SkyPanel X brings short film “Tempest” to life

SkyPanel X brings short film “Tempest” to life

Director Gideon Merz completely relied on ARRI SkyPanel X to illuminate his short film “Tempest” and create different looks with limited resources.

Jul. 10, 2024

Captured with ALEXA Mini LF, German short film “Tempest” is a visual poem, dedicated to individuality. In this clip, director Gideon Merz shares a critical view on the constant urge for perfection—or the superficial idea thereof that many people are focusing on. Director Merz, cinematographer Julian Holzwarth and gaffer Tim Krumbügel completely relied on ARRI camera and lighting equipment for the shoot, including the new SkyPanel X and one classic SkyPanel S360-C.  
Interviewed by ARRI, director Merz explains how he and his team lit three different settings with five X23 LED panels. He talks about the challenges on set and shares insights about how ARRI lighting technology supported his vision for “Tempest”: “SkyPanel X is robust, powerful, and very precise—it was the perfect solution for us, and I can’t wait to use it again,” says Merz.

BTS video: Lighting the short film "Tempest"


How did you choose your equipment for the short film “Tempest”?

My background is in cinematography, so for me, the aesthetics of the film— alongside the message of course—were an absolute priority. We only had a short time window for shooting “Tempest,” so it was extremely important to work with reliable equipment. Together with my DP Julian Holzwarth, we decided to shoot on ALEXA MINI LF. It’s the most versatile and reliable package out there, and it was the perfect fit for our different setups like sticks, handheld, and TRINITY. In terms of lighting, we needed to create very different looks with extremely limited resources. This was a big challenge, and we needed creative solutions. Luckily, at this moment, ARRI released the new SkyPanel X series, which ticked all the boxes. That's when I knew: We need these lights! There’s no way around it.

Can you describe the lighting setup for different sets?

For the first set, we wanted a low-key look with strong contrasts to create a melancholic mood. To me, it was important to have a hard light that travels repeatedly through the picture as a sequential effect. The recurring characteristic ruled out a classic lighting rig on a dolly track. We couldn’t dim conventional HMIs to zero percent and Tungsten wasn’t an option either. So, the best solution was to use five SkyPanel X23 next to each other, controlled via DMX. This gave us full control and allowed us to create the perfect effect.

The interior hard light travels through the picture as a sequential effect

The interior hard light travels through the picture as a sequential effect

How about your second lighting setup?

The second set was built in a studio. Here, the look had to be expressive, and it was extremely important to have fast and precise control of light intensity and color value. Two X23 as a top light and one X21 for the background, all attached with X21 Domes, were the perfect setup for us. For close-ups, we had one additional classic S360-C SkyPanel. Precise control of the settings via DMX and a strong output, even with red-monochrome light, enabled us to work quickly and very efficiently. 

Swipe through BTS images on the lighting setup for “Tempest”


Did you encounter any challenges with lighting your short film?

In set number three, we were going for a high-key look. We needed the lights to be hidden in plain sight since we showed 360 degrees of the location. We had strict requirements to only use LED light for fire safety reasons. This could easily have been a problem, as the location was huge, and most LEDs simply wouldn’t have had enough power. But in this case, two X23 with HyPer Optics, shot through a toplight, saved the day for us. The output is roughly equivalent to two M40 lights, but only needs a fraction of the power and hardly generates any heat. I’m pretty sure that, without the SkyPanel X, we would not have been able to achieve the same result in this location. 

Swipe through BTS on the perfect “high-key look” with SkyPanel X