Sky Panel Issues

Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:12 pm


I’ve been a Gaffer for some 35 years now and am at present shooting in the Caribbean for 22 weeks for a BBC drama.
Most of our kit out here is ARRI including six Sky Panels, 4 x S60 and 2 x S120 all firmware 4.0
The other day I was presented with a problem that I don’t know how to resolve... We were shooting in a hotel suite/foyer with mixed lighting. This was mainly lit by daylight sources at 5600K or a little less. A large amount of the foyer could be seen through the door entrance as the artist entered but the foyer had ‘low energy’ downlighters at 4000K with the usual ‘green spike’. We were not allowed to remove, change or cover these with Black Wrap (in shot). As a backlight for the doorway I used a S60, the Dp requested a 1/8 Plus Green to match the ‘green spike’ of the downlighters and 4000K CT setting. I could not use the ‘Gel’ mode to dial in the 1/8 Plus Green as I am restricted to 5600 or 3200K CT by the Sky Panel. I suggested that we added some 1/8 Plus Green via the ‘Green/Magenta Controller’ on the head but was asked how I would know it was an 1/8...? So I ended up setting the head to 4000K and gelling the Sky Panel, much to the Sound Recordists amusement... This seemed ridiculous, particularly as the next day we had to add gel to all the Sky Panels whilst we filmed in the foyer.

Given the technical ability of the Sky Panels, why am I restricted to only 5600 or 3200K when using the Gel Mode? Is there some kind of Arri conversion chart available from Sky Panel ‘plus/minus green controller’ percentages that gives me plus and minus green 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and full? Is this possible to fix in a firmware update soon, given the latest on FW4.0 only came out in May? Or have I missed a trick here?

Finally a phenomenon I have had with the Sky Panels whilst out here is an emitter panel turning pale pink regardless of the colour temperature setting. First it happened to a S60 when half the head turned pink. We swapped a good ‘non pink’ panel from another S60 into the head but it was still the same. In the end the rental company agreed to send out another head some 8 weeks later...
Now the same thing has occurred on a S120 although the ‘pink’ strip is vertical and 50mm wide on emitter panel 3. Has anyone else come across this problem? Could it be the temperature/humidity here? It averages 30-36 degrees with 85% humidity, rising higher in the rain forest.
I’m fully aware that the design of these lamps does not make them moisture resistant and to that end I have been using, when necessary, large clear plastic ‘camera bags’ over the top of a strengthened Arritex rectangle which in turn is clipped to the handle of the head. This allows the plastic bag to remain fully open and give some ventilation to the head whist rendering it waterproof too. I have not had an ‘over temperature’ warning as to yet... but why hasn’t Arri or some third party company come up with a weatherproof cover..?

I start the second half (10 weeks) of shooting next Monday and could really do without more Sky Panel failures, so any advice on any of the above would be appreciated.
Ken Lowe
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:19 pm

Re: Sky Panel Issues

Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:53 pm

Hi Ken,

Thanks for your post.

In regard to your gel comment, we have several solutions for you. I will take your example and explain some ways the problem can be solved.
1. The plus green / minus green on the SkyPanel is on a scale of -1.0 to +1.0. +1.0 is equal to a Rosco Full Plus green or a 30 CC shift. You can do some conversion for this to get 1/8th plus green which would be +0.125. Half plus green would of course be +0.5, and so on.
2. You can select a gel in gel mode, for example 1/8th plus green, and then use the new Extended Color Control to warm or cool the color. This is not a precise CCT value, but would enable you to change the color of any gel in eight different ways (warmer/cooler, saturate/desaturate, +/- Red, +/- Green, +/- Blue, +/- Cyan, +/- Magenta, +/- Yellow). You can access Extended Color Control by holding down the Mode button for 3 seconds. This added layer of color control is available for any color mode, including gels.
3. The third way and probably most interesting is using x,y Coordinate mode. This color mode allows you to use a spectrometer (a device that is able to read the wavelengths of color - different from a color meter) to measure the x and y value of any light source. You then simple dial in the x and y value into the SkyPanel and you have matched that source exactly - no additional work needed. This is becoming very popular as it is the best and more accurate way for matching any light source.

I'm not quite sure what could be causing your changing color problem in the SkyPanel. I would recommend to contact an ARRI service center if it continues to happen. SkyPanel is rated for dry location use only. They have an ambient temperature max of +45ºC (113ºF) and can work into condition of 90% humidity non-condensing. It could be possible that the moisture is effecting one of the LED channels (such as the green channel) and that is causing a shift toward pink. In a humid environment, I'm not sure a waterproof cover will help as you will always need air intake and air outputs which will bring in the humid air. You could try to change the fan mode of the SkyPanel to Variable which will only run the fans when needed and perhaps reduce the amount of moisture being sucked into the fixture.

I hope this information helps and please let us know if there are further questions.

- Mike Wagner
Senior Product Manager, ARRI
Mike Wagner
Posts: 38
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:42 pm

Re: Sky Panel Issues

Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:06 am

Hello Mike,
May I first apologise for the delay in my reply to you. We have been shooting in a rain forest for almost a week with no network signal...

Can I now say a huge thank you to you for your help with my Sky Panel issues. The information given was absolutely spot on and presented so simply that I now feel a bit of a fool...
In my defence, I have never come across any other information similar to the answers provided by yourself by either reading Arri publications or via the internet explaining what is now quite obvious.
Interestingly, it was only a few days before receiving your reply that I had purchased a Sekonic C700 spectrometer which, after reading your explaination, will now use for precise colour matching.
Should you have any further snippets of information regarding Sky Panels then I’m all ears...

Best Regards,

Ken Lowe
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:19 pm

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