Improve Your LEDs On Camera
With OPTI-FLECS LED Enhancement Filters

James Mathers has been the director of photography on over 30 feature and made-for-TV films and has been associated with six TV series from inception through the show’s first season. He is also the president and co-founder of the The Digital Cinema Society, a nonprofit educational cooperative dedicated to the industry’s informed integration of new technology. In his role covering New Cinema Technology for the DCS, James has the opportunity to test and evaluate new gear, which he often takes advantage of to help meet the equipment needs of the projects he works on. This allows him to use the gear in real world productions for a better sense of how the tools perform where the rubber meets the road. Below is James’ account of how he was able to combine new technology from Red Scorpion LEDs with Rosco’s new OPTI-FLECS LED Enhancement Filters to illuminate his most recent independent film “Broken Links.”

Our “Big Gun” for lighting Broken Links was only a 500 watt fixture, but it did the trick. It was provided by a new company called Red Scorpion LEDs. Designed from the ground up by Cinematographer and former Gaffer Marcelo Colacilli, these lights have an emphasis on giving maximum output per watt, yet can still be plugged into a household circuit. They can reasonably be thought of as a replacement for an HMI PAR with their biggest unit, a 1K, being roughly equivalent to a 4K HMI PAR. The 500watt unit that we had seemed to exceed what I would expect from a 2.5K HMI, and proved plenty big enough for our purposes.

The 500W Red Scorpion working on the set of “Broken Links”

As with most LEDs, the challenge with the Red Scorpion’s lights is color fidelity. Given the fixture’s design emphasis on output over color rendition, this is admittedly more of an issue with the Red Scorpion units. Luckily, another manufacturer I’m friendly with, Rosco, had recently approached me about testing a line of gels specifically designed to offer an array of options to deal with LED lighting. The new Rosco line is known as “OPTI-FLECS” and comes as semi-rigid, reusable filters in 21 varieties of standard colors and diffusions.

James Mathers measures the enhancing effects of OPTI-FLECS on his LEDs

A gel can only absorb color, so if a portion of the color spectrum is missing, there is no gel that can create it. This is why users of lesser quality LEDs are often disappointed when they try to use gels to fix their lights. However, gels can be very effective in helping to control spikes in the spectrum, which is the issue with Red Scorpion LEDs, so OPTI-FLECS was the perfect solution. During our pre-production camera and lighting tests, we matched a variety of filters to different types of LED lights. We found a couple of the “Rouge” OPTI-FLECS gels worked really well on the Red Scorpions to give nice skin tones for our daylight fill, one with frost and the other with just the color correction.

James Mathers applies a sheet of the semi-rigid OPTI-FLECS to warm up his Red Scorpion LED light

This is an excerpt from a more comprehensive article from the DCS Newsletter that contains more information about the cameras, lensing and other new technologies James used and reviewed on “Broken Links.”

Make sure you visit the OPTI-FLECS web page for more information on this unique range of LED enhancement filters for your next project.

Tom Swartz

About Tom Swartz

Film, Video and Broadcast Market Manager: Prior to joining Rosco, Tom enjoyed over 25 years of production lighting while working for major television networks and feature film production companies. Tom served as Managing Director of Rosco Canada since 1997, but his true passion lies in face to face engagement with gaffers, cinematographers and lighting directors. Tom's stories will reflect the trends and product developments he accumulates while visiting feature film sets, television shows and broadcast studios around the world.

2 thoughts on “Improve Your LEDs On Camera
With OPTI-FLECS LED Enhancement Filters

  1. Avatar Richard

    This is great info, but I’m a one-person operation and don’t have the resources to test all the different gelling combos (plus I need to save my money to buy Rosco LEDs eventually).

    So, when using generic 5500K LED panels as fill in sunlight, which Opti-flecs gel would you recommend to produce nice neutral flesh tones? I don’t want to enhance the skin, just keep it looking natural so that the other colors won’t get out of whack when I go to grading.

    Is the Rouge gel the best choice for a natural look? Or is there a more forgiving alternative?

  2. Avatar Joel Svendsen

    Richard –
    Thanks for the comment. We’ll see if we can help you out, after all – we want you saving your money to buy some Rosco LED fixtures soon too! 🙂

    If you’re working with a 5500K LED in a daylight situation, chances are you don’t want to warm up your source at all. What you want to try to do is control the green spike with one of the OPTI-FLECS Minusgreen filters. It’s worth noting that there are “Minusgreen” filters in our Cinegel range, but those filters were designed to remove the green spike from fluorescent bulbs. The green spike in LEDs is different. So, we searched through all of the magenta/pink filters in our existing ranges of gel and found the filters that removed the green spike from LEDs the best. Then we laminated those filters to the thicker polyester and added them to the OPTI-FLECS range.

    Every LED source has varying degrees of green output. You’ll have to find the right Minusgreen for your fixtures depending on the amount of green you’re seeing in your shot. We’d recommend starting with 9301: Barely Minus Green & 9306: 1/4 Minus Green. Those two will filter out the green spike of MOST LED fixtures geared for use on-camera. The 9311: 1/2 Minus Green is a pretty heavy correction and probably only needed on industrial-grade LEDs or extremely cheap knockoff LED fixtures.

    I hope that helps. If you need more information, feel free to reach out directly to Tom Swartz (our Film/TV/Broadcast Market Manager who also used to be a cinematographer) with any other questions you might have:

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