Lighting is the unsung hero of visual storytelling. If a character speeding recklessly down the highway attracts the attention of the police, the distinctive flashing lights in their mirrors tell the story without the need for an actual police car to be seen. Similarly, creating the distinct, erratic flash of lighting instantly sets the scene for the viewer.
In the past, creating these kind of lighting effects has been notoriously time consuming, involving heavy lights and swapping many colored gels. Production would often have to pause while new lighting setups were tested and adjusted, eating into precious time on set or location.
Since switching to Litepanels LED lighting, Clifton Stommel, Mauricio Van Hasselt and the team at StommelHaus not only find that they no longer go home with sore backs and burnt fingers. They are now also able to quickly to create any light they need for a scene, from additional shaping to special effects, with the turn of a dial.
“There is simply no getting around it, Tungsten lights are laborious to use. While they give out great output, they are heavy, hard to manoeuvre and they need a lot of power. Finding 1800 watts of power for each of your lights is a logistical nightmare for lighting crews. Then, after all the effort, the room soon feels like the surface of the sun. If a shoot called for filming in a remote location, you would need to find a generator and gasoline to run it, and then you need to account for the constant humming sound.”
“Since switching to Litepanels’ Astra’s, we have been amazed at how much unnecessary time and energy lighting crews have been putting in for years. With such a lightweight unit, setting up takes much less time and since they can be plugged into the wall or use a battery pack, they can go wherever we need them. You can’t underestimate the freedom you feel when you no longer have to find 1800 watts for each of your lights.”
“This all means a drastic improvement in output. Clients often marvel at how much we are able to over-deliver, and we wouldn’t be able to do this if the Astra lights were not giving us high-quality results much faster. An example of this is being able to use a mobile app to adjust all of the Astra’s at the same time. Not only does this look really impressive to clients, but it means we can get the right set-up on camera in minutes. Gone are the days were you would need one person manually adjusting each light.”
“Finally, lighting on set is fun.”
More time to play
“Being able to set-up quickly in almost any location means that we can spend more time doing what we love: exploring the creative possibilities of each shoot and seeing what we can come up with. The Astra’s high performance means we can get a shot locked much quicker, but it is the versatility and flexibility that allows us to start exploring variations and see where we can go.”
“And Litepanels really does help us go almost anywhere. Whether using it for natural shaping, supplementing existing light or a more theatrical artificial feel, being able to quickly dial through tones, temperature and intensity means it is easy to explore ideas. The light weight also makes each unit much more versatile than conventional lights. One scene we shot recently called for the characters to be sitting around a campfire. Rather than create a health and safety nightmare, we just put a Litepanels’ Gemini on the floor facing up. This gave us the exact look of flickering flames we needed and after adding a few additional effects in post-production, you would be hard-pressed to tell it wasn’t a real fire.”
“Being able to create lighting effects and select any hue from the color wheel with a few turns of a dial saves us so much time, especially when it removes the need for hours of rendering in post-production. But it also allows us to keep the authenticity and nuances of the original shots. In filmmaking, scenes are often made truly special by the physical reactions to lights from the actors and the little details like a glint in the eye. Using Litepanels means we don’t have to try and fake these things. Also, we can build up a library of effects as we go, saving even more time further along the road.”
“Filmmaking is a narrative medium, if you can’t present an accurate account of the mood and the atmosphere and the space, you might as well be filming it on your cell phone. Since we have been using Litepanels LED lighting, we have not only been able to get better shots, but we have been able to get them much quicker and easier than before. This means we are getting dramatically better results for our clients as well as our viewers.”