A View From Behind The Meter
Last Wednesday, I conducted a discussion with a group of technicians at my monthly luncheon session on the new UPRtek MK350 Color Meter. As we were discussing all the terms connected with lighting such as ANSI, CCT, F-stop, LUX, and CRI, I realized that I spent the majority of my career ( Almost 55 years ) never considering CRI ( Color Rendition Index ). Now it’s not that CRI isn’t important, but it has only become a buzz word since the introduction of LED’s. This meter allows me to look at every lighting instrument, and record its spectral graph and all the pertinent data: CRI, color temperature, LUX, in a dramatic detail display. I had been using Tungsten based lights since my first lighting experiences in Children’s theater in 1958 and worked with the first HMI’s and Kino-Flos that were manufactured, never considering their color rendition. The only consideration was intensity and coverage. I managed all the rest with gels, scrims, and grippage. The color was a responsibility of my eye. I only searched for the best possible image that I could produce in the least possible time.
In concert with the DP, we decided if the scene needed additional color or corrective color in order to make a good looking image. With this in mind, I went back to the lighting products that I had been using for the last thirty years, and began measuring them with the new meter, discovering that HMI’s had color temperatures all over the place, very inconsistent, and fluorescent lights had green spikes. These anomalies included tungsten which had large color temperature variances and in some cases almost no blue color rendering at all. Yet with all these problems we somehow produced beautiful images that both pleased and delighted audiences. It was obvious that even with the most perfect instruments you still need someone with an artistic eye to create images that will resonate with an audience.
The UPRtek MK350 meter is an exciting tool and an important one especially when considering buying a new lighting instrument but all the skills that make a fine lighting artist are still necessary for truly artistic images. That principle will never change!
Birns & Sawyer