The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
October 2007
Bron-Kobolds DW200 HMI
When I’m working in a situation where an HMI is required, I will usually look for 1,200 watts or more to augment or overpower natural daylight.
Element Labs LED Fixtures
In only two days, shoot seven shots each of 39 different NASCAR drivers in dramatized situations with a pit crew, car and diagnostic stations.
Iconix HD-RH1
From his earliest discussions with director Steve Shill and the producers of the Spike TV miniseries The Kill Point, cinematographer Bert Dunk, ASC, CSC knew he had found the right project for the Iconix HD-RH1 point-of-view camera.
Alpha 18 Compact 18K HMI
P56 lighting, the sister branch of K5600 Inc., has released the Alpha 18 18K Fresnel HMI.
Airline-Friendly Kobold HMI Kit
Bron-Kobold has put together a 200/400 Kobold all-weather HMI kit that weighs less than 50 pounds, meaning airline overweight fees do not apply.
Zylights Tiny, Brighter Z90
Zylight has introduced the Z90 Intelligent LED light. Four times brighter than the Z50, the Z90 features Zylight’s exclusive switchable tungsten and daylight output.

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Bron-Kobolds DW200 HMI

When I’m working in a situation where an HMI is required, I will usually look for 1,200 watts or more to augment or overpower natural daylight. I’ve worked with some great small fixtures, but when I tried the Bron-Kobold DW200, I was very surprised by not only its versatility, but also its punch.

When I first opened the airline case (an optional accessory), I was taken aback by the number of pieces comprising this small fixture. There’s the main head, which is a compact 4"x4"x7"; the Par reflector attachment; the “open face” reflector attachment; a “bare bulb” attachment for use with a softbox; a set of two lenses for the open-face mode; and four Par lenses. In addition, there are the ballast and battery connection, although the battery connection has an old-school two-prong screw connector that I haven’t seen on battery blocks in quite awhile. The paperwork notes that this battery ballast requires 26-34 volts, so I imagine there is a specific Bron battery that I didn’t have the chance to test. There is also an available Fresnel lens that I didn’t have the opportunity to test.

The separate reflector attachments affix easily with a small twist and lock securely in place. However, I was never happy doing this with even a slightly warm fixture, as doing so exposes the bare HMI globe (and scrapes against the envelope). I’ve had two HMI bulbs (one an 18K) explode and am therefore hesitant to risk any exposure to even a slightly warm, bare HMI globe. I wouldn’t want to switch out reflectors on this fixture unless it was stone cold, but others might not feel that way. The only attachment that gave me some trouble was the “bare bulb” softbox adapter, when the softbox was already attached. As it has a rotation of its own (to easily orient a softbox vertically or horizontally), it was a little tricky to line up the five points of contact and get it to twist-lock in place. Connecting this adapter to the fixture without the softbox attached was a lot easier.

The head itself has a spot and flood feature, which alters the position of the globe within the center of the reflector attachments. It has a very smooth range and adjusts easily, but I wish there were some kind of calibration so I could tell at a glance how far toward flood or spot the fixture is positioned.

The accessories, lenses and scrims are 5", which is somewhat frustrating because they can’t be replaced with standard Mole or Arri (5 1/8", 130mm) diffusion. Instead, they’ll have to be ordered from Bron.

The Par reflector attachment has a parabolic-shaped polished smooth reflector in an enclosed housing with safety glass. The “open face” attachment also has an enclosed housing with safety glass and a parabolic-shaped reflector, but it is pebbled for an overall softer light output. The quality of light from this open-face unit is pleasing enough that I would actually consider using it clean, directly on talent.

Although there are specific lenses designed for use with each of the reflector attachments, they are all the same size and can be used interchangeably. The frost lens, intended for use with the open-face attachment, works well with the Par attachment, as do any of the Par lenses with the open face. In fact, I couldn’t decide which I liked better: the wide lens on the Par attachment or the open-face attachment. Both gave a very pleasing light. The medium lens didn’t work well with the open-face attachment, and I wasn’t too pleased with the light quality from the medium lens with the Par attachment, either. There was a lot of variation in the light output with the medium lens, as well as color fringing. This was not true of any other Par lenses. With all other lenses, and all other configurations, the light output was very smooth and pleasing.

