How Do I Film At Night?

Camera

How Do I Film at Night?

Filming at night is a skill in itself, if you want to achieve good results in often demanding conditions you need to be prepared ahead of time and carry the right tools for the job.

Night shoots can certainly add a real sense of ambience to what you’re shooting, are often integral to the story and with the right lighting, you can bring your scene to life vividly.

Here, we look into some equipment to help you shoot effectively at night, including camera, lenses, lighting and specialist full spectrum and infrared recording.

What are the Challenges of Night Filming?

The first, most obvious challenge is a lack of light.

If you don’t have the luxury of big lighting rigs, how do you ensure your images still look crisp and properly exposed?

  • Aim to create pools rather than blankets of light, to maintain a more natural, realistic appearance.
  • Shoot at a wide aperture, because the wider the iris, the more light will come into lens, capturing more light and detail.  Shooting at wide open apertures help capture as much light as available but it does reduce the depth of field, often you will see subjects go in and out of focus when it’s darker.
  • Shoot at a higher ISO, but don’t set it too high, or you risk having noisy, muddy images.
  • Control your ISO/Gain, because the more you introduce, the more you will lose colour in the scene, and adjusting it in production is not an ideal solution.
  • Use manual focus, as, in the dark, your camera’s auto-focus is likely to drift, looking for new targets to focus on.
  • If it is possible to film at either twilight or dusk, then seize the opportunity, as these times will still offer you some natural light and often help create stunning visuals.

Location is vital for night filming. Look for light sources that are already in place, such as street lighting, or storefronts. Consider things like reflections, and, if you can, take your camera to your location in advance of the shoot to experiment with ISO and wide open aperture settings.

Studio and lighting

The Right Camera

The majority of large sensor cameras now are also off the starting block more sensitive to light.  With large sensors the manufacturer can use larger pixels to collect light.  Most cameras now as a standard feature a base ISO of 800 at 0db gain which already is more sensitive to light than cameras of the past. 

We are also now seeing a growth in cameras that feature duel native ISO’s.  In a simple terms, two modes for the camera; either standard or low light mode. Operators can choose which mode suits the situation on a variety of cameras now including the RED Gemini, Sony Venice, Sony FX9 and cameras from Panasonic and ZCAM to name a few.

The Sony A7S series of cameras have been widely acclaimed known for their benefits in shooting in lowlight situations with low noise at high ISO’s.

Choosing the right camera can help capture more light before even arriving on location.

The Right Lens

As well as the right lens focal length for your shoot for filming in low light situations it’s especially important to pay close attention to the aperture of your lenses.

Prime lenses are ideal as they normally have a wider aperture than zooms, so more light on the sensor and less need to raise the ISO.  

The Canon EF 50mm f1.2 L series is a popular choice for its fast f-stop and flattering portrait focal length helping to create beautiful bokeh (out of focus background highlights).  

Sigma Cine FF primes feature a fast T1.5 stop across the 20mm to 105mm focal lengths with the 14mm and 135mm being a respective T2.

And the Canon Sumire lens set features T1.3 to T1.5 on focal lengths 20mm to 85mm whilst also providing a more vintage look. 

Zooms tend not let in as much light as primes, (a slower lens) as they are covering a wide range of focal lengths so if you must work with zooms, lenses featuring a T-stop of T2 or f1.8 is opportune.  

Angenieux’s new EZ lenses for Super35mm sensors 15-40mm and 30-90mm are both T2 and are available in PL and now EF. 

Sigma also offer zooms to complement their primes.  The Super35mm 18-35mm & 50-100mm are both T2 or f1.8 in there stills version with auto focus.

The Right Light

A choice of either lots of light to transform a night setup across a large area or subtle soft light so not to overpower the dark background.

The ARRI M-Series HMI’s boasts power and performance when you need high output over a large area.

Stella Pro 10000C LED provides a portable powerful battery-operated daylight LED if your moving through the streets and need a lightweight fixture. 

The Astera Titan Tubes 4ft and Helios 2ft tube are creative soft battery operated and app driven LED’s capable of a variety of colour and patterns as well as the standard colour temperature and dimming offering unique possibilities.

These include finding the right camera for the task and understanding infrared (IR) wavelengths.

When it comes to nature and documentary work, the standard set of tools may still not be enough.  This is when it may be important to start exploring UV, IR and Full Spectrum recording.

Lighting equipment

IR Wavelengths

The electromagnetic spectrum covers a wide range of wavelengths, including radio waves, microwaves, x-rays, gamma rays, ultra violet, visible and infrared light.

Infrared light is all around us, but we cannot see it. Infrared radiation is invisible to the human eye, but we can detect it as warmth on our skin.  IR radiation has its own spectrum, ranging from near infrared waves to longer, far infrared waves. Near infrared waves are the closest to visible light.

Cameras and filters have been specially developed to capture these wavelengths enabling us to see in the dark.

