Rift Labs’ Kick Light
Whilst up at The Photography Show in the Birmingham NEC earlier this month, I bumped into the designer of the Kick Light as he was demonstrating his product. I have to say I was instantly mesmorised by it and immediately imagined all the ways I could use such a device with my work. I wanted it there and then.
The Kick Light, made by Rift Labs, is a relatively new product that has the potential to have a big impact upon the light painting community. It comes in a form similar to standard LED video lights which I use regularly, although this one is very different.
Out of the box the Kick Light is a very intense light source with brightness controls and a handy white balance control. As it is it can be set to compensate for ambient lighting and appears to give a relatively good range from streetlight orange to a cool blue. This feature alone is pretty cool, but the Kick Light’s unique hook comes from it’s WiFi connectivity.
With both Android and IOS devices the lights can be controlled over a wifi connection to produce not only ‘white’ light, but any colour under the sun. In the app, a colour chart allows you to select any hue you want. You can enter the RGB values for complete accuracy and even set multiple lights to different hues and brightness levels, or control them all in unison. Another great feature is the ability to use the phone’s camera to sample colours to match virtually any ambient light source, a Pantone chart, an open fire, the setting sun, anything.
There are lighting effects such as a handy strobe, rainbow mode, lightning and blast. I can find uses for the strobe, and the rainbow effect’s beautifully smooth colour transition would be great for light writing but the other effects may be more suited to viedographers than a light painter.
The unit itself is built from a quality plastic and has a nice feel to it. The choice to add a phone holder specific to iPhone seems to be limiting to android users looking at the device for phone videography, I don’t use an iPhone and I’m not alone there. Still, the inclusion of a tripod thread means I can mount the lights virtually anywhere using all sorts of mounts. The soft buttons have a nice, responsive feel and the unit contains a rechargeable lithium battery, charged via micro USB.
I received my copies of the Kick Light a few days ago now, and have been fiddling around with them ever since. The light produced really does span the spectrum and I have to admit I’ve been sat here messing around with the rainbow effect for a while now, admiring all the pretty colours on my walls. Battery power seems quite good really and the units pump out a surprising amount of light.
The lenses over the LEDs themselves create a rather focused beam of light, rather than the diffuse light of your average video light and to be honest, I’d rather it this way, it won’t be hard to find an effective diffuser for when I need it.
Inevitably, for the prolonged usage I have in mind, the internal battery will never be sufficient unless it’s going to run for days, however, lately I have become used to carrying a 25,000 Mah USB power pack which will provide as much power as I could really ask for in one night.
I was worried about the connection and whether it would have problems dropping out, as previous WiFi devices have done in the past, but I’ve had four of these things running for a good few hours with no problems what so ever. There have been a couple of times where the lights have become unresponsive but the reset button works a treat, bringing them back to life straight away. I have revived my redundant iPod 5G for use as a control unit. The software also runs smoothly on my Nexus 7 tablet, but did not connect to the lights at all with my Sony Xperia Z1, until an update two days later. Now that also controls the lights smoothly.
The practical uses of these lights in my own work are endless and I look forward to using them in the field. I often light my scenes using a hand held source and I still believe a light source is best when moved around, but lately I’ve been longing for remote controlled static lighting for all sorts of reasons, particularly when sloshing around in culverts. To be able to adjust the intensity and colour of each light without having to walk over to it was something I didn’t expect possible. There’s always the limit of the range of a wireless connection of course, and it’s consumption of the battery, but this can be managed. I have a feeling that once I’ve become accustomed to working with the Kick Light I’ll be hooked.