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Lighting Update - what's new in lighting for 2001
by David Fox
A little bit more light, a little less heat, slightly more efficient use of power, a bit more robust, even slightly less weight. The evolutionary progress of broadcast lighting is slow but steady. Cool fluorescent lighting is now widespread, often mixed with some traditional, harder lights for shadow (although these have also become cooler). Many location and studio fixtures are interchangeable, and almost all are DMX or phase control dimmable. Never has the choice been greater. David Fox looks into the light....
Balcar Lighting has introduced a new generation of its Fluxlite studio range. It uses 55W lamps and a very polished design. "We've put a lot of thought into making it look nice, and the benefit to the customer is 50% more light, so that they can do a whole project for an average of 20% less money," says its president, Kevin Balli.
The new four-lamp Quadlite 250W gives the same light output as the previous Fluxlite 300, but takes up less space. The other new fixtures are the eight-lamp Fluxlite 500W and the two-lamp Duolite 125W. All of its existing lights, including the soft lights, the Powerflux and Spotflux ranges, are now available in non-dimming versions.
There is also a new line of narrow light-weight strip lights, the DuoStrip and QuadStrip, designed for studios with low ceilings (under 3m), for applications such as Web TV, Web conferencing, and one person interview studios, or as low cyclorama or chromakey studio lighting. "It's also our entry to light-weight lights for location production or mobile studios," he adds. The 125W DuoStrip weighs 4kg, the 250W QuadStrip 8kg.
Brightline's new T-series is built on the same principles as its existing SeriesONE range (studio cool lights) but adapted to better suit low ceiling heights (from 2.5m to 3.7m). It fits in place of ordinary ceiling tiles in T-bar suspended ceilings typically found in offices and many newsrooms, "where you don't want to make your lighting look like a studio but you want professional quality lighting," says Andrew Bell, its Asia-Pacific sales manager.
Brightline has fitted several projects where the production takes in both studio and newsroom and "we've been able to maintain the same colour balance so the whole look is identical," says its managing partner, Sam Carcone.
As they are fluorescent, they can also be used as a work light where, to save power, one cell would be used for task lighting, with the rest switched on for transmission. Each cell can drop down and pivot or rotate, to create directional lighting effects. This is manually driven now, but an automated system is being developed. The lights are DMX dimmable to 3% and also phase control dimmable, with 55W lamps in one-, two- or four-lamp units.
In Europe, it has an installation at Amsterdam's zoo, for a weekly show which went on air in September, and two installations in the UK. It also does a location kit which can have four single lamps or one four-lamp unit.
The softlight panels on the latest studio version of the GL Cotelux from Spain's GL Cotel has added corners to the barn doors, to allow users focus the light at 3m. The lights are "smoothly dimmable" from about 5% to 100% in either direction with no flashes. It is also developing a new ballast to optimise dimming, so that it can start at 0%. This should be available soon.
The 55W fluorescents come in two-, four-, six- or eight-lamp units, and four varieties: with local (manual) dimming only; with internal dimming, for remote control; with external dimming using conventional phase control dimmers; and full dimming (with both internal and external dimming).
Lupo's DMX dimmable soft lights are used by RAI, Canal+ and TVE. Its two-, four- and six-lamp 55W fixtures can be switched from DMX to analogue, but it has also launched a new digital control console which can drive up to 512 units. It has also introduced special tubes with nine phosphors instead of six, which allows them give greater light output and more accurate colour.
Engineered Lighting Products, which recently took over soft light manufacturer Videssence, has introduced a new range of lights suitable for offices and video conferencing. "So that they can still be lit like a TV studio, but don't look so obvious, we use different types of reflector rather than moving lights around, so you can position the lights where you want to and then change the reflectors to aim it in the right place," says John Rossetti, general manager VFG Lighting, ELP's European agents.
Its has also introduced a fluorescent cyclorama light particularly suitable for virtual studios, which use new bulb technology that he claims is "twice as bright as anyone else so far." A 105W bulb outputs 559 lux at 3m, consistent all the way down the cyc.
A Bug's Life
K5600 Lighting has added an 800W to its existing 200W and 400W Joker-Bug line up. A 1200W lamp was considered, but it would have generated too much heat. Indeed, to make the 800W cooler, a UV-Stop bulb has been designed by SLI for K5600, to allow it use a perforated safety globe, giving improved ventilation without releasing harmful UV light or the need for extra safety glass in front of the lamp.
Also new is the Bug-A-Beam adapter, which turns a regular ETC Source Four lamp into an HMI, giving more light and less heat.
Although it only does HMI lighting, it has a selection of soft light attachments which spread the light evenly over a wider area, such as the Softube, which can be mounted on the PAR versions of the Joker-Bug and is ideal for confined spaces.
