The way forward for lighting control


Pat Grosswendt TV-Bay Magazine
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High Quality LED Fixtures are the Way Forward for Lighting Control
Pat Grosswendt, Co-Founder, Litepanels

The majority of directors of photography (DPs) work by the motto that if anything looks lit then it has been done badly. Whether on the set or in the studio, lighting directors strive to create images that look as natural as possible. The key to achieving that beautifully lit picture is to have lighting fixtures that offer the ultimate control.
Lighting is an art and is often a question of taste. No two lighting directors tend to light the set or subject in the same way so it is crucial to have an element of control. There are a million permutations of how to do lighting, none of which are the right or the wrong ways. If ten artists were given the same subject to paint, the result would be ten very different images with varying interpretations. Lighting is no different. It is an art form often referred to as ‘painting with light’ and everyone in the business has their own individual preferences.
Lighting tastes and styles vary from person to person, genre to genre, and geographically too. However, there is no one size fits all lighting style and DPs and anyone working in the lighting arena need a full box of tools. When lighting directors are deciding what products to use, they are driven by the need to create attractive images, so LED fixtures need to produce a light that is flattering yet practical with a number of control options.
The more control, the more creative a lighting director can be. Elements of control in an individual lighting fixture are important, these can include features such as 100%-0 dimming, colour temperature variability and the ability to control intensity and focus with DMX. However, what is possibly more useful than the ideal single lighting fixture is to have a large palette of lighting fixtures to give lighting technicians the chance to experiment and try to achieve a look that satisfies their specific taste and style.
In the last decade the range of lighting options has been revolutionised. The traditional lighting techniques and creative capabilities that were once limited to using tungsten, fluorescent and HMI bulbs, have been transformed since the introduction of high quality LED lighting fixtures.
Our company, Litepanels, was the first to introduce professional LED lights to the world of broadcasting and motion pictures. Today we design and manufacture the broadest range of lighting fixtures that use LED as a platform rather than the more traditional bulbs. LEDs have actually been around since the early 1900s so it is by no means a new technology. Historically though, the early products on the market had a relatively weak output and were highly unstable in terms of colour temperature, and were not considered to be of broadcast quality because they lacked the quality and consistency of light.
Fast forward to today’s modern LED fixtures and leading manufacturers like Litepanels are able to produce LED fixtures that have a much greater stability in colour temperature and a higher output, increasing the performance to a level that meets the demands of lighting technicians. One of the reasons the first Litepanels’ LED fixtures were so well received by the industry was the quality of light in terms of colour temperature. For the first time lighting directors could choose LEDs with no shift, no greens and no magentas. The basic expectations had been surpassed and the path for the successful future of LED lighting fixtures had been cemented.
The major benefits, which have been well documented in the industry, are the energy and cost saving capabilities of LED as a technology platform for lighting. Power consumption can be up to 95% less than traditional tungsten fixtures and because these LED fixtures generate almost no heat, air conditioning costs are dramatically reduced. The primary advantages of LED lighting include its ability to generate almost no heat and have a longer life compared to traditional studio lights. In our fixtures, long life comes from the manufacture and selection of the highest quality LEDs, which are batched to maintain complete consistency of colour temperature and light output, combined with highly intelligent thermal dynamics to ensure that the LEDs are not overdriven. The result is a well balanced and consistent light fixture.
Litepanels’ now offers nearly 30 different LED fixtures, with more than half a dozen LED Fresnels, an extensive range that was almost unimaginable when we launched our fixtures into the studio and broadcast market. The first LED lighting fixtures we introduced was our 1x1 series, with technical innovations that provided lighting directors with an unmatched level of lighting control. The original 1x1 range included a flood 50 degree panel and a spot 30 degree panel. Since their launch, the 1x1 fixtures have been used by lighting experts around the world and they were dubbed the most versatile production lights ever built, providing pure, luminous and soft directional output.
To offer more colour control the 1x1 series was expanded and developed into the Bi-Color™ all in one, which does what the name suggests and lets users quickly dial up any colour – from cool white daylight to warm white tungsten. The Litepanels 1x1 Bi-Color enables lighting operators to adjust colour temperature instantly so they can adapt to different shooting conditions and skin tones on the fly.
Where the Bi-Color introduced colour control to the lighting director’s fingertips, the 1x1 Bi-Focus improved the control element even further. The technology behind the Bi-Focus uses two different sets of LED lenses, alternating rows of flood LEDs and spot LEDs. The result is the operator has the ability to smoothly adjust focus from a 50 degree beam to a 30 degree beam, increasing or decreasing both spread and intensity as needed. The variable beam angle opened up a raft of creative and practical possibilities, with the simple turn of a dial the lighting technician could achieve variable flood or spot output.
We spent many years developing our latest Sola Series (daylight balanced) and Inca Series (tungsten balanced) ranges of Fresnel fixtures that have been recently introduced to the industry.. The Fresnels use a lens to control the beam, which ranges from as narrow as 13 degrees up to 72 degrees. This is achieved by moving the light source (the LED chip) towards the lens and away from the lens to give the user the different spot and flood options.
The revolutionary Sola and Inca fixtures provide the controllability and single-shadow properties inherent in a conventional Fresnel light, but use just a fraction of the power.The fixtures offer a harder light source than the original flat panel LEDs, while providing much more control and adjustable focus. The biggest advantage of these LED Fresnel lights is their ability to cut, shape and focus the light like the traditional Fresnel, so they can now be used as key lights in a studio environment, rather than as fill lights.
What is unique about the Sola (daylight series) and Inca (tungsten series) fixtures is they have two channels for DMX, one is for intensity and one which gives the ability to control the focus from the lighting desk itself. This motorised focus from the lighting control desk cannot be done with any other LED fixture or traditional fixture. It gives the lighting director the opportunity to sit at his or her lighting desk with the master monitor and play with the intensity and control the focus rather having to employ the help of a separate technician.
It’s actually fairly easy to make an LED fixture but it’s extremely difficult to make high quality fixtures that last for the long term without changing colour and intensity. It is surprisingly common in this industry for companies to plough thousands of pounds of investment into the latest HD cameras without considering the most suitable lighting. The key in the art of lighting is to provide controllability of colour temperature and focus, and this can only be achieved from the highest quality LED fixtures. Regardless of the genre for which it is being employed, DPs and technicians can take advantage of LED lighting to create their personal image perfection.

Tags: iss074 | litepanels | LED fixtures | DMX | LED | HMI Bulbs | 100 percent to 0 dimming | Pat Grosswendt
Contributing Author Pat Grosswendt

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