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Fargo TV station news operations benefit from tungsten studio lighting replacement

KVLY, the Hoak Media-owned television station in Fargo, ND, has replaced its traditional studio lighting with LED-based lighting and as a result has produced energy savings and other benefits.

The station, which replaced its tungsten lights with Litepanels LED broadcast lighting, is enjoying a higher degree of dependability with the new lighting solution. “With our old tungsten lights, every time we turned them on it was an adventure,” said station operations manager Jeff Petrik. “It would be five minutes before the newscast, one of our camera operators would turn on studio lighting, and we would have bulbs that needed replacing.”

Not only did it mean replacing bulbs at the last minute in this time-is-money world, it also distracted the crew from final preparations for its challenging newscast production. Sometimes Petrik would get a call from the newsroom wondering why an anchor was not sitting in her normal position on the set. The answer was usually that a light blew, and there wasn’t enough time to replace it.

According to Litepanels, its LED lighting fixtures can be expected to last more than 10 years in normal operation. “Since we got Litepanels, we’ve had no problems,” said Petrik, “when you turn the lights on, they’re there.”

Steve Mulkey of Redwood Media Group, the lighting designer/integrator for installation of Litepanels at KVLY, said: “It’s hard to put a dollar value on it, but broadcast operations people know what that costs, just in aggravation and distraction. With conventional lights, it’s not just the high maintenance cost of repetitive lamp changes — but the cost could be a heck-of-a-lot more than that if somebody’s distracted and misses one of the other tasks that they should be doing at the station. After all, many times they’re running television news shows with just four people.”

Petrik describes the station’s pre-Litepanels lighting equipment as strictly “old school.” “Before, we had tungsten lighting with no dimming whatsoever, and, in addition to wasting a lot of energy and generating a lot of heat, we had to position them 2.5 to 3ft closer to our talent than what we have now.”

Petrik’s crew previously had no choice but to run the lights at full power, reducing light intensity when necessary by adding scrims and diffusion, which limited where the lights could be placed.

With Litepanels 1x1 fixtures, which feature an array of LED bulbs on a 1ft by 1ft (30cm by 30cm) square panel, the fixtures can be positioned further back and higher, out of the way and dimmed to the exact intensity required for great modeled lighting on the talent. In particular, none of the Spot or SuperSpot Litepanels fixtures used as backlights are run at more than 50 percent intensity.

The ability to set the lighting and rely on it to be prefect day to day has become more important to stations like Petrik’s. “A lot of local stations in smaller markets are losing expertise, so I want a system where we turn the lights on and they make great pictures.”