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Cold lights for ENG

Engineer Rodolfo Vergara, general manager of FLUOTEC, explains the advantages of the ENG application of fluorescent cold lights.

To talk about the benefits of new technologies in the field of lighting for film and television, TV&Video had the opportunity to talk with Engineer Rodolfo Vergara, General Manager of FluoTec. This company, based in Mexico, has been dedicated to the development of fluorescent light lighting solutions for applications in studio and on-site TV production.

TV&V: What is the technological proposal of Fluo-tec?

Rodolfo Vergara: Fundamentally, Fluotec aims to develop and market products that contain and apply in the best possible way the resources, advantages and cutting-edge technology offered by fluorescent lamps and all the electrical and electronic systems associated with this way of producing light. It is not a question of inventing new problems and then finding a solution to them, but of proposing new solutions that offer advantages over existing ones.

TV&V: On what lighting principles is it based?

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Rodolfo Vergara: At Fluotec we don't invent the principles of lighting and we don't try to rethink or modify them, but we simply try to find new ways to produce and control light. When the Director of Photography uses luminaires with fluorescent lamps, he will not find that he has to apply a new theory to illuminate but will have at hand other types of sources to solve situations that he has already faced. Luminaires equipped with fluorescent lamps are still sources of diffused light "soft lights" that must therefore be considered and applied as such.

TV&V: What are the advantages and disadvantages of the cold lights you produce for ENG applications?

Rodolfo Vergara: The use of fluorescent light for ENG applications is something relatively new since fluorescent luminaires until now had been long, heavy and therefore very cumbersome. If we talk about a large production in cinema, with an immense mobile lighting unit, we will find that carrying 20 or 30 fluorescent luminaires of 1.20 m in length and without attachments to transport it is not so important. However, the news team that has to travel by plane or car to cover 4 or 5 different events a week and that in a couple of briefcases must carry everything necessary does not think the same. Fluotec portable fluorescent luminaires called Petite aim to solve exactly that. The novelty of its concept is that the luminaire is an integral part of a suitcase, that is, when you open the briefcase you find that half is the luminaire and in the other half all the accessories are contained: the lamps, the mounting system, the ballast, the cutters, the intensifier and the grid or honeycomb. The manufacture of the briefcase is in high impact ABS plastic which allows them to be transported without the need to protect them, in addition, their size is exactly the maximum allowed to travel inside the cabin of commercial airlines as hand luggage. Another great advantage is that you can wear bulbs with tungsten color temperature (3200°K) or bulbs with daylight color temperature (5300°K). The bulbs are easily interchangeable and the team of technicians will have both types of light in a single luminaire.

Once a user who was surprised with the concept summed up our portable luminaires as "a daylight source for economical and efficient location". In this sense, we must take into account the high price of daylight sources for existing locations: luminaires with HMI type metal additive lamps.

TV&V: What are the characteristics that this type of lights offer for the work of a Director of Photography on location?

Rodolfo Vergara: As we have already said, fluorescent luminaires are essentially sources of diffused light "soft lights". When we talk about fluorescent light for location we must mention that in a single luminaire we have both color temperatures (daylight and tungsten). The light source produces little heat so it can be placed a short distance from the talent and the scenery, the energy consumption is not very considerable so we should not worry about whether or not in the place where we are recording there is enough energy to support our lights. On the other hand, and applying the luminaire-suitcase concept, a large number of light sources can be loaded in small transports or in the hold of the car.

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TV&V: What specific applications do Fluo-tec lights have?

Rodolfo Vergara: The ideal application for portable luminaires are mobile news equipment and on-location video production.

TV&V: What are the developments that prepare for the future?

Rodolfo Vergara: FluoTec has different plans for the year 2000. In the first instance, a new series for location will be released. This series essentially takes up the concept of luminaire-suitcase but has features that, together with those of the previous series, make a big difference: Weight reduction, integrated ballast, universal assembly including multivoltage and better costs. This line will be available in the first quarter of the year. The development of these luminaires has been an adventure shared with the North American company Lowel Light Manufacturing Inc. (undisputed world leaders in light for location) and will go on the market with its seal for the market of the United States, Canada, Asia and Europe. In Latin America, the units will be marketed under the FluoTec label. This product brings together fluoTec technology in terms of fluorescent light and the technology and experience that Lowel Light has managed to accumulate in more than 40 years within this market.

On the other hand and later in the year, FluoTec will present new products for studio application.

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TV&V: Do these developments involve the real needs and economic possibilities of a market like that of this region?

Rodolfo Vergara: Since its inception more than three years ago, that has been the dynamic and policy of FluoTec: To make available to the market, not only in this region but in the largest number of regions, the benefits of fluorescent technology at a really affordable price. Until a few years ago the investment that a TV studio had to make to switch to fluorescent technology was very high. Our intention is that fluorescent luminaires represent a real option to replace or combine with other types of luminaires without having to make exaggerated investments.

TV&V: How do you see the Latin American industry towards the near future?

Rodolfo Vergara: We believe that the industry in Latin America has concentrated much of its expectations on the range of products developed in other parts of the world, on the development and manufacture of products to meet the demands and demands of a local market and on the import and marketing of products manufactured elsewhere. Unfortunately, and due to the recurrent crises in which all the countries of Latin America fall, the import and commercialization of technology and manufactured products becomes the only subsistence option for many sectors that at some point tried to develop and manufacture their own products. I think we should try to learn the most from the processes and systems that multinationals are installing in our region, analyze what are the things that suit us and have application in our industry and finally try to develop those products in which we really have a niche and an opportunity not only in the local market but also worldwide. We do know this now, we know what rules, norms and standards our products must comply with. The industry in Latin America currently has a commitment to learning as we began to have at hand many of the elements and information that have made the industry a great industry in other regions. However, I believe that we are just at the beginning and we are a few years away from many companies in the region exporting and exhibiting their products around the world. In short, the consolidation of Latin American companies as exporters of their own technology will still take some time.

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