Our new go-to light: the Switronix TorchLED BOLT Light

by Barry Andersson5 Comments

As with most (or likely more accurately, all) independent productions we were balancing time, equipment and cost when planning the shoot on Incident on Marmont Avenue (click the link to see the movie and more). Julien Lasseur (IMDB), the director of photography, and I talked often about how to keep the production moving along while maintaining a high quality project. We decided to pre-light as much of the set as we could. Pre-lighting each room would hopefully mean that we didn't have major lighting setups to do in each room as we moved locations. Because of this plan we new we needed a ton of physical lights. Every room would have individual lights set that would stay in the room until the room was in use. Additionally, we were shooting in a house with no generator so we had to budget our energy needs and use low draw lights. We decided to light the entire movie with Kinoflo, Dedo and TorchLED BOLT Lights.

The original plan for the TorchLED BOLT lights was to use them to light the entire length of the driveway for the shot where the main actress pulled in a car. However, the original limited usage for the TorchLED BOLT lights soon morphed into major usage. As we began to light the set we found ourselves using the TorchLED BOLT lights in more and more places on the set. The size and versatility of the TorchLED BOLT made it easy to pop them  just about anywhere. You could find a TorchLED BOLT (powered with the Switronix PB70 battery) hanging from the ceiling in the living room.

The TorchLED BOLT hanging from the ceiling to help light the actors near the fireplace.

The TorchLED BOLT is being held by a C Clamp (with some fabric as to not make marks) to the beam.

You could find a setup lighting the makeup station in the garage.

Jamie Richmond helps Hayden Croteau get ready for her scene.

The TorchLED BOLT was essential to helping make all our actors look marvelous.

We placed a unit inside a lamppost to be able to control the light intensity. Part of the reason that you can stick these lights anywhere is that turning a knob is all you need to do to change the intensity. Instead of having to reposition or constantly monkey with complex parts we could just dial the intensity up or down.

Daniel Watson places the TorchLED BOLT in the lamppost so we have more control over the light than with a normal bulb.

 

We adjusted the light as to not be too bright or too dark for the scene.

To help light the exterior of the house we placed units in the bushes to help light the walls of the house. Because these lights provide 5600K/tungsten, 3200K/daylight and an average matching to multiple set-ups was easy.

You can see the TorchLED BOLT's light from the bushes in this wide shot of the exterior of the house.

Notice the light from the TorchLED BOLT helps give some definition to the bush as she steps outside to check things out.

When I say we placed them I mean we literally just set them on the ground in the bushes. We shot all night and the next morning when we where wrapping out of the house the lights were still going strong on just the one charge.

A TorchLED BOLT sitting on the ground in a bush. If the battery had been dead we might well have missed this little guy during the daylight as we were wrapping the set.

Last but not least we used them to help grab quick behind the scenes interviews. Nothing fancy just someone handholding the light so that it was quick, portable and able to be positioned to get the best light on our subjects.

So small, portable and handy you can literally just position the light with your hand for a quick shot or interview.

Your imagination is truly the only thing limiting how this light can be used on an independent set. I am so sold: I will not do another shoot without a few of these on hand. I now find them to be one of my essential tools on the set.

As a technical consideration I recommend using the PB70 or some sort of larger brick battery because these batteries really do last all day without fear of losing light. The last thing I want to deal with on set is another piece of equipment that I have to change batteries every hour or 2. If you pair a Switronix TorchLED BOLT along with their PB70 battery you can just turn on your light and shoot. There is nothing better as a filmmaker than to have a light on set that works for every situation and doesn't need constant attention for adjustments or batteries. This is really a must have unit for any filmmaker or director of photography.

UPDATE

I just wanted to note that we used the PB70 battery base for the shoot as the TorchLED Bolt battery was not out yet. Since the shoot Switronix has released the Bolt Battery Kit (TL-F970). This smaller battery attaches to the back of the Bolt and is rated to keep the light working for 2 hours. The PB70 powerbase we used is rated for 4 hours. If you need a smaller battery the new kit light is great but if you need a longer charge the PB70 rocks. You can't go wrong either way.

  Disclaimer: switronix are planet5D sponsors and sponsored the Incident on Marmont Avenue shoot (see more on our eithics page). We publish gear news because our users have asked us to let them know when we find things that may help them improve their shooting. If you're a gear maker and would like us to publish your HDSLR related products, please contact planet5D  

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


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Comments

  1. Chris Gampat

    Hey Barry,

    Sweet ideas for uses. We hacked ours to work in a 24×32 softbox and the quality of light that comes out in wonderful.

    Are you finding the color consistency to always be right on the money?

    Chris Gampat
    -The Phoblographer

    1. Barry Andersson

      Glad you enjoyed it Chris. We didn’t do any extensive color tests but none of us noticed color consistency at any point during the shoot. We had them all over with just about every member of the crew working with them so I am very confident saying you can rely on them for color consistency. Perhaps I need to do a long term run time color test and see how it performs. Let me know if there is something specific you are looking for.

      1. Chris Gampat

        Well, I’m asking in regards to shooting interviews or concerts or for those artists that love to have videos of them shot for youtube. The color consistency can then translate over into either more white balance issues in post/coloring issues and as a content developer, I know that that can then slow down the output of a final product.

        So in terms of the overall workflow, it can be an issue that should be tackled and explored. We’re going to explore that in our review.

        And because I know you’re going to read this Mitch, hiya! :)

  2. Aaron

    After readying your post I went and bought 2 or these from B&H! Can’t wait to use them!

    1. Author
      planetBarry

      That rocks Aaron. Please let us know how you use them. I can’t believe how many different ways I can keep coming up with to use them on any set.

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