What to See in Lighting on the NAB Show Floor

Jay Holben

Hello TV Technology readers, allow me to take a moment to introduce myself: I’m Jay Holben, currently the technical editor for TV Technology’s sister publication, Digital Video. I’m a former technical editor for American Cinematographer magazine and have been a contributor there for the past 16 years. I’m also a contributor to The American Cinematographers Manual (9th Ed.), Government Video and Geek magazines as well as the author of the book, “A Shot in the Dark: A Creative DIY Guide to Digital Video Lighting on (Almost) No Budget.”

My career in the entertainment industry started in legitimate theater many (ahem), many years ago and although I embodied nearly every role in the theater, I spent a great deal of a time working as an electrician, then master electrician and then lighting designer before making the move to Hollywood and starting in movies. It seemed most logical to me, that I start in movies as an electrician and I worked as a juicer for a number of years before moving up the ladder to gaffer (with a brief stop as best boy on a couple shows).

At the NAB Show, Litepanels will introduce their Sola 12, a large 12-inch Fresnel fixture with a punch that is about the equivalent of a 1500 Watt standard fixture. After that, I started a career as a cinematographer and spent nearly a decade shooting feature films, documentaries, commercials, music videos and shorts. In addition to a career behind the camera, I have also been an active teacher through various workshops and seminars with Hollywood Rentals, Digital Video Expo, Broadcast Education Association and more. Most recently I was the co-founder of a six-part lecture series on the art and science of cinematography through an organization called Hollywood Shorts. The series is hosted by Panavision Hollywood and is offered as an extremely cost-effective introduction to the art of the cinematographer. Additionally, I’m one of the instructors for the newly-formed Global Cinematography Institute, a school started by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC (“The Sugarland Express,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “The Deer Hunter,” “The Black Dahlia”), and Yuri Neyman, ASC (“Liquid Sky,” “D.O.A.”). Needless to say, lighting has been a part of my life for over two and a half decades.

I was saddened to learn that the previous host of this column, the venerable Bill Klages, had decided to hang up his keyboard. When I was approached to pick up where Bill left off, I knew I had some big scrim bags to fill—if you’ll allow me the revision of the idiom. I may re-tread on some ground that Bill has covered over the years, but I feel there’s extraordinary benefit to receiving somewhat redundant information from multiple sources. In my own education my base methodology was to read a minimum of three books on any given subject; the idea being if a concept was unclear in one author’s work, it would be cleared up in the second or third and certainly solidified in my brain after I finished the third book.

Quantum Instruments Omicron OM3 TTL Flash and Video Ring Light All that having been said, I’m honored to be asked to follow in the shadow of Bill’s illumination and I hope that my time here is of benefit to you, dear reader.

We’re coming up on the flurry of activity that is the NAB Show, when techno-geeks of all walks from the entertainment industries gather together to oggle and ahh over the latest and greatest in technology for our business. In the past few years, LED technology has come from being a rogue concept that makes for great little, portable, battery operated on-camera lights, to full maturity starting to replicate the light quality and output of professional lighting equipment that has been around for a century.

I have said, for years now, that LED technology won’t really come to a true viability until they can make a workable Fresnel, a workhorse fixture that makes up at least half of our lighting arsenal on a daily basis.

Last year I was excited to come across several very promising fixtures that were showing LEDs had lost the short pants and were entering adulthood.

Litepanels showed their Sola Fresnel fixture series, a small on-camera fixture with a Fresnel lens and quite a punch. They followed this with the Sola 4 and the Sola 6 four-inch and 6-inch Fresnel fixtures, respectively. This year, Litepanels will introduce their Sola 12, a large 12-inch Fresnel fixture with a punch that is about the equivalent of a 1500 Watt standard fixture. They also have Inca versions of all of the fixtures, which are tungsten (3200K) color balanced. All of the fixtures are full-spectrum, featuring spot and flood. The 12-inch fixtures have just a 350 Watt draw with fantastic light quality.

Also last year Zylight unveiled their F8 Fresnel fixture, a 90 Watt 8-inch Fresnel in a very portable size. With a flat back the fixture is only 4.6-inches thick and can be powered from an Anton/Bauer battery or standard AC power. The fixture is weather resistant, fully dimmable and focusable and comes inboth 5,600K and 3,200K varieties.

This year we’ll see tons of exhibitors with LED fixtures in their booths. Among them are:

• Philips IntelliWhite fixtures, recently used by Claudio Miranda on “Oblivion”

• PrimeTime Lighting Systems

• Omicron’s new ring lights from Quantum Instruments

• R.T.S. Inc’s Rotolight

• ETC’s Source Four LED Lustr+ fixtures

• Kino Flo’s Celeb 200

• Lowel Prime

• Nila

• Arri Caster and L-Series

• BriteShot Luminator

Keep an eye out for single-lamp fixtures and Fresnel fixtures with higher output and more fixtures with RGBaW (red, green, blue, amber and white) color combinations.

A new technology I’m excited to play with is plasma light. Hive Lighting in Los Angeles has introduced plasma PAR and Fresnel fixtures. These are not LED, there’s no filament, they’re full-spectrum fixtures that use 60-90 percent less power than standard fixtures with twice the output of an HMI fixture and the lamp is the size of a mini-Maglite lamp! I’m pretty sure this is the new technology that may even supplant LEDs, but we’ll see what the future holds.

If you’re looking for lighting, Central Hall is the place to prowl at NAB. Hope to see you there!