High Powered LED Lights with Video Examples – Hilio Series by Litepanels

The Litepanels’ Hilio series are high output led fixtures that deliver the intensity, light quality and versatility of a traditional HMI par at just a fraction of the power consumption. Hilio panels emit a raw, narrow beam that provides the intensity you need for longer throws required to light an exterior, wash a set with soft light, or even illuminate a green screen.

As soon as I turned the Hilio LED light on, I noticed that this light is really bright. I’ve never used a single LED fixture that was able to give off this amount of light. Despite Hilio’s high intensity, this light is also energy efficient. There’s no ballast and you can plug 5 of these into one typical house circuit eliminating the need for a geni truck or a tie-in. For those of you on a budget, you know what a savings this is.

Pat Grosswendt, co-fonder of Litepanels and Hollywood gaffer of 35 years, speaks with me on his personal experience using and helping to design Hilio. Pat mentions a few things that I think are worth keeping in mind:

Power Consumption – The Hilio has a power draw of only 350W with the equivalent light output of a 2000W light.

Calculating Wattage – When calculating how many watts a unit is worth, a quick and easy way to do this is by dropping two zeros from the wattage of your lights. For example, if you need to power a 2000W light, you’ll need 20 amps. If you need to power six 2000W lights, you’ll need 120 amps. If you have a light bulb that is 100W, drop two zeros and you’ll know that you’ll be using 1 amp. This is useful for pre-production planning, as no one wants to throw breakers mid shoot.


In our first setting, we opened the barn door and shot me from just inside the entrance. We used a single Hilio D12 LED light as my key and allowed the full strength of the high-noon sun to light the farm scene behind me. Competing with the power of the sun’s light usually requires a net behind the talent to create a screen that cuts the sun’s light in order to achieve correct exposure of the subject. We were able to effectively light the subject (yours truly) and retain the shadows, highlights and detail in the backdrop behind me using only one Hilio as my key. Keep in mind that we achieved our shot with little effort and minimal equipment.

Our second example was shot as the sun was setting. Keeping golden highlights and the detail of our background scene was important for this shot. We needed to use the warm light of the setting sun for mood and also retain its glow on the grass behind me in order to see the detail. With our subject (me) in the shade, we also needed to introduce a light source to achieve correct exposure of my face. The goal here was to properly light the subject without compromising the integrity of the beautiful background scenery. Using a single Hilio D12 LED light (plugged into a house outlet) we lit our subject and were able to retain the warmth and detail of the golden grass behind me as the sun set across it.


After getting to use the Hilio D12 high output LED light panel in real world applications (two shown in the video), I found that the intensity of this light exceeded my expectations. Being able to compete with broad daylight is not an easy triumph for an LED light and the Hilio outperformed any LED fixture I’ve ever worked with in this respect – hands down. The light’s intensity coupled with its low power consumption is a winning combination in terms of versatility for the Hilio.

I also liked The nanoptic lenses that I was able to simply slide into the Hilio fixture. Like a traditional par, these lenses shape the light vertically, horizontally, or simply soften the beam but without the cost of expensive glass. This is a unique feature to the Hilio series that gives the user much more control and opens the light up to a whole host of uses both in the field and in the studio.

If you guys would like to know more about the daylight balanced Hilio D12 or the tungsten balanced Hilio T12, check out all of the extended specs over at Litepanels.com.


Astra 1X1 Bi-Color LED Panel from Litepanels – Example Shots

I had the opportunity to test out the new Astra 1X1 Bi-Color LED fixture from Litepanels. In my interview (below) with Pat Grosswendt, co-founder of Litepanels and experienced lighting director, we cover the new features of Astra and discuss how its modular design has been built specifically to fit your needs and budget.

Litepanels revolutionized the lighting industry with the development of the original 1×1. Now, with the introduction of the brand new Astra 1×1, Litepanels builds on their legacy panel that revolutionized the lighting industry.

The Astra 1X1 has been redesigned to combine a higher output, improved color rendition, active or passive cooling, improved ergonomics and surface mount LEDs paired with custom designed TIR optics to give its user a flexible experience for an even broader range of lighting situations.

My impression of Astra’s key features are summed up in the review below. Applying the light to real world situations around the farm (seen in the video) helped me to both understand and realize the flexibility that comes with its improvements.

