The initial concept of IndieTips was to create a resource for those completely new at filmmaking, and for those who are also relatively light regarding budget. It might, therefore, seem quite of the opposite to review a light that costs $799. It will likely be outside of the budget of many readers of this site, and given that the light should be used in conjunction with other lights, it may isolate many who frequently visit the site. So, why review the light? Well, it’s brilliant. It’s a tool that like the latest camera release, you should be saving up for.
The Bladelight by Flolight offers a fascinating linear design aspect over conventional 1×1 panel LED or Fresnel lantern housing you are most likely familiar with. The Bladelight is available in two sizes of 18inch or 36inch. The model that I’ve been using and will base this review on is the 36-inch 3200k model. You can acquire theses lights in 5600k, 3200k, bi-colour or green. The green edition of the light is to be used with green screen filmmaking.
With the green LED version, you can light a green screen 10 feet wide by 10 feet high with just two lights.
You can also purchase the bi-colour light with the option of a battery mount to make this light more portable; I am told that it is likely all versions will soon come with the possibility of upgrading to a battery mount package.
Before we move into the practical uses of the light and what you can achieve with it, let us first look at what is included with the light.
The Bladelight comes with a very handy carry bag. It has a couple of storage pouches, and a strap to keep the light firmly in place. Unfortunately, the carry bag won’t do much in the way of protecting the light like a pelican case would. With the size and shape of the light, especially the 36-inch model, finding a suitable hard case might be a costly venture. However, it does make carrying the light a lot easier. As the light is quite heavy, the 36-inch version of the light weighs around 10lbs; it might be a too much for cheaper light stands.
Also included is a double ball mount. Unlike your typical lamp mount which is tightened directly onto a light stand, and from thereon you can pan/tilt the lamp. The ball mount allows the Bladelight to be placed at almost any angle and position. It’s incredibly helpful accessory as you can change the set up from horizontal to vertical within seconds. These double ball mounts can range from $60-$100. The fact that flolight include this in the package is a huge point winner. And hey, you can use this on your other lights when the Bladelight isn’t in use.
The light also comes with a couple of colour gels and diffusion sheet which slides into the placements at the front of the light. What’s great about the design of the light is that there are two placements where you can slide a gel into one, and the diffusion sheet in another. It’s a much more efficient manner of stacking gels and diffusions, instead of having them layered one other another across the barn doors. At the moment, the only pre-cut gels available for the light at the ones Flolight provide with the Bladelight, hopefully in the future they might produce different colours, but for the time being, you’ll either have to cut your own density sheet or sling over the entire light.
Not necessarily an accessory, but the light runs through a power supply which was initially quite bulky, and stopped the carry case from closing up properly unlesss you spent 10 minutes trying to make it fit. Since receiving the light, Flolight has updated the power supply design to be more streamlined and smaller.
Why chose a light with this elongated design over a conventional light? Well, first, let’s go into a real world problem that I had encountered not only a few months ago. We had already established in a previous shot that some of the windows are boarded up, and dirty, so light entering the scene will be cut and divided. At first, to achieve this effect, we had two c-stands to hold a flag and a reflector to cut off the 2k light positioned outside, which in turn created an excellent light streak across the actor’s eyes.
The problem we encountered was that when we needed to move closer [with the camera], we obstructed the path of the light and started to cast shadows onto the actor. Instead of completely reconfiguring the lighting setup, which would have taken another thirty minutes. We pulled the Bladelight out of the van and set up that up to recreate the effect that initially took three different tools to create. The Bladelight has three direct beam angles of 120, 60 and 20 degrees, and as a result, we could carve a vertical, or in this case horizontal, light to mimic light that which was shaped through the use of flags. The 2k outside was a tungsten Arri, and to this day I’m still a little hesitant about using an LED to light an actor face because I feel, personally, you can somewhat see the light is artificial, rather than part of the ‘film world’. However, the Bladelight has a CRI Rating of 95+ which really gives us a nice clean colour rendition and helps keep the skin tones where they need to be. The Bladelight offers many advantageous lighting setups which would often require many other tools to create with a Fresnel. It’s wonderful as a backlight to adequately light the subject’s entire torso, and not just the shoulder/head.The Bladelight here was increased to full brightness. In comparison with the previous image, you can see despite it’s linear design it has quite a wide spread.
Along with IndieTips.com I also write for Premiumbeat, and recently I produced an article about utilising background lighting to create three-dimensional space. You can read that here. Most importantly in regards to this review, there was a section I covered about creating streaks of light in the background to help bring your talent away from the background. In the example image below, you can see the crew of Stillmotions shoot have used multiple tools to create this effect. With the Bladelight, it’s a one-stop job. Of course, the Bladelight isn’t going to be as powerful as the one used in the image, but if you have a tight shot, it would very easily work. In regards to power, the 36-inch version is the equivalent of a 1000w tungsten light.
To finish; The Bladelight is that light you’ve always wished you had, but didn’t know existed. Despite the linear shape, it offers many more creative possibilities, as well as retaining the use a standard lamp would have. The entry price might isolate many DIY and no-budget filmmakers, but if there’s one thing to be put on your Christmas list this year, make it this light. If the $800 light is a stretch, you can always look at acquiring the 18-inch model. If you’re a no-budget filmmaker, you might find that a lighter and more portable light would suit your needs better.