Live News Stand-Ups in the Age of Internet Memes

Used to be if you were doing a live shot during a local or network news broadcast, all you had to worry about was the ‘Hi Mom’ sign being lifted up behind you during your stand-up. But as NBC’s Katy Tur found out on May 27th in San Diego, it’s gotten a bit more risky.

Fuck Trump sign

Tur has been the principal reporter covering the Trump campaign for Nightly News, and when it’s a single-camera shoot, there’s no way to cut away from an offensive graphic in the crowd. The best you can hope for is to move your correspondent out of the line of fire and pan back to her in a graphically safer setting. Having directed a lot of live TV news, I can easily visualize the scene in the control room during the nine seconds this was on air on the East Coast. Guaranteed there was a cleaner version for all the other time zones.

Super Fight II: Muhammad Ali & Joe Frazier’s Rematch at Madison Square Garden

Ali-Frazier ticket stub

Sports photography was never my strong suit back in the day; I did far better with crime, politics, and the arts.

A few weeks ago, as part of a quiet afternoon at home, I was sorting through a box of memorabilia. Had I not come across this ticket stub for the Ali-Frazier rematch at Madison Square Garden, I don’t think I’d have remembered this assignment.

I grew up in a one-channel town during the early days of television, and if you weren’t of driving age, the Gillette Friday Night Fights was the most excitement you could hope for. So all those years later, the call to be ringside at the Garden myself was a very big deal.

Ali-Frazier rematch, Madison Square Garden, 1974

It was the one and only time I ever saw Ali (or Frazier) in action, but given the enormous and well-deserved attention given to his passing a few days ago, I wanted to share an image of what was called Super Fight II. Ali won in a unanimous decision.

Lastly, and not to be missed, this 2014 post at The Guardian collects some of the greatest images of Muhammad Ali.

LitePad Vector: A Rugged, Do-Anything, Go-Anywhere LED Light Panel from Rosco

LitePad Vector

We’ve been beating the LitePad drum for many years, as Rosco’s take on the LED light panel has always seemed to hit a sweet spot between performance, versatility, and value. Now comes an upgraded design: LitePad Vector. We’re delighted to see the wizards at Rosco taking everything that was great about LitePad and amping it up — while still keeping the price within reach. As longtime distributors for Rosco products, we expect to ship quite a few of these to dealers all across the US.

First among the innovations is the fact that LitePad Vector is – somehow – smaller than previous LitePads, yet shines four times brighter than before. Now packed into a sturdy black anodized aluminum frame, each 8″x8″ LitePad Vector slips into tighter spaces while providing up to 1700 lux at 1 meter. Passive cooling means there won’t be any annoying whirring fans to deal with – total silence! The built-in diffuser, a cornerstone feature on every LitePad, ensures that the light output is soft and even – like a softbox, only thinner. (And less likely to sail off on a windy day!)

Speaking of which, if the wind does pick up and knock down your LitePad Vector, you may be surprised by how resilient it is. This new generation of LitePad is amazingly tough. Watch this video and see for yourself:

Impressed yet? (That said, we beg you: please don’t try this at home… or on location!)

To keep things simple, LitePad Vector comes in two varieties: CCT or Daylight. CCT units offer tunable white balance from 3000K–6000K, while Daylight units are locked at 6000K (and cost a little less.) Color rendering is terrific: up to 93 CRI, so everything you point these at pops (to the maximum extent allowed by law.)

Because they’re so compact and only weigh 4.5 pounds each, pre-configured kits are offered for the runners-and-gunners: a two-head backpack kit that includes mounting gear and rain covers, and a three-head location lighting kit that includes a road case, light stands, mounting hardware, egg crates, and three of Rosco’s OPTI-FLECS LED filter kits. If you hadn’t heard, OPTI-FLECS filters are perfectly sized and tuned to allow easy tweaking of color temperature on Rosco’s LED light heads. All these accessories are available a-la carte as well, of course, if you have more specific needs.

One of the biggest advantages of LED lighting is the massive reduction in power consumption, so aside from being more Earth-friendly, this efficiency opens up a new world of power options and run times. Rosco has always provided lots of choices in this regard: LitePad Vector can not only be powered by AC worldwide (100–240V), but can also run on Anton/Bauer or V-Mount batteries, or many of the previous-generation adapters such as the AA battery pack or vehicle power port. Whichever you choose, maximum power consumption is a mere 65W, so you spend less time breaking to replace batteries when out and about. Last but not least, color and brightness can be adjusted by DMX remote over RJ45 cable.

LitePad Vector is now available – reach out to your local photo and lighting retailer, and have them call us if they don’t have it in stock yet! It’s sure to become your Swiss Army knife of lighting solutions.

NAB Show 2016: LEDs Everywhere, But What of Their Quality?

