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DIGITAL LIGHTING FOR DIGITAL MOVIES

‘Lighting’ in a film is as crucial as any other factor – there can’t be any compromise with the same. It generates the mood and flavor – helps the audience connect to the movie. You can easily make out a movie with amazing, mediocre and bad lighting – they speak volumes for themselves. Broadcast Video Producer met the best lighting companies for film lighting in Mumbai and engaged their very owners – the forepersons and face of the company - in a candid chat and this is what they all had to say – LED is undoubtedly the future – a very long future indeed!

LIGHT AND GRIPS – Mulchand Dedhia

Back in 1978 was his first movie – the English movie ‘The Sea Wolves’. Along with a British gaffer and a British technician, they constructed a sound proof generator using a local generator. It was his first project and the turning point in his life. Once he realized where his true passion lied – there was no turning back. He wanted to be a gaffer in the film industry. Two years later, he got an opportunity to work as a sole gaffer in an English movie names ‘Heat & Dust’.
“No matter where I am in any stage of my life, I would always like to call myself a gaffer and would take pride in that,” he said. “I have been in the industry for more than 40 years now. I have seen the industry gradually changing – from high power tungsten HMI lights to minimal power LEDs. And I can say LED in itself have developed tremendously in the last 10 years. They have been perfected to a point where now I can say that it has the potential to replace every light. Earlier the CRI (Color Rendering Index) of LEDs was not of the highest quality – there was always something that was lacking. But now, even that era is gone. Now LEDs have been taken a step ahead – from RGBW to RGBW plus those lights can be controlled a whopping range from 1500K to 10,000K. The best part of these upgraded 5-stage light versions is that you can be all creative with them – one can play with the color ball and generate random colors like magenta, pink and so on – whatever you want. That’s something really really interesting, isn’t it?”
Companies that introduced LEDs in the market are ARRI, Kino Flo, Dedolight and few more. Few other companies which are exceptionally good but not that famous in India are Creamsource and Digital Sputnik. “I like the fact that LEDs can replace huge, heavy-weighted lights which consumes an enormous amount of electricity with much smaller multipurpose light versions which have every added advantage – smaller size, light-weight, equivalent output, no heat generation, lasts longer and consumes minimum electricity.”
“Earlier, to light up an entire studio, we needed lights which draw a huge amount of electricity. As a result, generators were an invariable part of it. These generators weighed approx. 200 kgs and we needed 2-3 such generators. But now, only a single generator of 50 kg does the same job. That’s the kind of change LED has brought to this industry,” comments Mr. Mulchand.
When asked, according to him, which particular brand or product line is a hot favorite among Indian Cinematographers, he went on to say, “Though ARRI, I think, has monopolized the lighting industry in India for the past 30 years, I personally feel that brand is not what lights are all about. That is secondary. What is more important is that the person who is using the product should know it inside out – he should know what he is doing. If you know your job well, you can also create your own light – be as creative as you want – there are no rules for that.”
“For me, the future would be remote-controlled LED lights. That’s really a boon. This would mean there would be a significant decrease in the extra efforts involved. The setup time would be the same but post that, the changes which need to be made, that would happen more swiftly. That would make the production process at least a little smoother,” he said.
His last movie was Rock On 2 and has numerous projects in hand for future. In Rock On 2, he used LEDs from Digital Sputnik and loved the results. The lights are so small and easy to carry. It could be set-up almost anywhere – space wouldn’t be an issue.

