Philips Selecon PL1 LED Luminaires Shine New Light in The Channel 10 Sydney Newsroom

Just as our lighting industry is currently undergoing a wave of change with new sources and luminaires based on LED technology so too, is the media industry reinventing itself for a new more competitive landscape, and 2011 has been a big year for the Ten Network in Australia. Having instigated a number of adjustments to their programming lineup, including a major refocus on News and Current Affairs programming with substantially increased air time, the Network invested in a revamp of their Sydney newsroom and studio earlier this year with subsequent modifications over recent months.

As part of the restructuring Network 10 lighting director Pete Koole investigated ways to make his lighting rig more cost effective, reliable and easier to use. As part of his research Pete discovered the Philips Selecon PL1 LED luminaire of which he now owns 18, all fitted with wireless receivers. "I could see straight away the potential for the PL1 LED as my keylights in the news studio".

The news studio is situated at the bottom of a 5 story atrium so not only does Koole have to contend with fluctuating colour temperatures from the changing ambient light but there's also the unusually suspended lighting grid cluttered with acoustic baffles and other studio hardware to deal with. The PL1 LED wireless receivers require no DMX cabling, however being able to cable DMX from the receiver means each PL1 has become a little DMX 'Hub' for the surrounding non-wireless luminaires such as his fluorescent soft lights. Now, in this challenging environment Koole can achieve a total re-rig in a couple of hours as opposed to the 8hrs or more it used to take.

For Koole the duty cycle of the lighting system demanded by the broadcast schedule was becoming an issue with his existing rig comprising single ended fluorescents and 250W MSR Fresnels. "The lights are on from 5.00am and then for the rest of the day are on and off in blocks ranging from 15 minutes to 3 hours until about 10.30pm. My main keylights average 10–12 hours per day. The beauty of the PL1 is that we can turn them on and off without worrying about the halogen cycle. With the MSRs we had to try and ensure that we ran them for at least 20-30 minutes to avoid failure of the lamps or components, but this wasn't always possible and some of the other studio staff didn't understand how important this was". This duty cycle caused large maintenance overheads in running the studio, Koole continues "The 250W MSRs we were using were a good light for their time and they worked well for me but I was getting very poor lamp life, about 1000hrs and so would be changing them every 3 months or so and at $230 per lamp it was costing almost $1000 per year per fitting just in lamps. Green has also long been a goal of the Ten Network so to reduce the power from 250W MSRs and 220W fluorescents to 90W for the PL1s was fantastic".

Reliability of the lighting system is important to the television industry and nowhere more so than the news. "We can't have a setup (without lighting staff available) where lamps can fail or the presenter moves out of a light that has a precise hot spot and goes dark, the PL1s give me the reliability and coverage I was looking for in a light source".

Apart from the increased reliability and reduced cost of ownership offered by the PL1s Koole also found a number of other advantages for the PL1 when used in studio. "The spread is very even across the field, with many other sources there is a definite hot spot. I really like being able to pan the PL1 and if the presenter moves off the mark the intensity doesn't change. This has been very nice especially in the case of chroma keys or when they are in front of large plasma screens". Koole continues regarding the shaping of the beam, "The shaping of the beam can be almost like a soft edge profile, perfect for a keylight".

The ease of colour balancing the PL1 LED and integrating it into the studio rig is something that Koole has found particularly easy. "I got the TDs together and initially they were a little skeptical about the colour that they would see coming out of an LED. We colour balanced the cameras on the (reference) chart to the existing sources, took them out and then brought up the PL1s and then matched them to the colour of the old MSR sources. I then swapped between the PL1 and the MSR and nobody could tell the difference on camera. Plus I can now use colour if I need to on a show".

One of the other interesting features that Koole has discovered in using a source that can be completely and accurately tuned for colour is that he is now able to counteract some of the coloured spill that comes off his sets (lit with LED strip) and onto the presenters' faces, If, for example he's getting a blue glow off a wall he is able to tune this out so that the face appears neutral on camera. With a number of other studios and broadcast facilities around Australia using the Philips Selecon PL1 it appears as though there a new tool of choice for lighting designers from broadcasters and media organisations alike.

Philips Entertainment Lighting accommodates a diverse range of entertainment applications including: stage and set lighting, film and broadcast lighting, and video-based effects and displays. It also supports architectural lighting of performance venues, whether to enhance theatre lobbies or to create a dynamic exterior effect to coincide with performances.

With the acquisitions of Color Kinetics, Genlyte (including its Vari-Lite and Strand Lighting brands) and Selecon, Philips dramatically expanded its entertainment lighting portfolio from specialty lamps to the industry-leading luminaries and control systems that are prevalent in the field today. Collectively, the group provides wide-ranging products from simple lamps to complete solutions designed with the specific needs of the entertainment market in mind.