The Future of LED Lighting with the ARRI SkyPanel
The ARRI SkyPanel is one of the most versatile LED lights available.
I remember using LEDs during their infancy. They offered very little output, but they had a promising future. At the time, I couldn’t commit to using them heavily on set, especially as primary key sources.
I shoot a lot of documentary-, corporate-, and interview-based material, so I need a great key light for these setups. For the last few years, I was still using HMIs that would get extremely hot and require a lot of modification. Then, sometimes, I needed to gel those HMIs to match color with tungsten sources. This would then increase the size of the setup and the grip package and increase my budget.
Within the last year, LEDs finally started to catch up with HMIs in terms of output and quality. A big step in that direction was the release of ARRI’s SkyPanel S120, S60, and S30. Since their release, I’ve begun using these lights quite heavily — as have many other DPs. The equipment rental house I use in Atlanta recently had to double their inventory of SkyPanels in order to keep up with the demand.
The SkyPanels offer a ton of amazing features. These lights will definitely increase your workflow and help you produce better (and more efficient) videos.
The best feature of the ARRI SkyPanel is strong output that is still soft. This is a combination that has never really existed in a package this small. The S60 has roughly the equivalent of a diffused 400-watt HMI. With this level of output, you can easily use this light in almost any situation that requires a soft area light. It provides enough output that you can even use a frame of diffusion, like Lee‘s Opal or 250, to make it even softer. However, even without extra diffusion, the light still casts beautiful, soft shadows, so you can feel comfortable using it to light a face. Here are some photometrics at five meters to give you some reference on the light’s output:
- With standard diffusion: 393 lux/37 fc
- With light diffusion: 462 lux/43 fc
- With heavy diffusion: 320 lux/30 fc
- With intensifier: 511 lux/47 fc
- With standard diffusion: 416 lux/39 fc
- With light diffusion: 489 lux/45 fc
- With heavy diffusion: 338 lux/31 fc
- With intensifier: 541 lux/50 fc
Colors and Gel Library
The SkyPanel features an exceptional library of Lee and Rosco gels. If you want the exact color of Lee 1/4 CTO, for example, it’s programmed directly into the light, and you can correct the light color exactly to that gel. The light also allows you to adjust hues. If you want party gel colors, you can tune those directly into the LEDs without having to use and sort gels in front of the light.
Overall, the ARRI SkyPanel is a very versatile light that you can use in most settings. As far as soft source LED lighting, it’s now my go-to choice on pretty much any set.
Have you used the ARRI SkyPanel? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.