A new Kickstarter campaign by Softpanels(tm) has introduced a radically new line of intelligent production lighting fixtures. Softpanels’ new breakthrough is centered around building an advanced color meter into each of its new LED soft light fixtures, where every light can instantly read the current ambient color conditions and then automatically and exactly match the new lighting fixtures color output to the scene’s ambient light. These large, yet slim-line, lightweight, and low-power consumption soft lights fit anywhere and are available in 1’x 2’ [30x60cm], 2’x 3’ [60x90cm] and 3’’x 4’ [90x120cm] sizes.
Imaging professionals have long had to depend on eyeballing the color temperature when using conventional LED lights due to the inability of legacy handheld color meters to properly read the color of LED-based lighting sources. This imprecise technique becomes particularly problematic when there’s a mix of outside daylight and indoor practical fixtures affecting the scene. With the push of a single button on the Softpanels fixture, an exact color temperature is read and then automatically and precisely matched by the lighting fixtures LED metering and variable color technology. Such precision greatly reduces post production color correction time – a benefit that most every shooter will greatly appreciate.
“Not only do the patent-pending Softpanels deliver a perfectly matched color temperature,” said Kevin Baxter, Softpanels’ CTO and a two-time Emmy® award-winner for LED lighting innovation. “There’s also a Skin Enhance button. You simply press this second button, and instantly the light is warmed, giving skin a much more pleasing cinematic quality, via what is essentially an electronic warming filter. Importantly, many times video can produce unhealthy looking skin tones and Softpanels ‘easy button’ skin enhance feature instantly makes this problem go away.” In addition, on-camera subjects that have a more Northern European background with lighter-toned skin, simply look better on video, as well as on still images with a warmer, more ‘suntan’ skin tone. This becomes readily apparent when you view before-and-after images of subject’s skin tone using the breakthrough Skin Tone enhance feature.
In addition to the automatic options, Softpanels also provides a Precise Manual Color mode, where the onboard color meter continuously monitors and displays the current color temperature, so as you turn a knob, you’re offered an infinitely variable color output – which actively verified in real-time – between a warm-white 2700ºK tungsten balance, to a cool-white 6500ºK daylight color balance, or anywhere in between. This solves the major color inaccuracy problem experienced with legacy LED lights. This is especially true of conventional LED fixtures that have color ‘pre-set’ buttons, where many times these presets can be off by 1,000° to 2,000° kelvin [a substantial error] because of the lack of color temperature verification. Conversely, Softpanels’ active color monitoring and management system provides real-time color verification allowing users to quickly achieve an exact color temperature on one or across multiple Softpanels fixtures. This feature further saves on the time needed for post-production color correction work.
These new fixtures are also controllable locally via ergonomic control knobs, or remotely via the included DMX connection. In either manual or auto operations, Softpanels’ output can be dimmed from 100% to zero with no color shift. To provide for untethered operation, they also can be powered by V-Mount or A/B mount batteries with its integrated battery plate. This integrated battery feature is simply not available on legacy LED soft lights.
Softpanels are also a perfect fit for still photography as ultra-thin solid-state softboxes, which can be used as the main lighting source for photographing people, or for tabletop product photography. Such an approach also allows the photographer to use the same large cool-running ‘continuous’ light source to shoot both stills and video at the same time [which clients are now requesting more and more]- and something that is not possible with conventional strobe lighting. Of equal importance, Softpanels’ have ultra-high light output - especially the 3 ft. x 4 ft. model with its 600 watts of LEDs! [which is equivalent to the output of a 5,000-watt tungsten soft light]- thereby providing more than enough light to easily freeze action shots using these LED light sources and a high shutter speed. Photographers further benefit by the ability to view their lighting in real-time, vs. the non-real-time and guess work required when lighting with non-continuous strobes.
On April 8th, Softpanels’ Kickstarter crowd funding campaign was launched with prices that are a fraction of the cost of legacy soft LED lights. For example, conventional 1x2 ft. LED soft lights would cost you twice the price, but you do not receive any of the new features offered by Softpanels. The lights ordered from Softpanels Kickstarter campaign are scheduled to start delivery in May. There is also a major early bird special for early backers that you won’t want to miss.
Softpanels development team has a long track record on engineering and producing professional LED lighting fixtures. “Our team developed LED lighting for this industry almost 15 years ago,” said Baxter. “We have the most experience of anyone, and have designed and delivered tens of thousands of LED fixtures for cinematographers, videographers, and photographers. We’ve already worked out all the technical innovation in these new lights.”
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