BRIGHTNESS ASTRA’s light output is 4 times brighter than many traditional 1×1 sized panels on the market. A higher light intensity means a longer throw and a wider area that can be illuminated effectively by the fixture. This means we were able to pull the light further back from the subject and even use it in broad daylight.

COLOR Astra’s high CRI and visually accurate color temperatures allowed us to easily achieve the color reproduction we wanted. Matching Astra’s color temperature to the mixed lighting conditions we were faced with on the porch, would have been challenging if the light’s color reproduction was not accurate. Not the most flattering screenshots here, but you get the idea with the side-by-side. The video really speaks for itself in terms of what colors we were able to achieve given the mixed ambient light.

COOLING The selectable active or passive cooling modes allowed me to turn the ultra-quiet fan on or off. When switched off, Astra will draw less power and will eliminate any possible noise interference in quite shooting situations. Turned on, the fan will keep Astra at an optimal operating temperature and effectively doubles the light output. Controlling the thermal dynamics in a light fixture is important as it directly effects the light’s overall performance. Also, the fan is field replaceable.

MODULAR DESIGN The Astra series is designed to be modular, allowing users to pick the options they need and build the fixture that fits their needs and budget. There is a communications module option (currently they offer an RJ45 connector wired DMX module, and there are more wired and wireless versions coming). You can also choose Gold mount or V-lock battery plates, these are also field replaceable.

ERGONOMICS A lot went into the ergonomic design of the fixture, such as the manual controls for quick adjusting of both dim and color temperature. These control knobs also have different sizes so you can differentiate between them in the dark. The curved yoke has a wider tilt range with additional ¼-20” mounting points for adding on accessories. The 3-pin XLR power connector is now right-angled with tilt access and locks in place.

Astra is currently available for pre-order (expected availability August 2014). All specs and photometrics can be found at Litepanels.com.

FIRST LOOK: Sony RX100 III Camera with built-in EVF

In the video below, Kenta from Sony’s Digital Imaging department helps me walk you guys through the features of Sony’s newest addition to the RX family.

Now sporting a built-in EVF and boasting a 1.0-type Exmor R™ back-illuminated CMOS sensor, 20MP with BIONZ X™ Image Processor and a Large-aperture ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm equivalent F1.8-2.8 lens, the RX100 Mark III packs a heavy spec punch while retaining its signature pocketabile size.

Key Features:

20.1 megapixel 1″-type Exmor R BSI-CMOS sensor
24-70mm equiv. F1.8-2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens
Pop-up SVGA OLED electronic viewfinder with 1.44M dots
3-inch tilting WhiteMagic LCD with 1.23M dots
1080/60p video with full sensor readout and 50Mbps XAVC S support
Clean HDMI output
Zebra pattern and focus peaking
Customizable front lens ring
3-stop neutral density filter
Wi-Fi with NFC and downloadable apps
320 shots per charge (CIPA standard)

The new ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm equivalent F1.8-F2.8 lens on the RX100 III camera covers the popular 24 -70mm equivalent focal length with a wide F1.8 – F2.8 aperture. This is particularly noteworthy at the 70mm telephoto end of the lens, where the maximum F2.8 aperture allows it to gather about twice as much light as the RX100 and RX100 II models (at 70mm), ensuring that portrait subjects can be captured against background defocus.

There’s also a built-in 3-stop (1/8) neutral density filter that adds to shooting flexibility in a wide range of outdoor conditions. The ND filter can be engaged in bright light, when the 1/2000 sec maximum shutter speed isn’t sufficiently fast. It also allows the use of wide apertures when using the long exposures that movie shooting requires.

The new RX100 III adds a versatile, high-quality OLED Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder. The EVF has a 1.4 million dot resolution, adding brightness and clarity to the overall framing and viewing experience, and pops in and out of the top of the camera body based on shooting preferences. This allows the camera to operate in the traditional ‘rangefinder’ style without sacrificing any of its portability or compactness.

The RX100 III camera shares the same 1.0-type back-illuminated 20.1 MP Exmor R CMOS image sensor featured in the RX100 II and RX10 cameras. The high-resolution sensor on the RX100 III is now paired with the evolved BIONZ X image processor introduced in the α7, α7R models this past fall. Around three times faster than the BIONZ processing engine in the RX100 and RX100 II models, it employs detail reproduction, diffraction-reducing and area-specific noise reduction technologies that allow the camera to produce detailed images and Full HD videos in all types of lighting conditions.