What is a Full Spectrum Camera?

Visible light is the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that our eyes can visualise, which we see as different colours.

The eye only detects three of these wavelengths: red, green and blue. The brain combines these three signals to create millions of colours.

A video camera replicates our vision by working in a similar way. It has an opening through which light enters, a lens for focusing, and at the back is a light-sensor.

To mimic how the human eye’s cornea offers protection from harmful UV and infrared (IR) light, cameras can feature special dichroic filters to absorb or reflect UV and IR wavelengths.

A full spectrum video camera captures more light than an ordinary camera, by replacing this filter with a component that will allow UV and IR light to pass through, as well as visible light.  This makes it ideal for night filming.

Camera

Seeing in the Dark Without IR

Even in an age of advanced, dynamic IR and full spectrum cameras, there is filming equipment that can improve on these night filming capabilities.

The Canon ME20F-SH camera enables you to capture HD footage in full colour, offering significant low light capability for high quality filming at night.

This makes it ideal for specialist applications such as night filming, surveillance, filming nocturnal wildlife, cave and deep sea exploration.

The ME20F-SH has an impressive maximum ISO of over four million, at 4560000. This is an extremely sensitive camera, which can see in the dark without infrared lighting.

This acute sensitivity to low light comes from a 20 x 36mm full frame CMOS sensor, which has enough resolution to produce video at 1080p, with very large individual pixels that are 19 microns in dimension.

Each of these extra-large pixels will absorb light extremely efficiently. An advanced processor and Canon’s own noise-reduction technologies bolster this absorption capability.

The extreme low-light sensitivity results are impressive, producing very clean images at high ISO levels.  Even where noise becomes more prominent, the camera will still deliver plenty of image detail and colour.

Another advantage is that the camera will shoot just as well in daylight, with two built-in neutral density filters and a removable IR filter. This blocks unwanted infrared light in the daytime, preventing IR pollution.

There are a range of steps and solutions you can take when shooting at night.  Preparing in advance, researching location and using the correct equipment will all help you tell the story. 

The Benefits of Kino Flo LEDs

LED lighting has several major benefits.

These include its energy-efficiency and environment-friendly qualities.

LEDs have become more and more sophisticated, offering better quality and more versatility when it comes to lighting for film and video.

Film-makers and videographers can also make the most of the benefits of LEDs, and discover further advantages, by using Kino Flo LEDs on their shoots.

What Are Kino Flo LEDs?

Kino Flo LED lighting systems are designed especially for for digital imaging application like television and cinema production.

LEDs are becoming increasingly popular as a viable and effective alternative to traditional forms of lighting in video and film production.

As they have developed, there has been greater demand for consistency and improved colour rendition from LEDs fixtures.

Kino Flo lights offer certain advantages to videographers and film-makers, with specific aesthetic as well as practical and economic benefits.

The rapid development of LEDs has seen them go from being visually quite basic to offering high-quality lights that cover the full spectrum. Kino Flo lights will also highlight luminous skin tones and they come with a variety of effects.

  • The Kino Flo Diva-Lite series offers a portable lighting fixture for video and film location work, providing cool, flicker-free and energy efficient lighting. This system include adjustable colour temperature, hue and saturation, and RGB control, plus built-in gels and full-range dimmers.
  • The Kino 4×4 Bank is a flexible, lightweight system, updated for LEDs and perfect for whether you’re in the studio or on location. It features full RGB colour control and a wireless DMX interface.

All Kino Flo lights produce soft and precise lighting, which makes them well-suited to a broad range of cinematic styles.

What Makes LEDs Environment-Friendly?

The environmental and energy-saving benefits of LEDs come down to this: the less energy that it takes to produce light, the better.

There are two important characteristics of LED technology, which give it its environmental credentials:

  • Source efficacy
  • Luminaire efficacy

Source efficacy is how efficiently the LED produces light, and luminaire efficacy is how well the device and fixture work together to produce the lighting you need.

For good film and video lighting, you want a good combination of both these efficacies.

The efficiency of LEDs has several implications for the environment:

  • They last longer, which means the production of fewer bulbs, and fewer resources needed for manufacturing, packaging and transporting them
  • They waste less energy, therefore require less power, which has positive implications for the environment
  • LEDs are non-toxic, containing no hazardous materials, making them easier, and safer, to dispose of.

LEDs are designed to last much longer than conventional bulbs. For certain standard forms of lighting, this can be as much as 20 times longer. They don’t require replacing as frequently.

This is especially useful when it comes to lighting on shoots, as it minimises downtime and boosts efficiency.

LEDs can be up to 80 per cent more efficient than conventional light bulbs. For example, fluorescent lamps will convert around 95 per cent of their energy into heat, and only the remaining 5 per cent into light. LEDs on the other hand convert 95 per cent of their energy into light.

