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Eye on Independent Films
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Studios and Soundstages
2013 Music & Sound Guide
LEDs are on their way to becoming the industry standard.
By Christine Bunish
AAdyn Technology’s single-source ECO Punch Plus is brighter than a 2.5K HMI.
With their high output, low power consumption and cool operation, user-friendly LED lighting has quickly become popular in many markets. Advances in LED technology are happening rapidly, and LED fixtures are making inroads across all applications, from specific, low-level lighting to illuminating soundstages.
And improvements are likely to keep coming. “The industry has used the same lighting tools for 70-80 years,” Rick Maas, executive in charge at Mac Tech LED, Inc., reminds us. “We’ll continue to see a lot more changes in the years to come. We’re still in the early stages; there will be a decade or more of gradual transformation as LEDs continue to displace less efficient tungsten lighting.”
Mac Tech LED Products-Group Shot
AAdyn Technology Highlights Powerful Product Line
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based AAdyn Technology (www.aadyntech.com) debuted about three-and-a-half years ago and has quickly gained prominence with its roster of LED fixtures. All of AAdyn Tech’s products are designed, developed, engineered and assembled in the United States. The engineering team hails from Sturdy Corp. in North Carolina and the LEDs are exclusively from CREE, also in the Tar Heel state.
“People who have never used LEDs are testing our fixtures. A lot of LEDs on the market don’t live up to their claims, but AAdyn Tech’s do,” says COO Marc Kaye. “Our single-source ECO Punch Plus and JAB Daylight products are the most powerful LEDs in the world. ECO Punch Plus throws an output of 4,100 foot candles at 10 feet and JAB Daylight an output of 1,854 foot candles at 10 feet.”
AAdyn Technology’s ECO Punch Plus is deployed on location.
The JAB series is available in Daylight, Tungsten and Variable models to suit lighting needs without sacrificing output and color temperature. The compact JAB Daylight runs on AC or DC power and draws very little amperage. “You can run about a dozen JABs on a 20-amp circuit,” Kaye reports. The single-source fixture eliminates multiple shadows and performs almost like a regular HMI, he says.
ECO Punch Plus is actually brighter than a 2.5K HMI, but uses less than 5 amps of power and runs so cool that it can be touched with bare hands. It offers variable lightning and strobe effects, and quick-change lenses vary between spot and flood while keeping an even field with high output.
AAdyn Technology’s ECO Punch Plus is powerful but easy to use on location.
These two fixtures have proved very popular with broadcasters and filmmakers. Director Jim Jarmusch used ECO Punch Plus on location for his latest film, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty remake tapped ECO Punch Plus and JAB Daylight on set at Kaufman Astoria Studios and on location in Iceland. The MLB Network deployed both fixtures for the All Star Game announce team, and JAB Daylights were part of NBC’s Olympic Broadcast Studios in London. Lighting designer Frank Gatto of Boca Raton’s Frank Gatto Lighting is using both fixtures on all three sets of ESPN’s College GameDayand reports a savings in power consumption of about 90 percent.
|ECO Punch Plus from AAdyn Technology targets a set.|
AAdyn Tech’s new JAB Hurricane will be available in December. Introduced this year at IBC, it is weatherproof, IP65 rated and totally protected against dust and low-pressure water jets from all directions. It can run on a battery pack, and Kaye says news groups and major broadcasters are clamoring for them.
Also new is the Space Light, which ships this fall. It features 20 LEDs and throws approximately 51 foot candles at 25 feet while drawing 7 amps of power. It has better spread than competing products, zero green spike, a CRI of close to 95 and offers much better blending and surface, says Kaye. “People want to test and buy them,” he reports. “You can use them in places without big generators and save on electric and air conditioning.”
AAdyn Tech also has a line of LED fixtures that sync to high-speed cameras. The ECO Punch Bullet and JAB Bullet are flicker-free up to 100,000 fps, while the ECO Mega Bullet is flicker-free up to an astonishing one million fps.
Famed Dedolight Optics in DEDOTEC LEDs
The LEDs from DEDOTEC USA, Inc. in Ashley Falls, Mass., (www.dedolight.com) distinguish themselves, in the Dedolight tradition, by their optics, says President Paul Tepper. “Before LEDs, all our fixtures have utilized optics rather than Fresnel lenses,” he explains. “With multiple lenses you can get a more controllable beam, an even spread across the entire beam, and better color rendering. And you get a much higher output: Our 150-watt fixture tungsten halogen fixture puts out closer to 500 watts of light.”
|DEDOTEC’s DLED 4.0, the first in a series of small LED light
heads, debuted at NAB.
