We all know that LEDs are the next big movement in lighting technology -- or are they? Zacuto is introducing a one-of-a-kind light panel that uses a patented micro-plasma technology not unlike what is found in a plasma television -- which has phosphors that glow when energy is introduced. Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that, but the bottom line is that this panel is softer, and has a greater lumen rating than any other 1-foot-by-1-foot panel on the market today. In the embedded video below, Steve Weiss from Zacuto gives us an introduction of the panel, as well as a walk-through of their Recoil rig, Tornado Follow Focus, and FS100 rig.

The video is a big long, but it's very detailed, and gives a complete overview of the plasma light:

At $1350, it compares favorably to $1550 for a mono LED from Litepanels, considering this is already a soft source. LEDs are not the nicest looking source (though Arri is certainly improving the technology), but their versatility cannot be ignored. This micro-plasma display improves upon that versatility by being even thinner and lighter, and even outputs more light. Soft lights won't be good for every purpose, but since the panel has a tremendous amount of output, it will be able to replace hard lights with soft boxes in some situations. The technology is being developed by a company called Eden Park Illumination, and some possible applications (besides filmmaking) could involve making entire walls out of these panels or simply put these panels in very tight spaces, like the shelves in a refrigerator (I'm actually really excited about those possibilities). The light isn't available yet, but it should start shipping sometime in the next couple of months.

Here are the full specs on the Zacuto Plasma light:

  • 1x1 in 5800K Daylight or 3000K Tungsten
  • Microplasma Technology
  • Daylight: 2,000 lumens
  • Tungsten: 2,200 lumens
  • Beam Angle: 120 degrees
  • CCT: 5800 +- 100 & 3000 +- 100
  • CRI: Daylight: 82 +- 2 & Tungsten 82 +- 2
  • Lifetime: 50,000 hours
  • Surface Luminance Uniformity: 5%
  • Surface Color Uniformity: 1-step ME
  • Refresh Rate (PRF): 10,000Hz to 35,000Hz
  • Input Voltage: 100-240VAC, 50/60Hz or 14.4VDC
  • Input Current: 1.2 amps at 120VAC or 10 amps at 14.4VDC
  • Price: $1350 and a 1 year warranty

As for the Recoil rig and the Tornado, they are very interesting products that they seem to have perfected. The follow focus technology is nothing new, but it's been integrated into the Recoil rig in a very nice way that allows for one person to completely operate the camera with the camera without moving their hands from the grips. If you don't have a C300 (most of us don't), then the Recoil rig will allow controlling of the main functions of the camera using the Okii device which we've covered here. The FS100 rig is perfectly designed for that camera, and it's going to be very competitive with what Cinevate is doing with their own FS100 rig. The customized parts of the recoil rig and the tornado are not yet available, but the link above or below will take you to what is currently available for purchase, which doesn't include any camera controls or follow focus.

Steve Weiss and Jim Jannard might not agree on everything, in fact, they agree on almost nothing, but they're both introducing new and interesting products that will only help filmmaking in the long run.

Links: Zacuto & Recoil Rig

*It's the cheapest American Made 1x1 (for clarification)