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ARRI Orbiter and SkyPanel take over photo studios in France

With the inescapable convergence of the photo and video markets, continuous lighting is becoming increasingly important in photo studios, and ARRI’s Orbiter and SkyPanels are lighting the way.

ARRI Lighting has been behind the scenes of still photography projects for many years. Fixtures such as SkyPanel and the ARRI HMI range are staples with many professionals. New on the scene, the ARRI Orbiter, which started shipping in October 2020, completes ARRI’s LED range with a real “Swiss Army knife” type of tool that is gradually finding its place with photographers and videographers alike. 

In France, ARRI spoke with a variety of photography professionals about their use of lighting. From lighting distributors to studio owners, from photographers to cinematographers, the message was clear: ARRI’s LED and HMI technologies provide a true benefit for the still photography market.

ARRI is a safe bet and offers a wider range of solutions than any other manufacturer. -- Olivier Rigal, Sales Director at Prophot

Established in Paris, Lille, Toulouse, and Lyon, Prophot is the undisputed specialist of professional photography and a connoisseur of its evolution towards digital for over twenty years. This led the company to become an ARRI Lighting distributor three years ago. 

“Today, there is such a close relationship between photo and video that we decided to accompany our customers in this transition,” emphasizes Olivier Rigal, Prophot’s Sales Director. “We have a high-end professional clientele made up of independent photographers and the integrated studios of CAC40 companies. They all welcomed the arrival of ARRI products in our catalog with enthusiasm. For them, ARRI is a safe bet and offers a wider range of solutions than any other manufacturer.” 

Rigal continues: “The ARRI HMI range, which allows for a fairly soft rendering, sells very well in photography. It appeals a lot to fashion and advertising photographers, with its high power close to the flash. This allows them to work in large aperture and fast speed. The SkyPanel series is more adapted to still photography, where you can play with the exposure time. It’s very soft, very uniform rendering, with a large lighting surface, is very popular with photographers. As for the new Orbiter, it is a natural complement to the SkyPanel. With it’s ability to focus light, to bring the subject to life, to create moods, it works perfectly with the current trend in photography which is to tell stories.”

The Orbiter allows me to make new creative suggestions to my clients. -- Benoît Viallon, photographer

A photographer specialized in fashion and beauty, Benoît Viallon would not say otherwise. He is one of the first in France to have adopted the ARRI Orbiter for his Supercastor shooting studio. Able to create specific sets for each shoot, even producing unique pieces in 3D printing, this photographer works with the biggest French luxury brands in photo and video. “My goal is to create a brand identity with my photographs,” says Benoît Viallon. “For that purpose, I am always looking for innovative solutions for my clients. And the Orbiter is part of the solutions that allow me to make new creative proposals. Whatever the client’s request, with this tool, I know I can meet it.”

In essence, on the set where the cosmetics he photographs are staged, Benoît Viallon builds his light with two ARRI Orbiters equipped with ARRI Open Face Optics and a series of Dedolight mini-reflectors. “For me, the Orbiter is the LED revolution. I can see the construction of my light in real-time. I gain precision and speed. As soon as I discovered the Orbiter, I knew it was a better fit for my needs. I ordered two Orbiter packages with all the accessories: 15°, 30°, and 60° Open Face optics, the Snoot to create concentrated flows, the Snap Bag softboxes, the shutters, etc. I’ve been using them for four months now, and I’m very satisfied. They have great power and give me real control over intensity and color. I can generate all the shades I need. This is very important for beauty and cosmetics photos. And it’s all integrated into a compact system, with accessories that fit any situation. On a daily basis, I save a lot of time during setup. By the way, I’m continuing in the ARRI world with the SkyPanel S60 that I just ordered. It will be an ideal complement to the Orbiter. It’s going to allow me to have a much more compact backlighting surface than a softbox.”

When ordering his ARRI Orbiters, Benoît Viallon asked for the black body instead of the original silver-blue. “One of the perfume brands I work with regularly has developed a backstage universe around its products. So I may have to bring in spotlights in the shots. With the black bodywork, I know I’ll be able to integrate the Orbiters into the image while remaining consistent with the perfume’s universe.”