One further drawback to the Par attachment is that with no lens in full flood, there is a center dark spot, similar to a flashlight beam. Because the globe is positioned through a hole in the center of the reflector, this dark spot becomes evident in this configuration. It is smoothed out the moment any of the Par lenses are incorporated.

Photometric measurements took me awhile because there are so many possible configurations to this little fixture. They are real-world measurements taken with a Sekonic L508 meter in a practical environment, always reading the center hot spot of the light — not data generated in the vacuum of a laboratory setting.

At 20', full spot, the beam angles for the Par attachment were:
No lens: 2' (circular)
Spot lens: 4' (circular)
Med lens: 3'x61/2'
Wide lens: 61/2'x18'
Stipple lens: 23' (circular)

The set also comes with a dichroic 3200°K filter for integrating this fixture with tungsten lighting, which is a 1-stop loss. There’s enough room in the accessory ears to easily fit two lenses simultaneously, so the dichroic can work in tandem with either the open-face or Par reflector and any of the other lenses.

The accessory ears on the fixture feature the top locking ear that is spring-loaded and slides under a lip lock in place — not my favorite, as it’s clumsy to operate when hot. Further, this fixture, in both open-face and Par modes, has only three ears, so the top locking ear pretty much has to be locked into place to keep the barn doors, lenses and diffusion in place. All of the lenses have large, color-coded hoop handles that stay remarkably cool, even after an hour of burning. Small “stops” on the lenses allow a 90-degree rotation without having to open the ears and reposition the lens. I’m not sure why the stops are necessary, however, as the handle is enough to stop the lens from rotating too far; I found the “stops” more clumsy than helpful.

The fixture itself stays remarkably cool, even after an hour of burning. There was hardly any point that I couldn’t touch with a bare hand. Even 4' from the front of the fixture, with no lens at full spot, the heat output was only 100°F.

The four-leaf barn doors have built-in gel clips, a nice touch.

The DW200 is an “all weather” fixture, and I put that to the test, running it under a fairly heavy “rain” situation for 30 minutes with no deleterious effects. It functioned perfectly in a fairly heavy downpour.

In addition to the three reflector attachments and multiple lenses and spot/flood adjustment, the ballast for the DW200 has a built-in dimmer that allows for dimming down to about 40 percent output.

The fixture is small enough and light enough to be squeezed into almost any situation. It also runs cool enough that I would have no problem tucking it into a corner right against a wall or ceiling. It packs a lot of punch to boot.

The head and ballast are incredibly silent. I’ve never heard HMIs this quiet before. If I put my ear against the ballast, I could hear a slight hum, but it’s certainly a head that can be run close to talent or microphones.

The head has a standard 5/8" baby pin socket, but strangely, it’s a little shallow. On one of the stands I mounted it on, the lock-down didn’t quite get into the ridge on the spud, and instead locked down on the top smooth metal — not what you’d want if you were hanging this fixture overhead.

Overall, this is an incredibly versatile light with a lot of output for its wattage.

by Jay Holben

contact info:

Bron-Kobold, (866) 504-2766
Element Labs LED Fixtures

In only two days, shoot seven shots each of 39 different NASCAR drivers in dramatized situations with a pit crew, car and diagnostic stations. Each driver is available for 30 minutes, tops. Each set of shots will be cut into three 8- to 10-second vignettes to be used in show openers and commercial bumpers.

That was what Calgary-based Jump Studios faced when it signed on for a second round of show packages for ESPN’s NASCAR telecasts. “We shot the first round in Daytona with the Busch Series drivers in early February 2007,” says Brian Vos, Jump Studios’ general manager. “Based on that, we were asked to shoot, edit and finish a second package with the Nextel Cup drivers.”

The project demanded a unique look that would grab viewers and draw them into the exciting world of high-speed racing. “The use of multiple LED screens really fell out of our discussions with our client,” says director Jeff August. “We knew they wanted something big, bold and different that the drivers would be comfortable around and would create a memorable yet believable scene. We started with the Element Labs Stealth screens and then built the rest of the set around those.”

