilla”. Output is a bright, daylight white, clean beam, with a long focus range. Again, it is fully dimmable. The tiny, lightweight unit can be run from a camera’s power output socket, or from a 7.2 volt camcorder battery via a plate. Prices start around £369.
 
Bebob have a camera mounted light, similar in principle to their other LED lights, but smaller. Power is taken from the camera’s D-tap.
 
Litepanels have two popular camera mounted lights. The Micro is a very lightweight, bright, rectangular panel of 48 lenslet covered LEDs in a 9 x 6 cm. area. Output is even and bright. It is powered by four AA batteries mounted internally, or by a 7.2 volt camcorder battery via a plate. It is supplied with a tilting camera “shoe” fitting. The Micro Pro is twice the size, and accepts six AA batteries or battery plate. Both are fully dimmable, and accept diffusion or tungsten correction screens. List prices are £260 and £390 respectively.
 
If you are looking to invest in LED lighting, and think that the time is now right, please do not view the products outlined here as a comprehensive list. There are more to consider. However, as it has always been for tungsten, HMI, or fluorescent, bear in mind that the hardware is less important than the output. Look at the light, not the light.

Tags: led lighting | lighting | iss035 | arri | arri pax | litepanels | v-mount | pag | anton bauer | daylight | tungsten | lowel | lightpanels | gekko | bebob | pag | dedo | N/A
Submitted by N/A
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Submitted by Peter Savage Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Still looking good
Dick Hobbs. The television industry is in crisis, as we all know. Experts everywhere are telling us that consumers want content on demand, wherever they are. Online and mobile platforms will mean the end of the broadcaster and the channel as a brand.
Tags: iss107 | television industry | content | on demand | stats | figures | audience | advertiser | Dick Hobbs.
Submitted by Dick Hobbs. Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
AERO.soft - Bringing audio monitoring and processing into AoIP
Martin Dyster In the past, audio processing and monitoring required the purchasing of multiple, specialized hardware to support each function in the air chain. But now, thanks to the increase in the speed of Ethernet connectivity, and IT-based processing power, many of these same processes can be condensed and supported over IP. Audio in particular is making a move to the IP realm with the recent AES67 standard bringing interoperability between manufacturers. Even with this standardization, Audio over IP (AoIP) is still not being used to its maximum potential in the broadcast space.
Tags: iss107 | audio processing | monitoring | hardware | solutions | processing | aeromax | upmax | aero.soft | Martin Dyster
Submitted by Martin Dyster Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Test & Measurement: Ask the expert
Alan Wheable There are basically two different approaches to capturing the Eye Diagram from an SDI signal. These are real-time capture (employed by Real Time oscilloscopes) and signal subsampling (employed by Sampling oscilloscopes such as the Omnitek Ultra 4k Tool Box). All broadcast T&M equipment will use one of these approaches to create the Eye Diagram using a variety of proprietary techniques.
Tags: iss107 | test and measurement | sdi | data | potholes | monitoring | anchillary data | uhd | 4k | test pattern | jitter meters | eye diagram | Alan Wheable
Submitted by Alan Wheable Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Microphone Placement
Beth Zarkhosh Recording vocals on your microphone sounds like an easy job, but making sure you use the correct techniques and appropriate placement is essential. Today well take a look at some of the industry standard techniques as well as some more weird wonderful recording solutions along the way.
Tags: iss107 | recording | audio | microphone | subcardioid | shotgun | vocals | pickup patterns | Beth Zarkhosh
Submitted by Beth Zarkhosh Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Creating native looks in alien worlds: the making of The Martian
Richard Baker Prime Focus Worlds Richard Baker explains how Mars was brought into stereo 3D with the help of Fusion Studio for Ridley Scotts new SciFi survival epic, The Martian
Tags: iss107 | the martian | matt damon | behind the scenes | ridley scott | prime focus world | stereo 3d | Richard Baker
Submitted by Richard Baker Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
TVFutures:Student pitch
Alex Watson Studying at university is so much more these days than just turn up to lectures, hand in assignments and get a degree, and at the end of my first year studying for a BSc in Television and Broadcasting at the University of Portsmouth, I had the opportunity to attain my Avid Media Composer User Certification.
Tags: iss107 | university of portsmouth | avid media composer | bbc | itv | work experience | placement | student | Alex Watson
Submitted by Alex Watson Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Missing Parts Of The Spectrum
