LED lighting has been used for over 10 years in the architectural and building industry, but with developments in light-emitting diode technology, there’s been a quiet but steady lighting revolution in the film industry over the last five years.
According to Visual Impact Director, Marius van Straaten, a trend that’s fundamentally impacting filmmaking is the increasing use of LED lamps in lighting fixtures. Adding to this he says that LED lamps have a lifespan and electrical efficiency that’s several times greater than incandescent lamps and they are significantly more efficient than most fluorescent lamps.
“In an age where everyone is moving to more sustainable lighting solutions – this is a profound development for our industry,” says van Straaten, adding “The LED lamp market is projected to grow more than 12-fold over the next decade.”
“Some LED chips emit more than 300 lumens per watt - using only one tenth of the power used by a tungsten lamp. These are remarkable advantages with a huge cost saving on electricity. Not only do the LED lamps consume one tenth of the electricity of tungsten lamps, they emit very little heat, saving further power on air conditioning,” adds van Straaten. When looking at the numbers, van Straaten says that on a three month studio shoot, this translates into savings of hundreds of thousands of Rands in power bills.
“On mobile shoots the low power draw allows LED lamps to be battery powered which makes shooting that much easier; particularly in vehicles and airplanes which is an obvious plus. Like incandescent lamps and unlike most fluorescent lamps, LEDs come to full brightness without need for a warm-up time.”
Advancements are such that these lights are now so small and weightless that they can be mounted on a drone with the camera. Keeping step with these developments, Visual Impact’s Light and Motion Stella pro range now offers these LED fixtures for drones.
“Creatively speaking, the RGB-W colour control presents a very significant advantage, giving Directors of Photography and gaffers (chief lighting technicians) a level of control never achieved before,” says van Straaten. “The primary reason for our acquiring the distribution of the Arri SkyPanel and Digital Sputnik RGB-W lights is the additive colour mixing - putting control into the hands of the artist using them.”
Additive colour mixing delivers literally hundreds of thousands of colour options and van Straaten says that this colour control means coloured gels are no longer required in front of lights - saving over R200 000 per feature film in gel costs and labour.
On the downside, the initial cost of LED lamps is usually much higher. There is also a degradation of the LED dye which reduces light output to some extent over time. Despite these factors, van Straaten believes LED’s benefits significantly outweigh the negatives.
“Shooting on moving vehicles, in rain and creating any colour temperature is now significantly easier using highly mobile LED lighting systems. The Velvet range of weatherproof lights create beautiful soft light with complete colour temperature control and this too can run on batteries,” he says. “The Light and Motion Stella pro range deliver power and control under water, on land and in the sky. They are waterproof for diving and work well on any camera or vehicle platform and drones.”
“LED technology is in its infancy and the lights will become smaller, cheaper, brighter and more efficient, but by far the most exciting development is the possibilities attendant to their digital nature. Intelligent systems will permeate our homes and our offices – it’s just a matter of time before this becomes the new normal. Imagine self-reporting lights that can switch on when someone approaches and in turn report on movement patterns in a space. Lights so thin they can be mounted against walls in places never imagined by filmmakers. Lights that can change angle and match the ambient light’s colour exactly. Lights that digitally transmit their colour values to assist post production with CGI and special effects; LED has a bright future indeed,” concludes van Straaten.
Visual Impact Broadcast Solutions has been testing LED lighting options and making the outstanding options available to the South African film industry. For further information on the latest lighting solutions visit: http://www.visuals.tv/ or visit them at Mediatech Africa where they will be exhibiting the latest in LED technology.
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Visual Impact South Africa is the leading provider of Digital and High Definition broadcast solutions in Africa and productions originating from South Africa. Visual Visual Impact SA does not only sell and rent out video cameras, but all the broadcasting equipment needed as well, whilst providing the personnel with the expertise to create solutions for clients.
The company also offers a complete post-production package, it services many European and U.S companies. Its personnel have developed and participated in large and specialised reality projects such as Master Chef, season one and two. X-factor Nigeria. Idols (East West & South Africa), MasterChef, The Block, The Apprentice, Survivor and Fear Factor series. Through these projects Visual Impact SA has proved its capacity to facilitate world-class quality projects.
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