At IBC, Ianiro Lighting launched its new Solaris 1KW tungsten Fresnel unit with built-in dimmer, pole operated stirrup and DMX control. It is aimed mainly at small studio use and designed to be integrated with cool light systems. It is also available in 650W and 1200W versions.
Ianiro does a lot of installations mixing both cool light and tungsten, and before Solaris hadn't found a suitable light which would work the the DMX controllers typically used with soft lights, such as its own Soflites (1.25, 2.5 and 5kW) range, explained its sales manager, Massimo Cecchini.
It has also introduced new versions of its Gulliver and Aladino lights. The Aladino is a small 12v light delivering a maximum of 71 watts with an in-line transformer and dimmer, while the 300W Gulliver is a general light with in-line dimmer.
To add key and back lighting to fluorescent studios, De Sisti Lighting has developed a new range of cold discharge lighting using Philips' Mastercolour range of lamps, which have a life of some 10,000 hours. These include 70W and 150W spotlights, as well as 150W broadlight, soft light and PAR versions. Because they run cold and need little air conditioning, they not only compliment fluorescents but can also replace them in small studios. They can also run off a normal domestic power supply. However, they are not dimmable, so users can only add filters or scrim to control the light. They are cold restrike only, so have to be kept off for 15 minutes if switched off.
It has also introduced a 2.5k to 4k HMI discharge spotlight for film work and "we are starting to broaden our range of dual ballasts [which can power two sizes of head]. We have a new design where each set of electronics is smaller and lighter than the one it is replacing," says Jon Reay-Young, De Sisti's UK director.
Lowel's new dimmable DP Daylight HMI/MSR lamp is available in three sizes: 200, 400 and 575W. It is based on the Lowel DP Light quartz-halogen unit and can use many of its accessories. It has just one ballast which, depending on which light you are using, will automatically switch between the wattages. The lamps have been available since October in a variety of kits, in lots of different combinations and will also come in larger shipping cases. "You have the options to put together pretty much what you need, so you have the exact equipment," says Lowel-Light export manager, Toni Pearl.
It is also shipping a new Caselite. "The whole fixture is just one piece. When you open the case, half of it is the fixture, the other half is the storage for the stand, cover, spare lamps and grid," she says. It comes in two- and four-light units with 55W tungsten or daylight fluorescent lamps. "They are ready to open and go. It's very easy to pack up and take off with it," she says.
The four-lamp version can have either two or all four lights lit, and as both are so compact, she believes it is a better buy because it is more flexible. The standard kit includes snap-on egg crate, barn door/intensifiers, mounting plate, stand fitting tilt-bracket, rain cover, gel clips and power cable.
Cosmolight's new Brivido portable fluorescent panels are available in two-, four- and six-lamp fittings with 36W and 55W lamps. They are DMX and manually dimmable.
It has also launched a new plastic vari-beam 800W lamp (the RC80F/E Cosmobeam), which not only costs less than the existing aluminium and magnesium version, but also cools a lot more rapidly.
Its other recent introduction is the ultra-compact UniFlood, which comes in 300W or 650W tungsten versions with either variable focus or fixed focus models, and is available in kits.
Kobold's new Lumax fluorescent range is designed to be particularly flexible, for both location and studio use, tungsten or daylight. It can take either 38mm or 26mm diameter tubes, something it claims no one else offers, and its banks of four lamps (either 60cm or 120cm long) clip together to form eight-lamp banks and use stepless dimmable electronic ballasts.
It has also introduced two new daylight Fresnel floodlights, 400W and 1200W HMIs, which can be pole operated. Also new is a 400W weatherproof daylight lamp with electronic ballast, for location shooting. It also allows hot and cold restrikes, even in high-humidity. To minimise bulk and weight, all three housings are aluminium.
Following its takeover by Bron Elektronik, which makes the ballasts, all of Kobold's lights have been redesigned.
Softlights' new T5-55 is is a small, easily portable, fluorescent daylight or tungsten fixture which is digitally dimmable via DMX or on the fixture from 5% to 100%. The 100W unit can cope with all standard power sources, from 95 to 260 volts, or battery. This makes it suitable for studio and/or location work, where its sub-1.9kg weight and robust aluminium body also comes in useful. Up to ten units can be daisy-chained on one power cable.
The T5 tube is only 16mm wide, making it particularly compact, but its light output is the same as the standard T12 tube - although twice as many T5s can be fitted in the same space. Softlights also does a longer 170W T5-200 version. The eight-tube fixtures can be slotted together without any black gap in between, and a master/slave memory switch allows them to be dimmed as one big source.
Kino Flo's new Foto-Flo four-lamp unit has been designed for use with digital video, and can be set up quickly, because there are fewer elements to assemble. The electronics are built into the fixture, but can be removed for remote use, to lighten the weight of the head and free space at the back of the lamp, both of which can be useful in difficult locations. The 320W unit (using 80W lamps) also costs about 20% less than its existing location systems. "It has been developed following requests from customers who want to be able to move quickly. Just one plug and you are powered," says Frieder Hochheim, Kino Flo's president.
Its new Diva Lite is a 200W or 400W fixture designed for interviews. "It's a great interview kit. It's compact, it's bright, it's dimmable. It's a soft light. You can put a diffuser front on it like a Chimera, so it's very flattering for those aging anchors," he says. For foreign assignments, it can take from 100 to 230 volts and it comes in a handy clamshell carry case with space for spares.
It's new Ring Lite, available by NAB, comes in two sizes, six-inch and seven-inch in diameter, which are 20W and 32W. "It goes around the lens, so it takes out all those little wrinkles that aging personalities find so offensive," says Hochheim.
It has also introduced new DMX versions of its Image series studio range which come in two varieties of four-lamp fixtures (small or large) or an eight-lamp unit.
There are also new colours for its tiny Micro-Flo range which are so popular for science fiction production (such as The X-Files, and the movies X-Men and The Hollow Man) and with miniatures (such as for the claymation film Chicken Run, which he claims only used Kino Flo lights, except for the shot where they blew up the set).
For faster set up of multiple lights, Arri Lighting has introduced the Arrisun 5 Event lighting system. It matches recently introduced low wattage, high output daylight lamp heads to a new 19-inch rack-mount electronic ballast for six lamps, which are connected via a single multicore cable. Up to eight racks can be combined in a cabinet, complete with power distribution, or mounted in flight cases. Each ballast is up to 50% dimmable and can be controlled individually or via DMX.
For a large, adaptable light, Arri has introduced the Ruby 7. The beams from the seven-lamp unit can be focused on a spot less than 50cm away or up to more than 40 metres (depending on the specific lamp fitted). The PAR-64 lamps can also be spread to create a wide flood. The Ruby 7 is claimed to outperform conventional nine-light units and be the first multi-PAR fixture which can use standard 740mm accessories, such as soft boxes. It also shares barn doors and scrims with the Arri T24 and Daylight 12/18 lamp head, and can use a wide range of different lamps.
Frezzi's new lightweight (1.6kg) Super Sun Gun 200 SGG may only be 200 watts, but "it will out perform a 400 watt light of the PAR type because of its open face parabolic reflector," offering double the output at 3m, claims Frezzi's president, James Crawford. It is designed for fast set-up operations, has a strong aluminium housing, and what are claimed to be the smallest AC and DC dimmable ballasts (weighing 900g).
He claims it also offers the world's broadest range of on-camera HMIs, which now have new, improved, dimmer control on the base of the light, making them "more reliable, no matter how badly it's treated, as it's been designed to military specification," he says.
It's new Micro-Arc lamp for small, lightweight cameras, is only 10 watts, but Crawford claims it matches the output of a 40W quartz lamp, making it perfect for a fill-in light. It is compatible with 12, 13 or 14 volt systems. Optional accessories include a swing away dichroic filter to convert the lamp from daylight to tungsten colour temperature.
Photon Beard's new Hyperlight 471 on-camera tungsten or daylight unit has been seen at shows for more than a year, but it is now in production and selling so well the company believes it will become its biggest seller. It boasts "excellent running time on a 12v battery. It will run all day on an ordinary NP1," claims Photon Beard's sales and marketing director, Alan Gooch, who calls it "the complete cool light." Although it only uses 11 watts, he maintains it outputs the equivalent of a 100W light. It should also have a lamp life of some 300 hours and will run on 12, 13.2 or 14.4v batteries, with connectors to all the main manufacturer's fittings. It is dimmable down to 30% and weighs 256g.
Also new is the Radiant fluorescent spotlight, which offers a 20 degree beam of light from a compact, lightweight, unit. It uses four 32W tungsten or daylight lamps (outputting the equivalent of 500W), is dimmable to 10%, claims up to 10,000 hours lamp life, is flicker-free, cool-running, and can be fitted with various accessories, such as barn doors, diffusers, and honey combs.
Anton Bauer's new 25W Ultra-Daylight on-camera HMI fits on to the same base as its ordinary Ultra Light, so it is easy to remove, while the base stays on the camera. The bulb has a life of 250 to 300 hours, but as it gets older and starts to lose its intensity, users can adjust it to bring it back to 5600K.
"It's proving very popular. We've sold a lot of them to people like ABC News in London for use by their news crews outside America," says Gerry Brown, its technical marketing manager.
Sachtler's new Reporter 400D open face luminaire is the latest addition to its Reporter family. The plastic housing makes the luminaire very lightweight and compact. This 400W HMI/MSR light has a wide adjustable, focusing range suitable for ENG and EFP work.
Aspen has introduced a new "light tuner" on-camera dimmer for lights without their own built-in dimmers. "Unlike off-the-shelf dimmers, it has the ability to regulate voltage to the bulb so that when you are using a 14.4v battery the dimmer will program the bulb to run at exactly 12v. In the past, bulbs rated at 12v have been used at 14.4 and have been running hot, which reduces the bulb life. It also has a slow start up to protect the bulb from surges, which prolongs both battery and bulb life," says Aspen's European sales director, John Yardley.
It also has an independent on/off switch, so users can dim the bulb to the required level, then turn the light off and on and know it will remain at the pre-set colour temperature.
Also, when batteries are low on power, and the light's colour temperature would begin to drop off, the tuner will keep it at 12v, but warn the user the battery should be changed. When it does drop below 12v it will cut the light off, to ensure the battery isn't run dry.
ADB's dimmer system now features a bi-directional network, so you can program or remotely control, or run diagnostics on, any dimmer on the network from any other dimmer on the network. For extra control, you can use its Dimmer Manager PC controller which can access and manage all functions using a more friendly graphical user interface. Using a standard two-pair DMX cable, no other cable is required, and the upgrade is available at no extra cost.
It has also redesigned the dimmer cabinets for its Eurodim units, to make if fully compatible with all the other dimmers. The latest Eurodim 3 has the improved control system, and can accommodate up to 100 5kW plug-in dimmers in a single cabinet.
It launched its new Softlux cool lights at NAB, and has since sold more than 100 fixtures to the BBC for its news studios. Swiss TV is another big user. ADB's general manager, Michael Musso, claims the lights have "a more robust construction than our rivals, as well as a well designed reflector shaped to maximise lights, and reflective barn doors." The smallest lamp is a dual 18W fixture. It also has a range of two-, four- or six-lamp units using 36W lamps, and 55W lamps with two-, four- six- or eight-lamp units.
Its Linux-based Phoenix control panel with touch screen and an assignable function wheel is not a dedicated desk for moving lights, but is already in use controlling up to 60 moving lights with no problems. ADB has also released a new Ethernet link for the desk. It also showed a modular version of its Vision 10 lighting control system, as used by the BBC, which offers greater flexibility. It can be connected to the Phoenix via Ethernet.
The new transtechnik Show Designer is a software package for standard PCs which allows lighting designers to create light shows graphically in less time than normal. It can be used offline, to pre-plan lighting effects, or online, where the lighting console (transtechnik's or Avab's) will immediately carry out any commands.
It allows users visualise exactly what happens when particular lights move or change, and Rainer Lotz, transtechnik's sales director, says it is particularly useful for control rooms where the designer can't see the studio. A 3D version is also available integrated with its consoles.
It also has an offline editor for laptops or PCs, enabling the lighting designer to previsualise a complete lighting scheme and just turn up with a disk which can be read by the console.
It has also introduced Voyager, a system for fully automated control of hoists, spotlights, monopoles and any other overhead equipment. Via a touch screen panel, users select a light from the studio plan and can then alter any parameter on screen. It can also memorise the full studio lighting set up, and switch between saved settings for different shows at the touch of a button.
Lastolite has added to its range of reflectors/diffusers/backdrops with the new Skylite system, a versatile collapsible panel system. It has a strong, lightweight tubular frame held together by an internal elastic cord, which can be folded easily with the fabric in place. It is available six versions with reversible gold/silver, sunfire/white or black/white reflectors, chromakey green/blue and in 0.75 and 1.25 stop diffuser fabric. Sizes range from 1.1m to 2m, square or rectangular. All kits contain a frame, bag, grip head, sunfire/white reflector and 0.75 stop diffuser, writes Christina Fox.
One of the smallest, lightest and handiest accessories any camera user could have is the new Lastolite bottletop reflector, which costs from just £20. It has four reflective surfaces, which research shows should be suitable for 90% of usage. Lastolite's surveys show that sunfire and silver (which feature on the reversible reflector) account for 65% of reflector usage and gold and white (which make up either side of the cover) for a further 25%. Open, sizes range from 50cm to 1.8m x 1.2m, but each folds down to one third the size. There are also two four-in-one kits (76cm and 95cm) with a white reflector/diffuser and cold/silver reflector.
The company, which was better known to stills photographers, is now moving more strongly into video and has extended its chromakey background range with new double-sided collapsible sets in blue and green or black and white.
It used to do reflective umbrellas up to 1m, but "we found that for a Red Head, 1m wasn't big enough," says Sean Henry, Lastolite's managing director. Its new Jumbo umbrellas range from 1.25m to 3.75m and fits any lighting stand to allow you convert a point source of light in to a much wider, softer source. They are available in silver, black/white, silver/black/white, translucent, and all-in-one version for the 1.25m and a tungsten to daylight conversion reflector.