Quasar Science Introduces Image-Based Lighting Solution for Virtual Studio Production

April 13th, 2022 Jump to Comment Section

At BSC Expo last week, Tim Kang from Quasar Science gave us a brief demonstration of a new firmware that can transform their Rainbow 2 and Double Rainbow LED tube lights into a real-time, image-based lighting system for a relatively low-budget virtual studio setup. Let’s take a closer look.

During his recent trip to BSC Expo in London last week, my colleague Nino Leitner bumped into a peculiar, quite interesting demonstration at Quasar Science’s booth. Indeed, the lighting product manufacturer was displaying a new image-based lighting solution that can potentially help bringing down the cost of virtual video production.

The core of this system is a firmware update for their LED tube lights that allows the fixtures to match the lighting conditions of a rear-projected image in real time. Tim Kang, Imaging and Color Engineer at Quasar Science, took some time to show us what this upcoming firmware will enable users to achieve.

Quasar Science virtual studio at BSC Expo. Source: CineD

Quasar Science Image-Based Lighting Solution

Virtual studio productions are rapidly gaining ground and changing the way video content is produced. However, this innovative technology is often a privilege of high-end Hollywood movies and it’s usually out of reach for the average production.

Yet, the simplicity of Quasar Science’s virtual studio at BSC 2022 makes me think that this situation is about to change. Indeed, their setup only consisted of a large background screen and a series of Quasar Science Rainbow 2 and Double Rainbow LED lights hanging from the ceiling. By the way, be sure to check out my colleague Graham’s review of these fixtures, in case you missed it.

Quasar Science virtual studio at BSC EXPO. Source: CineD

The interesting part is that the pixels of these long, tubular LED fixtures are programmed to simulate and interactively match the lighting conditions of the image playing on the background screen, whether it be a house burning or a famous city.

As a consequence, this image-based lighting system allows to realistically place your talent in any setting without having to travel to the most remote locations of the planet. And with a system like Quasar’s, this seems to be in reach for even news or documentary productions which cannot shoot on location for whatever reason (though the ethics of “re-creating” the news on-location look inside a studio is an ethical discussion by itself …)

Quasar Science Rainbow 2. Source: CineD

A lot of maths to make it work

According to Tim, at the core of this new firmware for Quasar Science fixtures are hundreds of hours of meticulous calculations. These were necessary to develop a perfect light/image match that could produce a true-to-life result.

Apparently, the hardest part was finding a way to map each single color of the spectrum that these lights can produce to color data coming from the background video image.

Quasar Science virtual studio at BSC Expo (not on an actual beach!). Source: CineD

Price and availability

Although these Quasar Science fixtures aren’t exactly cheap (for reference, the 8’ Quasar Science Rainbow 2 costs $1,400), they are much easier to rent than a high-end LED volume virtual stage. Sure, the area covered by this setup is a little limiting, but it can probably do the work for most productions.

Nonetheless, there’s currently no official information about the price and availability of this firmware. Our assumption is that it will soon become available as a free download, but please be sure to check out Quasar Science’s website for future updates.

What do you think of this new way of more approachable Virtual Sets for “the rest of us”? Can you see yourself shooting in such an environment under some circumstances? Let us know in the comments below!

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