LOS ANGELES—I got my first chance to use the Litepanels Sola ENG on-camera LED Fresnel fixture during the postgame on the most watched telecast ever—Fox's presentation of Super Bowl XLV. I ran a portable camera for live postgame interviews during the mayhem on the field following the Packers' win.
Skip ClarkBALANCING LIGHT AND SHADOW
There was obviously enough light on that field, but there were crazy shadows in the eyes of everyone we interviewed. The strong intensity of the Sola ENG light and the control I had over its spread allowed me to balance out the faces. I just wouldn't have had the light intensity to be able to do that with a standard LED fixture. The focusing ability of this new fixture allowed me to put in a lot of light, and though I never used all of the intensity available, it was there if I had needed it.
I think most cameramen now realize the benefits of LED light fixtures. They can be dimmed from 100 percent to zero with no noticeable shift in color. Their low use of power translates into long battery life. And the fixture's bulb life isn't limited like that of conventional lighting instruments—the estimated lifetime of an LED stretches out for at least a decade or more. However, it's the combination of those features along with the properties of a Fresnel-lensed fixture that has produced a lighting instrument with phenomenal capabilities.
With a normal LED fixture (which projects a blanket of fill light), by the time you have enough light intensity to fill in the eyes of the subject being interviewed, you're likely to put too much light on the back of the head and shoulder of the interviewer. By quickly focusing and adjusting the direction of the Sola ENG so that it doesn't cast light on my interviewer, I can then raise or lower the light's dimmer control to fill in those eyes without affecting anything but that face.
Mounting the light and trying it out prior to the game, I told my sound guy that it was obvious that Litepanels had thrown out everything about a light and started over again. I love the ergonomics—the big dial on the back for intensity control and the dial on the body of the light for flood/spot adjustment, both allow me to make changes on the fly. They're so easy to reach, find, and adjust.
And then there's something as simple as the generic 1/4-20 thread on the bottom of the light, instead of a manufacturer's proprietary mount. It's really perfect, as it allows me to mount it the way I want to, not the way somebody else designed it to be mounted.
I will always love my Litepanels MiniPlus for its soft reach and fill capabilities. It makes it the perfect kinf of light for documentary work and is great when I want the light to be inconspicuous in my shot. However, that new Sola ENG fixture is the light to use for those run-and-gun interviews.
Skip Clark is a Los Angeles-based partner in Go To Team, a video production services company. He also shoots regularly for Fox Sports, NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, and others. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, contact Litepanels at 818 -752-7009 or visit www.litepanels.com.
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