Managing existing lighting functions in one place known as "handy" has been made easier with Aputure's introduction of the new B7c lamp (formerly known as "RC"), which aims to turn consumer lamps into light sources suitable for professional use Television and film are suitable. I've fielded the Aputure B7c lamp for several projects, and the full description is below.
One of the first things the Gaffer team and I do when we arrive at a “real” location (as opposed to the studio) is to replace existing lightbulbs. Over time, homeowners and tenants replace dying or dead lightbulbs and turn into a mishmash of different brands and different color temperatures. The results on camera are pretty ugly. In the past, we just had a few consumer lamps with a high CRI and swapped them out to allow dimming and at least a uniform appearance of all practical lamps in a scene.
Internal batteries! Photo credit: Graham Sheldon
When it gets difficult, dimming or color control from bulb to bulb or with a "toggle" makes it difficult. For our purposes, I define a "toggle" as a flickering light in a horror movie or a short circuit source in a spaceship, etc. Each gaffer has their own tricks to accomplish the above, and on occasion a gag may just need to hide in an uncomfortable place out of sight – not ideal.
The B7c lamp in action on either side of the frame. Photo credit: Graham Sheldon, Copyright: Nerdist.com
Aputure's $ 70.00 B7c lamp solves various internship-related issues and integrates seamlessly with your on-set lighting workflow. By the time you get to one place and swap out all the handy lightbulbs with the B7c, you're already on your way to a better looking scene with a variety of easily controllable and uniform (color) lightbulbs.
Check out the shot above for a branded digital piece I created for Nerdist.com/2K Games. It was my first time working with two B7c and the results are looking good. The full video captured with the Canon C300 MK II / C500MK II and Sigma Cine Primes can be found below:
In fact, the B7c fits into a large niche in Future's range of products and across the industry. For Aputure, this is a small, feature-packed light that isn't a square (a la MC or AL-MX headlights) and that can be used in tons of scenes where the MC works as an on-cam internship in places like a storage set, or an airport, or in a sci-fi movie, but this is where its usefulness ends in putting it in a "realistic" scene. An MC machine won't work on a 1940s movie set, but the B7c, for example.
It will be difficult for the entire industry to find a competitor in the filmmaker's LED lamp category beyond Astera's new $ 105.00 NYX lamp. Aputure knows this very well and they have put together a head-to-head table of the division of functions between the Nyx lamp from Astera and their new B7c. Here is the table:
Image credit: Aputure
The table above shows it all in a simple way, but the noticeable differences between the B7c and Nyx revolve around the internal battery present in the B7c, and the Nyx has light performance and a greater advantage of Kelvin range. In addition, the B7c has a slightly wider beam angle and built-in intensity on board, as well as CCT control for about $ 35.00 less.
I find that the internal battery lasts a little over an hour and offers additional creative mounting options. The B7c tends to get a little hot when plugged into a standard E26 or E27 bulb holder and run at 100% for some time, but it's none other than the hand-melting tungsten hot light of the past. Aputure notes that the build-up of heat can increase charging times.
In terms of performance, you're still using a 50W incandescent lamp here, so for 360-degree steadicam or gimbal shots you will likely have to hide some light in the ceiling or outside windows depending on the exposure, but you could surely press a button actor with the B7c when the lamp is placed close enough to your subject. It is also important to consider the type of lampshade you will be using in these scenes and you should work closely with the art department to determine the look / performance of a particular lampshade. As always, it is important to test this out before arriving on site.
Many control options are available in the Sidus Link app. Photo credit: Graham Sheldon
I leave it up to you to decide which lightbulb is better on paper. However, if you've already invested heavily in the Aputure ecosystem of Sidus Link Bluetooth lights, it is difficult to decide on the Nyx lightbulb at this point. Same goes for Astera – if you already have some of the popular titanium lights, the Nyx lamp might make more sense for tweaking things on site.
After using both the Sidus Link and Astra apps, I can personally say that the Sidus Link app is a bit more intuitive to use right from the start. Astera is also offering you a separate CRMX transmitter for $ 400.00 to connect to many of their lights. However, the Nyx lamps only require bluetooth control – something to consider in this ecosystem.
Eight-light charging set. Available "early 2021". Image credit: Aputure
Currently, charging is limited to the use of an available household lamp. Charging to 100% takes around 2 hours per bulb. Obviously, this isn't an ideal charging solution for every production (carrying a house lamp for charging in a G&E van is weird or should it be in the art van?), But Aputure does promise an 8-light charging case (see image above ). coming next year priced at $ 699.00 in the US. Allow budget – the impending loading case seems like the way to go in my opinion to make it easy to use in professional production from place to place.
Photo credit: Graham Sheldon
For the type of job I do, the B7c is an easy buy for me and I plan to be one of the first people on the pre-order list. Since this is such a new product category, the comparison shopping takes about five minutes and for me the B7c lamp goes very well with my existing Aputure lights.
** I've reached out to Astera and will update here if I can do a direct comparison with a Nyx lightbulb.
Photo credit: Graham Sheldon
What do you think? Are you going to add the B7c to your kit and why? Let us know in the comments below!