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Mar. 2, 2023

How ARRI lighting helped to build a hybrid studio for e-commerce

In planning a hybrid photo and video studio, William Ophalvens needed perfect lighting equipment. He chose the ARRI Orbiter for its quality and versatility.

Mar. 2, 2023

William Ophalvens, Videographer Lead at Amazon, oversees quality control for online video production in the European market. Along with his team, he is responsible for shooting product photos and videos for the e-commerce company—a key aspect for success in online retail. Visual impressions of a product play a vital role in how shoppers interact with a brand. Photos and videos capture a potential customer’s attention, create interest, and drive purchases. 

To reinvent and simplify production processes, Ophalvens came up with the idea of creating a hybrid studio for shooting product photos and videos in Barcelona, Spain. The requirement was to generate a simple, efficient, and adaptable environment, while also considering ecological footprint and frugality. “I quickly understood that versatility was key for this project,” says Ophalvens. “I decided to propose a hybrid set made of continuous lighting, so we could enhance the capability for photo and video in the same space and with the same lighting equipment.”

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Videographer William Ophalvens designed a hybrid studio for shooting product photos and videos

After testing different lighting products, William Ophalvens opted for the ARRI Orbiter to illuminate the studio set. His choice was not only based on quality and productivity, but also the flexibility of the Orbiter: It is available around the world and other ARRI optics and accessories can be added to the fixture. “I always have one Orbiter on set for product videography and photography. I like its versatility. We use it with the Open Face optic when we want pictures of the inside of a handbag or the sole of a boot.”

Ophalvens is impressed with the ARRI fixture’s output: “The light is strong but well defined. When needed, we can use the Orbiter with a dome to create an ambient light or even recreate the output of a SkyPanel with a SnapBag. This versatility is also useful when it comes to virtual production, as the Orbiter allows you to match a lot of different lighting effects. This piece of equipment gives you the freedom to create.”

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The versatility of the Orbiter plus accessories made it the right choice for a hybrid studio

In terms of accessories, he particularly enjoys the ARRI Photometric App, which allows users to quickly reference the photometric characteristics, technical specification, and more. “It’s really helpful to understand the output of a fixture,” says Ophalvens. “For example, you can add different SnapBags and understand the output by virtually adjusting the light’s intensity and distance to the product.” The videographer also appreciates the magnetic remote that comes with the Orbiter. He even mentions, “the little slot to store the remote is really well engineered.”

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In product photography, the Orbiter “gives you the freedom to create,” says William Ophalvens

“When it comes to e-commerce, there are a ton of challenges, same as in any production,” declares Ophalvens. From color accuracy in photography to extracting stills out of video files, from shooting a pouring liquid to capturing apparels on a model: Putting your product in the right light is crucial. “You can have the most precise sensor in the world, but if your lighting is not precise, you won’t deliver good results.” Also, according to William Ophalvens, the world of e-commerce is constantly changing. “The biggest challenge is tomorrow. Therefore, we need future proof equipment.”

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“If your lighting is not precise, you won’t deliver good results” 

When asked about inspiration for his work, the videographer points to his team and the feedback he gets from customers: “One important point for an artist is getting direction. I’m also inspired by social media, life, and challenges.” And how about lighting? His answer is very straightforward: “Light is the most important thing on set, then lenses and camera. Before anything else, get good lighting. Then work around!”

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William Ophalvens: “Light is the most important thing on set”