LIGHT N LIGHT - Nasir

They started off with minimum and smallest equipment in the year 2003 with a conviction that one day, they would make it large in this Bollywood industry. And indeed they have – with their branches in Delhi, Hyderabad and even Abu Dhabi! Light n Light is now one of the biggest and most reliable name one can invariably think of when it comes to impeccable lighting for their biggest film projects. Their first feature film as the sole light supplier was Johny Gaddar in the year 2005 and from that point, darting ahead in their exponential growth curve was inevitable.
Nasir, the man of the company always knew what he wanted and how to achieve it. “Quality has forever been of primary importance– good equipment and quality work. This, I would not have compromised even for the sake of money. There was a lot of competition in Mumbai. To establish myself among such already-established big lighting companies was the challenge and I was ready for a head-on. Though the payment was extremely mediocre yet it was never my priority ‘coz I always believed that if my quality of work and service is something none can complain about, my company will automatically grow much bigger. I will get work. It will work to my advantage. It was a process and a matter of patience – I was patient.”
He always preferred to have limited but top-class equipment at his disposition. “I got people and turned them into skilled professionals. I made sure they had nothing to complain – after all they were my pillars which would support my company long-way.”
Being a gaffer himself and having years of experience in the same field, he knew the industry and this business inside-out. He then wanted to do something on his own – start his own business. “I never use copy equipment. It has taken me ages to build such a reputation and due to this, I can proudly say that my company has direct relations with the big daddies of lighting industry throughout this world – ARRI, Mole Richardson, Joker, Kinoflo, Manfrotto, Filmgear – they are our direct clients. I make sure I have the latest products and best and most upgraded equipment at my disposition.”
When asked, according to him, what’s the best in lights, he said, “ARRI has always been the most sought-after lighting brand. Even the maximum number of lights we have is of ARRI. Arri Maxx in daylight is very popular all over the world. Even Dedo, Filmgear are worth mentioning.”
“Recently I visited many shows on a global platform. I was intrigued with one particular product and brand which seemed to have made a mark everywhere I went. It was the LEDs from a brand named Creamsource. The throw of those lights was particularly remarkable. They were very powerful and convenient to use. Those multipurpose LEDs featured 4000K in daylight and 5000K in tungsten. I would love to update my inventory with the product. I have even ordered for some,” he went on to say.
What’s the future of LED? He commented, “In my opinion, LED is an investment. In next 5 years, led will probably replace all up to 6000 watts. And look at the obvious advantages – low maintenance, long lasting, less power consumption and the list goes on and on. By 2017, I myself will promote LED immensely.”
After completing more than 300 movies successfully – M.S. Dhoni, Rustom, Dear Zindagi, Ae dil hai mushkil, Bajrangi Bhaijaan to name a few – Light n Light has numerous other massively big projects in hand like Tubelight and many more.

Accord Equips – Tejash Shah

They started in 1997 with small and niche equipment to minimize competition with a lot of suppliers. Initially, they had audio gear and that equipment was available only with Accord Equips. Tejash, the owner said, “Over a period of time, we realized that audio was going tapeless and our recorders were bound to get out of fashion so we wanted to get into something that won't phase out with time. Lights and cameras are something one has to have - no matter what.”
“I deal primarily in short films and documentaries. We are very democratic and I don’t believe in depending on one particular segment. In the last few years, there has been a massive shift in the industry – things have gone digital. The equipment coming in now are far better in low light – digital anyways need lesser light. For example, today we see a lot of flare and natural lighting being used. It's said to add an artistic touch to the shot and anyway, people want to get closer to reality as much as possible. So features like a flare are purposely put. This is one of the many changes. Today, nobody goes by the book anymore. One can do whatever they want. That’s the biggest change even in the lighting industry. We have a range of options to choose from – LEDs, HMIs, Softies, Tungsten and many more – whatever suits your purpose. Film lights are always there. For such massive lights, you need transport cost. Don’t even get me started with the disadvantages. Whereas LEDs are so small and easy-to-carry – you can simply put it in your own car and rush off. So if you are shooting a small project, the entire process becomes smoother and hassle free.”
When asked how does he feel about the future of LED on a global platform, he went on to say, “To be very honest, I have my doubts if LED has the potential to replace every kind of film lights ‘coz till date, the throw is not perfect. But I must say - the pace at which R & D is being carried out to make the LED technology even better, my doubts will be answered soon. But yes, with the LEDs in the market, one has numerous options. At the end of the day, the choice of light is purely project-driven. One has to understand the requirement of the film and then go into the lighting mood. For example in movies like Satya, lighting required needs to be harsh and raw. But for a Yash Raj production like Jab Tak hai Jaan, soft light is demanded. LED has undoubtedly given us much more options. One can fit their own budget.”
The projects he has been working in demand bigger lights (like feature films). “Big projects take the bigger lights. I have Kinoflo. I don’t keep ARRI – those are majorly for big-budget movies. If I keep ARRI, I have to keep HMIs. So I prefer not stepping into that genre.”
“As a production house, we produce movies – as co-producers. Our film Black Sheep won many awards internationally,” Tejash said.
His Pune and Ahmedabad office has also been producing such content-rich movies and intends to do so in the very very long future.