This month, for our special lighting issue, ICG Magazine focuses on several new, renewed, redirected or relied upon lighting tools. Recently, HydroFlex retooled and retrofitted their reliable underwater lights, giving both users (and safety marshals) new confidence in their popular underwater equipment. Illumination Dynamics, known for their event lighting, has added stock and introduced their Vari*lite system
to television and features. And Dedolight, Lowel, Chimera, Mole-Richardson, Kino Flo, and DeSisti have introduced new and unique products to meet the ever-demanding world of lighting a set.
We hope that you find at least one new tool that will help illuminate and put your project into the spotlight.
The problem—documenting motion on film at 10,000 frames per second. This requires an extraordinary amount of light. To do this, an effective shutter speed of 1/50,000 per second, based on an ASA 400 speed film and lens aperture of f/8. That means more than 200,000 footcandles (over two million lux) of light.
Lighting to accommodate this speed with halogen fixtures produces a huge amount of heat, well above 200ºC (above 400ºF).
Modern HMI and CID sources improve this light to heat ratio somewhat, but the optical path of a normal HMI fixture ‘even of a 12KW HMI’ will not produce enough of a light concentration needed for the example given above,” explains Dedolight President Paul Tepper.
Our solution is Dedocool, a low wattage, low voltage lamp working in combination with a unique optical system and special reflector to concentrate an intense amount of light over a highly concentrated area. At the same time, two carefully matched heat reflecting filters and a transmitting mirror, route the heat through two forced air ventilators and out the back of the head.
The result, over short periods of time, heating of the ‘subject’ is negligible, if noticeable at all. Even after prolonged shooting sessions, ambient close range temperatures could best be described as ‘warm.’
In the example given above, one Dedocool alone produced light sufficient enough to meet the lumen requirements of the shot (222,000 footcandles) while reaching, after prolonged use, an ambient temperature of only 59ºC (138ºF) at eight inches from the front of the light.
More than any other light source, the Dedocool fulfills the need to provide close up, high intensity light, yet cool working temperatures for a broad variety of scientific, medical, and industrial film and television applications.”
COOLT3, the transformer control unit for Dedocool, can simultaneously power two Dedocool tungsten heads. Its AC power input can be set for every AC power in the world from 110V to 240V in six steps. Each light (output) can be individually and independently switched, in four distinct steps, each increasing color temperature and output. The COOLT3 incorporates an input voltage indicator, enabling the user to determine correct input voltage at a glance and to control color temperature precisely.
Two years ago, HydroFlex began evaluating their lights for areas of improvement. This resulted in minor retrofitting in some lights and a total re-design in two of them. “Some changes involved improvements from a manufacturing standpoint and we standardized parts within the various families of lights, which resulted in smaller and lighter lamp heads,” explains Matt Brown, Operations Manager at HydroFlex.
About the same time, the company began hearing rumblings of fire marshals being more stringent on local sets. European lighting rental departments were also starting to hold companies to higher standards. “Even though our lights have always been safe when properly used, we saw the writing on the walls and took the opportunity to make sure that our lights met or exceeded all US, Canadian and EU standards,” he adds.
For a year and a half, HydroFlex put every light through extensive documentation and testing by a NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory). The result is that the company now offers a complete line of underwater incandescent and HMI lights that conform to UL (Underwriters Laboratories) Standard #1573, are certified to CAN/CSA (Canadian Standards Association) Standard C22.2 #166 and meet CE regulations (for EU sets) for stage and studio luminaries.
This certification and labeling will confirm to any fire marshal or safety officer on set that the HydroFlex HydroPar 650W, 1000W, 2000W M1, 5000W M1 Incandescent, HydroPar 1200W HMI and the HydroPar 4000W M1 HMI are safe for use in water with talent and crew,” Brown adds.
Since their recent inception, these lights have already worked on many shows, including The Discovery Channel’s Smash Lab and upcoming films, The Informers (shot by Petra Korner), Bruckheimer production’s G-Force (shot by Bojan Bazelli, ASC) and The Box (shot by Steven Poster, ASC).
Lowel’s Rifa softlight system has gotten an upgrade. Now known as the Rifa eXchange system, or Rifa eX for short, there are four new models—from 300W to 1000W max and with diffuser sizes from 16”x16” to 32”x32”.
The Rifa is a collapsible location softlight that goes ‘from kit to lit’ in 60 seconds,” explains Duane Sherwood, Director of Communications for Lowel. “It folds up compactly to store in many of our lighting kits. In addition to its speedy setup, it has become so popular because of the quality of light it delivers.”
