LED lighting technology just keeps getting better: smaller, brighter, and more portable.
At NAB last year I stopped by the Rosco booth and saw their new LitePad Vectors: insanely bright 8x8 inch panels that can fit in a backpack. Since then I've got a chance to play with the Vectors and use them on a few shoots. Here are my impressions of the unit and some creative applications that I tried.
At first I found it hard to find a reason to use the Vectors over other LED lights that I had in my kit. The Vectors seemed more traditional and less versatile than, for example, the Aputure Lightstorms that have more "modern" features like remote control and barn doors. Rosco is generally known for getting fixtures into small places (as exemplified with their previous LitePad technology). In this case, the Vectors are no different, and its their biggest asset. Once I figured out the right application for the Vectors (in tight spaces or where you need a very bright portable source) they became a staple of my kit.
With my Lanparte 150Wh V-mount battery I'm able to power the light for over 4 hours running at 100% brightness. That said, I rarely blast these things and most commonly use them to produce a very subtle glow or fill effect.
LitePad Vectors at a glance:
- Consumes only 65w for ~1600 lux @ 1 meter
- Fully dimmable
- Weighs 4.5 lbs
- CRI 93 @ 3000k / 86 @ 6000k
- DMX input/output
- Gel slot
- Aluminum construction
In an effort to test the application of the Vector in extreme situations, here's two (very different) ways I've used the fixture:
Vector on a boom pole for night exterior
In this pickup shot for a short film, we had an actor (Bret Grantham) running down a dark street, so I decided to stick a battery powered Vector (dimmed to 50%) on a boom pole and had an operator run alongside him. A cool trick I found was to attach a Lanternlock 24" China Ball with its metal rings onto the front pins of the Vector—this made for a secure fit and provided a lot of soft fill. In this case, it was a fill light that became a key light during the course of the shot.
Vector in a car at dusk
In this scene in a music video we had the Vector powered by the car, and placed in between the driver and passenger. The sun was dying and we wanted to add a glow the scene. Dimmed very low it added a little bit more warmth to the scene. Though I usually prefer natural light for everything, we specifically wanted it to feel a little less natural here.
- Very bright over short distances
- Long battery life / Low power draw
- Color changing from 3000k-6000k
- Inherently softer than most square LED panels
- Small, compact and easily packable
- Interchangeable power supply
- Concerns about the green spike in Rosco's LEDs are addressed with Opti-Flecs gels (it's easily fixable)
- Mounting the battery plate on the back of the unit leaves it hanging a tad bit loose. Not the end of the world, but not entirely thought out either.
- The light is marketed as "soft," and though it might be softer than your usual open face LED, but it still requires diffusion to make it truly soft.
- At $1,000 a pop, they aren't cheap, but generally what you'd expect to pay for a good LED these days.
- Concerns about the green spike in Rosco's LEDs are addressed with Opti-Flecs gels (you have to gel it)
Overall these units have very specific application, but when you need to meet that criteria, they do a great job. For filmmakers working in one man band or run n' gun scenarios, the backpack kit allows you to bring a lot of firepower with you whenever you go (as far as your battery power takes you). Rosco sells the Vectors a la carte or in a 3 light rolling case kit or a 2 light backpack kit. I haven't run any scientific tests on the units to evaluate the green spike that is common with LEDs, but I find the Vectors work best in conjunction with gels and diffusion anyways. They are great for use in interior car situations or when you need to trek deep into a wilderness or street location without power.