Ready, SET Studio!

March 31, 2009
LED’s Offer A Whole New Spin On “Green Screen” Studio Technology

Throughout the state of California, businesses and residents are making more effort these days to become “green.” So why should Southern California’s largest industry, the world of film and television, be any different?

Entertainment Lighting Services, Inc. (ELS) recently teamed up with Lighting Designer Christian Choi to create an entire television studio lighting system that runs on less than 2,500 watts of power for The Saigon Broadcasting Television Network (SBTN) - And the end result is nothing less than brilliant.

When SBTN brought Choi aboard to modernize its lighting rig at Saigon Entertainment Television Studio (SET Studio), a unique idea took root. Choi had the vision to create the entire lighting design with LED technology. The benefits these eco-friendly fixtures could offer a studio setting were clear:

  • A reduction in long-term energy and maintenance costs.
  • A reduction of the overall studio temperature due to low heat output from LED fixtures, thus minimizing the need for constant air conditioning.
  • Ease of “lighting looks” programming via stored ambience levels.

Although SET Studio is comprised of three separate spaces (news studio, talk show and green screen), all three zones were effectively lit with a mere 40 LED fixtures for primary area lighting plus a handful of various cove fixtures for accents – with the sum of all units using less than 2.5 kilowatts of power. Something previously unheard of!

“Until recently, LED's for use as key light have not been a practical solution. Now, with intelligent white and RGBWAC balanced fixtures such as the Color Kinetics ‘iW Blast’ and the Element Labs ‘Kelvin Tile,’ LED key light is an attractive alternative to gels and dimmers,” says Choi.

Four (4) Element Labs “Kelvin Tiles” were requested as Choi’s primary key light for the ELS installation, allowing exact color temperatures to be dialed in as desired. The diffused face of the tiles helps to alleviate any hard shadows from the lighting fixture, with a surface placement of roughly one inch from the LED source.

The Philips/Color Kinetics range of products offered specific solutions for Choi’s studio design concept. Since the “iW Blast” fixture provides flexibility to adjust lighting levels to optimum color temperatures that suit the camera, these units were employed primarily for fill light. Frosted lenses and egg crates break-up the light output enough to reduce any unwanted shadows created by the fixture, and barn doors are used to control light spill.

Choi continues, “The use of intelligent white fixtures, such as the EL ‘Kelvin Tile’ and the CK ‘iW Blast,’ provided me with a very fine level of control with regard to color temperature. The Kelvin Tile grants control over Magenta Green shift, which enables one to dial out any green cast in a fixture in 1/8th minus green increments. This made it quite an attractive idea for me to use them for television or film as a main key light. The CK ‘iW blasts’ were incredibly punchy fixtures and gave me the added fill I needed in order to balance out the key. The combination of the two fixture types rendered a beautiful picture quality with plenty of power for my application.”

Seventeen (17) ColorBlast-12 fixtures were used throughout the studio to accent scenic elements and for lighting the green screen. The versatility of ColorBlasts allows direct control over the appearance of SET Studio’s talk show backdrop - a focal set piece comprised of bamboo for an exotic, cultural look. The RGB color mixing capabilities of this fixture makes green screen specialty lighting extremely easy, for effects that are far simpler to use while supporting talent onscreen.

Phillips/Color Kinetics “QLX” fixtures were selected to highlight the news studio set and to achieve a more modern feel. CK’s “eW Blast” fixtures were used in the news studio for a solid wash of light behind the city-themed “translight” scenery. 

Achieving the proper amount of control proved to be a challenge. Choi wanted complete control of the system, but sought simple control of his preset looks for the technicians at SET Studio. Interactive Technologies “CueServer Mini” proved a winner, as it allowed Choi to initialize looks via his personal laptop and then store them in an 8-button touch panel for easy call-up of the lighting cues.

“When Christian first called me with the idea of lighting a television studio with LED technology I thought, ‘Wow, this really is an intriguing idea!’,” states Brett Paddor, ELS Account Manager for the SET Studio project. “I was very pleased with the ability of the fixtures to achieve the proper light output required for the film and television market.”

As a lighting supplier to the varied aspects of the entertainment industry, as well as to architectural and retail markets, ELS applies its expertise in lighting technology to overcome design challenges commonly presented in the real world.

To this end, ELS maintains close working relationships with all the top lighting manufacturers in the entertainment industry to ensure access to the most effective and innovative products available to meet the Clients goals.  And ELS employs an expert staff that has the technical insight to streamline the integration process. The extensive use of LED luminaires, as durable and energy-efficient light sources, result in reduced costs of operation and ownership, thereby “enhancing the value of light.”

SET Studios is proud to brand itself on the leading edge of today’s studio lighting methods. With this newly found LED standard, they continue to update their numerous studio spaces and maintain a higher level for technology demands.

About Entertainment Lighting Services, Inc. (ELS)
Established in 1991, ELS is one of the country’s leading suppliers of lighting staging products, providing the most technologically advanced lighting equipment for rental & sale, as well as a full range of production services. ELS serves the entertainment industry, corporate customers & commercial developers. ELS prides itself on the craftsmanship of its installations.  Director of Sales John Mitchell says, “ELS can provide design services, installation services, equipment sales & service.  We are truly a turn-key operation for lighting systems on the West Coast.  Our continued expansion into new markets shows the value of the services we provide.”

For further information please contact John Mitchell (direct: 818.255.9573) or visit the ELS web site at www.elslights.com

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