With the 2016 edition of the NAB Show now receding in the rear-view mirror, here are my observations on the path our industry is taking.

As always, we flew to Las Vegas to support our colleagues at Dedolight as they demonstrated the innovative lights they’ve worked to bring to market this year.

Dedolight NAB 2016 Booth

This was definitely the year of LED lighting overload. There must have been at least 20 times as many companies showing broad source fixtures as last year, most of them no-name Chinese manufacturers just jumping on the LED bandwagon with no understanding of, or regard to, the quality of their products’ output. In fact, they do have appeal for the “fix it in post” crowd of shooters.

NAB 2016 LED mania 1

NAB 2016 LED mania

It’s a mindset that’s frustrating to those of us who care deeply about lighting for television and motion pictures, and who devote so much of our efforts to perfecting lighting as an art form. Teams from Dedolight, Arri, Mole-Richardson, and Rosco work very hard to develop the lights that advance the state of the art. It’s slow, difficult work, but it translates into money well spent when you see the results.

Dedolight News 2016

Dedolight catalog 2016

So it was rewarding to see the Dedolight booth filled with visitors day after day, everyone eager to discover all that’s new and to have a chance to talk with Dedo Weigert himself (when he’s not being interviewed).

Dedo Weigert interview NAB 2016

Once again, the use of DSLRs in production continues to rise, now being challenged by micro four thirds cameras. I’d even say most of the video production taking place at the show was based on the latter format. And here’s where another of my favorite companies comes into play — Fotodiox continues to expand its range of lens adapters so that just about any lens can be mounted to almost any camera body.

Fotodiox lens adapter rings

Beyond being beautifully conceived and finished, these reasonably-priced products mean that favorite optics can have a whole new life. I have an ancient Leica 90mm f/4 Elmar which the legendary Marty Forscher custom-adapted to my Nikons 30 years ago. Used wide-open, it is a remarkable portrait lens, and now is equally superb (although with an effective focal length of 120mm) on my Fuji X-E2.

Zeiss lenses at NAB 2016

And it’s just as amazing to see the range of lenses that Zeiss is producing with DSLR platforms in mind. True, the prices are sky-high, but again, it’s unfair to complain too much; in a production environment where Nikon and Canon cameras are being used for everything from commercials to feature films, the economics, speed and output quality for most shoots is a match for massive, far more costly production cameras.

Red drone at NAB 2016

As for drones, which only a few years ago were out of reach for most individuals, they too keep getting better and cheaper. Watching coverage of the violent floods and storms happening across the U.S., they have unquestionably changed news-gathering. Can’t quite bring myself to buy one, but the thought of being able to have a drone in hover mode over the tennis court and watch a sobering post-match replay is tempting.

Nanuk cases at NAB 2016

Nanuk Nano cases at NAB 2016

Finally, a shout-out for Nanuk equipment cases from Canada, particularly their Nano series. I first saw this company’s products at the PhotoPlus show in New York last year and was really happy to see them at NAB.

The latching system is innovative and very secure. The Nano cases, in a range of colors and sizes, can’t be beat for storing accessories and location must-haves. I own and have used Pelican products for many years and think they are fine, but in my opinion, the Nanuk cases reach another level.

Can’t leave without some dining recommendations, for whenever you may be in Las Vegas —

I have no interest whatsoever in big name restaurants on The Strip, regardless of who the chef behind them is, but after a long day of work here are two that you might not find on your own:

Chef Marc’s Trattoria on West Sahara is as good a Tuscan-style Italian restaurant as I’ve ever eaten at… period. Feast your eyes on some of the dishes on their website, and then find a way to get yourself in front of the real thing.

For ramen and other traditional Japanese noodle dishes, Monta has been a favorite of mine for several years. Again, visit their website, make the drive to Spring Mountain Road, and enjoy some of the best ramen you’ll find outside Japan.

Lastly, just in case you’re driving to Los Angeles from Vegas (just under 300 miles), here’s a handy tip, based on the laws of supply and demand: fuel up before you leave. Gas was about $2.25 in Las Vegas, but 100 miles west, in the desert… well, let’s just say mountain lions weren’t the only predators out there.

Gas in the desert

Watch the Dedolight DLED7 Turbo Focus on the Head of a Pin

This week we’re in Las Vegas to help Dedolight get the word out on their new products. If you can’t be at the show, have a look at this video to get a feel for the level of craftsmanship that goes into everything they build. If you are at the show, please stop in and say hello! We’re in the central hall, booth C11435.

Filed April 19th, 2016. Related:

See What’s New from Dedolight This Year at NAB

We’ve made our yearly pilgrimage to Las Vegas to support our German colleagues from Dedo Weigert Film – better known as the team behind Dedolight products, which we’ve been proud to distribute across the US for many years. If you’re in town for the show, please come say hello! We’ll be here for the next few days in booth C11435.

Dedolight NAB 2016