Testing LED

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      Hello Mr. Deakins & dear forum members,

      hope you all started well into this new year.
      In the past time, I started to study more and more about LED fixtures, after before being primarily fixated on “standard” fixtures like HMI, Tungsten etc., because I just know how they work.

      And I was wondering: How do you guys test LED fixtures in the pre-production of a project? What characteristics do you find important, what are you looking for? I heard Greig Fraser talking a lot about true color rendition in your podcast. Well, how do you test that? Do you judge it by eye or do you have certain colorimeter tests you do? How do you decided for a fixture?
      And what are your experiences concerning output of LED fixtures? What is important to look after in this part?

      I am also asking because I know that you, Mr. Deakins, used a lot of LED fixtures especially for indoor scenes in Empire of Light, probably for the first time in this extent. And I was wondering, how you decided for certain fixtures, and against certain other popular choices as the Arri SkyPanel for example. And how you tested them.

      I am thinking about actually using LEDs for my next project for the first time.

      Thank you a lot, have a nice week!

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    • #175287
      Roger Deakins

        During prep I went to the rental house to see every LED fixture that was available. I don’t like carrying a large number of different fixtures and I was looking for a range of soft panel lamps, a Fresnel type of LED that would be an equivalent to a conventional 1K Fresnel or a Tweenie, and a range of tubes such as the Astera. The Arri SkyPanel is a great lamp but you can’t always get what you want as they are often in short supply. They are also relatively expensive and there are a range of options if you do not need their wide range of color control. Once finding what was available and within our budget I shot camera tests to check color and for any abnormality in their dimming etc.. A color meter is handy but the odd variations in color don’t always show up on a dial.



            I’d love to know which light you felt came closet to a 1K conventional light Roger?

            I also wonder if using LEDs has affected how you shoot interiors, with panels and Asteras being softer than conventional lights, do you find yourself bouncing light less? I imagine size and portability influence these choices too.

            Thank you

            Roger Deakins

              It was the Fiilex LED light that I found came close to a conventional 1K. There was only the one wattage available in the UK at the time we shot ‘Empire’ but the same light now comes in a series of three. Of course, the advantage of this lamp is that it provides a full color range without a need for gels but I found it particularly useful as an open face with a soft box attached to the front. Using a series of lamps with soft boxes attached I found I did bounce less than I might have done in similar situations on previous films. I felt this technique produced a similar effect to bouncing off a series of 4′ x 4′ reflectors while being more adaptable for the spaces and situations I was working in.

              The Astera range is very useful and we used a large number of both the tubes and bulbs. For one interior we created a series of large rings of bulbs, just as I have done in the past for films like ‘A Serious Man’ for instance, but the advantage here was that I could adjust the color from one scene to another.

              The panel lights are useful, especially when creating a large soft source to project through a window either on stage or on location. The technique of using multiple sources to create one large soft source is something I have always used but the latest LED lights make things easier and definitely a little more flexible.


                Thank you, Roger, that is very useful information. I read the AC article about Empire of Light and I was curious about exactly those kind of things.
                In the AC article it is mentioned that you used 5-6 of those Fiilex LEDs with softboxes but that u dimmed them down on the edges to create a soft wrap. With edges, do you mean the side that is facing away from the key side, as you do with your famous “cove lighting”? And I was wondering, did you also change the color temperature when you dimmed the Fiilex down, to mimic the effect of dimming a Tweenie maybe? So that the fill side gets a very nice warmer “shadow”/fill, ofc when talking about 3200K scenes?

                And it is very good to know that you used the Astera Bulbs for the ring light because I was already wondering how you created a ring light out of the Tubes. 😉 I didn’t even know that there exist bulbs as well.

                I wish you a nice day!

                Max A.

                  Hello Mr. Deakins, I hope everything goes well for you and Mrs. James.
                  I found interesting this topic from Simon and a lot of interesting about your thought on the LED “new” workflow that you used on ‘EoL’.

                  Since in the past, you felt that even if you use light through a thick diffusion you always prefer to bounce light in order to avoid (in some cases) the “projected” effect, in this case, was it a balanced choice between time consuming and final result?

                  Did you use square shape softboxes in order to match the shape of the 4X4 reflectors? And last question (always keeping in mind the relationship of the size of the light source to the subject for what kind of softness you wanted to achieve) did you use 4-foot size softboxes (always to match the size to what you used usually for bounce)?

                  Fillex LED’s are really great in terms of spectrum and solidity, of course, those are not cheap but the quality has its price.

                  Can’t wait to see ‘EOL’! Here in Italy will be in the theatre on the 23 Feb. But I see your interview on ‘BSC’ with some schemes and I already have something like 1000 questions LOL.

                  I wish you a peaceful day and thank you always for your kindness and availability.

                  Roger Deakins

                    I used hexagonal soft boxes that were supplied with the Fiilex lamps and come with a variety of diffusion. I had a total of 5 lamps with these soft attachments and either use a line of 3 or of 5. I would usually dim the outside units more than the center of the line and I might add warmth to these as well. In this way I was, to some degree, replicating bounced light as if off a series of 4′ x 4′ cloths. As I said before, using the Fiilex with the soft boxes attached was a much more efficient way to light and served its purpose on ‘Empire of Light’.

                    The easy color adjustment on the lamps was a big bonus as our key set, the theater lobby, was built on location and facing out across the seafront. Therefore I was balancing my lighting to the ever changing temperature of the daylight. I wouldn’t say this use of LEDs is now my preferred way to light but it certainly suited the conditions on this particular project.


                      One LED light I have personally been enjoying lately is the litemat series. They’re extremely lightweight, and paper thin. The weight makes it easy to arm out with a C stand or drop down overhead for a table scene etc. I find myself often using it as an overhead, sometimes even as low as 5% output just for a “touch”

                      worth looking into !

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