M-Series a big hit in China
Sun Weifeng is the owner of Scenefone Film Equipment, one of the biggest rental houses in China. He recently invested in hundreds of M-Series lights, including ARRIMAX, M90, M40, M18 and M8 lampheads. As an experienced gaffer, he spoke with ARRI about why he thinks the M-Series out-shines anything else available on the domestic or international market.
What appeals to you about M-Series lights?
Firstly they are smaller than traditional PAR lights and yet are brighter and have a larger beam angle. Secondly, they can help reduce workload. When we tested the M-Series, the lensless design enabled a much more convenient workflow on set than PAR lights, which need to change lenses all the time. Lenses are always a problem because they are expensive, fragile, and susceptible to bad weather, so the M-Series can bring tangible benefits to the whole lighting industry -- saving money for rental houses and production budgets, and saving time for crews.
As a gaffer, I appreciate the brightness of M-Series fixtures. With MAX Technology, an M40 light with a 4 kW bulb is almost as bright as a normal 6 kW light. Being able to use a smaller unit is more convenient because it is easier and faster, and the light itself is of a higher quality, with better directionality and stronger penetrating power. On top of this, the M-Series now has ballasts with a 1,000 Hz option, which is perfect for high-speed shooting.
How will you build awareness of the M-Series in China?
I know that quite a lot of people in our country want to buy M-Series lights, but are holding back to see how they perform in the market. The equipment rental market is really large in China and many of the lights are made domestically. We saw an opportunity to distinguish ourselves from our competitors by investing in the M-Series, and we've already proved that gaffers and cinematographers respond very well to the lights.
We'll be encouraging more crews to try the M-Series on their shoots. A few days ago a client came in with 575 and 1.2 kW units on their lighting list; we let them try out a few M-Series M8 and M18 fixtures instead, and the crew loved them. Next time their list will include M-Series lights, because they know about them now and they recognize how good they are.
Can the ARRI lights succeed despite the number of cheaper Chinese alternatives?
I really believe in the superior quality of ARRI products, and I think they are a sound long-term investment. The heat dissipation, safety performance, durability and high-tech components of the M-Series set them apart, and from the perspective of a rental house, cheaper lights can cost more in the end because you have to keep spending money on them. ARRI lights last longer and need less maintenance, so although the up-front cost is higher, if you calculate your investment over the life of the product, then they are likely to actually save you money.
Since we are among the first to invest in authentic M-Series lights, we will have a shorter cost-recovery period. Every professional in China who has tried these lights has wanted to use them again, so by spreading awareness of the brand and of how much better it is than the alternatives, we will increase our market share.
With MAX Technology, an M40 light with a 4 kW bulb is almost as bright as a normal 6 kW light.
Contrary to what most people think, the rental fees of ARRI lights are actually the same as domestic lights. We want to spread the message that by using ARRI lights, productions in China can have access to a far better and more reliable product, without a significant increase in costs. It's our responsibility to help improve the film and TV industry here by promoting high quality equipment.
Do you think the M-Series could totally replace traditional PAR lights on a production?
I think that wouldn't be a problem at all. We're currently looking for an opportunity to send out all of the M-Series lights on a single project, preferably a high-profile movie with a professional crew. This would be a great way for a gaffer and cinematographer to test how the M-Series performs as a set, independent of any traditional lights.