Now the same principle applies to the company’s LEDs. DEDOTEC introduced its LEDZILLA camera-mounted mini LED light head about two years ago. “We started with the 8-watt LEDZILLA, which outputs in the neighborhood of 20-25 watts halogen,” says Tepper. “Of course, you’re limited by what LEDs can do, but LEDZILLA gives an even shaft of light that’s focusable and controllable.” The dimmable fixture mounts on the camera with a shoe and operates with several different types of DV batteries, an AC adapter, XLR and D-Tap power cables.
The successful LEDZILLA – “we’ve sold thousands in all markets” – was followed by the TECPRO Felloni line of 1x1 LED panels. “We went a little crazy there – we have 27 versions,” Tepper laughs. “They’re available in 15-, 30- and 50-degree [beam angle] outputs; as straight daylight, tungsten or bicolor; with standard and high light outputs or in a low-profile version designed for spaces with low ceilings.
“The panels put out more light than the competition: 30 percent more in the standard version and more in the high-output version compared to a comparable 1x1 panel,” Tepper continues. “And they use 50 percent less power, have better color rendition than the competition and are about 30 percent lower in price.” All of the TECPRO panels run via battery or AC power, are dimmable and come with a distance diffuser.
Currently, many film and television production companies, and government agencies use the panels. WLS-TV/Chicago employs 25 Felloni panels in its newsgathering operation; the National Transportation Safety Board has a number of panels in its car crash-testing program.
|DEDOTEC offers the TECPRO Felloni line of 1x1 LED panels
in 27 versions.
|DEDOTEC’s successful LEDZILLA is a camera-mounted
mini LED light head.
At NAB 2012, DEDOTEC debuted the DLED 4.0, the first in a series of small LED light heads. Shipping this fall, the new fixture is a 45-watt LED head available in daylight, tungsten and bicolor versions. “It’s fully focusable from flood to spot with the same beam look as our tungsten,” says Tepper. “It’s also fully dimmable and has real barn doors. Barn doors usually don’t work very well with LEDs, but this is a single-source LED so the barn doors give you a nice cut.”
Three more fixtures in the DLED series are in the works: a 20-watt model that will be small enough to be camera mounted, plus 90- and 200-watt versions. Tepper predicts that, across the market, a greater variety of LED fixtures are in store for users, as well as improved CRI as LED technology advances.
Mac Tech is Game Changer for Studio and Location Production
Only 14 months in the marketplace, Mac Tech LED Lighting (www.machtechled.com) offers a line of distinctive LED Sleds, LED Slim Line fixtures and LED Soft Boxes manufactured in the United States by B & M Lighting. Mac Tech LED is a subsidiary of NBCUniversal.
Executive in charge, Rick Maas, who also serves as vice president of set lighting operations at Universal Studios, has been watching advances in LED lighting for the last half-dozen years. He could see opportunities for LEDs on the set although no LED fixtures were as yet making an impact on studio production.
Mac Tech fixtures are now changing all that. Three years in development, these LEDs “can actually light a stage,” he says. “That’s the big game changer. Most LEDs are smaller and spot specific. Ours can light a 20,000-square-foot soundstage. They’re high output and can compete with the less efficient fixtures of the past while using a fraction of the power and producing a fraction of the heat.”
The LED Sled line comes in 72-, 180-, 360-, 720- and 960-watt daylight and tungsten models. At 48 inches square, the 960 LS is the biggest and brightest of the family, says Maas. The high-output area light compares with 12,000 watts of illumination and produces “more light than two 6K Space Lights,” while drawing just 9 amps of power.
Mac Tech LED Lighting on The Mindy Project.
The other models in the LED Sled line sport a bounce mode feature, which eliminates the need to use bounce board. Bounce can now be “accomplished in six to eight inches instead of six to eight feet,” Maas notes, a the feature that’s “really popular with cameramen, gaffers and other crew members who compete for real estate on set.”
