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Crew Boston Lights ‘Antiques Roadshow’ Field Segments with Zylight F8 LED Fresnel

Zylight F8 LED Fresnel

Crew Boston’s Bob Birkett uses a Zylight F8 LED Fresnel while shooting on location for Antiques Roadshow and other productions.

In the field, there are few “normal” lighting setups – the only constants for the EFP crew of Antiques Roadshow, the popular PBS series produced by member station WGBH in Boston, are different locations and tight shooting schedules. Between May and August, the Antiques Roadshow crew shot in eight different cities across the country for the show’s 19th season, which will begin airing in January 2015.

Each episode features a field segment with host Mark L. Walberg, who visits a site in the event city with one of the show’s appraisers to learn about specific items. For the season, that amounts to 24 different locations, each one a new lighting challenge that requires a highly flexible and mobile lighting package.

Bob Birkett from Crew Boston Video Production Services has been shooting for Antiques Roadshow since its debut in 1997. As director of field videography, he and the WGBH EFP crew record the field segments as well as the show’s open and close with the host.

This season’s travels took Birkett’s crew to the stage of the Apollo Theater in New York City; a coal mine in Charleston, W.V.; an international balloon museum in Albuquerque, N.M.; and the historic Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Ala. Some setups were interiors, others were exteriors. All were shot with Crew Boston’s Panasonic AJ-HDX900 DVCPRO HD camcorder – and this season, Birkett added a Zylight F8 LED Fresnel to his lighting kit.

Birkett said the Zylight F8 is incredibly versatile. “Museum curators prefer that you not put a hot light near a valuable and often light-sensitive work of art,” he explained. “The staff at the Austin State Museum, for example, were very concerned about how we would light their very delicate Texas Declaration of Independence. We showed them the dimmed down and cool Zylight and eased their concerns.”

For years, Birkett has been using Zylight’s Z90 compact LED light on location as a backlight and on-camera light. The palm-sized Z90 offers variable color temperature with no color shift while dimming, and its built-in color mode provides immediate access to millions of colors without gels or filters.

“The Z90 is not just an on-camera light,” he said. “It has such flexibility of color choices, and its low power draw means you can run it a long time on battery. I will often grab the Z90 when I need a splash of color in the background. A segment we shot at the Rickenbacker guitar factory is a good example – the wall of guitars was washed in deep blue with one Z90.”

Birkett opted for the daylight-balanced F8 and uses the F8 Filter Kit to warm the output. He said unlike LED light panels with multiple light sources, the F8 provides better control over the quality and texture of the light. The fully dimmable F8 features an eight-inch SCHOTT glass lens to maintain single shadow traditional Fresnel beam shaping, as well as an adjustable beam spread (16-70 degrees) and patented focusing system for spot and flood operations.

In contrast to HMI lights, the F8 is much more portable, Birkett added. For Antiques Roadshow, the battery-powered F8 came in handy for several setups, including Walberg’s tour through a coal mine (in a mine cart) and a horseback ride in a pasture in Austin. Birkett said he also used the F8 for quick stand-ups with the host when no external power was available.

“It’s definitely a part of my go-to lighting package,” Birkett added. “I like it because of the Fresnel lens and its ability to be dimmed. The variable intensity makes it ideal for lighting backgrounds for interviews.”

Birkett is an independent contractor and does not represent Antiques Roadshow or WGBH.


December 16, 2014