The new compact is the first Cyber-shot model to offer high-resolution HD video recording in the XAVC S format, which allows for full HD recording at a data rate of 50 mbps with lower compression for improved video quality. Other video features include a ‘clear’ HDMI® output for reviewing footage on an external monitor, 120 fps recording at 720p HD resolution and zebra pattering on the LCD and built-in EVF. The camera also has dual video recording capability (XAVC S / AVCHD files4 along with MP4 files), which allows users to shoot a high bit-rate video for storage or editing purposes while also recording a lower bit rate video that’s optimized for sharing via Wi-Fi®.

New to the RX series, the RX100 III model features an articulated LCD that can tilt upward by about 180 degrees for self-portraits and all the way downward to approximately 45 degrees for high-angle shots. The camera also can output still images in 4K resolution6 with full wide-gamut TRILUMINOUS Color support when connected to compatible 4K televisions.

Seeing how there are now three members of the RX100 family, dpReview.com thought it would be a good idea to sum it all up in a RX100 Series Comparison table:

The Cyber-shot RX100 III compact camera will be available in June for about $800. The camera and a range of compatible Cyber-shot accessories will be sold at all Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide.

The camera will be showcased to the public for the first time this weekend at the PMA Big Photo Show (www.thebigphotoshow.com) in Los Angeles at the LA Convention Center. Show hours are 10 AM – 6 PM on May 17th – 18th, Sony Booth #301.

Tips on Capturing Audio for Video and Correcting in Post Production

It’s one of the most common problems editors are faced with in post production – correcting audio problems. Fixing audio issues may be required due to a number of reasons including room sounds, background noise and limited resources. Ryan Connolly & I provide some tips and tools for you to use in correcting your audio.

Getting from the field to the final product often takes a little tweaking or “audio sweetening” as Steve Martin from Ripple Training calls it. In the video below, Steve goes over a very basic audio editing process and shows us how easy it can be to remove unwanted sounds and achieve cleaner audio overall using Final Cut Pro X.

The best practice in capturing sound is to get the best audio you can on set. In times when that isn’t achieved or possible, room tone and ambient sound can help in fixing audio problems and hide mistakes in the post-production stages of your film.

Room Tone is unique and determined according to the position of the microphone in relation to the surrounding spatial boundaries. It’s the subtle, low-volume sounds present and is normally recorded in every room used in a film. Typically, after shooting a scene, the cast will stand silent for a few moments while the room tone is recorded. It is best practice to replicate the scene’s exact background noise when recording room tone. In theory, this means all the actors and crew are still present, the lights are on, electrical devices are still running, etc.

Vimeo Video School

Room tone is used as a sound bed to accompany any new sound that is added to a scene in post-production, for example, re-recorded dialogue. If the new audio is recorded in a separate studio, the difference in background noise would be subtle but different enough to ruin the continuity and ultimately, your viewer’s experience. Placing the room tone underneath any new dialogue prevents this from happening.

The Moviemaking With Your Camera Field Guide

It’s hugely important to remember whenever you’re shooting at a location to capture as much extra sound as you can. In the photo above, we’re using RØDE’s Videomic Pro as our on-camera shotgun mic and it’s recording audio directly into the camera. Our sound engineer is capturing audio into a Roland R-88 field recorder and mixer using a boomed RØDE NTG-2 shotgun mic. We’re also using a RØDE PinMic as my lavaliere and it’s connected to a Sennheiser SK 100 G3 wireless bodypack transmitter. The Sennheiser receiver is connected to a Zoom H4n audio recorder. This setup gives us multiple options for collecting audio including Ambience (AKA ambient sound, atmosphere or background noise). Ambient noises are the background sounds present in a scene or location. Common ambient sounds include wind, water, birds, crowds, office noises, traffic, etc. Ambient sound is also very important to capture in video and film work as it performs a number of similar functions as room tone:

Providing audio continuity between shots.
Preventing an unnatural silence when no other sound is present.
Establishing or reinforcing the mood.

Remember that sound is just as, if not even more, important than your film’s visuals. The bottom line here is that you must capture quality audio. The good news is that that are a multitude of tools, techniques and software available to help you achieve professional sounding results.

Sound Editing Tips for Video

As mentioned in previous episodes, audio is one of the most important aspects of any video production. Once you have your basic edit of the film you can start addressing your audio including recording foley & adding music. Ryan Connolly and I go over a few sound editing tips to help make your video look and sound its best.