Vos and August saw a Stealth demonstration at NAB and talked about the technology with director of photography Jeff Sutch. “Stealth gave me all that I was envisioning for this shoot,” notes August. “It offered me and my design team endless graphic possibilities that in the end would be more dynamic and real than another greenscreen composite.”

Stealth consists of LED panels that can be assembled into massive video screens of virtually any shape or size. The panels are constructed of either a white or black lattice that blends into backgrounds so as not to distract from the video image. In combination with an easy-to-use hardware-processing tool that maps customer-supplied video across the finished array, it’s possible to use Stealth to create dynamic, live-action backgrounds that can change at a moment’s notice. Boasting 48-bit color depth and a pixel pitch of 25mm, it was easy for August to envision using this technology to build a set that not only was dynamic but also could contribute to lighting each shot.

In addition to Stealth, the production used two other products from Element Labs. 1-meter-square Versa Bank frames, containing 504 LEDs per frame, were used to create a large soft source over the car, and 4'x1' Kelvin Bank full-spectrum LED prototypes were used to light the talent. Bill Streed, Element Labs’ sales representative for the Kelvin series of lights, notes that common LED lights contain only three colors: red, green and blue. “If you’re looking at those colors, you can create any color that your eye can see,” he says. “But if you’re lighting an object with only those three colors, it’s a completely different ballgame.”

To see a color accurately, it has to be hit by light containing that color. When lighting an object that is brown or cyan, for example, you have to illuminate the object with light that contains those colors in order to photograph them accurately. Red, green and blue LEDs have large gaps in their spectrum: brown falls into a space between red and green, while cyan falls into a gap between green and blue.

The Kelvin series uses a proprietary mix of LEDs that include the colors orange and cyan, as well as a broad overall white, such that the units emit full-spectrum light. The overall color of the light can be easily warmed or cooled, and the individual LED colors can be mixed to create almost any color imaginable. The lights can also be dimmed without changing color. This six-color (RGB COW) LED mix makes the Kelvin series the only full-spectrum LED lights available to the motion-picture industry at this time. Element Labs contributed two 4'x1' Kelvin Bank prototypes to the production for testing.

“There was no need for a generator or fans to cool off the set — it was a very easy way to work,” says Sutch. “It was very fast: just program and go. It was lightweight, and I even shot through the Stealth lattice screen from behind to create a textured fence look. The Kelvin Bank prototypes eliminated the need for color-correction gels on my keylights. I had other lights standing by but never needed them.

“I look at both Stealth and the Versa Banks as being really big video displays,” he continues. “We built two walls of Stealth, one on either side of the car, and played a wide selection of cool video imagery on them, including mockups of speedometers and RPM gauges as well as treatments containing the drivers’ names.”

Kelvin Banks mounted easily on rolling Mathews stands, and the Versa Banks were suspended on steel cable from a truss grid with pipes at specific points. The Versa Banks mounted flush together, creating a single 2-meter-by-5-meter screen that hung safely over the car.

The Stealth screens, originally designed for live concert tours, required little time to set up. Each screen arrived folded and preconfigured in its own road case. The tops of the segments were attached to trusses and unfolded cleanly as the trusses were raised. Each screen consisted of 96 Stealth panels, resulting in a display measuring 21' wide by 8' high with a 3:1 aspect ratio. At 2.2 pounds per panel, each screen weighed just under 300 pounds, including cabling. Together, the Versa Banks and Stealth screens formed a short tunnel, with a race car parked in the center. Pit crews worked around the car and the displays, with the talent framed in the foreground.

Recalls Sutch, “Originally, I thought we might have a problem with the far ends of the Stealth walls because perspective caused the far LEDs to face farther away from the camera than on the close ends, and I thought the far ends would look darker. I had the grip crew move the far ends of the Stealth walls closer together to force the perspective and open those LEDs up to the lens. It turned out that being off angle to the LEDs wasn’t a problem at all, so I had the grips square the walls off again.

“We used the Versa Banks over the car in place of a big softbox. Sometimes we used them for white beauty light for the car, and sometimes we played a loop of sky and clouds that reflected in the car’s windshield.

