opinion

Continuous Lighting Developments for Adult Shoots

Stephen Yagielowicz

Technology is ushering in a new generation of cool-running video lights that provide a big bang for the buck — while keeping adult performers comfortable and squint-free, even within the “intimate” working distances typical of our industry. XBIZ recently took a look at some of the latest developments in the lighting field. Here’s what we found:

While strobes may remain the favored tool of those shooting still photos exclusively, few studios today are going that route, relying on video productions (including hybrid shoots using the latest generation DSLRs) as their foundation. For this application, only a continuous lighting system will do. Although tungsten lighting has been historically used, newer options, including fluorescent, HMI and LED light sources, may provide a better alternative for adult content producers.

The real promise for adult may lie in fluorescent and LED lighting.

Although perhaps the most widely used type of artificial lighting in adult productions, the use of tungsten lighting will require color balancing for daylight temperatures, as its 3400°K color temperature is warmer than daylight’s 5600°K and typically imparts a golden hue that is easily corrected, if desired. They also produce an extremely large amount of heat, which especially within the confines of a small room, such as a bedroom, can make shooting conditions quite uncomfortable for all involved — particularly when the air conditioning is shut off to prevent noise pollution from tainting the audio.

Consideration must also be given to your selection of basic light modifiers, such as softboxes and umbrellas, as some light sources (especially tungsten and HMI lighting) can easily set fire to many modifiers that are designed for use with studio flash systems, or other less powerful lighting systems.

Hydrargyrum Medium-arc Iodide (HMI) lighting is Hollywood’s darling, but may be overkill for many adult productions; where like tungsten, its heat is intense, but unlike its counterpart, it is daylightbalanced and costly to operate. Mishandling can also result in what some might call an explosion, potentially hurling molten glass on those nearby — and as such, makes this a less than ideal choice for adult producers.

The real promise for adult may lie in fluorescent and LED lighting.

Daylight balanced compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) offers an affordable solution, providing long life, low power consumption and light weight (in certain configurations). While these lights do not offer the same output as tungsten or HMI lighting, they can be easily grouped together for greater output. Fixtures containing multiple CFLs are readily available from a number of manufacturers, along with sophisticated light controls. Add to this the cool running nature of even the highest wattage CFLs, and you have a winner.

Whether used as main or fill lighting, today’s LED systems may present the best bet for adult producers — especially those with an up-close “gonzo” or POV shooting style.

Modern LEDs produce significant, daylight balanced light output, with minimal heat and power consumption. Many examples are also fully variable and maintain their color balance throughout their output range, allowing shooters to “tone it down” as needed.

LED lighting is easily powered by battery and available in compact configurations such as smaller panels that make great eye “catch-lights” when shoe mounted on-camera. Larger versions are available for studio applications, and all are extremely rugged when compared to their “bulbed” cousins. Both used in combination, make for a killer system.

For adult producers wanting new shooting alternatives and happier talent, examining the latest lighting tools may provide a great return on a modest investment.

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