Matt Parnell works as a freelance Best Boy. With a strong background in TV drama, Matt assists Gaffers, does the occasional board op, and provides additional and supplementary equipment on TV commercials, music videos, promotional shoots, and more.
Astera NYX Bulb – The Specs
Colours: Red, Green, Blue, Mint, Amber
Luminous Flux: 750lm (Typical value)
Total LED power: 14W
TLCI (3200-6500K): ≥96
CRI (3200-6500K): ≥96
Beam Angle: 120˚
Field Angle: 180˚
Setup Via AsteraApp or PowerStation
Wireless Modules: UHF, CRMX, Bluetooth
DMX: Wireless DMX (CRMX)
Just as some background before I start talking about the NYX Bulb, I’ve been using Astera’s Titan Tubes a lot since they were released. They’re an incredible piece of kit for film and TV production, and they’ve gone from being lamps used for eye candy to being utilised as film lights. The fact they’re battery powered means you can put them anywhere, and the accessories like the SnapGrid and SnapBags make them really handy. Most importantly, their white is really good on camera, which is the biggest challenge for an LED fixture.
As I was really happy with the Titan Tubes, I was confident in investing in the NYX Bulb when it was released. Being an early adopter can be fraught, particularly as a lot of modern product development seems to happen on-the-fly after the actual release. But as Astera products are distributed by ULA Group, I knew that their support and back-up would ensure that I wouldn’t have any problems. Support like ULA’s gives you the confidence to get in early with a new product and have a go.
I initially purchased eight NYX Bulbs, and I now have eight more on the way, fitted with Bayonet Caps. The first release of NYX Bulb was Edison Screw only, but Astera listened to the Australian and New Zealand market and put in a lot of work to make BC for us. Considering we’re one of the few territories in the world that use BC, I’d say that makes Astera very receptive to customer demand.
Colour and Control
In terms of comparison products, there are domestic solutions like Philips Hue and LIFX, but neither of them really bridge the gap into photographic lighting. NYX Bulb creates great quality whites with TLCI in the 90s, and offers a high level of control via Bluetooth, the AsteraApp, the PowerStation, or wireless DMX. You can use a portable CRMX controller like the Gaffers Box or Exalux Control One, or set up a transmitter next to your lighting desk and control NYX Bulbs directly from the board – no other fixture in this format has that capability.
The NYX Bulb’s colour rendering is on par with the Titan Tubes. The amber and mint chips enable you to create beautiful greens and yellows, which other LED fixtures can struggle to achieve. They also contribute to the high quality white.
Most often, I’m using NYX Bulbs as a replacement for a traditional bulb that’s in a shot, as opposed to an effect light for a look. NYX Bulbs excel when working on set as a replacement light source in practical lights. On a job, we walk in, look at the practicals the art department have set up, and instead of going through the drama of putting out dimmers, we will just swap the globes out for NYX Bulbs, and pair them to the app. It’s basically plug ‘n’ play.
With a traditional practical light, you have to swap out the globe to a tungsten lamp, as most of the time they’re fluro or LED and the colour isn’t any good. To power them up and control them, you have to conceal dimmers on set. Then, when you have to adjust dimmer levels, you’re climbing underneath beds or behind couches, because you had to hide them in the shot. The NYX Bulb means we can put the globe in, run power to it, run it off PowerStation or even a USB battery pack, then pull out an iOS device and have control straight away. You have complete control over dimming, colour temperature, plus/minus green, and hue/saturation.
NYX Bulbs make my day-to-day workflow easier. I’ll be sitting next to the Director of Photography and the Gaffer looking at a frame; We can incredibly quickly set levels, and then if we notice that the lampshade in the shot is really warm., we can just cool it off at the source via my phone to compensate for it. That sort of fast, easy control has been a game-changer. This is why I always take my NYX Bulbs everywhere with me.
The Wireless Advantage
When I first got my NYX Bulbs and posted photos of them to Instagram, the first question was I got was ‘Do they have CRMX?’ CRMX and LumenRadio have become the standard of all our control. Because we move around so much on film and TV shoots, cabled control is just not practical on fast shoots with smaller crews. This is not like concert lighting, where one set-up is one system, and that’s it. It’s not uncommon for us to do 20 or more set-ups in a day, plus location moves.
The advantages of having wireless control means all of our gear now has CRMX, and is all in the same control ecosystem. It can’t be overstated how much better it is to be sitting right next to the DOP and making trims on the fly than having to have techs stumbling through sets, actors, and other crew to make adjustments.
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