LED Lighting for Video Production

I've been using a four piece Arri lighting kit for a majority of my projects. Occasionally I will use a Kino bank or china ball, but for the most part, the Arri kit fits my needs. It's portable enough for those one-man-band shoots, yet versatile enough where I can get a variety of different lighting looks. My kit includes: (1) 1K, (2) 650's, and (1) 300, along with all of the stands, scrims, gels, barn doors, etc.

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with LED Fresnals from DeSisti and the experience was extremely positive. There are a number of advantages to LED versus traditional incandescent technology.

Fewer Watts Used

Video and film production crews are accustomed to using fixtures that use high wattages in order to get the proper picture exposure. 650w, 300w, 1000w are common for interior locations. For exteriors one might see 1200w, 2000w, and even 5000w. However, LED production fixtures use much less wattage, but will emit an equal amount of light. The ratio on the DeSisti LEDs is almost 10:1. A 40W LED Fresnal is the equivalent of a 400W incandescent. You can see how a production crew can consume far less energy by using LEDs.

Fewer Circuits Needed

One of the considerations that must be made while shooting on location is knowing how to patch in all of your lights to avoid overloading one circuit. This can be especially dicey when working in older buildings. I remember tripping a circuit while shooting inside an old courthouse one time. LED production lighting features DMX control, which allows the gaffer to daisy chain several fixtures together, then load all of those fixtures into one outlet.

No Heat

Every production light I have ever worked with, even a small 300W fresnel, produces an enormous amount of heat. That's due to the infrared wave lengths that are emitted when the light is working. Up to ninety percent of a 2000W fresnel output may be heat. Once a shoot wraps, grips must either wear gloves when handling the lights, or wait until they cool down. This is why television studios are kept at a very cool temperature. LEDs, by contrast, produce almost no heat, because they operate with far less wattage than traditional tungsten sources. Think of the energy savings for production and TV studios. Less wattage means a reduction in energy consumption. Less heat from the light fixtures means that a studio doesn't have to cool the studio as much, resulting in a significant reduction in utility costs.

I've seen the small shoe-mounted LED panels for ENG work, but LED Fresnals open up the technology for more complex lighting setups. And it makes a lot of sense for a production house to acquire them.