A Cinematographer's Journey with Kelvin Epos 300 in a Series - Kelvin

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A Cinematographer’s Journey with Kelvin Epos 300 in a Series

Dear cinematography enthusiasts,

It’s been quite a journey, and I’m thrilled to finally share some behind-the-scenes insights into the lighting design of our recent series. I’m Michael Mark Lanham, and as the cinematographer on this project, I had the privilege of working with the innovative Kelvin Epos 300 lighting system. Today, I’ll walk you through the creative process, challenges, and triumphs that went into crafting the visual narrative.


Firstly, I want to express my gratitude to Kelvin for overcoming obstacles and ensuring we had the tools we needed. The wait for the Danish premiere has been longer than expected due to some illness, but the time has allowed us to perfect the details and present you with a lighting masterpiece.




The Kelvin Epos 300: More Than Just a Prototype


Our journey began with a prototype unit, and despite not having the right LED chip, we decided to make the most of it. The unique characteristics of the Epos allowed us to experiment with various lighting setups, and I believe the results speak for themselves. The unit was never used as a conventional key light; instead, we explored its capabilities in different roles to create a captivating visual experience.


Lighting Schemes: A Symphony of Moonlight



Let’s break down the lighting schemes that brought our series to life:


  1. Moonlight Front Fill on House: By using the Epos as moonlight, we achieved a soft, ambient glow that illuminated the scene without overpowering it.
  2. Moonlight in Window Behind on the Left: Placing the Epos behind the window added depth and a touch of mystery, casting intriguing shadows that played a crucial role in the series’ atmosphere.
  3. Edge Light from the Right: Creating contrast with an edge light heightened the drama and highlighted the characters, giving them a three-dimensional presence on screen.
  4. Key Light (x2): The unconventional use of the Epos as a key light added a unique quality to our characters’ faces, capturing their expressions in a way that traditional lighting might not have achieved.
  5. Moonlight Through Window: This subtle touch created a delicate interplay of light and shadow, enhancing the cinematic quality of our scenes.
  6. Moonlight Edge/Hairlight: Utilizing the Epos as both an edge and hair light added a magical quality to the characters, making them stand out against the backdrop.


1. **What intrigued you with Kelvin in the first place and why did you consider this to be one of your brands close to the heart? What does Kelvin do differently?**


“I first came by Kelvin in Early 2021 (Pre Epos 300 launch) as I felt there was a light missing from my toolkit. I wanted something LED, modular, which was lightweight and quick to move, while still having enough punch and a solid quality of light to work with traditional lighting units. Then a friend tipped me off about Kelvin and I found they were just about to start prototyping the Epos 300 which was just what I was looking for.


I was then lucky enough to get a prototype to use on Fatal Crossing and be able to give feedback as we had ideas and thoughts while using the light, which for us was amazing as we would have a thought, then a few weeks later it would either be integrated or made, so we could test it. That for me was a really fun experience and getting to know the guys at Kelvin and seeing how much they care about how the light works and what we can make with it is what makes Kelvin unique for me. The team building these lights are not DOPs and gaffers, but they respect what we do and want to help us make better work, faster, and easier.”


Behind the Scenes: Unveiling the Epos


I’ve also included some behind-the-scenes photos of the Epos in action. These images capture the magic happening on set and showcase the versatility of the lighting system. If you’re interested, I can provide more behind-the-scenes glimpses from the shoot.




2. **How has the Epos 300 changed your life professionally? How does the build quality stack up to traditional units (Changed this one as all we work with is quality lighting units)?**


“I come from the old school of things, I learned on big tungsten units and HMIs and restrained from switching to LED for a long time. The thing that eventually convinced me was the flexibility and control, especially when working with CRMX units. That said LED units were more additions to the toolkit rather than replacements; most of my lighting package was still tungsten and HMIs, then the LEDs were more for unique situations rather than a go-to light source. This is where the Epos 300 really changed things as it’s so flexible it was able to replace a lot of the softbox units we were carrying as well as the smaller HMI and tungsten units while also giving us a lot more control in a shorter amount of time. On Fatal Crossing, we were shooting 10+ pages a day (On our craziest day we shot 28 pages), and with to CRMX and LED we rarely had to compromise because we did not have time to add an extra gel, dim it down, or anything like that. It even allowed us to quickly test out ideas while still being able to hit a preset and bring us back to where we started if we needed to start shooting mid-experimentation. That said none of this would have been possible without Hans Jacob my gaffer who was so flexible and quick on his feet, that anything we might need was already rigged before we finished blocking out the scene.”


