The use of energy saving lightening and LED technique was the key issue of a workshop that the Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH) organized for DOPs and gaffers in Hamburg. Philip Gassmann, filmmaker and expert for energy-saving light techniques gave an overview about alternate light concepts for studio and set as well as the newest developments in the field of LED. During the practical part of this hands-on workshop he demonstrated methods to measure color spectrums and CRI.
“The daylight is the light source which is underestimated the most nowadays”, states Gassmann. „The technocratic approach implicates that we want to control everything.” Of course it is easier to control a headlight than the daylight which changes when the clouds are moving. “Everything what is time-consuming or inconsistent scares us.” If we are looking at the historical development we see that the first film studios were glass studios in order to use the daylight in a perfect way. “The headlight was not invented yet”, recalls Gassmann. “Therefore technologies such as reflectors and clap systems were created to put the light in a certain direction.”
Nowadays this is not an issue anymore for the film industry. The light expert once hoped that the light saving cameras might have an impact on the way of dealing with light. But the teams are used to load a lot of equipment on the truck. On set, they often install big units of headlights in order to play it safe. “The gaffers shun to follow other methods. Therefore, certain technologies are never practiced.” Philip Gassmann follows the approach “think differently when you set up the light“. The point is not to replace an old headlight with a new one but to use the technological development in a creative way. “We need to learn to deal with a little bit of light and to find ways to generate good results this way.”
When it comes to exterior shots there are barely any LED headlights on the market right now which are really weather-proof. Therefore it is important to develop covers so that these headlights can also be used by rain in a safe way. Another problem is the intensity because during daylight shots the headlight must come up with power which can’t be generated by LED yet.
A development which was invented for building technology but also can be used at film sets are Heliostats. The idea is to bundle the direct sunlight and to throw the light on the same spot. “If this method will become technically further advanced, it will be possible to generate huge amounts of light intensity and to safe gigantic pots of energy.” Another solution are plastic screens which are redirecting the daylight in another direction. “There are also sensitive reflectors that can bundle or disperse the light finely graduated. These are ways to shape the light which require a different thinking process because the gaffer needs to deal with the light setting in a creative way.”
The goal of this workshop is to inspire gaffers and DOPS to start to experiment. “I can’t expect that they will switch to LED right away, that would be an overextension, says Gassmann. „I hope that they get more courage to try something new.” In the field of LED some products have been launched which were not completely mature and leaded to the impression in the industry that LED might not be the best alternative. But meanwhile, LEDs can cope with incandescent lamp and the classical movie light.
“The LED is easier to handle than the classical movie light because it doesn’t require an electronic control gear, it doesn’t get so hot, it can be dimmed in a better way and there are no problems with the color temperature. In this respect, LED only has advantages.” The next step is to ask the equipment rental houses to include LEDs in their product line. “This is the most important demand”, sums up Gassmann, “because there are only a very few equipment rental houses in Germany which are offering these kind of headlights.”