Producer and Green Production Consultant Fabian Linder gives us some insights into lighting tests at the German broadcaster SWR: LED lights had a bad reputation for years because they couldn’t hold an accurate color temperature. Now, we are generations ahead and most of the LED lighting now available has a very high CRI (Color Render- ing Index). Even more important, it has a high TLCI (Television Lighting Consistency Index), which is much more accurate for skin-tones. So why aren’t we using truck- loads of LED lights?
The German public broadcaster Südwestrundfunk (SWR) in Baden-Baden evaluated a lot of tracking data from various departments in their fiction/drama division under the auspices of Green Inhouse initiative. Broadcast techniques often mean longer runs, but in terms of green shooting, the SWR, which is the second largest ARD broadcaster, put all its cards on the table.
We tested several products from different suppliers to learn about the options available to us. The new kid on the block was the Lightstar LUXED-9, a multifunction space light with nine LED lamps mounted on a frame. It closely resembles the classic Dino-Light. The best way to use it is to put it outside a window to boost the sunlight. And you can use an armada of them in the background to create this ’90s music video look. We used it on Tatort mainly either to extend or to replace direct sunlight, and we were happy with the results. With 1620 Watts, it can replace 2.5K – 4K Watt HMIs. It’s one of the most powerful LED film lights around. The lamp is inexpensive, which makes it attractive for anyone who wants more bang for the buck.
Compared to classic LED-panels, like the ARRI Skypanel 360 or the DMG Lumiére, this lamp is a real bargain; provided that bicolor is enough and no lighting effects are necessary. There are drawbacks, however: The biggest one is its IP code; you can only use IP20 during dry weather or indoors, but it does come with a rain guard. And its size and weight should not be underestimated: Weighing in at 49 kilograms with a 130cm x 50cm x 130cm case, it’s not really lightweight, and takes up a lot of space in a truck.
But we didn’t rely solely on new products. We actually started rethinking the whole lighting pro- cess. The other answer to more light is more cameras with sen- sors that can capture a low dynamic range. For our long-running series Die Fallers, we conducted tests on several different cameras from our in-house camera pool. By using the Sony F5 – released in 2013 – we were able to get rid of a couple of big HMI lamps that we used to use for interior-exterior transitions. This is because of the high dynamic range of the camera.
Another big chunk of the daily workload in the lighting department is Kaffee oder Tee? – a daily program also produced by SWR. The gardening tips, and sometimes even the entire show, are staged just outside the studio in Baden-Baden. The studio’s outside area used to be lit by a tower of six HMIs. A decade later, the lighting department re-evaluated the light- ing scheme during a replacement cycle, and it decided to use show lights instead, which are regularly seen on big stages: The Ayrton Wildsun. This high-powered LED moving head, used in place of HMIs, has a lot of advantages. It’s flexible, fully dimmable, and maneuverable. It saves energy and it gives us totally new light- ing set-ups for the show.
“The time for half-measures and climate denial is over. Unless we move quickly away from fossil fuels, we’re going to destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, the health of our children, grandchildren and future generations. If we’re going to avoid the worst of the impacts, then we’ve just got to act boldly. And we must act immediately."
Actor, Director, Producer, Environmentalist
"The media has a powerful role to play in the fight against climate change. Through films, television, and all media outlets, we must continue to deliver the message that solutions are out there and are happening now. We have to make it attractive for people to take action. Movies like Avatar, The Day After Tomorrow, and documentaries like Years of Living Dangerously, which I was proud to be a part of, have been very popular, reaching and inspiring millions of people. And I believe films in particular can really inspire and make people want to take action. It’s great to see some of my film-industry friends working with climate related organizations to push forward those messages."
„It‘s high time to reorganize film production in Germany in a ‚greener‘ and more sustainable way. So far, I am flabbergasted by how much our industry works in environmentally harmful ways.To this very day, it starts with until today one-sided print-outs of scripts, and then it continues with plastic bottles in production offices and lots of plastic waste with every catered meal, and it doesn‘t stop with the limousines that pull up to a red carpet.
For many years, people have sneered at me when I brought my own cup or I declined to eat cheap meat served on paper or plastic plates with plastic knives and forks. It would be great if the Green Shooting Card could change all that.“
Director (Ben X, Time of My Life)
„It’s absolutely great that filmmakers all over the world are trying to clean up their act, and are trying to film as sustainable as we possibly can. Still, I think we shouldn’t underestimate the incredible power of the moving image to also change the hearts and minds of people.
So, apart from trying to be more environmentally aware in our business, I think the big gain lies in how we might make everyone more environmentally aware. Yes, cinema can change the world.
I think filmmakers should start using the powerful weapon in our hands that is the camera.
Let’s not only try to do ‘less bad’. Let’s try to do right, and help drive the change that we all know needs to arrive.“
“We are living in a time in which we can’t afford to behave irresponsibly towards nature. The more important is it that film productions try to work as environmentally friendly as possible. A film team produces every day tons of garbage. I try to avoid using plastic cups on set, I bring my own cup, use ecofriendly cosmetics and avoid needless single rides.”
Photo ® Maddalena Arosio
Darren Aronofsky, Director, Noah / Jury President, 65th Berlin International Film Festival
“When we did Noah we knew we were making a film about the first steward of the earth, so we wanted to be good stewards ourselves. There’s so much waste on film sets. Because of groups like Earth Angel, we were able to change that a little bit.”
"As a TV and film producer I try to incorporate environmental storylines into my projects as much as possible. But it’s just as important, if not more, to ‚go green‘ behind the scenes! Therefore, I help run the Producers Guild of America’s Green Initiative.
We provide resources such as a Best Practices and a Carbon Calculator to help producers green their productions. We also partnered with all the major studios to create www.greenproductionguide.com which is a free green vendor database with over 2,000 vendors offering sustainable production solutions worldwide!"
Producer, Director and Visual Effects Supervisor (2001: A Space Odysee, Blade Runner)
"Trumbull Studios in Massachusetts is dedicated to being green as much as possible, including the use of LED lighting, solar power, and solar laptops. This is not just because our location has limited amperage and no three-phase, we believe we have a responsibility to our community and our planet to be a clean industry.
We are planning for digital photography in 3D 4K at 120 frames per second from remote and inaccessible locations that will not have available power. Solar is the way to go."
Dieter Kosslick, Director Berlin International Film Festival
„The Berlinale is already actively addressing the sustainability subject since years. We appreciate it very much that a growing number of filmmakers, among them this year‘s jury presiden Darren Aranofsky, is following green guidelines on set.“
Director of Photography (A Most Wanted Man)
‘I never have been told precisely what the rules are for shooting a green movie, but we are trying to do it. This is something new for me. Sometimes people overlight scenes at night. I don’t. If I can see with my own eyes, then it is enough for the film. In that sense I am a green DoP.’
Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons who stars in the Berlinale Competition entry The Night Train To Lisbon is a fan of source segregated recycling. „Especially in Germany you have done a lot for that. You are examplary in the matter of waste separation.“
The Hollywood actor travelled around the world to promote the environmntal documentary feature film Trashed by Candida Brady which deals with the global garbage problem: „We buy it, we bury it, we burn it and then we ignore it“, says Brady. „With Jeremy Irons as our guide, we discover what happens to the billion or so tons of waste that goes unaccounted for each year.“
Since the world premiere at the International Cannes Film Festival in 2012 Trashed picked up various nominations and awards at international festivals.