Fastest draw in the West (as far as softboxes are concerned)

 

Seriously, how many softboxes have you used that you can throw at the light to mount it? That’s our new Model 129, sized to fit those rectangular panels a little smaller than a 1×1, such as the Aputure LS1 pictured here.

What do I love about the Model 129?  One cool thing is that it comes with a second diffusion layer, so you can go a little heavier or a bit lighter on the diff, depending on your lighting situation.

It’s our biggest softbox so far, but its not actually a much larger volume of air than our Model 1×1, since only the perimeter of the model 129 is inflated.

Just like our other softboxes, the Model 129 is affordable at 65$, flight-kit friendly because they fold and pack any which way, and they make the light look much better on people.

 

They’re available at Amazon, B&H, and here at our site.

Images of people lit by LED panels with Airbox Inflatable Softboxes on them

People ask me, so why an  Airbox? What’s it do?  This post is long overdue, some work samples of shooting I’ve done using just LED panels and Airboxes. It is notable that much of the time I light with my panels and Airboxes, I do use an extra layer of diffusion in the front pocket when I don’t need all the output and I do want it a bit softer. Good thing precut gel + diffusion kits are available to fit our softboxes then!

 

woman-lit-by-arbx-only-2

Lighting used: 2 1×1 Litepanels with Airbox Model 1×1 Softboxes with extra sheet of diffusion in front sleeve and eggcrates), Switronix TorchLED with Airbox Macro, Dracast 160 with Airbox Macro kit with eggcrate

BTS of above image

BTS of above image

Lighting used: Flolight 512 with Airbox Model 126 with 250 in front sleeve, background lit with kinos

Lighting used: Flolight 512 with Airbox Model 126 with 250 in front sleeve, background lit with kinos

girl-elbow-shadow-detail-2

Lighting used: Dracast 1000 LED panel with an Airbox Model 1×1 softbox on it, with additional layer of diffusion in front sleeve. Blue backlight is a Flolight microbeam 512 with an Airbox Model 126 on it.

BTS of the previous closeup.  With Art Adams

BTS of the previous closeup. With Art Adams

Shot with two 1x1 Panels  with Airbox Model 1x1 as a key, Flolight 512 with Airbox Model 126  softbox as backlight

two 1×1 Panels with Model 1×1 softboxes as a key, Airbox Macro/dracast 160 LED as backlight, bounced Flolight 512 fill

LED panel comparison: color charts, vectorscopes, light loss

People ask me all the time, “what LED panels do you recommend?” “What’s the color like on that panel?”and “”Does putting an Airbox Softbox on the light affect the color?”, so I decided to do some testing, as scientifically as possible.  What you’re looking at is footage shot of the DSC labs OneShot chart, where each of the color patches is carefully calibrated to match up to the six points on a vectorscope, as well as four skin tone patches that line up with the “skin tone” line on a scope.  A perfect light source and a perfect camera would land each of the dots right on the vectorscope targets. You can observe which way a light is biased by seeing in which direction the six points tend. Distance from the center indicates saturation.  For example, the top target on a scope is the red reference, and if you see the top point on the star significantly to the left of the target, you know that the light source skews towards yellow. One the source that’s used in this sample chart, you can see how desaturated the green point is, indicating an overall magenta cast.

Here is a sample vectorscope with the targets labeled clearly, if vectorscopes aren’t something you look at often.

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The video below is made from the powerpoint I put together of the results.  A video of stills in a powerpoint of vector scopes and color charts?  That’s some exciting viewing! No, but seriously, it’s data that actually tells you something.   If you want to click back and forth to examine those vectorscopes closely, you can download the powerpoint.

•Tungsten source for a control group
•Litepanels Astra, set daylight
•Litepanels Astra, set tungsten
•Dracast 1000 daylight
•Litepanels D-Flood c. 2007 manufacture
•Flolight Microbeam 512

 

 

I plan to add some budget panels to the testing mix as soon as I’m able so we can see how much difference there really is between the cheaper panels and the pricier ones, but this is what we’ve got for now. Also, when I do more testing, I’ll strive to be more precise with the exposure.

My take on the test results:

1) I’m surprised that the leko doesn’t look better. The skin tone looks good, but on the scope, the yellow still looks a little desaturated and skewed towards red, and the magenta skews towards red as well.  That’s not too surprising since it’s somewhat aged bulb and probably burns a little warmer than it ought. It’s possible that a little glare on the surface of the chart threw things off.

2)The Litepanels D-Flood, the original that people refer to as a “Litepanel”,  still works but is pretty outmoded now.  You can see that it’s two stops less bright than the more modern panels.  The color also is a little iffy on the scopes- pretty much all six colors skew one way or another. It looks liek an overall magenta cast- see how the green point is short(desaturated) and is slid way up towards yellow and red.

