The Library Tech Commons offers a collection of audio/visual hardware for a variety of video production needs. Equipment can be checked out by UCSF faculty, staff and students.
The Westcott Flex Bi-Color LED Lights kit is portable and versatile. A dimmer allows full control over brightness and color temperature of the lights. LED lights are cool to the touch, lightweight, and durable. With the optional battery kit, the lights can even operate independent of a power outlet.
Use cases for this device include:
- Video interview – Light both the interviewee and interviewer, and adjust the temperature of the LED lights to match ambient light in the room.
- Portrait shoot – Light individuals or small groups.
- Lab demonstration – Light in open spaces like a lab, or in tight spaces like a clinic room or office.
- Outdoor shoot – Light on-location, powering the light with the portable batteries from the battery kit.
Pairs with: Canon Vixia camera kit.
Set up is relatively easy and takes about 10 minutes. The step-by-step process is listed below.
- Light stands – Loosen the bottom-most knob on the light stand, pull the legs out and down until they form a medium-to-wide base of support, and then re-tighten the knob.
- Magic Arm mount – Loosen the silver knob on the bottom of the mount, set it on top of the light stand, and then re-tighten the knob. Matching connections are marked with green paint.
- Light matt and frame – Loosen the silver knob on the top of the mount, attach to the gold-colored stud from the light frame, and then re-tighten the knob. Matching connections are marked with blue paint.
- Dimmer – Slide the mounting slot on the back on the dimmer box onto the mounting bolt, which protrudes from the left side of the light frame. It should seat firmly into place.
- Dimmer cable – Connect the dimmer cable to the light matt. Matching connections are marked with neon yellow paint.
- Power adapter and cable – Connect one end of the power adapter to the bottom of the dimmer, and the other end to a wall outlet. Matching connections are marked with orange paint.
- Turn on – Flip the gray switch on the bottom of the dimmer to the On position. If the dimmer doesn’t turn on, make sure the power cable is pushed all the way into the dimmer, and then turn the silver ring to screw it into place.
- Adjust brightness – Press the BRIGHTNESS button on the dimmer, and then rotate jog-shuttle (dial) to increase or decrease brightness of the light. Range is from 0 to 100%.
- Adjust light temperature – Press the COLOR TEMP button the dimmer, and then rotate the jog-shuttle (dial) to increase or decrease temperature of the light. (See color temp graphic on the Tips tab.)
- Adjust and aim light – Loosen the lower tripod extension knob, and raise the light up. There are four segments. Start with the bottom rod and work your way up, because it is the thickest and most stable. Next, loosen the Magic Arm adjustment lever, tilt and pan the light to aim at your subject, and then re-tighten.
There are two additional items that you can use with the light kit.
Using the softboxes is optional, but highly recommended because they allow you to better focus the light on your subject. Without them, light spills out of the frame in a wider, less-concentrated shape. You will find the softboxes strapped into the top of the travel case.
Assemble softboxes – Unfold two of the softbox segments, and velcro one corner the pair together (leave the other end open). Each pair should include one segment that has two holes punched into it.
- Attach softboxes – Starting at one corner, and working your way around the frame, velcro the softbox to the back of the light frame. Make sure to align the holes in the softbox with the studs on the side and bottom of the light frame. You will have to remove the light frame from the light stand before you can attach the softbox.
- Attach diffusion panel – Attach the diffusion panels using the velcro strip inside the softboxes. Using the diffusion panels will soften the light, creating a light pattern that is evenly distributed on your subject, while also reducing the chance of hotspots on your subject.
NOTE: There are two sets of diffusion panels included in the kit. The smaller panels are for the light frames, and the larger panels are for the softboxes. If you are short on time, you can simply attach the smaller diffusion panels directly to the light frame, and forgo the use of the softboxes.
We also offer a battery kit, which is reserved separately. The batteries allow you to power the lights without the need to plug into a wall outlet, making you 100% mobile!
- Verify battery charge level – Press the CHECK button. Green lights will appear to indicate current charge level.
- Charge battery – If necessary, connect each battery to a power adapter (provided with the light kit), and then plug into a wall outlet until fully charged.
- Connect battery to light – Using the D-Tap cables, connect the battery to the light matt. The D-Tap cable is only a few feet long, but you can use the dimmer extension cables for added reach.
NOTE: We will do our best to keep the batteries charged, but cannot promise that they will be fully charged when you pick them up. Therefore, please check out the battery kit with enough time to charge the batteries, which can take up to 3.5 hours to charge. If you are running the lights at 100% brightness, a fully-charged battery should last for 2.5 hours.
These additional notes will help you use the light kit smarter and avoid common pitfalls!
- Won’t turn on – If the light does not illuminate when you flip the On switch, check the connection between the power supply and the dimmer. This connection can be touchy, and it may be necessary to turn the metal, silver ring on the power cable to connect the two cables together more firmly (look for the orange-colored dots!).
- Basic lighting strategies – This kit only includes two lights, but the basic lighting principles of a key and fill light still apply:
- Key light – Brighter light, slightly closer to camera.
- Fill light – Dimmer light, fills in shadows created by key light.
- Key and fill lights are typically placed on 30 degrees angles from camera, but can be varied for creative effect.
- Position lights slightly above eye-level of subject, to simulate natural look of sunlight.
- 2-point lighting basics: https://youtu.be/R9FaYS2GWPA
- General lighting tips: https://youtu.be/w-OPfV-kq6Y
- Background shadows – To reduce shadows cast on backgrounds, move subject away from walls and bring lights closer to subject.
- Light reflectors – White poster boards can be used to reflect light, filling in shadows under subject’s chin and near their eyes.
- Shaping the light – The LED light panel mats are only Velcroed to the light frames, and can easily be removed. They can then be placed in compact spaces, and even (gently) shaped for creative effect!
- Light temperatures – Avoid strange-looking skin tones on your subjects by dialing-in a light temperature that matches the primary ambient light source of your environment:
- Westcott product page: http://www.fjwestcott.com/flex-1-x-1-bi-color-travel-kit
- B&H product page: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1174908-REG/westcott_7557_flex_1x1_bi_color_2_light.html
The approximate value of this kit is $3000. If anything is lost or damaged during your loan, you are responsible for replacing those items.
Reservations can be made using our online reservation calendar.
The maximum loan time for this device is 4 days. Staff are available Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 12n, in CL240 of the Parnassus Library for equipment check-out. Equipment can only be used for UCSF related activities, by UCSF students, staff and faculty. More information about the reservation process and our policies can be found here: How to Reserve Equipment.