Future Possibilities: Lighting Schemes and Artistry


As I was contemplating the images and the lighting schemes, it occurred to me that these visuals might be better conveyed through an article. I could detail the intricate lighting setups and even provide diagrams to guide aspiring cinematographers in achieving similar effects. It’s an idea worth exploring, and I’m open to your thoughts on the matter.







Closing Thoughts


In closing, I want to extend my sincere thanks to the Kelvin team for their dedication and support. The Kelvin Epos 300 has proven to be a valuable asset in our creative toolbox, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in cinematography. I look forward to seeing how this lighting innovation continues to shape the world of visual storytelling.

Feel free to share your thoughts, and stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes glimpses into the art of cinematography.


Best regards,


Michael Mark Lanham FNF



3. **Could lighting be one of the biggest differentiating factors in today’s storytelling?**


“Hmm, I think definitely it’s the technical tool I lean on the most on as a DOP. We live in a time where cameras and lenses are so good that as long as you have the right lighting to create the feel and look needed for the story, you can get away with pretty much any camera or lens. That said I think the biggest differentiating factor today is the people telling the stories, the industry is evolving and becoming accessible to storytellers who previously would struggle to tell their stories and today the bar to create is so much lower than it used to make a difference between films in who is telling them, which for me as a DOP is super exciting as I get to work with so many different directors and make films which would only be a dream 10 years ago.”


4. **What’s your favorite/dream Kelvin lighting setup? How many lights – which ones? (Please feel free to include the Epos 600 and of course the Play Series if so…)**


“I keep telling the marketing team at Kelvin they need to let me shoot the next launch film and let me light an exterior light set with 20+ Epos 600s, but I think they would rather get them to customers, than let me nerd in the woods, so I would have to say an Epos 600 on a wheeled combo stand with the dome diffuser and a 5ft Octadome. It’s just such a flexible setup that creates a beautiful quality of light and can be used on every set in a hundred different ways and a Kelvin Play Pro in my pocket to use as an eyelight, gaglight, or whatever is needed.”


5. **How was it to work with the Epos 300 as a Cinematographer on such a challenging project as Fatal Crossing?**


“The biggest challenge we had on Fatal Crossing was time. We had a tight schedule, a small crew, and a lot of setups to get through. We knew that if we wanted to create the look we wanted with the time, we had to work mainly with LEDs and they needed to be lightweight, battery-powered, robust, and CRMX. The Epos 300 ticked all these boxes, but what made it unique was how powerful it was. Most of the show is done with tube lights as we are mainly in offices and so on, but as soon as the sun came out or we needed to do night exteriors it really saved us. There is one scene in EP1 where it really saved us as halfway through our day the sun came out and was bouncing off the next building, so while our gaffer Hans Jacob was rigging an HMI, I swung the Epos 300 over, set it to max mode through a diffusion frame and it was enough, so we got back to shooting. We also used it for a lot of the night exteriors when we needed a moonlight which we could quickly move with no need for power cords, we could mount it all on one stand and quickly move even though the light was 4 meters up in the air. We even had it bouncing into a polyboard at that height when the wind allowed us to.”


6. **Run us through your lighting setup. How would your project have worked if you had only lit it with Kelvin lights? What are the huge benefits of choosing one system/drawbacks?**


“So this show was mainly Tube lights, one big HMI, and Parcans, mainly because we were in offices and interiors a lot and that quality of light fit the show and look we were trying to achieve. I am sure we could have tried to do it all with Kelvin lights, but it would have changed the look towards a more traditional Hollywood aesthetic which we weren’t looking for. The joy of being a DOP today is we have so many tools to choose from each doing its thing in a very specific way, where the Epos 300 shines is filling in the holes between those specific tools and allowing you to adapt to the situation and what the story needs.”


7. **What are the biggest benefits of Kelvin lights for gaffers and cinematographers?**


“The biggest benefit for us was the flexibility; we could quickly adjust to fit what we needed. Whenever we needed just that little bit more, the Epos 300 was able to give it to us. The Epos 300 allowed us to keep our kit small while not feeling limited. It also allowed us to get creative and do things we wouldn’t normally try with other lights, like hanging it above a table with an Ikea china ball under it or mounting it to a polyboard 4 meters up in the air.”


8. **What is on the calendar/the stars for Michael Lanham? Dream rig, jobs, crew, plans, and projects where we could admire your work?**


“I am currently prepping for a feature that will start shooting in early spring. I have a few other projects looming around after that, but nothing is set in stone just yet. For now, I am enjoying the prep life and spending time with family and friends. Fatal Crossing is on DR in Denmark, Altibox in Norway, and will soon be on TV4 in Sweden. As for my other work, the best place is either Instagram michaelmarklanham or www.michaelmlanham.com.”


Best Regards,

Michael Mark Lanham, FNF

Cinematographer / Filmfotograf 


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