LED LIGHTS GET FLEX-ABLE
This a guest blog post by Jem Schofield.
I love light! I am borderline obsessed with the subject. I probably spend more time looking at, studying, and controlling light than anything else that I do. I work with natural light and with many types of lighting fixtures, including LEDs.
LED lighting has been a part of our equipment arsenal on corporate, documentary, commercial, television, and film productions for quite some time. While still in its infancy compared to traditional fixtures such as HMIs, hot lights, and fluorescent fixtures, it is common for LEDs to be used for some or even all of the lighting on today’s productions (depending on the type of project).
While the advantages of LEDs are well known (low power draw compared to output, cool and therefore more comfortable for talent, zero color shift when dimming, and the ability to change color temperatures with bi-color or RGB fixtures), most LEDs today still still come in 1×1 rigid housings and need to be rigged in traditional ways (which is both good and bad). There are LEDs in other form factors that are both larger and smaller (great for placing or getting light into tight spaces), but they still conform to more rigged forms.
I am a producer, DP, and educator and I do a fair amount of production. More than 75% of my productions require me to travel and almost 100% of the time we travel with a majority of our camera, lighting, and grip gear. With restrictions on the size, weight, and number of bags we can travel with, the size of our kits is a HUGE consideration. Additionally, we want to use tools that work well, that help us solve problems in production and also – hopefully – allow us to experiment with new things (especially when it comes to lighting).
I was introduced to Westcott’s Flex lights when they initially came to market. I had already been working with Westcott’s lighting and light control products (as both a DP and educator). When I first saw the Flex, I thought they were just another LED light that happened to be a bit smaller and lighter than the other ones I owned and had been using for years.
Once I received my first Flex lights though, I realized how wrong I was!
Not only are they smaller, they’re practically “flat packable”. They weigh almost nothing, are water-resistant, can be formed into almost any shape imaginable, and they can be attached to or put into almost any space. You can even use gaffer’s tape to stick them pretty much anywhere as they barely weigh anything! They are truly lights that can do stuff that other fixtures can’t. They can also be put onto Westcott’s Scrim Jim Cine frames to create a complete system for use as traditional panel fixtures.
It’s how you shape and control your light that really makes the difference and it’s even more important for today’s HD and 4K-based productions. I personally love to take small light sources like the Flex and bounce or diffuse them using light control tools (such as theC47 DP and Book Light Kits which are part of Westcott’s Scrim Jim Cine line), to create larger, softer sources. This creates a more natural appearance that is flattering when lighting talent. This really helps as you can see EVERYTHING with today’s high-resolution camera systems. That said, I can also use Flex lights without bouncing or diffusing them and get a harder light source if I want.
At this point, I travel with at least 3 to 4 Flex lights in my kit. Right now my go to Flex lights are the 1×1 and 1×2 bi-color fixtures. I am able to dial in color temperatures between 2800 and 6000 kelvin. I have tested them with my Sekonic C-700 Spectromaster Color Meter and can confidently say that they are color accurate and they aren’t plagued by some of the “color spike” issues that many LED fixtures have.
While I will continue to integrate new lighting technologies into my productions, the Westcott Flex family of LED lighting solutions are now a permanent fixture in my kit. They are incredibly versatile and work worldwide. I can’t imagine not using them on my projects and I can’t wait to see where Westcott takes this product line in the future!
About Jem Schofield
Jem is the founder of theC47, an online and offline educational resource focused on teaching the craft of video production and filmmaking (with production based workshops taught throughout the United States and abroad). He is a producer, DP, director & educator and also runs The Filmmaker’s Intensive, a bi-annual program that focuses on teaching the art & science of documentary & narrative filmmaking.
For the past 20 years his production company has produced projects for an ever-expanding client base. Clients include AbelCine, Apple, Inc., Canon U.S.A. Inc., Cineo Lighting, EMI, Manfrotto, Motley Fool, The New York Times, NPR, Quiet Revolution, Scottish Enterprise, TED, Tiffen, Westcott, YouTube & Zeiss.
Jem also consults on equipment design & development for companies like Westcott & Sekonic (including theC47 DP and Book Light Kits under the Westcott brand), and recently published his first in-depth lighting course with Lynda.com
For more about Jem & his whereabouts visit theC47.com