They require less energy and are therefore much more cost effective for use on shoots.

The toxic elements in many forms of conventional lighting mean that you cannot simply dispose of them on landfill sites. They are a risk to the environment. They require specialist waste carriers for disposal.

LEDs are much easier, safer and potentially cheaper to dispose of, as they don’t require specialist waste disposal.

How Do LEDs Work?

LEDs are light emitting diodes. Diodes are semiconductor components that emit energy-carrying photons.

The material in LEDs enables them to emit large numbers of photons as light rather than heat. This means that illuminator LEDs can produce significantly bright light without also creating a lot of heat.

They combine this energy efficiency with long lifespans and instant illumination, making them extremely versatile.

This versatility also applies to lighting for video and film.

LEDs can also provide multiple colour options, involving coloured diodes. This is how Kino Flo LEDs can offer built-in gel colours and RGB control.

Why Use RGB Colour Control?

One of the features that Kino Flo LED lighting systems include is RGB control. But why is this important?

Before the arrival of RGB LEDs, if you wanted to bring more specific colour to images, you would need to add gels to your lights.

Many people still use this method, but what RGB control gives you with LEDs is the ability to add colour at the flick of a switch.

This is useful for when you need to create colour backgrounds quickly, or when you need to be able to cycle through a range of colours to decide on the best one.

With this kind of instant control, you can see whether a colour is working or not, and make any desired changes.

You can also use RGB control with your LEDs to use colour directly on the subject you’re shooting.

Why is Soft Light Important?

Many film-makers and videographers prefer to shoot their subjects with soft light. It is flattering to the features and physical characteristics of subjects.

Soft light eliminates hard edges where they can detract from the natural angles of human forms, and it diffuses hard shadows.

LEDs, such as the Kino Flo range, will produce the kind of soft light that videographers and film-makers want to shoot with.

The 4×4 Bank will incorporate FreeStyle LED tubes, which then give a single slash of light, of any colour.

These LED tubes provide 310° of light and if you fit them in the bank, then its reflector can project this soft light forwards at a beam angle of 100°.

How Durable and Practical are LEDs?

The energy efficiency of LEDs is useful for setting up lighting on shoots, since it means you can place your light source pretty much anywhere without fear of it overheating.

HMI lights, for example, require some warming-up time before use, and require cooling down, whereas LEDs will switch instantly on and off and always will stay cool.

Generally, LEDs are more lightweight than other light sources, adding to their convenience and portability.

They are also relatively durable due to the fact that they are solid state components. You won’t easily damage LEDs on a shoot by subjecting them to external shocks, or dropping them accidentally.

Tips for Shooting with Kino Flo LED Lights

As with all video and film-making equipment, to get the best out of Kino Flo LED lighting, you need to use it in the most effective way.

  • Be prepared to modify the light. LEDs produce soft and precise light, but there will be conditions and situations where you need to control this in other ways, such as using a softbox or grid system.
  • Maximise your lighting control by dimming your Kino Flo lights when necessary. They should maintain a constant brightness when dimmed down to any level, giving you the option of employing subtle but effective lighting.
  • Don’t overdo the colour mixing option that comes with LEDs. Where you’re shooting in mixed lighting conditions, LEDs can help you by letting you use very specific colour temperatures. But if you adjust the colour balance too much from shot to shot, you can end up with footage that just doesn’t match.

Should You Be Using LEDs?

To a large extent, LED technology really is a no-brainer.

You’re saving on energy consumption, you’re helping the environment, and advanced LED technology means you have expert and adaptable lighting control at your fingertips.

These lighting systems are quick to set up, they stay cool, they consume less power and you also save on having to use colour gels. With Kino Flo LEDs, there’s more light per watt compared with tungsten lighting. You have manual and DMX remote light level control without any colour shift.

The high performance of LEDs, coupled with their durability and energy efficiency, positions them perfectly to make a real difference to your shoots.

Sony Venice: A Flagship Camera for High-End Production

The Sony Venice is a high-end 6K camera with a 24x36mm full frame sensor, designed by Sony as a next generation system.

Sony has basically gone back to the drawing board and come up with something that incorporates a new image sensor in its advanced, ergonomic design.

The Sony Venice combines ease of use with a superior performance in the field. Here, we look at the key aspects of this flagship camera.

The Camera

This is a camera that is built for longevity. It is pretty compact, and feels both robust and easy to handle.

But if you’re going to make the most of its full 6K capability, you’ll need to attach Sony’s AXS-R7 raw recorder to its back. The good news is that this feels like a completely natural part of the camera once you add it.

The main body of the camera uses SxS pro+ cards and can record up to 4K in XAVC Class480.

If you don’t need to shoot using raw, then you have a nifty but rugged stripped-back model. With the AXS-R7, you have a well-integrated unit that won’t interfere with your handling, but will enhance the camera’s capabilities.

The excellent software integration also reflects this ease of handling, since you won’t need to set anything up on the raw recorder. Extra options in the camera’s own menu become accessible once you add the AXS-R7.

The Venice also works with the Sony Rialto extension system, which allows you to relocate the camera’s front image block up to 18ft away (using the repeater module) to a much smaller housing. This is ideal for rigging the camera in smaller locations, tight spaces, use in and on vehicles and increased portability.

The Viewfinder and Lens Mount

The viewfinder on the Sony Venice is, like the rest of the camera, designed to be practical and accessible. You’ve got buttons for focus magnification, and excellent menu access. The quality of the OLED image is remarkable and very natural.

The lens mount on the Sony Venice is an industry-standard PL mount, which supports Cooke/i technology, so you can record lens data with your footage.

Behind this is a Sony E mount, with a very short flange distance, which means you can use almost any lens on it, with the right adaptor.

Extended ND Filter Performance

The Venice goes beyond having a few internal ND (neutral-density) filters and instead has an impressive 8-step technical ND filter up to 2.5 stops.

This makes the camera extremely versatile, increases speed on set and helps with exposure consistency throughout a shoot.

Camera Outputs

There are plenty of video outputs on the Venice, including four SDI outputs, one HDMI, one monitor out and one dedicated HD output for the viewfinder.

There are also various power outputs on the camera body, for powering multiple accessories.  We have kitted our camera package to include the Wooden Camera D-Box and power strip for further 12 and 24v outputs.

The various video outputs are all highly configurable, so you can send different amounts of information to different outputs, depending on how you want to set up your shoot.

Menu Displays

There are intuitive menu displays on both sides of the camera, so both the operator and assistant can have access to them.

With the main menu on the right side of the camera, and smaller menu screen on the left side, for the camera operator to use. This allows you to change settings without having to look at the viewfinder, or having to look around at the other side of the camera.

Image Quality

The look of the camera’s images emulates that of film. It desaturates highlights and provides a very organic quality of both highlights and colours.

Rendering skin tones naturally and handling the extremes of colour well, especially those shades on the edges of the spectrum.

The camera’s internal 4K recordings stand up well in comparison to raw recordings using the AXS-R7. They look sharp, but not overly digital.

With the Venice and the AXS-R7 unit come new recording codecs X-OCN (Original Camera Negative) LT, ST & XT.  These benefit from the same workflow of raw whilst reducing storage capacity.

What the raw and X-OCN recording capability will give you is more tonal range and colour information over XAVC as well as the post production flexibility.

The Venice sensor features duel native base ISO’s of 500 and 2500, both capable of 15+ stops of latitude to suit whatever lighting environment you face.  Because of the 6K resolution and 24x36mm size of the sensor the Venice is aspect ratio agnostic, meaning the camera can record all aspect ratios (3:2, 1.85:1, 2.39:1, 17:9, 16:9, 6:5 & 4:3) without having to reduce resolution.

High frame rates of 120fps in 4K 2:39.1 and 60fps in 6K 3:2 allow for further creativity.

The Bigger Picture with Sony Venice

With the Sony Venice camera’s full frame image, you get a more natural perspective and magnification than you can achieve with Super 35mm.

It also offers fewer distortions at wide angle, and more flexibility when it comes to sensitivity, dynamic range and resolution.

The full frame format shares many characteristics with 65mm, but it uses smaller lenses, saving on weight (and budget)!

This is a future proof camera, carefully designed to support artistic expression and technical excellence.

What Lighting Do I Need for Slow Motion?

Slow motion footage in a video can add drama and style, but to make it work you need to have the right kind of lighting. This is a key factor in creating correctly exposed, flicker-free slow motion videos.

Lighting is critical in video for translating images into something the human eye will perceive as acceptably real. Even though we do not see real things in slow motion, we still have a visual sense of how slow motion can heighten the sense of reality of what we are seeing.

The correct lighting equipment is essential if you are going to deliver the highest quality slow motion video. Here, we look at what lighting technology works best for slow motion, including:

  • HMI
  • LED and
  • Plasma lighting

Variables in Slow Motion Filming

There are certain key variables you must consider if you are shooting a slow motion video:

  • Frame rates
  • Shutter speed
  • Lighting

You cannot create impactful and fluid slow motion if you do not control all of the variables involved.

This fluidity is a major element, because without it, your slow motion video will look jumpy and unprofessional.

If you do not address the frame rate and simply slow down a 25fps recording, there will not be a smooth transition between each frame.

Therefore, you should record at a higher frame rate (i.e. 150fps) then play back at a lower one (25fps), giving you 6 times slower than real time speed (in this example).

When working out the optimal frame rate, you must look at the speed necessary to capture the action you are filming, and what length of video you will need to then play the action back later at normal speed.

This comes down to the visual aesthetics you want to capture. For example, 60fps may be right to achieve your slow motion effect, but in certain instances you may require a higher frame rate.

Adding the extra frames in the lower frame rate for playback creates a smooth motion.

Shutter speed is another important variable. Controlling shutter speed enables you to control the amount of blur. The longer the shutter stays open, the blurrier the motion.

To get a natural-looking amount of motion blur, the general rule is to set your shutter speed at double your frame rate.

However, a too-fast shutter speed will make your slow motion footage appear choppy, so this is about getting the speed just right. You should, therefore, also consider how much movement there will be in the subject you are filming.

What using faster shutter speeds and frame rates also means is that your camera will have less time to capture light for each frame you shoot. Consequently, you need more powerful sources of light if you are going to expose your shots properly.

Without the right amount of light, you will end up with slow motion footage that is underexposed. Without the right type of light, you may end up with slow motion footage that flickers.

This is why lighting is a critical aspect of shooting in slow motion.

Why Flicker is a Lighting Issue

The flicker in tungsten lighting sources is due to the frequency of AC current used in the mains supply to that lighting fixture. In the UK, the frequency of the mains supply is 50Hz, whilst in the USA, it’s 60Hz. Hertz refers to the number of complete AC sine waves per second.

HMI sources inherit the frequency from the supply ballast, usually selectable between 50Hz, 60Hz, and either “flicker free” (usually 100Hz) or in specialist ballast such as the ones that we supply as standard with our ARRI M Series lighting, a special (but noisy!) 1000Hz frequency is selectable, for ultra slow motion images captured with our Vision Research Phantom VEO4K @ 1000fps in 4K.

Vision Research Phantom VEO4K 990 Camera

Most light sources used in filming do not emit a continuous luminous flux, but will have an intensity that varies depending on the voltage of the supply.

As mains voltage changes its polarity per second, so light intensity pulses in time with this mains frequency.

Usually, this effect is invisible to the naked human eye but when filming lighting, you are using set frame rates that, when mismatched with the lighting frequency, can cause the image to flicker or roll. In this way, the frame rate of the camera’s sensor works in a very similar way to the frequency of the AC mains supply. 25p (25 frames per second) has a frequency of 25Hz. When using a 1/50th or 180 degree shutter on a 25p sensor, the frequency now becomes 50Hz.

Generally speaking, if the frame rate fits in whole number multiples of the lighting frequency, no flicker occurs. But when the frame rate mismatches the frequency, for example shooting 25p in America where the mains supply is 60Hz, flicker will occur. When shooting at 1000fps, a lighting source of 50Hz is far too slow to keep up with the frame rate, so again, in this case the slow 50Hz frequency is visible as flicker at these ultra-high frame rates.

To solve the problem, either adjust the frame rate, shutter speed, or lighting frequency to match.

The choice of light source is critical in controlling the flicker factor. The higher the frequency, the better the lighting will be for slow motion.

Flicker Free Lighting

If you are shooting outdoors using the sun and reflectors as your light sources, you will not have to deal with flicker.

But most electrically-generated sources of light will flicker to some degree, as described above.

Controlling this degree of flicker is really about influencing the perception of the flicker for the viewer.

Some artificial light sources are better than others at providing flicker-free light.

When shooting at a normal, 25fps frame rate, for example, you could shoot with a tungsten bulb, or even a household fluorescent light, and not encounter flicker issues. But once you start varying the frame rate and shutter speed, flicker is much more likely to become an issue.

Different forms of lighting have different flicker factors:

HMI Lamps

HMI lamps can operate on flicker-free electronic ballasts. HMI stands for hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide. These lamps use an arc lamp instead of an incandescent bulb.

The electronic ballast is a device that produces an ignition pulse and regulates the arc. This transforms the sine wave into a square wave, enabling the light to stay constant for longer after zero-crossing (the point where there is no voltage present).

1.2kW HMI

A flicker-free HMI lamp will typically have a low frequency of between 75 and 100Hz. However, over the bulb’s lifetime, the gap between electrodes increases, with the arc extinguishing for longer periods during zero-crossing. This can increase the flicker-factor to above 3%, which indicates that you need to replace the bulb.

LED Lights

Because LEDs inherently react very rapidly to voltage changes, they are prone to flicker, especially if you dim them.

To deal with this, professional quality LED lighting fixtures regulate the frequency of each individual LED on the panel, adding dramatically to the quality of the light (as well as the price tag)!

Because of this system, most LED fixtures are nowadays are regulated to much higher frequencies than we can capture, even with specialist cameras.

New large dot LED technology is rated in excess of 10,000Hz! This makes them an ideal match to high frame rate filming.

Tungsten Lamps

As explained above, tungsten lamps gain their frequency emission from the AC mains supply.

If you dim tungsten lamps, you are adjusting the current it receives, and thus affect the frequency and flicker.

