Lighting Designer Todd Heater on Area 48 LED Fixtures


Todd Heater gives his statement on the quality and versatility of the AREA 48


Lighting Designer Todd Heater often is called upon to light 100 setups in a day when he’s working
on music videos such as the most recent Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Rolling Stones videos, where
the musicians’ time is gold. So when he tested the BBS Lighting Area 48 remote phosphor LED
lighting fixtures, it was a real-world trial run.


“Not only is the color rendering of the Area 48 spot-on, but it’s powerful, lightweight, compact, and
can run off a battery,” said Heater. “Say you’re filming in the streets of downtown Los Angeles, and
your generator’s far away, you just put it on a battery pack and go. Up until recently, battery powered
lights were like oversized flashlights, but this is a real lighting tool.”
Heater also demoed the Area 48 lights on car commercials. “When we go out on the road with cars,
we usually tow a car behind a generator truck and light it up that way. But with these lights, we’re
able to mount battery packs right on the fixture and film it without having to put a generator power
source on it.”


Area 48 fixtures are available with V-lock or Gold Mount (AB) battery plates, and can also be
powered with a 4 pin xlr 160W external power supply.


When asked about the photometrics of the Area 48s he’s tested, Heater said: “The color match to
daylight was as close to daylight as I’ve seen on the market, and probably better than all the other
LEDs that I’ve seen out there. I have a more artistic approach to lighting than a technical one, but to
my eye and to the camera, the color is right on the money”


One thing that Heater said he tries to avoid is mixing light sources. “When you mix light sources,
there’s a strange phenomenon that happens. You can always tell that there’s difference. Even
though a camera or a color temperature meter cannot, the eye can. So when I’m doing lighting I
prefer to work with only one kind of source.


“But working with this particular light and HMI at the same time, the difference was practically
unnoticeable, which is great. HMIs are big, hot, heavy, non-dimmable lights, and I can substitute the
Area 48 where I need a small, compact, and very powerful light.”


The power of the light coming from Area 48 fixtures is a function of the remote phosphor technology
employed. Since the phosphor coatings are not put on the LED bulbs themselves but on a phosphor
panel placed in front of the LEDs, the same amount of light is generated no matter what the color
balance of the particular phosphor panel being used: daylight, tungsten, or any of the other panels
(2700K, 4300K, 6500K, and Chroma Green) available as accessories for Area 48s.


Heater much prefers the phosphor panel approach to changing color temperature. “When you try to
blend tungsten and daylight bulbs, it takes away lighting power because you have half and half. With
this light there’s a daylight balance that puts out the same amount of light as a tungsten balance,
and the same for the other color temperatures available.”


In addition to the difference of weight, size and power draw, Heater also noted the lack dimmability
with HMI lighting fixtures. “The Area 48 is a very resourceful working tool on a set, because you can
dim them down without changing color temperature. Now we can work at really, really low levels
while remaining locked on in terms of color temperature.”


Todd Heater is a Los Angeles-based lighting designer.