Focus on Fixtures: Accessing Data Stored in the SetLighting App11/28/2012 11:10 AM Eastern
Myriad lighting fixtures are available for digital video shooters in the modern marketplace and it can be a challenge to keep track of them all. Fortunately, the team at Enlightened Shenanigans has created an app for just that purpose. It’s called SetLighting.
When you open the app, you start on the lights category and, within that, the tungsten tab. There are listings for a great number of manufacturers of fixtures, some I am long familiar with, some I had not heard of: Altman Lighting, ARRI, Barger Lite, B&M Lighting, CMC Cinemills, De Sisti Lighting, ETC, Film Gear, FinnLight, HydroFlex, Jem Studio Lighting, Lowel, LTM, Mole-Richardson, Monster Lighting, Strand Lighting, Sun Ray and Ultra Light. Touching any manufacturer will get you a list of their tungsten fixtures. This is the most comprehensive list of fixtures I’ve seen.
I first selected ARRI, as I am intimately familiar with their line of fixtures, and found a list of 27 different tungsten lights, from a 150W Fresnel to a 24,000W Fresnel and everything in between. The app gives you a small photo of the fixture, the ANSI bulb designation and wattage. Touch on any given fixture for a wealth of further information: general description, general use of the fixture, list of accessories (with pictures of every one), power specifications and a “data” tab that includes color temperature and type of plug the fixture comes with in addition to the fixture’s weight. Except for weight, I found the information in this tab to be redundant for most fixtures.
In addition to tungsten fixtures, the app has tabs for daylight, mixed and LED. “Mixed” includes fluorescent manufacturers, balloon fixtures, theatrical fixtures and others.
Beyond lights, the next category is power, which includes detailed information on distro boxes, distribution cables, 19-pin lighting connectors (Socapex type) and dimmers in addition to a somewhat handy amp chart that simply lists different amperages for a given voltage and wattage combination. There’s also a nifty electrical supplies list with pictures of many small electrical expendables.
In addition there’s a power tab in the power category. Under the tab are schematics for single-phase and three-phase distribution, mathematical formulas for electrical calculations (which include calculators that require knowing the ohmic resistance, making the calculators rather un-”useful”) and a final tab for “generators.” This last one is the most anemic area of the app. It lists specific generator models for an unnamed manufacturer, but when you go for more information, it says “See Data Info.” I couldn’t find this data anywhere in the app.
The next category is bulbs, broken into sub-tabs of tungsten, daylight, mixed and “diagrams.” In tungsten, there are sections for single-ended lamps, double-ended lamps, photo floods, an odd tungsten light spectrum diagram (that makes me wonder why it’s there) and a section for paper lanterns (China balls or Japanese lanterns). The diagrams section appears to have been liberally borrowed from lighting texts and includes diagrams for different bulb types, filament types, base types, bulb shapes and more.
Finally, there’s a category called “useful,” which includes tabs of detailed information on Chimera products—from light banks to grids to speed rings—and a very odd section of “Chimera examples” that is merely a collection of photographs of lighting setups (with no diagrams or explanations) using Chimera products. These appear to have been liberated from a Chimera brochure and offer no real context.
In the “useful” category is also a “useful” tab that lists general expendables (from batteries to clothespins to Sharpies—yes, with a picture and description of a Sharpie permanent marker), tapes and “Gells [sic] and Diffusion.”
The gels and diffusion section left me puzzled. Although it’s a list of the most common types of diffusion and color correction gels, the information on each is really vague and not helpful to anyone but complete novice. The diffusion lists stop loss, but the color correction does not. It also doesn’t work with mireds, so the general information isn’t quite as useful.
There is a pretty solid section on commonly used knots with step by step photos, although I wonder how easy it would be to follow if you didn’t already know how to tie these knots.
Also in the “useful” category is a tab on Condors, which includes detailed specifications from an unidentified manufacturer for several sizes of aerial platforms and scissor lifts.
Finally, there’s a “ref” (reference) tab that is really more of a glossary of general terms, with some incredibly basic terms defined (like shiny surface and rough surface) along with very esoteric ones (like “Magic Triangle,” which refers to a formula for calculating electrical resistance).
Wonderfully, there’s a powerful search tool that can search any term or product name in the app. Don’t know what a Baby Junior is? Type it in and find out it’s a 2K Fresnel fixture from Mole-Richardson and get all the details on that fixture you’d want. Also in this category are tabs for rentals, studios and “more.” These three tabs are frightfully non-comprehensive, each really lists only four options—mostly on the East Coast (New York and Florida).
The app’s overall design is pretty intuitive and easy to navigate. There’s an awkward imbalance between extraordinarily comprehensive information and some oddly henpecked data, along with some trivia that seems to have been thrown in just because it was lying around when the Enlightened Shenanigans team was working on the app. It’s obvious that the app creators have professional experience and some of their professional tastes and biases have made it into the app.
Overall, however, it’s an incredibly useful app that basically lets you carry dozens of manufacturer catalogs and specifications in your pocket. It covers a wide range of categories pertinent to the set lighting technician and his daily tasks.
As far as apps go, the cost is a bit on the high side ($9.99), which may cause potential casual users to shy away from its useful collection of information. As it’s primarily a straight reference tool, $10 is about twice what I’d expect to pay. Pros will no doubt find this data very useful. If you’re a best boy with an iDevice and you don’t have this app, shame on you.
Enlightened Shenanigans also makes TheGripApp ($9.99), a similar tool for the grip department.
Product: Enlightened Shenanigans SetLighting
Pros: An incredible wealth of information for the set lighting technician. Basically dozens of manufacturer catalogs and specifications in one location.
Cons: Some arbitrary and odd information along with some arbitrary categories that have henpecked and random information. A little costly.
Bottom Line: A useful app for anyone who works with lighting/electricity on a set. A best boy’s best friend.