Litepanels Go Thru Fire and Smoke for Wiegand on "Chicago Fire"


Last Updated: September 24, 2013 5:38 pm GMT
(Van Nuys, California--September 24, 2013) Most of the fire seen in the hit series "Chicago Fire" is real, if only occasionally supplemented by added flames in post VFX. To capture the intensity of this high action drama, cinematographer Lisa Wiegand relies on Litepanels Bi-Color 1x1s color adjustment capability and the durable MiniPlus, which she lovingly refers to as “bricks”.

Chicago Fire is a one-hour drama that follows the lives of the heroic firefighters and paramedics in Chicago’s Firehouse 51,” she explains. “We use an active handheld camera to follow our characters through their lives and into dangerous rescues. We also employ a lot of wide-angle lens shots to expand the backgrounds and ensure that Chicago is constantly identifiable.” Wiegand and team are out on location six of eight shooting days. They don’t use “cover” sets, but shoot through bad weather.

“Obviously, we shoot a lot of FIRE,” she says. “Fire creates many specific challenges. We need to expose for very bright flames, while still being able to dig out details in the shadows. Because of the intense levels of smoke we deal with, we are often shooting in the fire with a handheld ARRI Alexa camera and Angenieux Optimo zooms very close to the actors so we can see their faces. When our actors are in the fiery interiors, they wear facemask-breathing apparatuses. Because we need to recognize their faces, and it is difficult to get light through all the smoke involved, we use handheld Litepanels 1x1s close to the actors to get light in their eyes.”

“My gaffer, Tony Lullo, will walk with camera operator, Reza Tabrizi, and hold a light aimed right at the actors’ eyes to make sure we can see the faces through any challenging circumstance that arises in fighting the fires,” she explains.

Wiegand says she uses Litepanels in almost every shot: the MiniPlus™ as handheld eyelight that follows the handheld camera. And the Bi-Color 1x1™ panels for key lighting actors’ faces. “What I love about the Litepanels is that they are battery operated, dimmable and super quick to set up,” she says. “Also, I really love that the Bi-colors are so versatile in terms of color temperature. I enjoy shooting and lighting at non-standard Kelvin temperatures. If I want a key or fill to be at 3800K or 4300K, it’s easily dialed into the lighting unit and we don’t need gels to make compensations.

Chicago Fire wouldn’t look the same if Litepanels didn’t exist,” she says adamantly. “I’ve tried other small LED lights and they don’t give me the same punch (intensity) and quality of light that the Litepanels provide. The Litepanels are small and fit into tight places. Since we are constantly shooting in real locations, there are often challenges of mounting lights into restrictive places. Litepanels are the perfect tool for them. They are also perfect for handholding on the run, or for rigging in areas that can’t support a heavy light. I honestly think that at least 70% of the shots in any of our episodes have employed at least one Litepanels.”

For more information on products from Litepanels, part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company, contact Litepanels, Inc., 16152 Saticoy Street, Van Nuys, CA 91406, Email:

About Litepanels
Litepanels was founded in 2001 by 5 professional gaffers and engineers who saw the future and pioneered LED (light emitting diode) lighting for motion pictures, television and the audio-visual industry. Their Emmy® award-winning technology has now been used on thousands of productions worldwide and is trusted by the world’s leading broadcast organizations.

Backed by the Vitec Group’s legacy of 100+ years in the broadcast and production industry, Litepanels continues to expand its suite of flicker free, color accurate, fully-dimmable soft lights that talent and Lighting Directors admire. These environmentally friendly fixtures practically pay for themselves with power savings and long life, setting a new standard in professional lighting. Along with other leading brands in the broadcast and professional videographer industry, Litepanels is part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company. For more information on Litepanels, visit

About Vitec Videocom
Vitec Videocom brings together some of the most respected, most innovative and most sought-after brands in the industry: Anton/Bauer, Autoscript, Camera Corps, Litepanels, OConnor, Petrol Bags, Sachtler, Vinten and Vinten Radamec. It acts as an endorsing brand for these market-leading broadcast, film and pro video products, encouraging multi-brand system sales and simplifying the way that customers worldwide do business.

Vitec Videocom is an operating division within the Vitec Group, an international business serving customers in the broadcast, photographic and military aerospace and government markets. Vitec is based on strong, well known, premium brands on which its customers rely on worldwide.
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