Lab test performed by Carlos Medina – Audiovisual Technology and Lighting Expert and Advisor
The audiovisual industry has been relying a lot on ongoing invention, innovation and development of solutions in the field of lighting, more specifically in regard to artificial lighting. In the first place, in order to get more working hours and not having to rely on natural light and; in the second place, in order to develop both the language and the aesthetics of light with better control, both technical and artistic.
Litepanels knows this. The American company is a pioneer in lighting solutions through LED panels for professional environments. From 2001 they went for an R&D scheme focusing on and aimed at lighting through LED-based light sources, designing and manufacturing equipment in order to cater to the most ambitious needs of cinema, TV and video environments. This was de seed of their 1X1 LED panel.
Now, 18 years later, these are still among the best solutions and are at the forefront of “soft” lighting thanks to their constant improvement and commitment towards changes that result in an improved product for environments as demanding as the audiovisual and live events industries.
GEMINI 1X1 LED RGBXX was presented to lighting professional in NAB 2019. When I received it from the specialist firm Moncada y Lorenzo, I had the impression of having in my hands equipment of excellent design and manufacture. It is one of those so-called ‘ready-to-use’ devices as we can undertake any lighting jobs and adjustments with it just at unboxing. Right from the outset one can tell it is a compact, easy-to-handle and certainly lightweight (weighing only 5.3 kg) lighting device that features a really nice look and feel, given its good manufacture and ergonomics.
GEMINI 1X1 LED RGBWW is a piece of equipment intended from the beginning to be versatile. This involves aspects as important as the possibility of working both indoors and outdoors (temperatures ranging between -20ºC and 45ªC and RH <85%, but keeping in mind that its protection is only IP20, a low level). The best of this item, though, has to do with power supply: one option is through AC power adaptors (100-240 VAC, 50/60Hz, 2.3A max.); and the other option entails placing a plate in order to include an adaptor for CC -13 -28 VDC – (for XLR, V-Mount o Gold Mount). In this regard, we must indicate that lighting reaches 90% though a 14.4V battery and up to 100% with a 26V unit or two 14.4V batteries.
The versatility of GEMINI 1×1 LED RGBWW also lies in the fact that we can work with tripods at floor level or the unit can be hung. We are therefore able to operate the equipment when we are close to it or whenever it is placed at height or at further distances. This is made possible through the standard yoke equipped with a 28mm jack and capable of stacking 2 or 4 units, thus providing for a compatible, sturdy support and anchoring.
As for operation of the equipment, we have a manual control providing simple, readily available access to menus through a navigation system based on buttons and knobs whenever we are close to the unit; or through a remote control operated by a standard DMX 512 protocol (with a 5-pin XLR connector and/or an RJ45 connectors); and even wirelessly by means of the wireless DMX option, Bluetooth or Smart Lite App.
Given the fact that GEMINI 1X1 LED RGBWW allows working remotely and uses the DMX 512 protocol, this equipment features a menu enabling configuration of DMX parameters such as 8-bit or 16-bit DMX resolution and/or, of course, the DMX address.
Therefore, design, weight and connectivity are excellent features that encourage us to go deeper in trying to find out what type of lighting device we are testing. We all must be aware that GEMINI 1×1 LED RGBWW is a soft lighting source built from heavy-duty aluminium and based on LED technology providing us with an excellent colour range thanks to the combination of red, green and blue (RGB) and relying on two additional LEDs in order to reach full-spectrum white light (WW) for a maximum consumption of just 200 W.
As for the options it offers when configuring operation, let us highlight its five lighting control modes:
- CCT (Correlated Colour Temperature) Mode: allows operation of daylight to tungsten and vice versa gradually from 2,700ºK to 10,000ºK and adjusting colour through +/- green (GRN correction) by using the Menu knob. This mode is fantastic for establishing the colour temperature of our scene to be illuminated and for perfect adaptation with other light sources, both natural and artificial.
- HSI (Hue, Saturation, Intensity) Mode: Allows selecting any colour from the 360-color (Menu) knob, adjusting saturation (0 to 100% through the CCT knob) and Intensity (DIM knob).
- GEL Mode: Allows choosing (through the Menu knob), amongst a variety of gels (meaning the lighting filters or jellies) most frequently used in the lighting industry (such as those from manufacturers Rosco and/or LEE). We can also adapt it to light type, both daylight and tungsten light (through the CCT knob). This mode speeds up lighting operations when it comes to integrating this piece of equipment in installations when different light sources are used and/or certain lighting styles are pursued.