3)Astra Daylight- most of the points look pretty close to on, except the green again.  Were they making sure to avoid the famous green cast of LEDs and overcompensated towards magenta? My skin tone looks pretty good though.  I’d happily use that on a shoot. I couldn’t perceive any material difference when I put the Airbox on the light. Interesting was that the Astra set to daylight was almost, but not quite as bright as the single-color Dracast panel. One-color panels are always brighter than their bicolor cousins because all the LEDs are devoted to the one tone, rather than having half of the emitters dedicated to each side of the spectrum.

4)Dracast 1000- This was the brightest panel I tested. Also worth noting is that this panel runs a little warm on a standard color meter, around 5000 K.  White balancing the camera to the source made this not very apparent, but it’s something to know about.  On the scopes the blue and cyan points are pulling towards each other, and the yellow is definitely skewed towards red.  I find the yellow square on the chart a little icky looking. The skin tone? Not bad, looks a little pink to me. However, on the scope, the magenta point seems pretty spot on, it’s just that its complement in green that is off-target.

5)Litepanels Astra, set to tungsten. The scopes seem to be more on-target here than in the other lights, except for that yellow point which is skewing to the orange and the red which is oversaturating a little. For a tungsten LED, it’s quite good.  Those traditionally have been the worst-looking LEDs, but they seem to have gotten it right with this one. The skin tone isn’t perfect, it does bring out the reds a little more than I like.

6)In general, there didn’t seem to be much noticeable color shift when I added the Airbox Softboxes to the lights.  FYI! 15% off all Airbox products, Nov 27-Dec 2, Black Friday-Buy Stuff Monday sale. Airbox Inflatable softboxes are a tool to adjust the quality, not the color, so it’s nice to be able to say that they are neutral in color.

7) The Flolight Microbeam 512-  looks like the exposure was a bit off here, but nonetheless, the red looks a little orangey and the blue is kicked towards green. I’ve used that light lots of times on shoots though and I haven’t heard any complaints.

Those are just some impressions, please make you own decisions from the data about which lights have the best color.  I am not a colorist, just a lighting guy trying to get some objective data on these lights. I’d love to hear feedback from anyone more expert than I!

if you’re still curious, here is more information on vectorscopes and the DSC OneShot.

 

A Sneak Peek of Amsterdam’s International Broadcast Convention 2014

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This weekend marks the start of the International Broadcast Convention (IBC). The annual meeting serves as the premier world-wide event for professionals directly involved with the creation and distribution of visual entertainment.

So, just how big is this year’s convention? Well, they’re looking to host over 50, 000 attendees from over 170 countries before the conference wraps up on September 16.

IBC Attendees in Action (Image Courtesy of IBC)

The best thing about IBC? It’s the place where companies go to roll out innovative new products. And this year’s convention doesn’t disappoint as Sony used it to debut the new Sony FS7.
Intended to compete with the Canon c300, the FS7 does some nifty stuff the C300 can’t do.
For example, the camera has a built-n handgrip on an articulating arm for ENG-style shooting. It also has zoom control for eng style lens with user-definable shortcut buttons. You can read a detailed review by the guys at Newsshooter.com (who love our Airbox Inflatable Softboxes!) at http://www.newsshooter.com/2014/09/12/sony-pxw-fs7-4k-super35-camera-the-best-of-all-worlds/.

Yes, IBC 2014 is definitely going to packed with new lighting equipment and video gear, no doubt. But… we of Airbox Inflatable Softboxes aren’t going, sadly. You might be able to see some of our cool inflatable softboxes for LED panels at the Dracast booth or the Litepanels booth, if you ask them!  Both of those companies do have some samples, since we have partnered together on several business projects. But you’ll probably have to ask.

                   Our Model 1×1 fitted over Astra Panel 

58Speaking of  Litepanels. we’re huge fans of their new Astra 1×1 panel. Which, incidentally, works perfectly with our very own Model 1×1 as you can see here.You’ll be able to see these at Booth # 11-E55, in the Vitec group area.

I like the improved ergonomics of the yoke, that the heavy parts like the battery mount or power supply are mounted on the yoke where it meets the stand, rather than on the back of the panel, which has always been an annoyance since the weight cause s the light to tilt. I liked that the yoke is now angled forward, so the yoke doesn’t get in the way of tilting the light down.  This is particularly handy when you’ve got a softbox on the front of it. It’s truly a great product from the people pioneered   LED panel lighting.  Plus, it’s reasonably priced,  costing around $1500.
If you’re not able to make it to the festivities, don’t fret as it you’ll be able to view  the 24-hour live stream on their site. You can catch all the excitement of the IBC  at http://www.ibc-tv.org.
Although we’re not going to the convention, we’re still offering up a pretty big deal for our valued customers. From now until September 18, every purchase of the Model 1×1 earns you 20% off on the Model 126. Just go to our Amazon store and use offer code I2432KA8. It’s a perfect way to really save big on two of our most popular products.
Until next time!

