I enter a huge, black room and in the middle of it is a searing white light aimed at a white board and a fish tank. A Phantom high speed camera sits on an aged O’Connor 100. I can barely make out a few of the talented, smart people led by James Mathers of the Digital Cinema Society (DCS).
They’re running a test to learn which lights flicker at insanely high frame rates. Daylight instruments, large and small, ballast and no ballast, battery and AC powered wait their turn. If Noah was trying to save all the examples of the best daylight movie lights in the world, he’d just have to back up his Arc to the Hollywood Rentals Blue stage and load up.
Over two days the DCS conducted tests. Each test was recorded on the white board and also included an apple dropped into the fish tank so we could experience the drama and emotion of the apple slowly falling into the water with drops of H2O flying as slowly as an Alaskan bush plane in a headwind. Every light got an apple drop but I’m representing Light & Motion’s Stella Pro 7000 and Stella Pro 10,000c instruments.
Like my Stella 2000, I believe that the battery powered Stella Pro 7000 is waterproof so I volunteer to drop the 7000 in the water instead of the apple. That would look so cool in slo mo! It’s illuminated by the Stella Pro 10,000, and on cue, I drop the light. Everyone laughs! It’s the only light in the test that can go in the water. The light shines brightly. Who needs an apple? The test concludes with the finding that neither the Stella Pro 10000 or 7000 caused any flicker at 600 and 1000 frames per second! The 7000 only tested at 600 fps. Bob Monaghan, one of the smart guys on the crew, looks through his spectrograph viewer thing that looks like a silver joint with a hole at each end and proclaims that the Stellas are "very pure, as good as sunlight”- the sun, of course, being the benchmark of perfect daylight on a cloudless day. I don’t know for sure but based on the “feel” in the room, it seems that the little Stellas slayed some of the bigger, more well known competitors! The Stellas have the same daylight purity in color, consistency, and now we know for sure, no flicker at high frame rates!
I call Light & Motion to proudly tell the team about dropping the Stella Pro 7000 into the fish tank and what a hit it was. I learn that the Stella Pro 7000 is not IP-68 rated, water proof. Uh oh. I pull it out of the box while I trying to think of an intelligent apology. I turn it on an it works! No issues. The light lights and fan blows. I tried it again the next day and it worked perfectly - they claim to over engineer their products and I guess this is just one example. Like an electronic Moses the Stella Pro 7000 parted the waters, showed the way to the promised land, and exceeded all expectations.
Bob Franco founded Endorphin Productions Inc. over twenty years ago to produce his own and his clients films. His projects as director of photography range from national TV commercials toindependent films. His work has been seen on every major national TV network including PBS. Apple used his videos in their demos and singled out Bob’s company, Endorphin Productions, as an example of quality work in QuickTime movies. He enjoys the mix of technical and creative needs of his projects in both production and post.