Softbox accessories are often cumbersome to assemble and strike and have to be attached to the front of an existing fixture. The beam of that fixture then strikes the box’s diffuser straight on, creating a soft source. “Rifa is a dedicated softlight with a lamphead that is centered inside its collapsible softbox,” explains Sherwood. “Light emits from the lamp in all directions and is then reflected forward from the sides, striking the diffuser from a number of angles. This creates the very flattering ‘wrap-around’ light quality of the Rifa.”
The Rifa eXchange expands the abilities of the original Rifa. Because of the innovative push and twist bayonet system, the standard lamphead can be removed and quickly swapped with one of several accessory lampheads. “One allows the use of lower wattage AC and DC lamps in the larger Rifa eX models, for lower output with increased softness,” Sherwood continues. “With other heads, you can use our new high CRI (92+) screw-threaded daylight fluorescent lamps (27 or 65W) for mixing with existing ambient daylight. The lamps have a color temperature of 5500K and lamp lives of 8,000 hours or more.”
Rifa Lights have been used on recent features such as Munich, Ray, Lord of the Rings and Batman Begins.
The original design for the new Chimera Birdcage was intended to create a fixture that could be tossed on the ground for low glow background illumination,” explains cinematographer Rich Underwood, whose concept for this new Lantern Light was refined by Chimera engineers. “It also needed to be a tough fixture that could endure some rough careless handling, as it might likely get kicked around a bit.
The name comes from the look of the device without Chimera’s diffusion cover—it resembles a small birdcage. The diffusion cover wraps around the cage’s bars and is held in place with Velcro. Colored gels easily wrap around the fixture in the same way.
In practical use, it looks more like a ‘paint can of light,’” he explains. “With a 500W bulb, the Birdcage puts out a lot of light. In a recent test with an EI of 500, I got a reading of f/2.05 at 10 feet.
While the fixture can be globed with much smaller lamps and comes with a sleeve that will allow for standard household bulbs, it is the 500W lamp that gives the Birdcage the greater flexibility.
Since its release, I’ve seen it used in many different ways—not only as an accent light, but as a key light as well, especially in small quarters or where the key needs to easily move in the shot.
The top of the fixture has a handle for easy carrying and on the bottom is a 5/8” stud, so it can be gripped by a C-stand arm for static placement or fish-poled for moving shots. On the top and bottom edge are four feet that keep the Birdcage from rolling when placed on it’s side and six short feet keep it standing upright with room for the stud on the bottom.
The fixture also comes with a black skirt with a reflective silver lining that velcros in place to control unwanted light spill and amplify the output of light.”
The new Chimera Birdcage stands approximately 14” and comes with a Mogul Base fixture for 500W lamps, plus a screw-in adapter to allow the use of standard household lamps.
The idea for DecaLight was first drawn on a napkin at the Studio City Dupars Restaurant,” admits creator Al DeMayo. “It started as a single sheet of light similar to a 42”x42” reflector board. It had the attachments to make a soft-box/snoot out in front, and had a whooping 400 MR16 globes. After several designs, it transformed into a Dino-like multi-MR16, multi-removable-paneled system that could be used as a Big-Gun or (torn apart) several 2K-size guns.”
Today the DecaSource Lighting System is “the most flexible ‘system’ for lighting any set, large or small,” DeMayo explains. “It is based on the MR16 bulb, which is a one piece, multi-faced, reflector and globe combo, designed for intense light output without intense heat. By using a series/parallel circuit, we are able to include 30-75W 12V globes in each DecaPod.
This pod is designed with a 20 amp 120V Recessed Edison Inlet. The advantage of this design is to allow the Pod to be easily removed from the DecaLight and PentaLight. The Deca holds 10 Pods, while the Penta holds five. Both of these lamps have a bale and a standard Junior Pin.”
The DecaLight features ten DecaPods and the PentaLight features five DecaPods, both in a framed design. The Pods are switchable, panable, replaceable, and removable. The DecaLight is held by a bail with a standard senior pin and holds its own custom-sized gel frame (4’x7’). The PentaLight holds its own custom ears for up to four 4x4 gel and diffusion frames.
Also available is the DecaPod, a small but powerful light source. It houses 30 MR16 globes (EYF/EYC) and uses a low voltage (12V) series/parallel circuit. This circuit enables the ability to not only switch the “Pod” to the desired output, but also to achieve one of the brightest quartz outputs under 20 amps. It is a bright, even, light source with wide globes about as bright as a Mighty Mole in full-flood position.