Syncing your video and audio tracks in post should be one of the first steps you take in the sound editing process. Red Giant’s PluralEyes is a popular standalone application that syncs audio and video automatically. PluralEyes works directly with Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, Media Composer and Vegas Pro, and can easily export media files for use with other NLEs (non-linear editing systems). PluralEyes allows you to monitor the sync with an interactive timeline and visual feedback, and use built-in fine tuning controls afterward. PluralEyes offers a variety of versions. Their newest, Version 3, is up to 20x faster than PluralEyes 2, and works with a variety of file formats and codecs.


Foley is the process of creating sound effects live in a studio to match a pre-recorded piece of video. A variety of props are used to create sound effects that can’t properly be captured on set. Take the opportunity to make this portion of your filmmaking process fun – get creative! The video below remains a favorite of mine, it’s one of the first (and oldest) I’ve ever seen of two foley artists bringing an action sequence to life with perfectly synchronized sound effects. As you can see, recording foley for feature films is an art form all on its own.

Finding the perfect music for your film can be daunting. You not only have to locate that perfect song, you must also obtain the proper rights to use it for your film. A safe and quick bet to doing this is through a royalty-free stock music site. There are a plethora of them out there, my personal go-to being The Music Bed. They provide really great tracks at an affordable price and make the transaction mutually beneficial for indie filmmakers and indie musicians.

With a sprawling list of genres and artists, The Music Bed’s curated content organizes your choices in a user friendly format. You can also use coupon code “MYRODEREEL” to get 30% off the My RØDE Reel playlist on The Music Bed – http://rockro.de/themusicbed.

Acceptance of qualifying submissions for the My RØDE Reel competition is nearing the closing hour. To all of you talented filmmakers out there: don’t forget to enter and share!

10 Editing Tips for Video

With so many tips for video editing out there, how do you know which are the best? While everyone has their go-to techniques and philosophies, Ryan Connolly and I share a few editing basics to help you with your My RØDE Reel entry.

Using L-cuts or J-cuts can help to mimic real life and using quick or slow cuts can set the pace of your film. No matter what NLE (non-linear editor) you are using, the tips we cover above can refine your film.

Indy Mogul member, Russell Hasenauer, also shares with us his professional insights on 2 basic tips for cutting together a video that feels more natural for the viewer to watch. Implementing dialogue overlap and trimming the fat out of your film can drastically improve your short. Russell shows and tells us how and why in the video below.

10 Tips for Video Editing

1: B-Roll – This is video footage that sets the scene, reveals details, or generally enhances the story. It is supplemental footage that is intercut into the main shot to assist with creating a visually interesting piece and convey more information into the story. For example, at a coffee shop, besides shooting the barista, you could get b-roll of the outside of the shop, the baristas hands making the coffee, faces of workers and customers, a customer reading a newspaper and drinking a cup of coffee, or macro details of the cups being filled with coffee, steam and condensation included. These clips can be used to cover any cuts, or smooth transitions from one scene to another.

2: 180 and 45 Degree Rule – When shooting video, imagine that there is a horizontal line between you and your subjects. Now, stay on your side of the line. By observing a 180 degree plane, you keep a perspective that is more natural for the audience. If you’re editing footage that disobeys this rule, try using b-roll between cuts. This way, the change in perspective won’t be as abrupt, if it’s noticeable at all. 45 Degrees: When editing together a scene shot from multiple camera angles, always try to use shots that are looking at the subject from at least a difference of 45 degrees. Otherwise, the shots are too similar and appear almost like a jump cut to the audience.

3: Keeping Continuity – The beauty of editing is that you can take footage shots out of order or at separate times, and cut them together so that they appear as one continuous scene. To do this effectively, though, the elements in the shots should match up. For example, a subject who exits frame right should enter the next shot frame left. Otherwise, it appears they turned around and are walking in the other direction. Or, if the subject is holding something in one shot, don’t cut directly to a shot of them empty-handed. If you don’t have the right shots to make matched edits, insert some b-roll in between.