“The Stealth and Versa Banks both ran on 208-volt, three-phase power. The Element Labs engineer controlled the whole system from a Mac laptop connected to a small media server. The screens’ video inputs took standard DVI cables, and we controlled each screen individually. Jump Studios gave the engineer a CD full of graphic content, and off we went.”

The project was shot in high-definition video using two Panasonic VariCams. “I had ring lights on both cameras, and I used the 4-foot Kelvin Banks from the front with 216 diffusion on the doors,” the cinematographer notes. “I had a couple of tungsten backlights with 1/2 CTO on them. The rest of the lighting was LED.”

All of the LED lights were balanced for 3200°K by Jonah Strauss, an Element Labs engineer. “We balanced the 4-foot Kelvin Bank keylights to match a 3200°K Kino Flo ring light by mixing differing amounts of all six Kelvin LED colors,” says Strauss. “We then repeated the process for the RGB-only Stealth screens and Versa Banks. The Stealth signal-processing unit has a built-in RGB color-correction feature, and we mixed those colors such that the unit output 3200°K white light to the screens when a white video signal was fed into the unit. To white-balance the Versa Bank array, we used our RasterMapper software running on a laptop.”

“This is a new way of looking at lighting situations,” says Sutch. “You can color-correct on the fly; it’s like having a camera-control unit or paint box on a light: warm it up, cool it down, dial it in just right. It was very quick and very soft. The biggest advantage, though, is that the active lighting gives the talent something to react to, which results in better performances. In this way, it’s vastly better than greenscreen.”

Cinematographer Art Adams consulted with Element Labs in the development and testing of the company’s lighting products.

by Art Adams

contact info:

Element Labs, (512) 491-9111
Iconix HD-RH1

From his earliest discussions with director Steve Shill and the producers of the Spike TV miniseries The Kill Point, cinematographer Bert Dunk, ASC, CSC knew he had found the right project for the Iconix HD-RH1 point-of-view camera. “I’d been following [the camera] for about a year, and I was waiting to get my hands on it,” he recalls. “It sparked my interest because it struck me as a hi-def version of an Eyemo, only better because of its size.”

Over the course of eight one-hour episodes which began airing in July, The Kill Point details a bank heist/hostage situation that spans three days. Shooting on location in Pittsburgh, the crew captured exteriors in Market Square, and the bank interior was photographed on a set constructed in a warehouse. “With an eight-hour show that’s basically either in the bank or out in the square, the challenge was to keep it moving and keep it interesting,” attests Dunk. “The Iconix afforded me
a lot of unusual angles I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get.”

Roughly the size of an egg, the HD-RH1’s camera head measures 1.32"x1.50"x1.92" and weighs 2.5 ounces. The small size is made possible by a separate HDTV controller unit — itself a fairly compact package measuring 8.4"x1.8"x12" and weighing 3.5 pounds — that connects to the head via a proprietary cable available in 3-, 6- and 10-meter lengths.

Referring to his camera team, operators Russell McElhatten and Frederick Iannone and 1st ACs Michael Endler and Rick Crumrife, Dunk says with a chuckle, “We would have fun just figuring out places to use the camera.” Over the course of the shoot, the Iconix was dragged on the ground, mounted on a train, used extensively in an air vent, and even attached — by means of a paperclip — to the end of a sniper rifle.

“There were times when we were up on a balcony overlooking Market Square, and we’d run the camera 20 feet up in the air on a boom pole to get a nice shot looking down at the square,” says the cinematographer. “We also had some shots of the SWAT team looking down to the market, and by using the boom pole we were able to stick the camera out over the ledge and look back at the actors. [These shots] took seconds to do; otherwise we would’ve been building scaffolding or bringing in a scissor lift.”

Working in 4:2:2, Dunk recorded to a Sony SRW1 deck whenever possible and utilized a Sony HDW-S280 HDCam field recorder when portability became a concern. The Iconix can also capture footage at 25, 30, 50 and 60 fps, but Dunk never strayed from 24 fps. “When there was gunfire, I would turn the shutter off so that we would maintain the entire flash of the gun,” he adds. “That worked great.”