The lights were designed to be an alternative to using a Dino Light or a 12-Light Maxi, and as a system that allows a gaffer to have a large, medium, and small light in one user-friendly package. In the near future, Mole-Richardson’s DecaLight system will have several accessories, including Pod Barn Doors and Podeflectors (an attachment that double diffuses the Pod’s output).
The Tintoretto was designed for back lighting opaque backdrops as a low energy, low heat alternative to traditional cyclorama lighting,” explains DeSisti’s Frank Kosuda. “The Tintoretto is a unique solution in television studios, theatrical stages, exhibitions, showrooms and various architectural applications.”
The Tintoretto is a fluorescent fixture utilizing either four colored T8 lamps in 36 watts or 58 watts each. “The lamps, with primary colored phosphors, are ideal for video applications,” he explains. “Controlling and mixing each of the lamps color dimming ranges will allow for a full spectrum to be achieved within the video image.”
The Tintoretto is used to color the entire cyclorama (including the corners) evenly, through a trans-screen or opera screen. “The units can be built into sets and illuminated through any glass or plastic product, adding the effect of changing color,” he continues. “They have also been used in chroma key applications, especially weather sets. The option to switch from a blue to green backdrop is very helpful when talent is wearing similar colors to the backdrop.”
I use the VistaBeam often in predominately fluorescent lit situations as either a punchy backlight or through large diffusion frames as a soft source where the standard fluorescent fixtures won’t give enough output,” explains cinematographer Simon Duggan (Live Free or Die Hard). “It’s a much more focused light source and the variable degree honeycomb louvers are great in tight situations where you want to control spill light but can’t afford to set flags around the unit. Another advantage is that it is DMX controllable so all adjustments in light output can be done through a remote control dimmer board.”
The VistaBeam 600 and 300 display a broad soft beam for both studio and location. The VisaBeam 600 puts out more light than a 4K-quartz softlight (120VAC) but uses only nine amps of power (compared to 34 amps for quartz light). The compact VistaBeam 300 is half the size and delivers more light than a 2000W quartz softlight.
As a lightweight alternative to conventional studio softlights such as Chicken Coops and Spacelights, VistaBeams illuminate interior and exterior sets with daylight quality light instead of HMIs punched through fabric diffusion boxes. VistaBeams can be fitted with narrow spectrum blue or green visual effects lamps for composite screen lighting applications.
VistaBeam packages include a seven DMX address (six for individual lamps and the seventh to control high output/standard output light levels), Kino Flo Honeycomb louvers and Gel Frames that fit into their accessory holder.
Automated lighting set ups are no longer relegated to rock concerts. Cinematographers like Checco Varese (Prom Night) and John Toll, ASC (Tropic Thunder) are using extensive VARI*LITE and Clay-Paky fixtures to add to the creativity of their projects.
Recently, lighting designer Oscar Dominguez created a spectacular lighting design utilizing more than 600 automated fixtures to transform a Sony soundstage into a dynamic arena for the NBC show American Gladiators.
Oscar used the Vari*lite VL3500 wash lights (1500W high output fixtures with full color mixing systems for intense shafts of light), as well as Vari*lite VL3000 spot fixtures (12000W gobo projection for adding layers of texture to the set), Vari*lite VL2500 (700W gobo projection) and Vari*lite VL500 (120W tungsten wash fixtures) to color large areas of the set in saturated color,” explains Illumination Dynamics’ Director of Automated and Theatrical Lighting Mark Rudge. “In addition, Martin Mac 2000 wash (1200W wash fixture), Martin Mac 2000 profile (1200W gobo projection), Clay Paky Alpha 1200 with gobo projection and framing shutters as well as High End Systems Studio Beam PC 700W wash light, Color Blast 12 LED color changer, Color black 72 six foot LED strip light and Robe Anolis Arc source 36, Underwater LED color changer for the pool for dramatic effects.”
It is like deploying soldiers,” explains Dominguez. “Each light has an individual look. Automated lighting has movement, intensity and color. At some point, when feature DPs grasp the idea of using these lights on movies or even television dramas, they will realize what they have are HMI Pars with an infinite amount of colors. They can set them up and go through color changes, or spot to flood remotely, which is an infinite amount of time saved. And, as we all know, time is most important on a feature schedule.”