One thing I always try to think about when shooting in other countries is my shooting footprint size and energy needs – cars/trucks are smaller, power is different, doorways are narrower, and things are built more often vertically (stairs) than horizontally.  For our gear, I contacted the people at “SeeYouRent”.  This is a very cool little boutique rental house in Berlin with everything you could need for Camera, G&E, Audio, and more.  One of the things I like about about getting equipment at rental houses outside of the US is that you get to see some different gear used in different ways.  Not everyone has access to Arri Maxes and AirStar Balloons on demand.  Our project was basically just doing interviews for a documentary, only we had to shoot multiple interviewees a day in multiple locations, so we needed as little gear as possible that was multi-use.  When I spoke with the people at the rental house about my needs, I learned that they carried a few unique LED systems that would be perfect for us, specifically the VELVET Light 2’s and the VELVET Light 1’s.  I was skeptical at first about relying 100% on just three LED soft lights but I’m happy to say it worked out great.  THE LIGHT link.
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LED panel technology has come a long way over the years and the number of vendors making them now is numerous.  Of course, some are better than others and you “get what you pay for.”  Of note, there are 3 things about the VELVET heads that grabbed my attention right away:
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1. Amount of light produced.
The VELVET 2 easily puts out almost 2x more lumens than a 4×4 Kino Flo, and in addition it has a more even throw and consistent shadow shape.
 
2. Bi-color shading control.
Consistent shading from 2700-6500ºk with no noticeable green-shift.
 
3. Weather proof design.
This is not a very common quality to find in a panel.  The Velvet housing is designed to withstand rain and dust without issue.
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What I needed these LED soft lights for was very simple (basic interview lighting in mixed locations) and as such, didn’t have the time to be too creative; but for what I was doing with them, I was impressed.  In some scenes, I was directly competing against direct sunlight with zero problems; and in other scenes, I was competing with very odd color temperatures that were easy to match with the built-in color temp meter.
 
Another good thing about these lights are the accessories offered for these units.  The panel’s diffusion surfaces is already very well even (no spotting), but if you were looking to add additional layers of diffusion they offer a set of doors as well as a very easy LCG spangled system that pops onto the head easily to contain the beam very well.
 
Below are a few images for the Berlin shoot.
 
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One thought on “Velvet LED’s

  1. I appreciate your thaeniccl discussion, and am inspired by your thoroughness. Direct access interviews are sometimes a terrible challenge with non-professional talent: the subject is sometimes uncomfortable looking into the camera, unlike Dave. I’ve built a simple device which incorporates a teleprompter-like box turned sideways, to allow the interviewer and subject to maintain eye contact throughout while the camera is hidden from the uneasy talent who is effectively looking straight into the lens. It took me around 6 hours to build, plus 1 to paint the frames black.I don’t know how to paste in photos here, so I’ll gladly email photos of the device in use to anyone interested, and will draw up a set of plans for building it. Total cost in parts: under $200 for a small one.

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