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How To Control Set Lighting With A Mobile App

How To Control Set Lighting With A Mobile App

Whether your on set or filming on the go, you can create professional lighting setups with the Sidius Link app.

While the latest mobile phones can be great for so many things (including video production), one of the most powerful uses of your mobile phone onset can be to control lighting.

There are more choices than ever for app-compatible lighting solutions, so we're going to take a look at some of the most popular ones, as well as an affordable DIY solution for creating your own VFX-enhancing fire flicker!

Professional Lighting with Native App Control

There are a handful of professional app-controlled lighting solutions out there, but some of the most exciting ones are made by Aputure. By continuing to evolve their industry-leading products around the integrated Sidius Link mobile app, filmmakers can create any look imaginable on set. 

Although Aputure lights aren't the cheapest choice out there, their quality is fantastic. Their mobile app connectivity makes them perfect for on-the-go filmmaking because a separate wi-fi router or hub is not required.

Here's what the app interface looks like, as well as how the whole system operates.
According to Aputure, their Sidius Mesh™ network also allows all your Aputure lights to not only connect to the app directly via wi-fi, but also to one another via bluetooth, effectively increasing the total range of your lighting setup. 

You can think of each light like an independent network booster. This allows you to control your lights up from up to 400m away, with each light able to be placed up to 80m apart from one another.

Here are just a few of Aputure’s most versatile Sidius-enabled wireless products that can be controlled by your phone.

Accent B7c RGBWW Bulbs

The Accent B7c bulbs are truly unique, in that they’re designed to serve as practical lights on set. They can be screwed into any traditional light socket, and yet they’re battery-powered, making them perfect for shoots that need a lamp without the need for running separate power.  

If power is available, however, they can simply be recharged by turning on the power to any socket they’re connected to. Boasting a ton of effects, as well as RGB and warm to cool white tuning, the Accent B7c bulbs can produce any color you need.

Additionally, they have the ability to use the same lighting effects available on Aputure’s larger systems, such as fireworks, police car lights, fire flicker, strobe, TV, and more.

Equipped with the same app-controlled features as the B7c, the MC RGBWW mini light is another great choice, with a little more directional power, and the ability to screw onto any light stand, cold shoe, or attach to a metal wall (thanks to its metal housing).

Nova P300c Panels

Aputure’s latest foray into powerful smart LED lighting are their Nova P300c Panels. With enough power to evenly light an entire wall, Nova Panels are ideal for multi-zone lighting. 

Not only can you “make set design changes on the fly” (as mentioned in the great video below), but you can even use it for VFX production by emulating a green or blue chroma screen to be keyed out later.  
Not only does this negate the need for a green screen on set, but it also keeps you from having to worry about lugging around a lighting kit for your green screen, a major plus! 

Just keep in mind you’ll need a decent amount of space for your multi-zone lighting setup, as well as a nice wall with an even surface if you’re looking to emulate this effect.

Some of Aputure’s most popular lights, like the LS 300D II and LS 120D II, are also compatible with Sidius Link technology. Although, they still have some older lights that are not compatible. Just keep Sidius Link connectivity in mind as you’re planning your lighting setup, and you should be good to go.

Aputure lights are a great investment, and it’s nice to see an ecosystem of wireless connectivity that you can upgrade as you go along. Plus, all your Aputure lights will be correctly calibrated and can match perfectly throughout your scene, regardless of which products you’re using.

GVM RGB LED Panels

If Aperture Nova panels are out of your price range, consider this much cheaper (albeit less powerful) set of app-controlled panel lights.
While not as high-end as the aforementioned Aputure lights, the GVM RGB panels do give Aputure a run for their money in terms of value and functionality. You can get an entire kit of two lights under $500, including stands and a case. 

This is the best place to start for beginners looking to step up their lighting game on a budget, and the app controls can simulate almost all the same effects as the Aputure lights (although with a much less robust wireless network). 

Simple DIY Wireless Lighting Control

Lastly, you may have seen our Quick Tip on how you can achieve an incredibly realistic fire-flicker look with this unique lighting module build. 

The light socket used in the video was tethered to a power cable for a wall outlet, but if you’re in range of wi-fi, you could easily add a smart plug to control the light remotely if needed.
In fact, using wireless socket plugs can come in handy on set anytime you need to control practical lighting, and you can even pick up higher-powered smart surge protectors that feature app control, as well. 

While this limits you to simply controlling an on/off state for your lights, it’s certainly a handy tool when mapping out practical lighting for complex VFX scenes. It’s also a great way to simply have more control over your scene if you don’t have an army of newer Aputure lights at your disposal.

If you’re interested in creating an app-controllable studio with lights you already have on hand, you can also invest in a wireless DMX controller for bringing older lights into your network, and control them with an iPad.

This can be a pretty cumbersome setup and is often used for event lighting, but it can make for a nice studio setup. You can check out a quick overview on DMX/app-controlled lighting here.

Have you found any other smart lighting hacks that have been helpful to you on set? Let us know in the comments below!

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