Graham Jaggers Since the phasing out of conventional filament light bulbs and their replacement with fluorescent and LED, many manufacturers indicate the colour accuracy of their lamps with a CRI (Colour Rendering Index) number.
Tags: iss107 | lighting | spectrum | colour | filament light bulbs | LED | colour science | Graham Jaggers
Submitted by Graham Jaggers Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Taming the 12Gbs beast and how to T&M it with the Qx
Phillip Adams The one thing you can say about working in the broadcast industry is that there isnt time to get bored! Hesitant, perhaps even frightened these days might be more accurate but bored, certainly not. Such is the case with the planned UHDTV roll out and the need for customers to invest in technology which will adapt as the technologies, proposals and standards evolve. For a company like PHABRIX the hiatus created by customers deciding where to place their investment money has produced a significant opportunity but also a problem: How to meet the evolving requirements of an industry with a suitably forward looking adaptable product available now!
Tags: iss107 | t&m | vidoe payloads | uhdtv | eye | phabrix | qx | agilent | tektronix | Phillip Adams
Submitted by Phillip Adams Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The beat goes on... 4k, 8k and the continual need for T&M
Adam Schadle Just a few short years ago, 4k was the future, but now that 4k televisions and other screens are becoming more widely available, the format is careening toward the present. 4k is still an emerging delivery format, to be sure. After all, there are still places in the world that have yet to transition from SD to HD. But progress marches on. Even as were in the process of adopting and perfecting 4k production equipment, methods, and content delivery, were looking toward doing the same with 8k video, with certain large-audience events and special venue applications as a starting point.
Tags: iss107 | 4k | 8k | test and measurement | sd | hd | video | delivery networks | vod content | tv | voice | data | Adam Schadle
Submitted by Adam Schadle Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Setting out your terms of business
Den Lennie Its one thing to win a client and work, but it can be a whole different thing getting paid. Setting out a simple one-page terms of agreement can protect you. Im not qualified to give legal advice so I encourage you to seek professional advice when setting up your own terms of business. In simple terms, you just need to write down clearly and concisely what you will and wont be responsible for when youre engaged with the client project.
Tags: iss107 | terms of business | terms of agreement | project | production | contract | Den Lennie
Submitted by Den Lennie Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
In media monitoring, as in medicine, a quick fix is not a cure
Simen Frostad A man is rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack. The priorities of the medical team that treats him are clear: keep the patient alive, contain the damage to the heart as far as possible, stabilise the situation until the patient is out of danger. They work under the pressure of these immediate priorities, and with little or no information about the patients medical history to date.
Tags: iss107 | playback and analysis | digital media monitoring | data recording | archive server | engineers | medicine | technology | Simen Frostad
Submitted by Simen Frostad Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Why you might regret automating QC workflows
Bruce Devlin In todays electronic media environment, broadcasters and content owners live and die according to the quality and versatility of their media assets. Not only do consumers expect the best quality viewing experience, but they also expect that viewing experience to be possible on the widest range of devices, at any time and in any situation.
Tags: iss107 | dalet academy | qc workflows | automation | media assets | multi platform | device | Bruce Devlin
Submitted by Bruce Devlin Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Making remote production over IP a reality
John Smith Live sports broadcasting is one of the most technically challenging tasks for any production team. Multiple signals in multiple formats need to be transmitted around the sports facility. In addition, signals need to be integrated with feeds from other locations to create a complete broadcast stream. As a result, remote production over IP has recently become a much discussed topic! The possibility of simplifying networks by consolidating all media traffic onto a common platform, and taking advantage of the increasing availability of video devices that natively support IP could solve many challenges. However, recent advances which bring together both broadcast and telcos technology means we are now seeing the transportation of established broadcast signals over IP across established internal and external networks become a reality.
Tags: iss107 | remote production | ip | 3dhdi/sdi | networks | broadcast | John Smith
Submitted by John Smith Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine