At A Glance: A Real Lighting Game Changer

For quite some time now, the LED lighting revolution has been quietly gaining steam. Many cinematographers and gaffers have been willing to test the latest technology over the years, but up until now, using LEDs mostly was relegated to specialty lighting. That all may have changed with ARRI’s new SkyPanel S60 and S30, a versatile family of compact and fully tunable LED soft lights. The S60 is the midrange model, while the S30 is its smaller, more portable companion. Both were rolled out by ARRI this past fall and come with a rugged, aluminum, durable construction, offered in a sleek silver and blue design.

SkyPanel represents the culmination of more than a decade of research and development of LED technology at ARRI. The SkyPanel S60 measures roughly 2×1 feet and weighs 7.7 pounds, while the SkyPanel S30 measures 1×1 feet and weighs 4.6 pounds. Both lights have an ultrathin, 5.1-inch depth and are equipped with an aluminum yolk, with mounting possible via baby 5/8-inch and junior 11/8-inch combo pins.

Tunable LED allows for exact and instant color change and correction across a range from 2,800K to 10,000K, achieved with the simple turn of a knob, with fill information displayed on a built-in LCD display. In addition, you have full RGB+W color gamut with hue and saturation control.

The lights can be powered by both AC and DC. In AC mode, the draw is only 48V-3.3A, allowing the user to plug multiple lights into an ordinary household circuit. Running off of a camera battery, 23V-36V, however, the S60 is limited to half output, while the S30 can be used at full power. But not to worry: Mount the SkyPanel S60 on a car hood in daylight running off of a camera battery, and you’ll have plenty of light.

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High frame rate slow motion human slap using bright ARRI SkyPanels lights – shot by director of photography and writer Jimmy Matlosz
Both lights are fully controllable with DMX, RDM and now Ethernet, in addition to working efficiently as an interactive lighting source using a video feed and media server. Combining multiple heads also enables you to create a large grid or light source that’s very effective. Over 45-plus lights were used to create a large overhead source in a recent automobile commercial.

The SkyPanel S60 and S30 were created to be used as soft lights, and diffusion panels are offered in what’s described as heavy to light. The S60 also has been tested up to 2400 fps, using a 180º shutter at 1000 ASA F2.0, and was found to be flicker-free with solid exposure on skin tones. As an overview, the SkyPanel S30 is brighter than a 1kW tungsten soft light or a 3kW tungsten space light, meaning it has more than enough light for most applications.

ARRI also offers a Remote Phosphor (RP) version of these lights, incorporating a single blue LED color source that’s then converted to various color temperatures using a variety of color panels. The SkyPanel S60-RP and S30-RP are more cost-effective versions for users who may desire one set color.

While LED use has been slow to develop within the filmmaking community, these new SkyPanel lights from ARRI could become real game changers on the road ahead.

Learn more about the ARRI SkyPanels at arri.com/skypanel.

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