…in continuous light….ARRI is the real benchmark. -- Laurent Brémaud, photographer and owner of the LB Studio

This enthusiasm for ARRI Lighting products is logically reflected in the rental companies. LB Studio, which offers photographers and videographers two studios of 250 m2 and 75 m2 in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, has become one of the leading rental companies for lighting and shooting equipment in Paris in recent years. Initially a marginal business, rentals now represent nearly 50% of its turnover. LB Studio has a wide range of ARRI lighting and has started to invest in ARRI ALEXA Mini and ARRI ALEXA Mini LF cameras that it regularly rents to French luxury players.

“Previously, each photographer had his or her own equipment. Today, with the digital upheaval, many no longer want to invest and want to work completely free of equipment,” explains Laurent Brémaud, photographer and owner of LB Studio. “Our customers are the ones who pushed us to start renting light and shooting equipment. Today, we support some of them in their transition to video. Their current concern is to optimize the shooting, using a model to produce in parallel both the photos and the video. This implies working in continuous light. And in this area, ARRI is the real benchmark.”

LB Studio offers photographers and videographers a wide range of ARRI lights, in HMI (M-Series, True Blue D), in tungsten (True Blue ST) and, of course, in LED: Fresnel L-Series C, about twenty ARRI SkyPanels (S30, S60, S120, S360) and for a few months now, three Orbiters. “The SkyPanel is a product that is very popular, including with photographers,” adds Laurent Brémaud. “The Orbiter is having a slow start and will take more time to be accepted by photographers, who are quite conservative in their choices. On the other hand, we are looking forward to an ARRI projection optic. This much-requested accessory will certainly be a trigger for wider use of the Orbiter in photography.”

The Orbiter is a true creative tool. -- Benjamin Rufi, director of photography

Working on the main set of LB Studio, Director of Photography Benjamin Rufi finishes his “prelight” for a week-long shoot of the beauty lines of a major French luxury brand, all filmed with ARRI ALEXA SXT. This is the third time since January that he has used the ARRI Orbiter alongside the ARRI SkyPanel. “The Orbiter is a true creative tool,” insists Benjamin Rufi. “It gives us the directional light base that we have been missing until now. It’s a huge step forward for ARRI, and it’s part of the SkyPanel universe that we know well.” 

Rufi continues about the ease of setup with ARRI equipment and the resulting time saved: “Today, I am working on a very creative beauty shoot. Clients ask us to be very strong on visual proposals. This requires us to do a lot of trial work beforehand. The time I saved with the ARRI system is important; it gives me more time to be creative. I can test a lot of configurations, do very quick setups, go from a very directive light to something more diffused. Previously, on a prelight day, the technical setup time was 5 to 6 hours. Only after that could I be really creative. Today, with the Orbiter and the SkyPanel, the installation takes me only 3 hours. This leaves me more time for creative research on my image and fine-tuning. Before now, this was rare on shoots. So it’s a real plus for me.”

On this shoot, Benjamin Rufi created a colored background with a SkyPanel S360 and very focused lights with an Orbiter on the back and another on the top. A work of great precision that is essential in order to best show off the cosmetics. The cinematographer also highlights the ease of color management with the Orbiter. “Before, we had a lot of trouble getting a directional color source. You had to put gelatins in and match them with the colors of the SkyPanel. It was long and tedious. Today, I choose a color on the Orbiter, and I am sure to have exactly the same on the SkyPanel. This is a precious time saver. In addition, both products integrate with ARRI’s Stellar application, which is essential for building my prelights. I can control the fixtures from an iPad and even create lists. This saves me a lot of time. The Orbiter is also a very fluid tool to use with its handle and accessories. On a previous shoot, my camera operator took the Orbiter by the handle and went for lighting effects by hand. The result was very interesting. Today, I’m looking forward to the upcoming Projection Optic that ARRI has in the pipeline. It will allow us to have a tighter beam of light, to be even more precise on beauty shoots.”


Opening Image: ©Benjamin Rufi