How to Set Up Quasar Q-LEDs
Most of us are familiar with setting up the standard-issue ARRI fresnel light kits - the good old blue 150w/ 300w/ 650w combo that every film school stocks and every filmmaker has wrangled at least once. They’re hot, the lamps are surprisingly fragile, and they draw a lot of power. Or if you’re moving up to the big leagues, there are Kino Flos, HMIs, and SkyPanels - all of which have distinct advantages over the standard ARRI fresnels but come with large clumsy ballasts that make them a little less than ideal on smaller sets.
Quasar Science QLEDs are different. They are LED lights in the form factor of a common t8 florescent lamp - the same size and shape you see on every ceiling light, or even in a Kino Flo for that matter. Or at least, that's how they started - now you can purchase them in just about any length you like. They require no housing or special rigging - and because of this, they are incredibly easy to work with and even easier to set up.
1 - Mounting
Quasar lights are easy to mount, due in large part to their weight. Grip gear manufacturers like Modern Studio Equipment make simple clips to fit your Quasars, but custom-built solutions are not strictly necessary. Tried-and-true clamps such as a Cardellini will do you just fine. Or you could experiment with gaffers-taping them where they need to be, whether that’s a gobo arm or a nice section of wall.
2 - Power
Unlike Skypanels, Kino Flo lights, or any other tools of cinematic lighting, no ballast is required here, and the power draw is very low. A single, slim cable runs from one end of the tube, and can be plugged into any wall socket. They can be controlled with a dimmer, or even grouped together and toggled on and off with a surge protector. Both the bi-color Crossfades and the RGB Rainbows draw 25 watts of power for every 2 feet of length. A four-foot lamp draws 50 watts, an eight-footer draws 100 watts. Compare that to the 150w ARRI fresnel; it barely cuts as a hair light in some scenarios. This is the power of LEDs, my friends.
3 - Control
Of course, most of us don’t just want our QLEDs to turn on and off. We want to adjust them, to warm or cool them in sync with the rest of our lighting or to turn them all sorts of weird colors as the situation demands. It seems only fitting that this process is easy as well. For Crossfades, which are only bicolor, you can switch between daylight (5600k) and tungsten (2700k) with a simple switch on the end of the tube. For the Rainbow models, there is a full control module with very simple menus on the back of the tube. Select the function you want, and then adjust its intensity up and down with the plus and minus buttons. In just a few seconds, you will have the exact color you want to see. And for the fanciest among us, the Rainbow QLEDs also support wired and wireless DMX - a standard lighting control protocol that allows them to interact with a huge variety of control tools. But that, of course, is a much deeper conversation for another article.