Rolling shutter is an issue at all levels of camerawork. One solution to get rid of it though is to synchronise the light frequency to the camera, and one of the few lights that actually accepts a synchronising signal from a camera is Outsight's Creamsource LED panels.
As we've seen before, rolling shutter is an issue at all levels of camera work. On an Alexa, it's so fast as to be almost invisible unless we're trying to shoot gunfire. Lesser cameras are notorious for producing noticeable distortions in moving objects. Depending on the construction of the camera involved, even film cameras can create a wobble in strobe illumination as one edge of the frame can be exposed a little before the other. It's still quite possible to miss flashes altogether, as can sometimes happen with firearms effects. If the story requires a gunshot to be visible to the audience, this can become a real time sink.
One solution to this problem is a light synchronised to the camera, and one of the very few lights that actually accept a synchronisation signal from the camera is Outsight's Creamsource range of LED panels. While this is not a new product, there are few other ways to do this. And as it’s rarely discussed, it seemed worth looking into.
The Creamsource panel itself is available in two versions. They're rated at 150W for the smaller roughly foot-square type, and at 350W for the larger one. The design uses a relatively small number of higher-power LEDs with individual collimating optics and is therefore among the LED lights with a narrow beam. This is flexible since a narrow beam can be diffused, whereas a broad beam is difficult to make directional. There are models with variable colour temperature, and the firmware is complete, including various strobe and flash effect modes that work with or without external synchronisation.
Outsight products and build quality
The most noticeable thing about Outsight's product line is the dedication to mechanical construction quality and a high standard of industrial design. The chassis of a Creamsource panel is made mainly of extruded aluminium. That isn't particularly unusual but there are a lot of machined parts and the way in which the control panels and connectors are assembled is very nicely done. The rotary menu control shows practically no flexibility or wobble. The entire yoke assembly is made from parts machined from solid metal and bolted together, as opposed to the usual piece of bent metal.
The feel of quality continues into things like the handheld controller, which, like the rest of the device, is anodised in blue and silver. The case and rotary control are machined throughout and an attractive ring of blue LEDs indicates control functions. The result is something that looks like a hand prop from a high-budget science fiction movie, and while the prettiness is nice, the indestructibility is useful.
Outsight's products are probably in the top third of the LED lighting price range and we should expect quality, but the Creamsource panel supplied on review (a Mini+, about $2200 at B&H) has a noticeably better quality of build than competing products at rather higher prices.