Studio lighting solutions
Besides its home in the United States, the televised home shopping company QVC broadcasts in four countries: the UK, Germany, Japan and Italy. The operation in the UK recently relocated to a purpose-built office and studio complex in Chiswick, West London. Taking the opportunity to equip this state-of-the-art facility with the latest technologies, QVC UK turned to ARRI Lighting Solutions, with which it already had a well-established relationship, to provide ARRI tungsten and fluorescent lighting fixtures as well as various pantographs from the ARRI suspension range.
The new complex contains four studios, two small and two large. The smaller studios are for pack shots, auditions and certain postproduction tasks, while the larger studios, at 425 m2 each, are where the main program content is filmed. They have been kitted out with 84 True Blue Studio and 82 ARRI Junior tungsten Fresnel lampheads, 122 ARRI Studio Cool fluorescent fixtures and several different types of ARRI pantographs. The Studio Cools provide fill light and in some instances back light, while the Fresnels serve as traditional back and key lights.
Many more fluorescent lights were installed than at QVC UK's previous facility, a change that has brought several benefits, as Shift Operations Manager Peter Bower - a lighting director of long experience - explains: "The transition to cool lights for all our soft lighting requirements enabled a reduction in the power supply needed, the number of dimmer channels purchased, and also the amount of air conditioning required. In addition, the fluorescent tubes have much longer lifespans than the tungsten bubbles they replaced."
QVC UK broadcasts live from its two main studios for 17 hours every day, so they are in almost constant use. The reliance on remotely operated cameras and range extenders for extreme close-ups of items such as jewelry mean that the studios must operate at high light levels. Technical Operations Manager David Hansford-White notes, "Although we did look at LED, tungsten remained the best option for our key lights because we're usually at about 1,200 lux, whereas most places these days are at 800 lux or below."
Each of the main studios contains seven or eight different sets and the lighting grid remains fairly static, although the ARRI spring pantographs allow lights to be swapped or repositioned when necessary. "The sets have a fixed lighting rig regarding the type and positioning of the luminaires rigged, but the pantographs enable easy height adjustment and all the lamps are pole-operated so that their coverage and barn doors are easily adjusted as required," says Bower. "Each luminaire has its own dimmer channel or DMX address so that the final lighting balance can be adjusted on air."
With live broadcasts taking place almost all of the time, reliability of equipment was a major factor in the decision as to which lights and pantographs to install in the new facility. "Our experience with ARRI lights meant we knew they would give us the punch we needed," says Hansford-White. "We also knew that they are fantastically reliable, so we had no hesitation in choosing a mix of ARRI Fresnels and soft tube lights."