Mac Tech’s Slim Line family comes in two- and four-foot daylight and tungsten configurations with 4x8, 4x4, 2x8, 2x4 and 2x2 models. They range from 320 watts for the 4x8 to 40 watts for the 2x2, and draw from 3 to 1.5 amps. “Slim Line is used more for lighting backdrops or greenscreen,” Maas explains.
Two new broadcast-related products, targeted to news sets and talk shows, were recently added to the Slim Line family: 2x8 and 1x8 models with “broadcast-friendly” DMX control. The fixtures are shipping now.
The company’s LED Soft Boxes come in 4x4, 4x2, 2x4 and 2x2 models, ranging from 160 to 40 watts. They’re deployed for “more specific, lower-level lighting,” according to Maas.
Mac Tech customers run the gamut from “small commercials to $200 million features,” he reports. The LEDS are on “any kind of production you can think of and are used on location, too. Because they’re so low power you can put them on camera cars; they ran off batteries in a Costa Rican jungle. They have that kind of flexibility.”
Mac Tech LEDs were recently used on the Disney feature Lone Ranger and are currently on NBC’s Go On and Parenthood shows.
Cameramen and lighting designers are pleased to “get the kind of light they want” from these LEDs while production management recognizes their budgetary benefits, says Maas. “You can eliminate 25 to 50 percent of the power distribution equipment. That has huge budget implications and has helped us accelerate product in the marketplace at a pretty rapid pace.”
LED fixtures are still “slightly more expensive” than conventional lights, he concedes, “but when you factor in all the on-set savings, the end cost can be reduced by 30 percent or more in power distribution and air conditioning.” Not to mention keeping cast and crew ”cool and in a better frame of mind.”
FlexAray Creates Custom Configurations
|FlexAray’s unique hexagonal shape makes
custom configurations easy.
FlexAray (www.flexaray.com) calls itself “the next revolution in stage and studio LED fixtures,” and one look at the luminaires’ unique hexagonal shape makes a convincing case for the claim.
The patent-pending form of the LEDs enable a single fixture to be connected with other FlexAray LEDs, honeycomb style, to create configurations suiting customers’ lighting demands. “You can build up units to increase power or change a look,” explains Lee Vestrich, senior vice president of Bulbtronics in Farmingdale, N.Y., the parent company of 0energy Lighting Inc., in Orlando, Fla., the manufacturer of FlexAray.
Previewed at LDI 2011 and shown at NAB 2012, FlexAray has begun shipping units. It’s the flexibility of the fixture that appeals to customers, Vestrich says. “You can configure them in so many ways so they lend themselves to both high-power and low-power situations. Rental houses or others who buy an inventory of FlexArays can basically build the lights they need on demand.”
FlexAray comes with 8- or 16-bit input and is available in RGBAW (Amber White), Variable White and Static White versions.
“Amber White achieves beautiful saturated colors as well as warming tones and great pastels,” says Vestrich. “Its proprietary reflector allows warm tones to be part of the mix; we’re getting great reviews on the color mixing capabilities of the light.”
Variable White has a color temperature range of 2700K-5400K enabling users to adjust to different skin tones or change a mood from bright to dim. Static White is available in 3200K, 4400K and 5600K so it can replace conventional tungsten and HMI lighting in film and television. “4400K allows you to get shadow definition in HDTV,” Vestrich points out. “Or you can blend 3200K or 5600K for good shadow lines and a clean look for the studio environment.”
The innovative FlexRate feature permits user-controlled frequency ratings to create a flicker-free light. “We offer up to eight different choices of frame-rate adjustment,” says Vestrich.
|A single FlexAray fixture sports barn doors.|
FlexPalette provides up to 100 user-programmable color memory locations and 80 user-selectable combinations of fade and/or bump timing.
FlexAray already has demo units in TV studios, at cable shopping networks, on location for film shoots and in rental house inventories. At press time, an indie feature in the LA area was deploying 10 3200K Static Whites in a run ’n gun production application.
Although the higher price point of LED lighting has been “an obstacle” to adoption, Vestrich sees customer opinions on that changing. “Where power is a big concern, like the Northeast with its high utility rates, the cost of running LED fixtures will be a driver in people’s thinking,” he says. “There may also be utility rebates involved in using energy-efficient LEDs in commercial spaces.”
Vestrich notes that LEDs are getting to the point where they’re considered “really good lighting” – something that wasn’t the case even two years ago. The technology is moving very fast. I never expected it to move as quickly as it has.”
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