Fluorescent Lamps

You can operate fluorescent lamps on either electronic or magnetic ballasts. This reduces flicker, but both fluorescent lamps and energy-saving bulbs have flicker factors that are generally higher than alternative lighting methods.

With magnetic ballast (such as those common in building strip lights), fluorescent lamps have a flicker factor between 30% and 60%. With electronic ballasts (such as those found in professional fluorescent fixtures such as Kino Flo Divas / 4x4s etc.), you can reduce this to between 0% and 12% (with Kino having a 0% flicker factor)

Where you have to shoot with non-flicker free light sources, you will have to rely on adjusting the frame rate and/or shutter angle to take into account the wild flicker caused by the magnetic ballasts.

There are, however, an increasing number of advanced options for flicker free lighting now available, giving filmmakers more flexibility when it comes to shooting in fluid slow motion.

High Speed Ballasts for HMI Lighting

Although electronic ballast can prevent flicker in HMI lighting, these lamps can also be prone to arc wander. This is where a plasmatic hot spot moves within the bulb, causing a shifting movement in the light output.

This can then result in a shimmering effect with a rapid colour shift.

This means that you cannot completely guarantee flicker-free lighting using HMI lamps with normal electronic ballast.

One solution is the use of high frequency ballasts for HMI lamps. These can reduce significantly flicker, or even eliminate it altogether.

These high speed ballasts of between 300Hz and 1000Hz make it possible to achieve flicker free images of a high quality, at frame rates as high as 1000fps.

M Series and MAX Technology

The ARRI M Series of daylight HMI lamps uses patented MAX technology to provided cutting-edge lighting.

MAX Technology supplies a unique reflector design for this lighting, creating extremely bright, open-face lighting units.

The five HMI lamp heads in the M Series offer a range of even wattage options, from 800W up to 18,000W.

Because they have done away with the need for heavy lenses, these lights combine excellent handling with a high consistency of lighting. This makes them ideal for shooting the high frame rates necessary for good slow motion footage.

Advances in LED Lighting

As we have explained, achieving flicker-free lighting for slow motion using LED lighting is dependent on ensuring the stability of the power supply via a high quality, regulated LED fixture.

Technological advances have now produced LED lights that are setting new standards in the power and portability of LED lighting

  • The Litepanels Gemini 2×1 and 1×1 fixtures provide and incredible even and soft light, perfect for slow motion fill applications. These lightweight, battery operated LED fixtures are modular and can be fitted together to create a 4×1 or 4×2 array.
  • Stella Pro Lighting also manufactures advanced LED lighting, including its Stella Pro 10000c ultra-powerful LED lamp. This corded light produces cinematic-quality lighting on a par with HMI lamps, and has a consistent, regulated and reliable output that makes it perfect for slow motion filming. It generates 10,000 lumens supported by sophisticated flicker-free firmware. To maintain constant output at its considerable power levels, the Stella Pro 10000c has an integrated variable speed fan for when the light generated exceeds 5,000 lumens.
  • The ARRI L Series incorporates a smooth light field and continuous focusability into its LED technology. This gives users complete control over the colour and intensity of LED lighting, making it highly reliable for the high numbers of frames per second essential for professional-grade slow motion shooting.

The Wireless Option for LED Lighting

Another advanced solution for LED lighting in slow motion video is to go wireless.

Astera provides sophisticated, battery-powered lights. These remote-controlled lights are highly portable and designed specifically for shooting a broad range of videos.

The Astera range of wireless LED lights is flicker free. It uses scrambled pulse width modulation (S-PWM) to achieve this.

The duty cycle of an LED refers to the percentage of time the light is on. Normal pulse width modulation is a means of dimming LEDs by rapidly turning them on and off. This is pulsing. Visually, this appears as a steady, dimmed light.

Scrambled pulse width modulations represents a further refinement of this process. It scrambles the pulses of each LED channel into sub-pulses. This allows the channels to co-ordinate to reduce the periods when they will all be off.

This can reduce the flicker effect in high level recordings.

Plasma Lighting

Advances in both HMI and LED lighting technology have made them versatile and adaptable for slow motion filming.

Stella Pro 1000C LED

But there is an alternative to both, and this is plasma lighting.

There are no electrodes in a plasma light. Instead, radio frequencies (RF) transmit energy into a quartz bulb containing a mixture of noble gases and metal halides. There is an electrical field in the centre of the bulb, which ionises the gases. They heat up, evaporating the metal halide materials to create a bright light. Since this energised ball of glowing gas is detatched from the mains / ballast frequency, it is completely and truly flicker free.

High output 2500W plasma lights combine various qualities of other lighting forms. They offer the daylight balance and high output of HMIs plus the reliability, long life and energy efficiency of LEDs.

The Hive Plasma 1000 provides flicker-free lighting from a high-speed light source.

It operates at speeds well in excess of the most rapid LED lighting, offering cycles of 450 million times per second.