4: L Cuts and J Cuts (see video above) – In a J-cut, the sound of the next scene precedes the picture, and in an L-cut, the picture changes but the audio continues. To understand how these cuts got their names, visualize the timeline in an editing program that is comprised of two consecutive clips. If your audio cuts from the first clip to the second clip, but the video from the first clip continues, it forms an J shape in the timeline. However, If the video from the second clip comes in before the audio for that clip does, this forms a L shape in the timeline. In ancient times, before “timelines” or digital editing even existed, these cuts were known as “video advance” and “audio advance.” Here’s a helpful graphic that illustrates these cuts from VideoMaker.com:

5: Change Focal Lengths – When you have two shots of the same subject, it’s easy to cut between close and wide angles. So, when shooting an interview, or a lengthy event such as a wedding, it’s a good idea to occasionally change focal lengths. A wide shot and a medium close up can be cut together, allowing you to edit parts out and change the order of shots without obvious jump cuts.

6: Leave Out Horrendous Transitions – Almost every video editing system is loaded with swirls, page wipes, exploding circles, spins and more. Please, please, refrain from using these habitually. They may fit the tone of the video once in a while, but repetitive use of them is just distracting and amateurish. Using cuts is more professional, less distracting and helps direct the viewer through the video. Fades are common, but make sure that you use them sparingly.

7: Trim Out The Fat – We all know how painful it can be to cut footage entirely, especially if you were the one shooting those scenes to begin with. However, it is crucial to know when a scene is running too long or if it is completely unnecessary. We’ve all sat through (or ended) a video that is grossly obese. When the shooter has also edited the final piece, I’ve noticed that this situation is more common. It’s obvious to the viewer, but not always to the editor. This is where smart decision making and experience comes into play. Be conscious about the rhythm, speed and timing of your film. Only keep what you need and cut the rest of the fat out.

8: Cut On Motion – Motion distracts the eye from noticing editing cuts. So, when cutting from one image to another, always try to do it when the subject is in motion. For example, cutting from a turning head to an opening door, is much smoother than cutting from a still head to a door about to be opened.

9: Correct Poor Audio – There are hardware and software tools that can greatly improve or all-together salvage poor audio tracks. Undesirable noises can be broken down into two categories: fixed frequency noise such as that caused by AC hum, air conditioning units, cameras, or generators; and dynamic noise, which changes in spectral content and level over time. Classic examples of dynamic noise include car and airplane pass-bys and wind and surf noise. Fixed frequency noise is by far easier to repair than is dynamic noise, but both can be improved in the post process.

10: Color Correction and Color Grading – Color can create a mood and add a feel to your video that makes it unique and stand out. Color correction is when you intentionally change the temperature of light in order to correct the overall appearance of an image to alter the color. Color grading is altering, enhancing and changing the color of an image in order to give the final image a particular look. Make sure to keep uniformity throughout the shots that are intended to be corrected or graded.

Below are two images, the left is an image from an original uncompressed ProRes file from a Blackmagic Cinema Camera, the right side is after some simple color grading from Jake Bertz.

*10 Tips For Video Editing from: Vimeo staff member Cameron Christofer, Indy Mogul, Gretchen Siegchrist, Creative Planet Network, and Slideshare.

Behind The Scenes Video – How To

A Behind The Scenes (BTS) video serves more purposes than you may initially think. A BTS video can not only educate others in filmmaking, by showcasing your cameras, gear and setups, it also serves as an exclusive viewer experience that pulls the audience into the production side of your film – seldom seen by the general public.

From My RØDE Reel Tips & Tricks

When you take the viewer into intimate areas on and off set, you’re not only giving them a deeper sense of understanding, you’re also stirring their curiosity and giving important insights for them to learn from and discuss with their peers. BTS videos are often more shared than the film itself because they can become the center of sharing and expanding ideas within the film community. Think about how useful that is.

Imagine these as the “director’s cut” to your short film. Candid footage taken during your production or interviews with the crew gives the audience a deeper sense of connection with your cast, crew and film overall. Personally, these are my favorite segments to watch from movies and television shows because they bring a human element to the final piece.

Below is an example of a BTS video shot from the upcoming Australian feature film “Pop-Up” by Director of Photography, Clinton Harn. A BTS video like this one gives us a wealth of information in just a few minutes. The narration keeps this clip clear, organized and easy to follow along for the audience. This is key when putting together an informative BTS video. Remember, you can also utilize the description area provided by your video player to give additional information, just as they did.

“Pop-Up” – Behind The Scenes from RØDE Microphones on Vimeo.

Another great read on How To Make a Behind The Scenes BTS Video, is shared here by Vimeo staff member, Riley Hooper. Hooper includes extensive info, examples and user videos as a guideline to creating your very own Behind The Scenes video.