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Litepanels’ Gemini 2×1 Soft LED is the behind-the-scenes star of ITV’s ‘Dancing on Ice’

What happens when you take the popular British television program “Strictly Come Dancing” and put it on skates? The result is “Dancing on Ice,” the hit UK ITV show that features celebrities and their professional partners figure-skating competitively in front of an all-star judging panel. The 11th series of “Dancing on Ice” (DOI in producer shorthand) premiered in early January with contestants ranging from actors and reality TV stars to musicians and athletes.

For the latest series, DOI producers wanted to take a dramatically different approach to lighting the on-set ice rink – so they turned to Litepanels’ Gemini 2×1 Soft LED panels.

“I am familiar with the Gemini’s from my work on ‘Strictly,’ when we used them for cyc lighting and soft fill – so I know how versatile they are, particularly with color rendition. Sam Rees-Jones, DOI producer, and I were going over some ideas for the upcoming series when we hit on the idea of putting Gemini’s on towers in the background. I got in touch with Daf Cook, my go-to lighting man, and he was all in.”
– Roger Laxon, Director of Photography, Dancing on Ice

Cook, the show’s gaffer, adds, “I always know when Roger’s number comes up on the phone that an interesting job is in the offing. When he told me about his idea, I knew right away the Gemini’s would be perfect for this job because they provide exceptional output in an extremely lightweight package.”

Cook’s next challenge was to round-up a large-enough quantity of Gemini’s to turn the DOI lighting concept into reality. He contacted Nick Edwards, managing director Version 2, a UK-based rental house that had recently stocked a large quantity of Gemini’s. “I reserved their entire stock of Gemini’s, and then Nick, Roger and I came up with a complete lighting and rigging package that was well within the DOI budget”.

'Dancing On ice' using Litepanels Gemini 2X1 Soft LED panels on set

After refinements by director David Sutton and buy-in from Rees-Jones and executive producer Clodagh O’Donoghue, the DOI crew was ready to begin executing the lighting concept.

The ingenious lighting design includes five towers encircling the ice rink, each mounted with eight panels for a total of 40 Gemini’s.

“With the Gemini’s, we were able to achieve our creative vision while also meeting our very tight time scale and budget,” Daf notes. “Any other 2×1 panel would have required a lot more structural rigging for this configuration, but the Gemini’s are ideal not only for their light weight, but also because of their built-in power supply, which meant they were much easier to rig high up on the towers.”

Daf can control the color, intensity, and effects of the lights using a Hedgehog 4x console from High End Systems. This makes it easy to adapt the lighting from show to show as required by director Dave Sutton and DP Roger Laxon.

“Daf is perfect for this job because he’s a gaffer and also a console operator, and he doesn’t mind us throwing different color and pattern ideas at him,” Roger comments. “Plus, the Gemini’s gel, HSI and CCT modes mean we can dial in any color we like without having to physically apply gels to the lights. In an instant, Daf can fine-tune the intensity of the colors to get the exact effect we’re going for, and in a hue that looks best onscreen. There’s no way we would have this kind of flexibility using gels.”

Daf notes, “The light towers were a fairly big departure from our traditional approach, but everyone on the production has been really pleased with the result. The Gemini’s have performed perfectly, and we really appreciate the support we received from Nick and Version 2 in providing a one-stop shop for the lights.”

Gemini Soft LED panels are now Roger’s go-to soft lights.

“I’ve been a satisfied Litepanels customer for a long time, and I still have quite a few earlier-generation Litepanels LEDs in my kit. Litepanels was the first company to come out with a 1×1 panel with consistent broadcast-quality color rendition, and they’ve really raised the bar on 2×1 panels with Gemini,” Roger comments.

He adds, “Speed is always critical on any production, and Gemini is the complete package: a soft light that can be rigged extremely fast and in many different and complex configurations, but also provides outstanding gel-free colors for any type of film or video project. Gemini is the only thing I’ll use from now on for any type of production that requires tuneable lights.”

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