With the new Orbiter LED light, ARRI presents an innovative LED lighting system featuring inter-changeable optics and light control accessories, that can function as a spotlight as well as a soft light. “The Orbiter is not simply a new LED light but a multi-faceted system that will be complemented by a range of further accessories,” emphasises Ivo Ivanovski, ARRI’s general manager of the Lighting division. Being an electrical engineer, he pioneered the use of LED technology in the field of general lighting at Osram Opto Semiconductors.
“Fifteen years ago, we started from scratch; nowadays LED is state-of-the-art technology almost everywhere.” But he said that the conventional ARRI lights are not going to become obsolete because they are still well suited for many applications.
After having held several management positions during his professional career, Ivo Ivanovski knows that customers always have long lists of requirements in connection with new product development. The new Orbiter offers many options to shape the light. Key requests that were taken into consideration for Orbiter’s design includes the development of an ultra-bright spotlight that is flexible and innovative; the development of a new light that has perfect colour metrics; and that is user-friendly and durable.
Orbiter’s LED energy consumption is limited to 400 W — the same as SkyPanel S60 — but the requirements are different. While the SkyPanel is designed to illuminate large areas, the Orbiter is optimised for light density. “This isn’t only about energy conversion efficiency. LEDs are already quite efficient, if they have been designed correctly, but we focused on maximising the amount of Lumens coming out of the light engine.”
Helpful information on the light density of various ARRI lights is provided by the ARRI Photometric App, which features beam angle settings as well as luminous output in lux at various distances. “The LEDs used in the Orbiter incorporate the most advanced technology,” says Ivanovski. These LEDs have been developed exclusively for ARRI. “As the semiconductor technology requires large volumes it will be in ARRI’s interest that at some point of time these diodes will also be offered to the broad market.”
The new state-of-the-art lighting, however, is not going to replace SkyPanel. “If a soft light is needed, SkyPanel is the best you’re going to get,” underlines Ivanovski. The Orbiter’s core innovation is the variety of optics it can accommodate. The versatility it offers ranges from spotlight to soft light, both of which are often required either on set or in the studio. A Quick Lighting Mount (QLM) allows for the attachment of optics with different properties: open-face optics for throwing light at long distances; For lighting large spaces, soft banks and domes provide soft, omnidirectional light. Moreover, the QLM adapter serves as a mounting point for Orbiter-specific Chimera and DoPchoice products.
“The Orbiter isn’t simply another new LED light but a complete lighting system in the expanding LED universe. In 2021, we’re going to introduce new accessories.”
Compared to HMI spotlights, Orbiter’s open face optic lighting output comes close to PocketPAR’s 400 W, but LEDs generate less heat and no ultraviolet radiation. “This is why it can be used for short distances and it can achieve light intensity which is similar to the M8. By the way, Orbiter’s minimum safety distance is only 50 centimetres,” he says.
Thanks to ARRI’s Spectra six-colour LED light engine, which offers red, green, blue, amber, cyan and lime, the light engine provides a wider colour gamut and higher colour rendition across the entire CCT range with colour temperatures from 2,000 K to 20,000 K. Thanks to the fusion of three different dimming techniques, Orbiter dims down smoothly to zero.
As with all ARRI products, the Orbiter is meant to last. Each component of this lighting system can be replaced, if necessary. “This requirement has already been implemented in the design process,” outlines Ivanovski. “The most important component is our light engine, which is calibrated in the ARRI lighting factory in Stephanskirchen. A customer who purchases this light engine years from now may rest assured that it will have exactly the same light quality.”
ARRI created and perfected the design of the light engines for the L-Series, SkyPanel, and the Orbiter. “That gives us the flexibility to manufacture LED lights in such a way that the customer always gets the same quality.”
For 2021 and 2022, ARRI is planning new product developments. “Our R&D team has various projects in the pipeline. So far, we’ve succeeded making the transition from conventional technology towards LED and its associated electronics,” says Ivanovski.
The next step is connectivity, in other words, how lights can be connected and directed. Software development is also trending. “That’s a key issue for us, as we’ve shown with Orbiter, for which we created the Lighting Operating System. We developed it from scratch, so it’s expandable and it allows us to add new features over time, as our customers rightly expect.”
The plan is to provide major updates twice a year. As opposed to the consumer electronic market, where software updates often go hand-in-hand with hardware obsolescence, software updates are instead going to support the existing hardware in order to optimise its features. “Our promise to customers is that when they purchase an ARRI product, they’re not just purchasing it for today,” Ivanovski concludes.
By Birgit Heidsiek