Sports event remote crews have long fought the challenge of matching light on announce booth talent to the ambient light on the field below. Light on the playing surface during a single event can range from bright sunlight, ducking in and out of clouds, to minimal level artificial light. During daylight hours, without additional light on the talent the result would be either the announcer’s dark silhouettes against a natural looking background, or properly exposed faces against a blooming background. Matching such an ambient-lit background requires flexibility not only in the intensity of light on the talent, but also with lighting source color temperature.
In the past, these remote crews have had to turn to either tungsten or HMI daylight lighting fixtures. Tungsten fixtures, which require a relatively large amount of electrical current for the amount of light produced, also emit light at 3200°K, which requires further light-robbing gelling to color balance against the 5600°K light on the field below. HMI fixtures produce light at greater energy efficiency, and emit light at 5600°K, but require a bulky ballast unit and downtime before they can be re-struck, which can limit how quickly the production can bring the lights back up for another announce on-camera shot. When it comes to dimming, tungsten bulbs exhibit a great deal of color shift as light output is reduced. HMIs exhibit a lessor but still noticeable color shift, and are generally limited to a 50-percent light reduction. Both tungsten and HMI bulbs have a limited lifetime before they begin to exhibit a drift in color temperature output. A booth lighting package with either tungsten or HMI fixtures usually requires dedicated power be run to supply enough current. And finally, both tungsten and HMI lighting sources generate considerable heat in the booth when illuminated.
Unlike its predecessors, LED (light emitting diode) lighting fixtures can be manufactured to produce a consistent color temperature through a 100-percent to zero dimming range. Newly developed fixtures have made possible easily adjustable color temperature output throughout the range from daylight (5600°K) to tungsten (3200°K), with the ability to hold the selected color temperature while dimming. Add to that the low power draw characteristics of LED lights, which allow the entire booth lighting package to run off a 20A wall circuit, no need for downtime between illumination, 50,000 hour bulb life, and the soft, HD-friendly output of LED arrays, and it’s easy to understand why LED fixtures have quickly taken over the lighting chores in announce booth lighting.
Over the past several years, the top broadcast and cable networks worldwide have chosen Litepanels LED fixtures for announce booth lighting at premier sporting events, including World Cup Soccer, NBC and Sky Italia at the recent Winter Olympics, all four American networks for National Football League telecasts, Major League Baseball, NASCAR auto racing, PGA golf and more. Among the reasons Litepanels has become the preferred announce booth lighting provider is the company’s pioneering LED research that has conquered issue of light spectrum limitation in LED bulbs. Many LED bulbs are monochromatic, delivering light of a very narrow spectrum. Early on in Litepanels’ development of its patented LED bulbs, the company developed polychromatic LEDs which provide a much greater spectrum of light in their illumination. This wider spectrum of light is important because it increases the color rendering in a scene, especially in skin tones.
Newly developed Sola LED Fresnel fixtures add another tool to the remote crew’s lighting kit, providing all the advantages of LED lighting to a fixture with the ability to throw light a considerable distance. The classic Fresnel design features focusability, single shadow generation and precise light control through the use of barn doors. Additionally, the dimming and color temperature control of Litepanels fixtures can be remoted via DMX to the video control station in the remote truck. Where previously a video operator would have to talk-in via intercom the light adjustments he needed, this puts control of light levels in his hands, where he can coordinate them with his camera shading to produce an optimal lighting match between announce talent and the outside background.