Tom

New gizmos from NAB? How about the stuff we already have.

NAB 2014 is right around the corner, and no doubt it’ll be chock full of all kinds of whizz-bang stuff that will make us all think, “I must have that thingy!  It’ll make my career skyrocket!”
The tools won’t make your career.  Sorry. What I reckon would be more worth all of our while is trying to figure out more cool stuff to do with what we already have.
Here’s an experiment I did with my trusty old  Panasonic GH2, a very small mirrorless camera that shoot great video.  The newer GH3 is no doubt a bit better, and the GH4 looks like it’ll rise above the crowd, but I don’t think that will remove the utility of the old GH2.

If you’re going to NAB, please stop by the Airbox Lights booth and see what inflatable softboxes can do for plain old LED panels. See the new Model 1×1 and Model 126!  Make ugly into beautiful! Games! Prizes! Gear! All your questions answered!

Tom Guiney
Airbox Lights & Conviction Films, Inc.

 

Off-topic, mostly nothing to do with video lighting or gear or LED panels or LED softboxes

This isn’t about my usual topics, like cool video lighting gear or LED softboxes.

What’s the right thing to do, when you’re loading up your car with equipment for the day’s shoot on a dark rainy morning, when all of a sudden you find someone pointing a gun at your chest? It’s a funny feeling, surreal as much as anything else.  Like it doesn’t make sense. Just finishing loading all the Jokers and Kinos and LED panels and and stands and everything else, and then you see someone walk up your driveway. You wonder who this stranger is, what they want, whether they need help with something, and then you see the silver shiny barrel of a handgun pointed at you. You might shout, you might run, you might freak out. You would certainly be late for work. You might shout once, but find that it sort of strangles in your throat, because you’re not sure what this stranger is like,  this stranger with the bandanna over their face up to their eyes and the wool cap pulled down low over their forehead, the stranger with black-gloved hands aiming a gun at you, might get upset about you raising a hue and cry and shoot you down outside your daughter’s bedroom window. It’s an awkward thing, having a gun on you at 6:42 AM in the rain.

You might just hand over your wallet; what’s worth getting shot for?  But how do you know what state the person is in, whether they’re really in the mood to kill someone, or whether there are even bullets in the gun.

You might be pretty grateful that they just took your wallet and the 4$ that were inside, and didn’t tell you to open up the vehicle and take something very expensive. OR even your phone, which would cost you a bunch to replace but he could only get a few bucks for an iphone 4s with a cracked screen.

So what do you do?  You hand it over, even though you’re thinking what a pain it will be to cancel all the cards and get a new ID. Do you buy a gun?  Mace? Taser? Keep a baseball bat in your car? What good would that do, really? When there’s someone on your, threatening you, are you going to have the presence of mind or the cojones to pull out a bat and attack them?   Install a bunch of outdoor lighting perhaps. Security cameras?  If you’re not safe at home, then where?

The stranger was very professional, very fast, in and out.  He came in very fast, everything about him was covered up, no way for me to identify him. Other than that he was black, adult, maybe in his 30s, 5’10”, 180-200 lbs.  If you can be this good a robber, why not do something useful?

The good news is that I got an email that the first batch of Airbox 1×1 Inflatable softboxes for LED panels are in the air on the way here. And I got another email that B&H is interested in selling them. And I wasn’t hurt, nor did anything bad happen to my family, in bed just a few feet away from where this guy threatened me.

I think he was mad that there was only 4$ in my wallet. But once his back turned on me, I split.  I didn’t stick around to find out how he felt about his take.

I love Oakland, but that sucks.  In my own driveway in my own house. What are you gonna do.  Get over it and move on. And install some motion-sensor lights and things like that. Very soon. Not a nice feeling to not feel safe at home.
 

 

Laryngitis at a trade show…

Airboxlights.com At Photo plus, big NYC trade show. Lost my voice! Pretty useless. You know how hard it is to give a sales pitch using gestures only? Fortunately, I had my handy sales video that I could point to.  And my cool Inflate-O-Matic(see below).

Anyway, B & H is doing a show special on Airbox products til the 27th!
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Some redemption codes for you:
1507446759165600
1507446733561900
1507446744501190
At least I have my sales video to speak for me:
https://vimeo.com/60720449
And cool inflate-o-matic to show people they’re inflatable!
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Inflato Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qbdj8GXmopo
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