This far outstrips any currently available frame rates. You can only detect flicker from a plasma light at the equivalent of 225 million frames per second.

Realistically, for practical purposes, plasma lighting at this level is flicker-free, offering a leading edge solution for high quality slow motion video.

Other benefits of plasma lighting include lower heat generation, compared to HMI and tungsten lamps; and full-spectrum daylight.

Because plasma bulbs are electrodeless and filament free, they are highly durable, maintaining high output and colour quality for some 30,000 hours of operation, and offering 50,000 hours of light.

The Future of Lighting

These different forms of lighting are competing in the continually developing marketplace of video.

Each has its own advantages, such as LED lighting’s efficiency and environmental credentials, or plasma lighting’s superior flicker-free qualities.

In terms of sheer performance, for example, plasma can provide excellent conditions for even the most demanding of slow motion sequences.

But then the alternatives offer their own takes on versatility, economy and durability, such as the lens-free M Series.

Ultimately, the future of lighting will be built on more choice and continuing improving lighting performance.

Whichever lighting method you apply, slow motion video will continue to be a powerful, visual tool.

It can bring a cinematic and artistic quality to video output; it can add emphasis, or increase an audience’s sense of anticipation. Slo-mo is highly effective in focusing the viewer’s attention on the narrative.

But to do any or all of these things, slow motion must look good, and this requires the technical tools to support the artistic vision.

Lighting is one of these tools.

Filming during the Pandemic

We’re excited to share an amazing video created by We Are Tilt to highlight how we can safely get the cameras rolling during this pandemic. It has been such a pleasure to be part of the project and supply one of our RED Monstro cameras with Canon Sumire Lenses

At Pro Motion we have been open throughout the lock down period with a reduced team supporting production as and when needed. Working through this period has enabled us to create, shape and implement our COVID secure plan.

Our priority has been to ensure that our buildings are safe for all our staff and visitors and that we can support your production whilst promoting and enforcing our COVID / Hygiene policies. 

These policies have been created based on Government and Industry advice, they outline our processes and highlight the best practices  that you should adhere to when hiring and working with professional filming equipment. 

We Are Tilt have demonstrated how we can creatively work together to still get on to location and film during the pandemic. it’s important we all work together to support each out, and ensure we are following clear guidelines laid out firstly by the Government and Public Health England and secondly by our industry bodies. 

We’ve always been passionate about taking the time with equipment preparation for our clients, now we’re keeping the same diligent procedures but adding our hygiene policies to ensure that we can be as safe and covid secure as possible. 

Our Processes

  • Once a job has been confirmed, our technicians will begin to prepare your equipment, they will start by washing their hands and will continue to sanitise frequently throughout the process. 
  • When the the equipment has finished being tested and prepared it will be re-sanitised by a technician who will use single-use gloves and wipe down all the equipment touch points which will include flight case latches, handles, zips and so on. For your peace of mind the bags / cases will have our brand new sanitised labels clearly displayed. 
  • If we are delivering the equipment to you with one of our drivers, you will see that they will be wearing PPE and we have also implemented contact-less equipment handovers.

Of course a lot of our staff are working from home, so you’ll be speaking to people spread across the country ready to take bookings and provide technical advice and support.

We are also working hard to ensure that we are limiting any bottle necks at all our offices, by focusing on pre-agreed drop off and collections for all kit and limiting visitors with remote demos on zoom. 

It is vital to us we all work together to allow filming to be safe and that we make sure all our staff and clients feel secure every step of the way. 

With thanks to We Are Tilt. 

RED Gemini Cameras – Why this is the most exciting RED release yet

The RED Gemini 5K S35 has been kicking up quite a storm in the world of cinematography over the past few months, and for a great reason too.

Rumoured to have been designed to shoot in outer space for NASA, this innovative sensor and camera brain works fantastically in low light shooting situations, whilst also adapting to bright light too.

That’s just one of the high-performance features that makes the Gemini one of RED’s most versatile and exciting releases yet.

Let’s find out more about what makes the Gemini one of the most talked about RED releases for some time…

Lightweight and easy to use

Made from aluminium alloy, the Gemini 5K S35 looks durable and robust, yet it’s surprisingly lightweight at just 1.5kg (3.35 lb.).

Granted- you will be adding various attachments to the brain which will add to the weight, but it’s still lighter and easier to handle than you’d expect.

Boasting the same easy-to-use intuitive menus as other RED cameras, you can usually start shooting great footage using the Gemini 5K without needing to pore over the user manual.

It also offers many 1/4″-20 mounting holes around the body into which you can fix the attachments you need such as a V-Lock Expander Module, output HDMI and SDI and LCD.

Dual-sensor for a range of shooting conditions

The Gemini 5K S35 sensor is RED’s highest sensitivity sensor yet that works effectively in a range of different shooting conditions.

