Developing the Astra 1×1 Bi-Color

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Ali Ahmadi – Litepanels Product Manager

Litepanels sits down with their Product Manager – Ali Ahmadi – to talk about the LED lighting revolution, technology, the new Astra 1×1 Bi-Color and some of the challenges in developing the next generation LED panel.

1) Litepanels revolutionized production lighting with the introduction of LED, why do you think it has become so popular?

Simply put: LED lighting has many advantages over previous technologies; but the single most useful advantage is that it is more efficient that any previous lighting technology. This simple fact results in very many advantages when shooting: less energy waste by producing heat, results in being able to use more light while requiring less cooling or, being able to put the light closer to the talent or sensitive set pieces. Being able to power the light via batteries offers more versatility in shooting and speed during setup changes. These and many more advantages have pushed the LED revolution. The original LED panel, our Litepanels 1×1, and the immensely popular MiniPlus can both be found on nearly any set or location shoot out where they are used to quickly add some fill or get that kicker in place for that last shot at the end of a long day of shooting.

2) Litepanels recently announced the introduction of the next generation LED panel, the Astra 1×1, can you tell us about this exciting new panel?

We are extremely excited about the Astra 1×1. The original 1×1 has become a staple in the industry, with many attempting to copy it. With the Astra 1×1 we set out to reinvent the 1×1 using new technologies while incorporating the years of feedback that we have in our vaults. In fact, just compiling that feedback was a serious undertaking. But now we have a unit that is redefining intensity and output quality – not just for traditional LED panels, but also for some other recent attempts at reinventing solid-state lighting.

Our color rendering is excellent and at the higher output levels, makes it an incredibly versatile fixture in the field (and the studio). We also included dozens of detail solutions that will benefit the professionals out there and we’re offering all that at a game changing price point. So, we can barely contain our excitement and based on feedback from the market, neither can our customers.

3) Can you tell us about some of the obstacles you had to overcome while designing the Astra 1×1?

We had years of feedback from the field about what’s good, what is useful and what’s not useful. We tried to integrate as much feedback into the Astra 1×1 development as possible. I can’t reveal the recipe for making our secret sauce but as always, we spent a lot of time and effort on the LEDs, the Lenses and the thermal management of the unit. We leverage our R&D efforts, so a lot of our research on Phosphors over the last few years were incorporated or built upon when we were working on the LEDs. We also tried to embrace the modularity concept in every detail of the unit.

4) What makes the Astra 1×1 different from the original Litepanels 1×1?

At four times the original output, the intensity is the biggest difference. We also used a modular concept to improve serviceability. This modular approach is followed all the way through to the communications modules and the fan. You can buy the particular module that works best for you and if you find the need to control the fixture via DMX, you can upgrade with a comms module later on and the fan is actually a user replaceable module. So overall, you get a more versatile fixture that you can get more use out of for a longer period of time, due to the future proof modular design.

5) LED lighting has changed rapidly over the years. Where do you see the technology moving to in the next couple of years?

LED technology has changed a lot over recent years. Just like the processors in your computers or smart phones, LEDs keep getting better. The good old 5mm LEDs that are in the original 1×1 units have been superseded by Surface-Mount-Technology (SMT) and Chip-on-Board (COB) designs. These new technologies offer lots more and give a better light output.

These technological advances have allowed us to bring LED technology into Fresnel fixtures like with our Sola fixtures. Now, even larger studios can be completely converted to LEDs and more location shoots can cancel the large generators and power these high output fixtures off residential mains or even batteries. That’s why LED technology will continue to advance in the same direction: more light output and more powerful LED output levels. Better Phosphor mixes for better color rendering and more efficient LEDs that “waste” even less energy and create much more light with the same amount of energy input.

Behind the scenes in our R&D labs we continue to research, monitor and test new developments. This is how we can continue to offer truly innovative products. I can’t speak about specific product developments, but we are working on many more exciting products. So I’d like to invite anyone that uses lighting while capturing images (still or moving, on film or digital) to keep in touch with us, so we always know about the latest and best in LED technology for our industry.

To stay up to date with Litepanels announcements and read about ‘Litepanels in use’ visit the Litepanels Blog