Litepanels’ LED Lights Illuminate Hawaiian Palace Special for PBS

Challenge was to light the performances while protecting the palace’s delicate artifacts
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The Pubic Broadcasting Service Hawaii recently receive permission to film inside the Iolani Palace, the official residence of Hawaiian royalty, for a musical special, but in order to protect the delicate artifacts inside the palace, the camera crew was limited to using light-emitting diodes (LED).

 “LED lights were the only acceptable type of lighting the curator would approve

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inside the palace,” which was home to King Kalākaua and Queen Lili'uokalani who were the last in a line of Hawaiian royalty, says Glenn Yamamoto, PBS Hawaii’s senior production technician. To meet that requirement, the crew turned to systems by Litepanels to provide the lighting. “Thanks to Litepanels LEDs, the least of our problems was lighting,” he added.

However, because there were only two electrical circuits available for lighting, power was another major concern, Yamamoto said. Nonetheless, “Litepanels draw very little power and can also be powered with batteries, so we were happy with our options,” he added.

The Iolani Palace special, titled “Na Mele: Na Lani Eha,” features performances of songs written by royal siblings King Kalakaua, Queen Liliuokalani, Princess Likelike and Prince Leleiohoku, collectively known as “Na Lani Eha” (The Royal Four). For this musical special—shot similarly to the PBS show “Austin City Limits”—Yamamoto chose three HD broadcast cameras, a jib, a dolly and, from Litepanels, four 1x1s, one Sola 6 Fresnel and three MicroPros.

“Each musical performance was recorded live,” and the crew “shot in three rooms of the Iolani Palace with a total of five different setups,” Yamamoto said. “The lighting challenge for each setup was to highlight the musical talent but still showcase each unique location,” he added.

The most challenging setup was in the throne room, which Yamamoto called “the center piece of the Iolani Palace.” The performance involved a five-piece musical band with a hula dancer. “We were able to accomplish all of this using only our four Litepanels,” he said.

Other PBS officials were also pleased with the Litepanels equipment.

“The Litepanels were simply the right lighting solution for the show’s unique needs,” said Liberty Peralta, PBS Hawaii’s multimedia writer. “They don’t run hot and are low-power, using 95 percent less (power) than a standard studio light. So there was less fire hazard and lower energy needs. The intensity of each fixture is highly adjustable and emits a ‘friendlier’ light that is safer to use on historical artifacts, especially compared to halogen or tungsten light,” she said.

Na Mele: Na Lani Eha from Iolani Palace Presented by Hawaiian Airlines, a unique look into the music and royal history of Hawaii, premiered June 11, Kamehameha Day, as a live pledge program on PBS Hawaii.

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