- RGBW Mode: We found this fourth mode very interesting as it allows changing colour temperature along with customized modification of values in each RGB colour and White channels. This mode offers the highest degree of control for each LED installed in the panel.
- EFFECTS Mode: A total of 11 types of lighting effects are included in this equipment, where we can recreate quite usual lighting situations, such as emergency lights, fire, fireworks, paparazzi flashes, strobes or light reflected from a TV set, amongst others. Undoubtedly a highly-recurring effects gallery enabling us to save work time when it comes to achieving these effects. But the best thing is that each individual parameter making possible said effects can be configured in order to achieve more customized effects.
Furthermore, the company Litepanels, being well aware of the fact that sometimes there is little time for lighting due to production needs -especially in video and TV environments- included in its GEMINI 1X1 LED RGBWW two quick (A/B) ways of working through buttons: where A is six buttons provided access to recorded memories and featuring parameters (SAT, HUE,…) that can be customized by the operator, and B are the same six buttons but now with customizable CCT colour presets (2700ºK, 3200ºK, 4000ºK, 5600ºK Y 6000ºK).
Of course, colour intensity can be adjusted through a dimmer knob in all the above-described modes and ways of working through values ranging between 0 and 100% and an ultra-soft dimming in 0.1% variations.
In this article we must highlight the possibility offered by GEMINI 1X1 LED RGBWW of either using the linear curve or the log curve in saturation levels within the HIS mode, thus giving the light generated a smoother, continuous colour palette by the latter curve. This setting is closely related to content production for the TV environment versus the possibilities offered in capture by digital cinema environments.
Last, looking at the behaviour of the light projected by GEMINI 1X1 LED RGBWW, let us complete this section by saying that quality is very high on account of the stability in colour temperatures and because of the colour range achieved through LED technology which, on top of this, is flicker-free at any frame speed or opening angle, regardless of the adjustment level of the intensity of light emitted.
Beam angle is 95º and CRI achieves really high values: at 3200ºK and an intensity of 25% a CRI of 96.4 and at 100% a CRI of 95.5; at 5600ºK and 25% intensity a CRI of 95.1 and at 100% intensity an CRI of 93.8. As for results obtained in regard to photometry of GEMINI 1X1 LED RGBWW, we can say that with a 5600ªK light at 5 metres we get a value of 313 lux, while with a 3200ºK light the result is 275 lux.
There are also details as the reduced noise level of the internal fan; a LCD display to view menu and navigation options; the possibility of changing the front screen of the diffuser between three density levels (soft, medium and hard) in a quick, intuitive manner; the rail system enabling us to work to a wide range of optional accessories (snapbag, snapgrid, 4-leg visor…); as well as the possibility of implementing a stacking kit for several GEMINI units (2x, 4x) all allow a higher level of adaptability to the artistic and operational needs required during shooting or recording. Additionally, the master/slave way of working enables connecting several light sources and controlling all of them from a single master light.
To finish our description of this product, we must add that GEMINI 1X1 LED RGBWW is ready for storing and loading any settings and presets when customized by the lighting operator based on the type of audiovisual production. Said configuration can be shared between several GEMINI 1X1 LED RGBWW devices.
Current trends prevail and there is no doubt that nowadays lighting entails using LED technology. However the range of products featuring this technology is so wide that we must be very strict when choosing amongst this kind of devices in order to be able to meet the visual quality of the relevant audiovisual product, knowing they will withstand the working conditions of a shooting or live event and not cause delays in times devoted to lighting in detriment of the estimates for work projected by producers.
From the outset Litepanels had a very clear picture of the lighting device it intended to offer to the lighting for the audiovisual and live events market. A device that is lightweight, compact, easy to handle and easy to mount which gives a soft light and is prepared to the highest demands of audiovisual productions, having constantly in mind environmental sustainability principle both in regard to power consumption and heat reduction. It was not surprising that the Art & Science Academy of Television awarded the Emmy® for Technology and Engineering to a lighting company –Litepanels- for the first time in history.
GEMINI 1X1 LED RGBWW was developed for the soft lighting industry through LED technology in the audiovisual environment, but it is no doubt a lighting source as versatile, easy to handle and of such quality that it may be fitted to light spaces for social and corporate events, in addition to live events where there is real contact with the audience and the attendees.