ARRI has expanded the SkyPanel family with the introduction of the S360-C, which the company hails as the “largest and brightest” SkyPanel to date.
Accessories such as camera support systems, power sources and lightings are essential equipment that lay the foundation for every media production, from studio through to on-site environments, as Josephine Tan discovers.
In the movie Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, director Denis Villeneuve brought back Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, teaming him with Ryan Gosling as a replicant named K, and Jared Leto as the villainous Niander Wallace. For this project, cinematographer Roger Deakins relied on Alexa XT Studio cameras, Master Prime lenses and ARRI lights to craft the film’s visuals.
During the shoot in Hungary, the production team had nine weeks of preparation time for a shooting schedule of around 90 days. Deakins’ gaffer, Bill O’Leary, says: “We often had up to six stages working at Origo Studios and three at Korda Studios, in various stages of rigging, shooting and de-rigging. In total, we had a lighting crew of around 20.”
In one of the sets that portraits the office of Niander Wallace, the team constructed a movable ring of tungsten lights, comprising a total of 256 ARRI 300W Fresnels in two concentric circles, to stimulate the sun and its shadows in the character’s room. He elaborates: “The doors were removed so that each lamphead was literally touching the next. When a slow chase was programmed, it appeared as a soft source of about eight lamps circling the subject. This required quite an elaborate dimmer installation.”
ARRI SkyPanels also lighted another library set, which was a large set with a coffered ceiling containing milk glass panels. O’Leary reveals that the team had a construction box in each separate opening to act as a snoot and hung an ARRI S60-C in each box, totalling up to 100 SkyPanels being used for this particular set. As SkyPanels can be easily integrated into a more standard tungsten set-up, he adds, the production team is able to achieve an effect of each row turning on as the characters crossed the set.
As a member of the ARRI SkyPanel family, the S60-C features a light aperture of 645x300mm, and accommodates a variety of applications. The S60-C is also fully tuneable from 2,800 K to 10,000 K, and is equipped with high colour rendering while consuming 420W of power.
He concludes: “The overall look of the film is quite naturalistic, in the sense that our approach was to use motivated light sources. It took some imagination on the part of Roger Deakins to take a leap into the future, and decide on what some of those sources would be. Concept art and the script also provided a lot of the references.”
For ARRI, the company has introduced another member to the SkyPanel family — the S360-C. The surface area of the S360-C is over 5.8 times larger than the S60, and produces soft light in a wide 105° beam angle. The light is designed to wrap around large objects, and throws much farther than the smaller SkyPanels.
Calling the S360-C the “largest and brightest” SkyPanel to date, ARRI has integrated the S360-C with features such as full colour control, lighting effect on a huge aperture, a carbon fibre yoke, and built-in wireless DMX.
The S360-C is also equipped with a multitude of ways to control the light output — DMX, RDM, Art-Net, sACN, five-pin XLR and Ethernet — alongside another communication method, Wireless DMX by LumenRadio. As the CRMX chip is integrated in every S360-C, users can link the light to a compatible LumenRadio transmitter to establish a DMX or RDM communication.
Another company which has recently released a new LED panel is Litepanels, a division of the Vitec Group. Launched in September this year, the Litepanels Gemini is a 2×1, RGB-WW soft panel that combines daylight, tungsten and red-green-blue LEDs to deliver precise colour adjustments.
Mark Overington, vice-president and general manager of the Vitec Group, tells APB: “Accurate colour rendering is important to lighting professionals; therefore, staying true to the foundation of full-spectrum lighting is one of Litepanels’ primary goal. With Gemini, we wanted to offer a panel that does not compromise on quality of light for great skin tones while providing a variety of lighting modes.
“Gemini includes both daylight and tungsten LEDs with the added flexibility of red, green and blue LEDs, allowing users to adjust the green offset. In a situation where the production team is working with practical lighting that has a green spike, they can make a quick adjustment, and white-balance the camera.”
Besides providing full-spectrum lighting, Litepanels has also incorporated a built-in power supply in Gemini to enhance portability. A key objective with Gemini, according to Overington, is to provide a portable light that is easy to transport and rig. “By integrating the power supply in the light panel, we are able to reduce Gemini’s weight considerably, and minimise the number of cables needed to power the light,” he adds.
When it comes to power, the Vitec Group has another division, Anton/Bauer, which supplies mobile power systems for use in film and video productions. The company has two categories for batteries — cine and broadcast — where the differences are around the form factor and power delivery.
For instance, Anton/Bauer’s broadcast batteries can be deployed alongside electronic newsgathering (ENG) shoulder cameras, as these cameras consume lesser power and require less accessories attached. Providing 10A continuous current, the broadcast batteries have a dual-mode display that shows the remaining percentage capacity when there is no load, and a calculated runtime when the battery is being consumed.
“As for cine batteries, these are more cube-shaped in size to conform to the boxy bodies of most digital cinematic cameras. The same dual-mode display is located on the back of the battery so that it is unlikely to be obstructed by camera accessories,” he explains. “Cinematic cameras may consume greater power, and they are likely to be accessorised with monitors, recorders, lens motors and cinetapes. Thus, the Cine batteries are designed to deliver 12A continuous current, ensuring that the camera system will have adequate power on tap.”
Furthermore, Anton/Bauer’s cine batteries have successfully conquered the world’s highest peak for Amsterdam-based production company, VR Explorers. Led by Dutch filmmaker and post-production artist Przemek Siemion, the VR Explorers is said to be the “first” production team to capture virtual reality (VR) footage from the top of Mount Everest.
To capture the summit as well as the overall journey for viewers, the crew brought along GoPro cameras, monopods, sound equipment, Litepanels LED lights, computers and cards, alongside Anton/Bauer Cine 90 batteries and the Performance Quad charger.
Because of the harsh conditions, the team had to scale down on the weight of the kit, and mobile power would be a challenge, Siemion says. “The Performance Quad charger performed great, and we had no problem charging the batteries on the solar-powered generators at base camp. Not to mention, the Cine 90s were smaller and lighter in weight — it was really easy to pack and plan our rig around it.”
In addition to being able to power the kit to the summit, he points out that the cine batteries were “robust enough” to power other equipment, including the audio equipment and the GoPro cameras. Moreover, the dual-mode display served Siemion well, enabling him to see the battery’s precise runtime when attached to the camera, and the percentage of charge when off-camera.
Siemion concludes: “In those conditions, it’s nice to see exactly how much runtime you have, and the percentage of charge. I really appreciated that while we were up on the mountain.
“On our way back, we had to stop recording because the camera’s video card was full despite the fact that we still had 8% of battery power left. We even helped others with the charging of their equipment. Other batteries just don’t perform like that, and Anton/Bauer was the only one that worked perfectly.”
For Shotoku Broadcasting Systems, the company has been focusing on developing camera support systems and robotic pedestals. At Inter BEE 2017 this month, Shotoku is showcasing the integration of the TI-12 height drive with its TP200 studio pedestal.
Designed for studio operations, the TP200 pedestal is equipped with air-balance technology to provide ease of control of the camera height across the range of travel. Its maximum height of 57.5-inch can be further elevated when paired with the TI-12 height drive, which is capable of providing an additional height of up to 56.8-inch.
To enhance the operation of remote camera control systems, Shotoku has also released the TR-XT touch control system. TR-XT is able to connect all Shotoku robotic camera systems via an Ethernet network connection, and is also compatible with third-party devices either by serial video capture inputs, or via Shotoku’s Digiport protocol converters. According to Shotoku, new VGA touch screen uses a glass-front screen to improve the image quality while maximising the clarity and ease of use for the operator.