Shining a New Light on the News
Network 10 goes ‘Green’ with the Philips Selecon PL1 LED Wash Luminaire
Tuesday, November 8, 2011 4:00 am
by Philips Strand Lighting

As the entertainment lighting industry is undergoing a wave of change with new sources and luminaires based on LED technology so too, is the media industry which is reinventing itself for a new more competitive landscape. Having already instituted a number of changes to their programming lineup, Network 10 in Australia also decided to invest in a redesign of their Sydney newsroom and studio. During the redesign, lighting director Pete Koole investigated ways to make his rig more energy-efficient, cost-effective, and reliable, and his research led him to the PL1 Wash luminaire.

“When I was first introduced to the PL1 LED wash, I could see straight away its potential for our newsroom and studio,” began Koole. “So after learning more about it, I decided to purchase 18 as my key lights, all fitted with wireless capabilities.”

For Koole, the power cycle of his old lighting system was becoming an issue with the rig comprising mostly of single-ended fluorescents and 250W MSR Fresnels. “The lights come on at 5:00 AM and then for the rest of the day they run on-and-off in time blocks ranging from 15 minutes to 3 hours until about 10:30 PM. My main key lights average 10–12 hours per day. The beauty of the PL1 is that we can turn them on-and-off without worrying about the halogen cycle. With the MSRs we had to try and ensure that we run them for at least 20-30 minutes to avoid failure of the lamps or components, but this isn’t always possible and caused high maintenance overhead in running the studio. Additionally, the 250W MSRs we were using had a very poor lamp life of approximately 1000 hours so we would have to change them every 3 months or so, and at $230 per lamp it was costing almost $1000 per year, per fitting, just in lamps. This amounts to a huge reduction in cost of ownership and since going ‘Green’ has been a goal of Network 10, to reduce the power to 90 Watts for the PL1 luminaires is fantastic."

With the studio located at the bottom of a 5-story atrium, not only does Koole have to contend with power concerns, there is also the awkwardly suspended lighting grid that is cluttered with acoustic baffles and other studio hardware. “Since the PL1 LED wireless receivers require no DMX cabling from a control console, and since I can cable DMX from each wireless receiver, each PL1 has become a mini DMX ‘Hub’ for the surrounding non-wireless luminaires such as the fluorescent soft lights. Now, in this challenging environment, I can achieve a total re-configuration of the lighting rig if necessary in a couple of hours as opposed to the 8 hrs it used to take.”

Reliability of the lighting system is also important to the Koole and nowhere more so than during a live newscast. Koole explained, “We simply can’t have a setup where lamps can fail during a newscast, or if a newscaster moves out of their light their face goes dark. The PL1 fixtures give me the reliability and coverage I need every time. The spread is very even across the field, and with many other sources there is a definite hot spot. I really like being able to pan the PL1 and if the newscaster moves off the mark the intensity doesn’t change. This has been very nice especially in the case of chroma keys or when they are in front of large plasma screens. Plus, the shaping of the beam can be almost like a soft edge profile, perfect for a keylight."

So as Koole and the crew began to use the PL1 fixtures, one more attribute of the PL1 became apparent. It was the ease of color-balancing and integrating them into the studio rig that they all found particularly easy. “When I got the technical directors together they were initially a little skeptical about the color they would see coming out of an LED. But when we color-balanced the cameras to the existing light sources, then took them out and brought up the PL1 fixtures, nobody could tell the difference and our redesign was complete.”

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