The HD-RH1 accepts C-mount lenses, and Dunk employed a set of Fujinon primes. Coming out of Panavision’s Plus 8 division, Dunk’s camera package also included two Sony HDC-F950s. “[The Iconix] is maybe a little bit slower than the 950, but not by much, and the picture quality is just incredible,” says Dunk. “When we put it up to the 950s, I was amazed at how good the picture was.”

With its 1/3" 3-CCD prism system, the HD-RH1 features native 16x9 scanning in 720p, 1080i, 1080p and 1080psf. (For The Kill Point, the camera was used in 1080p.) The camera is also capable of outputting dual-link 4:4:4 RGB/YCbCr.

“It would be wonderful for car shots — since there’s no mass, there would be no real vibration issues,” notes Dunk. “Really, I think the only limiting factor for the use of the camera is one’s imagination.”

by Jon D. Witmer

contact info:

Iconix Video, (805) 690-3650 or (800) 783-1080
Alpha 18 Compact 18K HMI

P56 lighting, the sister branch of K5600 Inc., has released the Alpha 18 18K Fresnel HMI. It weighs 125 pounds in open-eye mode (good for the new Condor rules) and has a small, shallow profile of 23" with a standard 24" Fresnel or ceramic glass. The core of this innovation is a patent-pending, custom-made reflector molded out of quartz composite material, allowing the lamp to be much closer to the reflector and therefore reducing the physical size of the Alpha 18K by a third (compared to the traditional 18Ks on the market).

The light output from this new reflector is increased by almost 15 percent with a softer and smoother lighting pattern than the oversized, conventional aluminum reflector.

A computer-designed extrusion/vent system is precisely angled for maximum cooling efficiency, and with a specially engineered back door (Turbine style), the Alpha 18 will stay cool in any critical position. A double-suspension system (one to the lamp heat sinks and one to the chassis support) makes the Alpha 18 lamp less fragile to rough handling that occurs during location transportation.

The Alpha 18K allows the user to switch from the soft Fresnel look to a hard-shadow Open Eye by interchanging lenses instantly from the front of the fixture with the pull of a knob. The Alpha 18K is now available for sale and rental in Los Angeles, New York and Miami.

contact info:

P56 Lighting, (818) 901-1214
Airline-Friendly Kobold HMI Kit

Bron-Kobold has put together a 200/400 Kobold all-weather HMI kit that weighs less than 50 pounds, meaning airline overweight fees do not apply. Each Sub 50 Kit includes the DW 200 and DWO 400 Open Face HMI systems, which includes the fixtures, ballasts, cables, lamps, barn doors and case.  The kits are configured three ways: the Sub 50-1 (47 pounds) has the IP 43 rated EWB 200 and EWB 400-575 AC ballasts; the Sub 50-2 (49 pounds) has both AC ballasts and also includes the BB200/C DC ballast for the DW 200; and the Sub 50-3 (45 pounds) includes the BB200/C DC ballast for the 200 and the EWB 400-575 AC ballast for the 400. Optional accessories for the DW 200 and DWO 400 include the 3400°K glass conversion filters and glass diffusion filters.

contact info:

Bron-Kobold, (866) 504-2766
Zylights Tiny, Brighter Z90

Zylight has introduced the Z90 Intelligent LED light. Four times brighter than the Z50, the Z90 features Zylight’s exclusive switchable tungsten and daylight output.

Only slightly larger than the Z50 and drawing the same power, the palm-sized Z90 also features a new color Gel Mode that allows users to select any one of over 400 industry-standard theatrical gel numbers from four leading manufacturers. Color selection is easy with an integrated digital display, and presets are provided for saving user favorites.

Wireless control is a breeze with ZyLink technology built into every Zylight. With the new Z90, lighting professionals can choose from 10 independent wireless ZyLink channels to create flexible and scaleable multi-light installations. The same Zylights used independently on one shoot can be wirelessly linked together the next, forming a large soft source of light. Zylight’s advanced HD-LED technology produces a bright, soft and wide output similar to incandescent fixtures, but with no bulbs or filaments to break. A snap-on adapter allows professionals to mount standard 3" lighting accessories, such as barndoors or a softbox, to easily control the output. It is powered from AC or 7-24V DC source.

contact info: