An array of 13 Litepanels Gemini 2×1 soft panels adds new levels of lighting creativity and flexibility to the new in-house studio of AMP Creative, a boutique agency based in Dallas, Texas. DP Sandy Mason Abernathy explains how, with the added benefits of energy conservation and cooler operation
Based in Dallas, Texas, AMP Creative is a boutique agency that delivers video production services, innovative learning products, and creative visuals and storytelling across a wide variety of media — from print to live streaming.
“We use our hearts, heads, and hands to produce media and experiences that inspire, connect, and ignite action,” said Sandy Mason Abernathy, vice president of AMP Creative and the company’s director of photography. “The right technology is absolutely critical to our work, smoothing the way for us to create motion images that transform information and stir emotion.”
AMP Creative had very specific lighting requirements when designing and building its new studio.
“We have a frequent need for a white infinity look, and we wanted to be able to pre-light the set so it’s ready to go when a client books the studio. We were also looking to use lighting to create the effect of a head-to-toe green screen in our cyclorama,” Sandy notes. “We knew LEDs could give us the foot-candles we needed with less heat generation and lower power consumption.”
When Barak Epstein of Videotex Systems suggested Litepanels’ Gemini 2×1 soft panels, the AMP Creative team visited the Litepanels booth at the 2018 NAB Show for a closer look. After an exhaustive point-to-point comparison of the Gemini with its most popular direct competitor, the team was sold.
“Gemini and its competitor are both in the same class in terms of features, performance, output, and power consumption, but Gemini’s form factor, weight, and corresponding ease of use made it the clear choice,” Sandy says
The studio Geminis have proven so functional that we’ve allowed a few to go out into the field, and now our DPs are asking for them. I can see us using a combination of Geminis and Litepanels’ latest-generation Astra panels as our primary tools for location lighting, which will greatly decrease the number of instruments required and the setup time needed to get an outstanding interview.”
– Sandy Mason Abernathy
AMP Creative purchased 17 Geminis for the new studio.
When mounted in an overhead grid, the Gemini’s create the evenly illuminated “white infinity” look that AMP Creative was going for, in any desired color temperature.
“In that configuration, the Gemini’s save our clients a half-day of set-up. They can just come in, put up the desired key lights and shoot,” Sandy explains. “The reduced weight and simplicity of the Gemini design, with its built-in power supply, makes the lights ideal for the grid-mount configuration. But we can also move the lights around and place them where they’re needed. That built-in flexibility is a huge advantage.”
The Gemini’s have also been a game-changer with the cyclorama, giving AMP Creative the ability to wash as large an area as desired with 100 percent green and create a green screen without having to paint or repaint the wall. “Pat Grosswendt from Litepanels was really helpful – he introduced us to a technique that uses mylar under the talent to create a green floor that is actually a reflection of the wall behind the presenters. With Gemini we can put green everywhere without painting,” Sandy says.
He adds, “Our cyc is quite large, and most of the time we aren’t using the majority of the area. The Gemini’s are so easy to move around and stand-mount that we can place them wherever we need to wash a section of wall or floor, or we can use them as keys or kickers.”
The Gemini LEDs have already provided the ideal solution for a large retail client.
Eyemart Express, a nationwide retailer of quality eyewear, is a long-time AMP Creative client. Several years ago, AMP created an advertising campaign and visual identity for Eyemart Express that is still going strong. “We worked with their internal creative team to come up with a ‘suggested retail store’ look, basically a white store in a white limbo environment,” Sandy explains. “Over the years, the look has remained constant, giving us a great platform to do a lot of creative things with the actors portraying characters that represent the Eyemart Express brand.”
Previously, AMP Creative had been renting a large studio to shoot the Eyemart Express commercials, using traditional tungsten lighting fixtures. “The heat generation and power consumption of those lights was immense,” Sandy notes. “Once we moved into our own studio space, we were able to light the set with the Gemini’s and it made a world of difference. We can achieve Eyemart’s signature look with a fraction of the power, and we’re able to keep the studio cool with a lot less HVAC.”
The right technology is absolutely critical to our work, smoothing the way for us to create motion images that transform information and stir emotion.”
– Sandy Mason Abernathy – Amp Creative, Vice President and Director of Photography
With the success of the Gemini’s in the new studio, AMP Creative is now exploring their use for on-location shoots. “The studio Gemini’s have proven so functional that we’ve allowed a few to go out into the field, and now our DPs are asking for them,” Sandy says. “They’re light, flexible, and efficient enough to be really valuable on location. I can see us using a combination of Gemini’s and Litepanels latest-generation Astra panels as our primary tools for location lighting, which will greatly decrease the number of instruments required and the set-up time needed to get an outstanding interview.”
“We value our partnership with Litepanels and we know we can count on them not only for the highest-quality lighting solutions but also outstanding service,” Sandy adds. “To give an example, Pat was amazing before the sale. He came out and spent a full day with us, helping us assess exactly how many lights we would need and how they would be arranged. He demonstrated Gemini’s broad beam and the color flexibility, and he brought with him years of practical knowledge and problem-solving tips. With that level of support, we look forward to working with Litepanels for years to come.”