At 30.72 x 18mm, the 5K S35 sensor is taller than RED’s regular super 35mm sensor which makes it great to use with anamorphic lenses (6:5 aspect ratio!).

Tall enough for full 2x anamorphic capture, it offers greater anamorphic lens coverage than with the HELIUM or RED DRAGON sensor and you won’t need to do any cropping.

As you’d expect, it also works brilliantly in low light conditions so boosts that retro cinematographic feel and produces cleaner imagery with less noise and better shadow detail.

The dual ISO-mode allows you greater flexibility when it comes to brightness, allowing you to shoot in brighter settings such as outdoors where you want to include lots of detail in the frame.

The result is clean, crisp images, whether you’re shooting in low-light conditions or in standard mode.

Larger and more sensitive pixels

The Gemini also offers up to 17x more resolution than HD to help achieve a crisper, brighter, higher-quality image.

With 5K rather than 8K resolution, the Gemini has been designed with larger, more sensitive pixels than the Monstro, Dragon and Helium sensors to provide optimal results in low light conditions, as well as smooth, organic looking skin tones.

Using Full Format, you can shoot in 5K at a speed of up to 96 frames per second or 120fps @ 4K or 240fps @ 2K.

Fast data transfer rates for greater productivity

When it comes to data transfer rates, the Red Gemini 5K S35 shines yet again. Capable of write speeds of up to 275 MB/S, and you can record in REDCODE Raw and Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHR/HD at the same time.

Easy editing

And when it comes to editing, it’s also compatible with all the mainstream editing software, including Adobe Premiere Pro, AVID Media Composer, DaVinci Resolve, Edius Pro, Final Cut Pro and Vegas Pro.

The RED Gemini 5K S35 is RED’s highest sensitivity sensor yet and offers incredibly high-quality images with better shadow detail, less noise and an impressive dynamic range.

So, if you’ve been thinking of trying something new but love the Dragon sensor, we recommend you give this one a try.

Anamorphic – What Does It Look Like and How Does It Work?

Anamorphic format is the cinematographic technique of shooting a widescreen picture on standard (usually 35mm) film. To achieve the traditional ‘look’, cinematographers use a specially-designed anamorphic lens.

This format was first used back in the 1950s as a way of both using as much of the physical film as possible and to differentiate the cinema experience from the growing TV market.

Since then, it has been responsible for creating some of the most iconic films ever made such as Star Wars, Apocalypse Now and Conan.

Although the anamorphic format has seen a dip in popularity over the years, the trend for bigger televisions and use of the 2.39:1 aspect ratio has seen a renewed interest in this classic format.

So, let’s learn more about the anamorphic format, discover how anamorphic lenses work and understand both the advantages and limitations so you can decide if anamorphic might work for your project.

What’s the big deal about anamorphic?

Anamorphic adds a different quality to an image or film that you just can’t find anywhere else, nor recreate after shooting has taken place.

You get much clearer lines and excellent separation. Faces are rendered differently. You’ll create extra space within the image itself. You get that classic lens flare look. There’s a certain natural 3D effect that appears and the image itself becomes more visually appealing.

Of course, you could add these optical effects in afterwards, during the editing process. But by using an anamorphic lens, it’s genuine, authentic and real.

Are there limitations to using anamorphic?

Of course, not everyone will be a fan of the natural ‘side-effects’ of using an anamorphic lens compared to a standard spherical lens.

For example, they’re soft, they tend to vignette, they can distort the image in unexpected ways if you’re not used to using them and they do create lens flare, which many people aren’t keen on.

But these features aren’t necessarily a problem and can actually add to the overall classic ‘cinematographic’ look of the picture.

It also keeps you on your toes when it comes to growing your skills and encourages you to learn brand new photography skills and techniques.

For example, you need to take care of how you compose the frame with an anamorphic lens because they’re not as forgiving as other lenses. You also need to rethink the way you frame people, keep important elements at the centre of the frame and adjust your mindset accordingly.

How does an anamorphic lens work?

An anamorphic lens, such as those we offer for hire, is created from two elements: a normal spherical lens and an anamorphic attachment. The attachment is the bit that works its anamorphic magic. The spherical lens used will be slightly bigger than would be normally used – it must produce an image that is the full height of the frame but twice its width.

The spherical lens does the focusing whilst the anamorphic lens distorts the optical field as required. It does this by squeezing it horizontally whilst leaving the vertical untouched.

Of course, the image that is created is very distorted vertically and would look very strange when projected, so another lens is used in the cinema to restore the picture back to look ‘normal’ again.

These days, we can use either a traditional style anamorphic lens like we’ve mentioned above which can be slightly on the expensive side.

Alternatively, you can opt for a more-affordable anamorphic adaptor which offer different compression ratios and aesthetic properties to suit your shooting needs.

So, should you give an anamorphic lens a try? Most definitely. But it’s not a format that’s suitable for everyday filmmaking so wait for the right project to come along and have fun.