Rotolight NEO has been dubbed as the next evolution of on-camera LED lighting. We find out why the NEO will be an industry standard lighting unit.
Highly experienced lighting cameraman and British Guild of Television Cameramen member Simon Edwards, was recently granted the great privilege to be the first test pilot of the Rotolight Neo. Edwards, whose credits include many projects for the BBC and feature films such as Dark Shadows, also teaches lighting at one of Britain’s leading filmmaking colleges and is well suited to the task of putting the feature packed unit through its paces.
“I think that Rotolight has moved the world of portable LED lighting on again with the Neo. It is a feature rich lamp with excellent output in terms of both colour and power. The Neo differs from other systems not only in the trademark Rotolight form factor but also its flexibility, build quality and quality & consistency of light. On the most basic level you have a lamp with tuneable colour and power, but start digging into the menu and you soon find the ability to match the lamp to your cameras settings and also perform fades up and down!”
The latest product from the multi-award winning British manufacturer has been designed with the camera operator in mind with a feature set including never before seen ‘True Aperture Dimming’ and ‘Programmable fade mode’ including Bi-Colour LED lighting technology (from 3150K to 6300K) that delivers a powerful 1077 lux at 3 feet – twice that of competing LED on camera lights! NEOs 120 best in class LED’s feature an over CRI of 95 with an almost perfect skintone reproduction; R15 = 99.
“The tuneability was crucial to both projects I tried NEO on. Being able to accurately match the additional lighting (ANOVA 2, HMI, fluorescent and tungsten) that we have been using has been really useful. I think that we are now in at a stage with LED lighting where tuneable colour temperature is becoming an increasingly usable option rather than a gimmick and Rotolight with the Anova and now NEO are at the forefront of that technology.”
“Anyone who has ever shot at exhibitions will know how terrible the lighting can be. I was very keen to see how Neo would cope with the competing ambient light at the NEC and was very happy with the results. No longer were the skin tones muddy orange or unearthly blue, the results were significantly better than my existing (soon to be PREVIOUS) on camera light. The other cameramen I was working with were equally complimentary about the Neo, commenting on how it dealt with the ambient light in the halls.
The second project was a short corporate drama that involved teenagers creating video diary entries. It was decided that the majority would be shot on my camera so Neo found a home on top of my PMW500 either on the shoe or on a cine arm while the actors simulated a “video selfie” by hanging on to my matte box as we moved around in an attempt at co-ordination! We also used it attached to the shoe of a domestic video camera to help the pictures out on that when the actors needed to create video diary entries. It is the mark of a groundbreaking product when both production AND actors comment on its design!”
Featuring an intuitive dual rotary encoder control system for rapid brightness and colour temperature adjustment in the field, and Rotolight’s ‘Dynamic Drift Compensation’ for smooth dimming from 0%-100% with no colour shift. Neo can be powered by 6 AA batteries for up to 5 hours (or 3 hours at 100% power), AC adapter or D-TAP cable, drawing only 9W at full power.
“Not many years ago we were used to lugging battery belts around for our battery lights and the lights themselves were pretty brutal things to use. Thankfully we no longer need to do that! I used the NEO primarily as a battery powered light, either on AA batteries or using a D-Tap adaptor from the output on the camera. Obviously it draws very little power and certainly made no difference to the running time of my camera. The AAs certainly seemed like an economical option too and of course being a universally available battery there would be no problem sourcing extra batteries in the field. I didn’t time the life of the AAs, I just let it run and run. It went on for hours!“
The Rotolight Neo was developed at Pinewood Studios UK, after years of extensive feedback from leading cinematographers and photographers around the world as to what they would most like to see in the next generation on camera light for professional television, film and photographic use. From that feedback the Rotolight ‘Neo’ was born, and it delivers never before seen technology in a truly unique versatile, highly portable package, that is proudly designed and manufactured in the UK.
“I think NEO offers so much to so many people; stills and moving pictures, experienced camera people and those at the start of their careers, DSLR or full size cameras. NEO truly is a light for everyone and with Rotolight’s pro-active approach to customer feedback and development I can see this being the beginning of the next generation of LED lighting coming from their Pinewood manufacturing base. I can’t recommend NEO highly enough – I see it becoming an industry standard unit.” Simon Edwards.
While Simon Edwards was testing out the NEO over in the UK, Rotolight brand ambassador and award winning photographer Jason Lanier was road testing the NEO in San Francisco for a location video and stills shoot. The NEO is the ideal alternative to flash as a continuous lighting system and enables you to see your results live, perfect for DSLR users.
“The Rotolight Neo’s are quite simply the most amazing, beautiful, versatile portable continuous lights I’ve ever used. I couldn’t recommend them more highly and think that anyone who shoots portraits, weddings, or fashion photography should own multiple sets. They are also perfect for me and my videography team for our video camera lighting purposes. They are stunning lights.” Find out more at www.rotolight.com/jasonlanier/
The Rotolight NEO is now available to pre-order from www.rotolight.com, retailing at just £299.99 the NEO will be shipping in April 2015!