SkyPanels in vogue for fashion events

The well-known British visual artist and lighting designer Tupac Martir talks about his work with ARRI SkyPanel LED soft lights at fashion events.

Why are you fascinated by light?

Because it allows me to hide! I love what light can do, how it enhances an idea or creates a poignant moment – every time the audience takes a picture they are capturing a moment that has been carefully created with light. Most people are not aware of how much light brings to their life, how much it influences how they feel – their mood and behavior. I love the idea that by creating the scene I become part of your life without you noticing and most important without you even knowing that I exist, or realizing that I thought about how you would feel in that moment. It’s not a dark art, as some would like to tell you; I feel it is the most beautiful way of existing in a person’s life, without ever meeting them.

Most people are not aware of how much light brings to their life.

You have been described as a “light magician”. Which of your projects have stood out for you, or been the most challenging?
I think they all vary in terms of the needs and creativity. Sometimes the shows that look the easiest can be the hardest and every show has its own difficulties, whether you are using three lamps or 300. Each decision made behind the scenes of a show has its reason to exist. I am sure the guys in the studio might have shows that they have hated or loved, but overall I think it’s about the experience that is created for the audience.

At the Milan Fashion Week you lit the catwalk for Emilio Pucci’s show. As a lighting designer, what are the priorities and challenges at fashion events like this?

The first and most important thing is to remember that the collection is king. We all work to make the clothes look as good as possible. With that in mind, the photographers at the venue need to communicate the different looks and ideas that the designer has created. We live in the days of social media and everyone has become a window into an event. It is important that those pictures are also great to look at, as you never know who is posting and who is watching. So the priority is to provide a clean view of the clothes, the way that the designer intended. Everything else is just enhancement or decoration.

Tupac Martir lit the catwalk for Emilio Pucci with ARRI SkyPanels

During this show you worked with 50 ARRI SkyPanel S60-C fixtures. Why did you choose them?

When I was looking at how to create an even-looking catwalk, it became evident that it should be done with light. By having a light element, rather than a scenographic element, we could enhance the space in a much more modern way. So I started looking at different lamps and then I remembered using SkyPanels on a previous TV shoot we had done. The SkyPanels gave me the color range that I needed, plus they looked very sexy on camera.

The SkyPanels gave me the color range that I needed, plus they looked very sexy on camera.

Which features of the SkyPanel do you find most useful?

The fact that they have a full range of colors, that they can be used with RDM and how punchy they are, makes them a great tool for many different occasions. The RDM feature allows me to see each one of them and change the settings, without having to send a technician to check if something is failing, or what is going on.

How else have you used SkyPanels, and what applications do you consider them useful for?

We had used them previously for a commercial shoot in the UK and also as the main light inside the 360-degree box we created for the last Hugo Boss women’s show. I think the SkyPanel is great for eye candy. On the Hugo Boss shoot we used it to change the colors of the environment and it allowed us to rapidly alter the 360-degree experience for viewers. I also believe that there is scope to explore using the SkyPanel as an effect light, because of its quick dimming.

Preparing the catwalk for the show

Is your relationship with ARRI equipment an established one?

Yes, it started with an ARRI Fresnel and it has continued ever since. But it doesn’t only include lights – in the studio we are also big fans of the ALEXA camera and ARRI lenses.