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NAB 2016: SoftPanels LEDs with built-in color metering

Color-adjustable LED softlights that adjust their own colors

Color-tunable LEDs — lights adjustable for color temperatures from incandescent to daylight and anywhere in-between — have been around for years. A new Kickstarter project aims to take the next step: SoftPanels LEDs not only let you dial in the desired color, they’ll do it themselves with a built-in color meter and an AUTO pushbutton:

SoftPanels lighting, before and after Autocolor
SoftPanels lighting, before and after Autocolor.

The lights are also claimed to have more accurate manual color temperature settings than “many legacy LED lights”, plus a “skin enhance” function to add pleasing warmth to the image:

SoftPanels Skin Enhance
SoftPanels Skin Enhance

Bold statements to be sure, but SoftPanel’s tech lead, Kevin Baxter, has  prior form; if my Google-fu is up to snuff he was at LitePanels for many years.

The Kickstarter project started about a week ago and is already past its funding goal. It runs until 8 May, and backers have the chance to get SoftPanels for “less than half of conventional 1×2 LED soft lights.” There are also 2×3 and 3×4 panels on offer.

SoftPanels LED softlights
SoftPanels LED softlights

You can see these lights at NAB: they’ll be in Central Hall at Veydra (C6012) and Welch Media (C12431) booths. Will they truly be color-accurate? What will their color quality be like? If I have a setup in a convenience store with nasty industrial fluorescents, will they green-shift to match? [Update: no; blue/amber control only, no green/magenta.] If the lights live up to their promises, they’ll accelerate setup and streamline location work considerably… and the price seems pretty good, too.

Update 6 May 2016: Here’s a comparison against an Arri Skypanel and a Kino Flo Celeb. With 42 hours to go, the Kickstarter has $278,792 pledged against the $30,000 goal.


Disclosure: one of the SoftPanels founders is Ryan Avery, who runs Veydra, about which I’ve written before.  He contacted me to tell me about this, and I thought it was interesting, so here it it. Nobody has offered me any payment, discounts, or special deals to write this up, and there is no material connection between me and Veydra, SoftPanels, Ryan Avery, or Kevin Baxter. All images from the Kickstarter site, with minor editing as needed.


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Adam Wilt has been working off and on in film and video for the past thirty years, while paying the bills writing software for animation, automation, broadcast graphics, and real-time control for companies including Abekas,…

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FYI. One year later and only a very small handful have been shipped. Nothing but broken promises with this campaign.

Adam Wilt
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Adam Wilt

My own take on SoftPanels is that it’s too early to tell whether this is a garden-variety, delayed-delivery project with typical teething troubles, or something more distressing. Looking through the comments and updates at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/softpanels/softpanels-led-lights-with-autocolor-for-cine-vide/comments it’s clear that folks are frustrated. But it’s unclear to me that it’s “nothing but broken promises” (though as I’m not a backer, I can’t see the original delivery schedule from last July). I do see missed shipment dates, last-minute redesigns, unexpected FedEx charges, and all the unexpected delays and hiccups that come with Chinese contract manufacturing, but I also see that instruments are starting… Read more »