Frequently Asked Questions
Do your lights change colours?
No. We do only one thing and do it well. We manufacturer the very best CIE Standard Illuminant D65 (6500K; x=0.3127, y=0.329) compliant ("reference standard" video white) bias lights for the professional and consumer market and sell them at a very reasonable price.
Reference bias lighting is all about making the picture look as the director intended. We are perhaps less dogmatic than some -- if you like coloured lights, we're not going to try to talk you out of them. After all, there is no accounting for taste.
However, placing colour behind the display alters our perception of what is on the display. This is just how our eyes and brains work. A warmer colour like orange or red behind the display will make everything on the screen look bluer. A cooler colour temperature like blue, will make everything look more red. This might not be disastrous when watching The Bachelorette, but you wouldn't want to do it in your colouring suite.
How many lumens do your bias lights emit? Are they bright enough for HDR displays?
Our MediaLight single strip outputs a theoretical maximum of approximately 800 lumens (42 LED's at roughly 20lm each). This is on par with what a popular fluorescent bias light would output. We use only 5050 (5x5mm) LED's, not the smaller and weaker 3528 (3.5x28mm) variety. These are not commodity LED strips. They are built with LED's that we source. There are, however brightness limitations when running off of USB power. However, because most bias lighting is run with a dimmer, you will not likely encounter these limitations in normal use.
Our MediaLight Edge (twin strip for wall mounts, articulating arms, etc.) measures roughly 720 lumens (36 LED's at roughly 20lm each). Both of these maximums, when not dimmed, are much too bright for bias lighting, even for HDR, which is why we include a dimmer with each MediaLight. We realised very quickly that a good dimmer was mandatory. There are, however, brightness limitations when running off of USB power. However, because most bias lighting is run with a dimmer, you will not likely encounter these limitations in normal use.
Our MediaLight Quad outputs approximately 2000 lumens at maximum brightness. There are, however, brightness limitations when running off of USB power. However, because most bias lighting is run with a dimmer, you will not likely encounter these limitations in normal use.
Regarding HDR, yes they are bright enough. HDR video uses brightness regions to help make video look more like reality. The MediaLight exceeds the output requirements for an HDR display bias light.
Is the MediaLight powerful enough for my monster 85" TV?
Yes. It sure is. You will probably need to dim it with the included remote dimmer. If your TV is on a wall mount, you probably want the Quad.
My spouse won't let me paint the walls white or a neutral shade of grey, what do you recommend?
This works pretty well. :)
In all seriousness, there are other solutions, such as placing a neutral backdrop (wall cling or fabric) behind the TV.
Can the strip be cut?
Yes, you can cut between the copper contacts anywhere on the MediaLight strip.
Does The MediaLight bias light emit a blueish light?
No. Our bias lights are truly 6500K and 90+ CRI. Sometimes we think that LED bias light manufacturers just guess at 6500K because the measurements during our tests were universally and outstandingly bad. We verify all of our components with state-of-the-art instrumentation and then we ensure that we don't mess them up while assembling the light strips. These are not aquarium light strips repackaged as bias lights.
Experts agree that a bias light should be the colour of sunlight on a hazy day, or something called the CIE D65 standard illuminant. We used a calibrated Photo Research SpectraScan PR-650 to measure our component light emitting diodes. Our partners then tested them on their PR-670 to verify our findings.
If a better solution existed, we wouldn't have come to market with The MediaLight. Simply put, none of the other LED-based lights on the market even come close to 6500K, despite what they say on the tin. The Antec light that we tested was over 9500K, which is practically sky blue. Another popular brand was shockingly over 20,000K! Ours are 6500K, and we mean it. Put them side-by-side and see for yourself. Better still, shine them on a neutral grey card and take a measurement with a calibrated probe. You will be pleased.
Our lights are not only accurate enough for home use, they are used by professionals who colour grade the videos we enjoy on our home theatre systems. In fact, if you are a professional with an account with Flanders Scientific, we highly recommend buying The MediaLight from them.
What is the colour rendering index (CRI) of your LED's?
We advertise our CRI as 90 Ra, but the reality is that it's a bit higher (just shy of 94). We figure that since our professional customers have the instrumentation to our verify claims, it's better to underpromise and overdeliver.
