As a person on the frontlines of the rental market, I watched as the Arri SkyPanel was introduced and how quickly it became a necessity for every shoot. It was almost hard to get your hands on at first because everyone wanted to use them for everything! I heard many people discussing it as a “game changer.” Now that the SkyPanel has been out for a year, what do we know about it and is it still considered a game changer?
No one wants a tool in their arsenal that only does one thing. Alton Brown of Food Network fame rails against what he calls the “unitasker” kitchen tool which just ends up taking up valuable space in your kitchen…likewise we would not want something in our lighting arsenal that serves only one purpose and takes up valuable space in our trucks and on our shelves. With budgets being slashed and crew numbers dwindling more and more, we need tools that will serve many purposes throughout principal photography – something that can be a key light, a soft light, a space light, or an FX light.
Not only does the Arri SkyPanel do all of these things in one neat package, but it goes even further and gives you immense amounts of flexibility – even in the ways it can be used as a key light. The S60-C model has a wide spread to give you better wrap around on your subject and is still fairly compact (measuring 27” x 13.5” x 5.1” and 25lbs without the power supply unit), so it can easily be set up by one person. In addition to the nice wrap around, the width also allows for good coverage head to toe if you mount the light in a vertical position.
The SkyPanel makes it easier than ever before to reproduce Rosco gel colors, by building the functionality right into the fixture! No longer do you need access to a lighting programmer and DMX capabilities to achieve the color you want! This full color functionality gives you the flexibility to match any lighting situation – whether you are fighting with bad fluorescents and need to use the plus/minus green adjustment, or you need a deep red color to recreate a certain scene. Of course, with the addition of a lighting board and programmer you can do so much more!
The SkyPanel is designed with a separate power supply that can either be mounted on the head or placed separately and attached via headcables. The power supply does add a little more weight (7.7 lbs) and bulk, but keeping it separate allows the unit to be lighter weight and more manageable for a single person to set up. The S60-C unit draws up to 400w and can match and even exceed the output of a 2k soft light or a 6k space light (if set up in a space light configuration). With diffusion panels on the front creating a unified light source, you need not ever worry about multiple or sharp shadows from this fixture. The white light passes every color rendering test with a TLCI rating of over 90 and a CRI over 95 at every color temperature.
The SkyPanel line was created with the needs of the modern lighting professional in mind. As usual, Arri has put together a well-built tool that will add to, and enhance any lighting set up. This should be, and certainly is, a go-to tool for many lighting professionals in almost any scenario. Its versatility and ability to adjust to any of the challenging situations encountered on location will add to the quality of your work, without requiring you to change your establisted techniques.
The SkyPanel is a game changer in that it embraces and emphasizes many of the advantages that LED technology has over traditional tungsten and HMI technology. Arri designed this light not simply to replace older more power hungry tools, but to really push the limits of what LED can do for our industry.
The SkyPanel line from Arri is available in a range of sizes and is also offered in a remote phosphor option. Though you lose the full color capabilities with remote phosphor models, they are about 10% brighter and come at a slightly lower price point.
I am delighted to be showcasing all of this unit’s wonderful attributes on January 31st at our inaugural Tech Talk Tuesday, 1 PM at our Brighton, MA location. We hope you’ll join us for this fun, informal, and hands-on event! You can always call us with questions, and if you are unable to make the event, feel free to stop by the shop another day to check it out!
About the author:
Alison Cupples is an account executive at High Output with many years of lighting experience. She currently heads up our office in Brighton, MA!