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ETC Source Four LED helps LA gaffer to do it all

ETC Source Four LED helps LA gaffer to do it all

USA – Lighting gaffer Matt Ardine is shooting a pharmaceutical industry commercial at DC Studios, a few blocks from Los Angeles’ Skid Row. The camera tracks down a drab hospital corridor whose ‘windows’ are lit by eight ETC Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr luminaires behind diffusion scrims.

Staring at the monitor, cinematographer Larkin Seiple calls for level changes barely visible to the human eye. Bringing a fixture down to 4% output, Ardine explains: “If I were using incandescents, I would start seeing colour shift at around 26% and my crew would be spending time putting in NDA or full blue to compensate for the tungsten effect.”

On a set with skylights, windows, fluorescents and practical table lamps, setting the perfect colour temperature can be challenging. “We started out trying to shoot at 3200K, but now we have settled on 4400K. With the Lustrs, I can dial this in and save a lot of time,” says Ardine. “As a bonus, the whole lighting rig is running off a 100-amp generator, but most of the time we are only using 20 Amps.”

A native of Boston, Ardine is a gaffer/lighting designer/director of photography by day and an endurance runner in his precious downtime. For the past six years, he and college friend Seiple have lit countless music videos, features (Seiple was the cinematographer for Cop Car) and commercials. Ardine is a model for the new generation of tech-savvy professionals His credits run from console operator, to gaffer, best boy, lighting designer and director. He even teaches local IATSE classes on the latest control protocols and networks.

As technical director for iHeart Radio Theater Los Angeles, he is very familiar with ETC products. “I grew up with Source Four incandescents and learned to program on an Expression 3,” says Ardine. “When Series 2 came out, I immediately bought eight units, which are now the workhorses of my rig. That extra stop of brightness sold me on these fixtures. I even have my own custom-built ‘Series 2’ trolley with spare lenses (EDLT, of course), heads and Powercons.

“I really love using the 90-degree lenses for situations like this where I have a two-foot throw.”

Ardine and Seiple recently took advantage of new California tax incentives, shooting a movie titled Swiss Army Man entirely in California locations. “I was able to use a small generator, wireless control and make tiny adjustments to colour temperature on the fly,” describes Ardine.

Ardine and Seiple encounter many camera types. “The Arri Alexa is especially sensitive to dimmed LED artefacts and we often shoot with high-speed cameras (for ultra-slow-motion effects) that can be an LED nightmare. A ‘normal’ LED fixture can operate flicker-free up to about 300fps (frames per second), but Lustr still works up to 2000fps, so we don’t have to bring in a separate high-speed rig,” says Ardine.

The consummate techie, Ardine has been striving to find the ideal DMX settings for his ETC Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr luminaires and has settled on the HSIC mode for maximum versatility. As he puts it, “When I go to LDI or Cine Gear, I am always on the lookout for new gear to show Larkin, but our needs are very specific – if a salesperson can’t get very specific on LED refresh rates, then we quickly lose interest.”

In picture: Matt Ardine and his custom-built ‘Series 2’ trolley. 

8th September 2015

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