Are your Bias Lights D65 compliant?
Our bias lights are very accurate - more accurate in fact than fluorescent bias lighting solutions -- with a high CRI and a correlated colour temperature of 6500K.
Nevertheless, we don't believe that any of the bias lights on the market, including our own, should be marketed as D65. The CIE D65 standard illuminant is derived from sunlight in a slightly hazy sky. In our view, any artificial bias light is "simulated D65," and has different spectral power distribution than natural sunlight.
So, yes. To the extent that an LED is capable of simulating the CIE D65 standard illuminant, The MediaLight is a very accurate solution. Of course, you will immediately recognise a fluorescent or LED light source under a spectrophotometer. A properly-filtered (removing excess infrared) tungsten halogen bulb would be closer to the spectral power distribution of D65, but the form factor, heat output, energy inefficiency and short lifespan limit the use of tungsten bulbs.
Can I buy the MediaLight without a dimmer?
In a word, no, but it's because good bias lighting needs to be adjusted.
The SMPTE Recommended Practice document says the brightness of a bias light as reflected off the surface behind the TV should be less than 10% of the peak white level on the viewing device. Without a dimmer, LED strips are blazingly bright. This can result in crushed blacks, an extreme halo effect and negate some of the benefit of using bias lights in the first place.
Additionally, there are situations where you may have a white wall behind a TV instead of the recommended neutral grey. By adjusting the brightness of the lights you can ensure that they don't exceed the maximum recommended brightness for ambient light.
Other systems, such as fluorescent bias lighting systems are not dimmable, but are used in combination with baffles and/or neutral density filters to achieve the ideal level of illumination.
The wire to the remote looks awfully short...
The remote control is wireless. :-) What you are seeing is the wire to the dimmer module. The length doesn't matter because the remote control works from 15 feet away. There are an extra 6 feet of wire lead that connect to the lights. Once you connect the dimmer module you won't be needing to touch it again.
What about your company? What expertise do you bring to the bias light space?
BiasLighting.com is a division of Scenic Labs. Founded in 2009, we are the publishers of Joe Kane's Digital Video Essentials (HD Basics, UHD, and more), as well as Knowhow Picture Perfect -- the top selling TV optimisation programme in the world. Before that, our founders worked in the same industry and with Joe Kane for another decade. So, you could say that we live and breathe home theatre reference standards in everything we do. Thanks to our specialty we have access to the domain expertise of some great imaging scientists, as well as some really cool lab tools.
The bias light space has been a pretty sleepy affair over the last few decades. Aside from a few bright spots, such as one of our favourites -- the now-discontinued Ideal Lume (fluorescent) lights, most of the products on the market were either overpriced, cheap garbage, or overpriced garbage. We liked the accuracy of the fluorescent systems but wanted to combine accuracy with the convenience of LED's.
A similarly-priced set of bias lights from Amazon claimed to be 6500K, but the LED's were not accurate at all! They looked green and blue! How do I know that your bias lights are any different?
All white LED's are driven by a an underlying blue diode. The diode directs photons at a blend of phosphors and those phosphors, in turn, glow white. When the blend of high-quality phosphors is just right, you get the colour temperature that you need based on how the human eye sees colour.
You can take a closer look at the spectral qualities of light by studying it under a spectroradiometer. A tell-tale sign of white LED lights is the blue spike above (all lights have their own characteristics - tungsten, fluorescent, sunlight, neon, etc). While it looks like this would result in a blueish light, this is actually the spectrograph of one of our extremely accurate LED's. The other colours are present in just the right balance to result in a 6500K colour temperature and CRI of 90+. Of course, the measurements were taken in a controlled laboratory setting and taken off of a neutral grey card as is necessary for an accurate and consistent reading.
Measurements of the BiasLighting.com MediaLight
on a Photo Research SpectraScan PR-650
You've gotta have standards.
Much of what we do isn't very hard or exciting, we're just very methodical about it, and this helps us to develop accurate products. When potential suppliers sent us subpar components, they didn't make the cut. After literally hundreds of LEDs, we found suppliers who could deliver what we needed. We developed best practices to avoid contamination and ensure that the premium LEDs we were buying remained true to their colour temperature even after they were mounted and assembled.