New studio technology — HD
Litepanels Design Team
and Kevin Baxter, partners
David Christopher, exec. news dir.;
Craig Davenport, creative services dir.;
Keith Benz, dir. eng. until summer ’07;
Paul Russell, dir. eng. from Jan. ’08;
Bob Blauvelt, asst. chief eng.;
Carl Pugliese, ops. mgr.
Technology at work
Litepanels 1x1 LED lighting fixtures
Sunlite Easy Stand Alone dimming system
WPEC-TV produces HD news with Litepanels LED lighting
West Palm Beach CBS affiliate WPEC-TV owned HD cameras, switchers and related video products for some time, using them to produce its news in SD. In preparation for the debut of an HD newscast in February 2008, the station planned to expand its studio so it could hold wider sets to provide cover for the new 16:9 HDTV studio cameras. The studio would house two news sets — one for WPEC itself and one for the West Palm Beach FOX affiliate WFLX-TV. (WPEC produces newscasts for both stations.)
When it came to lighting fixtures for the expanded studio, the station faced several challenges. First, the cost of electricity to light and cool the existing studio, using the tungsten light fixtures it had owned, was going through the roof. It also had a corporate mandate to “go green.” But the No. 1 worry was how its news anchors would look under the harsh realities of an HD broadcast picture.
The station engineering staff contacted Litepanels at NAB2007, saw the fixtures firsthand and viewed video of them in use in TV applications, including the White House Briefing Room. Upon return to the studios, executive news director David Christopher was doubtful and wanted to see the fixtures in use on his news talent.
However, when a Litepanels representative visited the station with 1x1 fixtures for a test, Christopher was quickly won over. The installation includes 80 1x1 fixtures, which are controlled via DMX using the Sunlite Easy Stand Alone dimming system in USB mode.
In addition to making the talent look good, the station experienced the energy and cost savings that accrue from using Litepanels. Before removing their existing tungsten light fixtures, director of engineering Paul Russell and his staff measured the total electrical power at 52kW.
Once the Litepanels fixtures were installed, the studio lighting draw became 3kW with the studio fully lit. (The decrease in air-conditioning needs resulted in an additional 50 percent savings in energy costs.) In fact, the electronics in the news sets themselves (background and talent monitors, etc.) draw more current than the entire complement of Litepanels fixtures.
Another factor with LED light fixtures is the expected bulb or, in the case of LEDs, diode life. High-wattage tungsten bulbs are good for about 250 hours; LEDs are expected to be good for at least 50,000 hours. Therefore, if the studio is lit 10 hours a day, the LEDs will last well more than 10 years.
WPEC was so impressed with the results in the studio, the station purchased additional Litepanels fixtures for use in the field and in the station helicopter.