Recently I received an invite from Wooden Camera to do a lighting workshop about future lighting with Matt Workman, a Director of Photography who I crossed paths with several years ago when I was starting out as a photo assistant in NYC. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Matt but he’s been busy creating an awesome 3D pre-visualization software for DP’s called CineDesigner, running Cinematography Database, hosting a podcast and YouTube channel about cinematography and lighting breakdowns of Hollywood movies and more. It’s pretty amazing. Needless to say, he knows his shit. Matt teamed up with Kaur Kallas (the Founder of Digital Sputnik) and OFFHOLLYWOOD in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to talk about these amazing lights and drop some knowledge about the cinematography game. The workshop gave me an opportunity to get my hands on the actual hardware, play with a RED Vista Vision with a full Teradek wireless setup, and learn more about the future of lighting, cinematography and filmmaking.
I’d been curious to check out the new Digital Sputnik modular lighting system; the workshop confirmed that it is indeed the future of cinematic lighting. The individual light units, while powerful individually, can also be combined into more complex configurations (DS3 & DS6) if you need a whole panel or more. Digital Sputniks are the main lights used by DP Greig Fraiser on Star Wars: Rogue One as well as his other film Lion. (Matt also did a vlog on Cinematography DB about Greg Fraiser’s Rogue One production - you should definitely watch it). Each light is a high output, full spectrum LED spot that is RGBw with basically infinite color options. They can be battery powered and are controlled by an iPhone/iPad app called DS Control DMX. The light that comes from these small units is surprisingly focused and punchy, and easy to control. They are super flexible, powerful, small and they can be powered by V-mount or gold mount Anton Bauer Batteries. I mean...whoa.
DS LED Features:
White balance control from 1500K up to 10000K with option to change tint (+/- green)
Full RGB control, with pure primary color rendering
Range of softboxes and grids available
User changeable lenses and diffusers (30 and 60 degrees)
Up to 3 Lightheads per power supply
Power draw up to 140 watts per Lighthead, 420 watts per power supply when using all the lights at full power
5m/15ft and 10m/30ft cables available
World compatible power 90-260 VAC
0-100% dimming without flicker or color shift
Controllable locally, over Wifi, over DMX or over wireless DMX
Ambient temperature range 0ºF ~ 115ºF/-20ºC ~ 45ºC
Dimensions of Lighthead: 116 x 116mm/4 x 4 in square
Weight of Lighthead: 1.3KG/2.8lb
For our video productions at NORTH + NOMAD, we need portable, durable, flexible lighting solutions that give us the most control and options in a small package. This is it; to be able to roll up to a location and quickly set up a bunch of these with no cables and no heat emitting from them is huge. You can dial in the colors any way you want them without gels. The ability to control the intensity level & color from your phone, all while standing behind camera and evaluating the scene on your screen and adjusting parameters on the fly, is a game changer. I’ve worked with big lights, small lights, brieses, kinos, and LED panels and nothing ever really did it for me because of how cumbersome and time consuming it was to move and adjust the equipment. We tend to use LED 1x1 panels because they’re light and easily portable, but they’re not nearly as easy to control as the Digital Sputniks, which also travel extremely well (you can pack 3 in a rolly Pelican Case). For someone who spends the majority of their time on planes and on location, these are a game-changing solution to lighting a location without compromising the image.
It was great to learn more about OFFHOLLYWOOD as well; they offer innovative new audio/visual technology solutions to buy and rent. Their showroom has some of the newest top-of-the-line gear from cameras, lights, lenses and lens controls, wireless video solutions, sound and VR rigs. They also have developed their own module for the new DSMC2 series RED cameras called the OMOD that adds all sorts of functionality to the cameras. It’s a pretty rad space to explore; poke your head in if you’re in the area.
Last but not least, I also got to meet Ryan Booth, another DP whose work we have been looking at and following for a while now. It felt like a very synchronistic event and it’s great when worlds collide.
Check out a video recap of the Digital Sputnik workshop at OFFHOLLYWOOD with Matt Workman.