High output, daylight balanced, lights are something I can always use onset. The problem with using tungsten lights is how much power you lose once putting on a full CTB gel to convert them to daylight. HMIs are great for this but the problem is how expensive they are. I was lucky enough to try out a plasma light from Hive Lighting and I was completely blown away.
Hive Lighting Overview
Hive Lighting is a company based in Los Angeles, CA who produces plasma lights. These guys have done a kick ass job creating an awesome product. Similar to an HMI, it requires a ballast to power but this also allows for a super low power draw. It is a heavier build, all metal parts, so you will need a sturdy light stand such as a C Stand or Beefy Baby. They are well made and can handle the abuse on set. The Wasp takes on a PAR style but since it has very low heat, the lenses are plastic. Let me repeat that. The lenses for this par light are plastic. No more lugging around a heavy case with glass lenses. You don’t have to worry about anyone dropping them and breaking them either.
On both models (Wasp and Bee), there is no dimming control so you must add scrims to knock the light down. However, there is color balance control from 4600K to Moonlight which is a deep blue look.
I was lucky enough to test both the Bee and the Wasp. There are my thoughts.
To me (without any scientific testing) the Bee is a daylight balanced 1K light. Great for small rooms and 1 person interviews in an office with windows. Add a soft box or fire through a 4×4 frame and this will produce some great results. Now at $2,650 for the kit, this makes it out of reach for many. However, if you are always doing interviews and broll in locations with tons of windows and need more punch then Kinos, this could be the light for you. Since this light and the Wasp have so many similarities other than the output, I’ll go into more of the features below.
Plain and simple, this light is amazing. I found this to be equivalent to somewhere between a 2k and 3K hot light. Again, color controllable between 4600k and Moonlight. I used this on a ton of shoots and found the sweet spot to be about 5000k. It made it a bit warmer than the surrounding windows which added some color depth. At $3,350.00, this smokes the HMI competitors.
As mentioned above, the plastic lenses to take this from a spot to super wide is an awesome feature. combining your preferred lens and scrims, you can dial in the look you want. It’s too bad there’s no dimming option but HMIs don’t dim (well) either. I don’t see this as a light you would want to hold back. I love having the power and creating large, powerful bounce light for interviews and small scenes with a few actors.
Things to Know
Both lights are ver simply to use. Header cable from light into ballast, then plug the ballast into the wall. There is an on/off switch on the ballast power cable and no power switch on the light itself. It is important to realize there is a small boot up time for this light. Give it about a minute (usually less) to get it at full power. You will also want to wait about 30 seconds when switching color temperatures. One thing that is great about the plasma bulb over an HMI is you can re-strike instantly. Meaning you don’t have to wait for the bulb to cool in order to turn back on. With HMIs you risking breaking the bulb. However, there is the boot up time when re-striking.
Although I didn’t have the chance to do light meter readings, it seemed the light was most powerful at 5000k. When changing to the 4600k or moon light, I felt like I lost some power. Again, I didn’t scientifically check this but I will see if I can get that information and update here.
The light set up at the speed of a small HMI and is very easy to move around and tweak as needed. The back of the light gets a little hot to touch but other than that it is a glove free operation.
The color dial was great in order to match a bright sunny day or an overcast one. I love the control I have and not needed to deal with gels and light loss.
Being an already soft source I got great results bouncing of foam core and when needed, I would book light with 250 diffusion. If wanting an even softer wrap I would add Opal Frost.
In my testing I was able to use it on interviews, broll, and a small scenario. When the sun was blasting through large windows, this wasn’t over powering it. This is not an Arri M18 so you shouldn’t think you can do everything with it. However, in someones office it gave enough punch to read what was outside and eliminate that ugly bloom. In another shoot we had all intentions shooting natural with some bounces and an Ice Light. The sun pounded on a beautiful warm break and filled the space with a lovely look. Well, the day of the shoot we had a snow storm and the sun was no where to be found. Luckily I had this baby in my Jeep and it literally saved the day. Put a wide lens on and bounced off foam core. Allowed our talent to be soaked in natural looking sunlight and was able to buy the windows in the back. I believe we even added a single (1/2 stop) scrim to lose some of the punch.
Recently I was hired as a Director of Photography on a web launch video. I ended up using the Wasp on every setup to create the soft, natural daylight look that the director wanted.
This light was full of wonderful surprises. After quickly using both I saw the Wasp was an amazing tool to have and something that I could use on almost all my projects. At $3,500 for the kit, it is out of reach for many. Renting it for $100 a day may be a steal for some projects and out of the questions for others.
If you are looking for a powerful, color accurate daylight balanced light, you should strongly consider the Hive Lighting Wasp.