Lighting your video scenes often requires the specific abilities offered by several types of lighting fixtures. While my on-set experience has made me more familiar with Fresnels, HMIs, and LED panels, I recently had the opportunity to try some of the latest LED strip lights, the Rainbow 2 and the Double Rainbow. These slim, fairly compact lights from Quasar Science offer detailed control, robust color science, high efficiency, and versatile connectivity—plus a pretty cool mounting system.
The Rainbow series lights are available as individual Rainbow 2 2', 4', and 8' tubes and Double Rainbow 2' and 4' versions with twice the light width. Kit configurations include four 2' or four 4' Rainbow 2 lights complete with V-Mount battery plates, slider mounts, magnetic mounts, and baby pins, which add up to an abundance of mounting options. The travel case included with the multiple light kits is sturdy, easy to open, and wheeled. However, even with the wheels, the case is a bit unwieldy but, considering the length of the longer tubes, I’m not sure if there’s a way to get around that with a different design.
AC and Battery Power Options
One big plus with the Rainbow lights is their ability to be powered using either a standard powerCON TRUE1 connector to an AC source or via DC power using the 2.1 mm locking barrel connector. By not using a built-in battery, these lights let you simply swap out the battery when needed, which is definitely easier than replacing (and repositioning) the whole fixture, especially in a multi-unit setup, or running an AC cable to a fixture to recharge it.
I used an Anton Bauer Titon Micro 45 V-Mount Battery for a setup on the balcony of my friend’s apartment and was impressed by just how compact the combo of the light and the battery is. The wee Titon Micro 45 can be charged using the Anton Bauer P-Tap Charger, which comes complete with three wall adapters for international use.
Ossium Mounting System
Each of the individual tube lights comes with an Ossium sliding mount, a baby pin, two magnet mounts, and rubber end protectors. Ossium means "bones" in Latin and, even back then, the word was used not just literally but to signify the essential support for an inanimate object or an idea. So, here, it’s a fitting name for the slide-on mount that can be used to support each tube in multiple ways. The sliding ability lets you cantilever a Rainbow fixture over a tabletop or fit it into a cramped set when mounted on a C-stand.
I found the screw-in magnets handy for quickly snapping a 2' Rainbow 2 onto the steel window trim of the room I was in and envisioned them as a quick mounting solution for setting up corporate interviews in successive offices.
The pair of Q-Boots Shock Absorbers are dedicated black rubber sleeves that fit over the ends of each tube light and have cutouts for the display and ports. I found they got in the way just a little bit when attaching the Ossium sliding mount, but they can be quickly removed and replaced, so it’s not a big deal.
Advanced Control and Color Science
Like their name suggests, these lights with a high CRI/TLCI rating of 95 can produce all the colors of the rainbow, offering millions of combinations of hues and intensities to create just the look you want or to match existing fixtures or ambient light. These high-quality 1750 to 10,000K fixtures output white light that conforms to the illumination standards used by pro camera sensors and they have CCT control that standardizes changes throughout the entire color temperature range.
High and Low Modes
Switch between High Mode, for the strongest yield, and Low Mode, which reduces the output but offers greater control granularity. This finer control is particularly useful for highlighting a product in a close tabletop shot and for creating a better visual of the light’s output when the tube is seen in the shot, as in a music video, concert, dance club scene, etc.
Saturation controls include Gel, RGB, and HIS modes and the option to desaturate completely to work with white only. You can use it to add color to effects like emergency to mimic a flashing neon sign.
The built-in effects and macros, such as rainbow, short circuit, and customizable emergency lights, can be controlled as if they’re a regular mode.
Each Rainbow fixture has a discrete “Lamp” button that lets you turn the output on and off without powering down the unit—this way you can make adjustments without distracting the talent or crew with changing light outputs between takes.
The “Just Noticeable Difference” (JND) or “Weber’s Law” is a psychology term that Quasar Science uses to describe the Rainbow lights’ more instinctual lighting control. This JND produces stepped increments of light that are easier to see when compared to just dialing in values of 10 or 100, for instance.
Quasar Science developed a “Spectral Control” feature to desaturate your lights’ output when you want to match third-party fixtures better or when you just want a more muted look.
Both Rainbow versions feature fine pixel control with the wider Double Rainbow, providing more than double the pixels of most tube fixtures to produce more realistic effects. True pixel-level control provides individual control of each pixel for use with pixel-mapping software. Pixel-like effects adjust parameters like speed and decay to create customized effects, and color can be added to effects like the short-circuiting bulb.
If you’re familiar with the Luminair app (v4), you can use it to control the Rainbow lights from your iOS or Android smartphone. When linking to Bluetooth make sure that all possible connections are turned on: your phone/tablet itself, within the app and, of course, the light. With Luminair, you can control individual fixtures, group lights, program sequences, add legacy “gel” looks, select pre-existing profiles for each light model, and more.
While I unfortunately didn’t have the means to test the Rainbow fixtures using a DMX control system, I was able to get a demo from Quasar Science of the main DMX features. One option for DMX control is to use the Litepanels Apollo Bridge wireless control unit, which incorporates its own Wi-Fi network, providing a useful solution for setting up in a location lacking Wi-Fi, like a makeshift event space, or in a busy location where having a dedicated network is preferred. The Rainbow units are compatible with both Art-Net and sACN protocols with controls like those listed above applied to individual units or to a DMX universe. Slider controls let you easily adjust the light output or you can tap in a number to jump to a specific color temperature.
Both the Rainbow 2 and the Double Rainbow units have Cat 5/6 RJ45 Ethernet ports receiving and sending data and the Double Rainbow also has an integrated network switch for even more efficient and advanced DMX universe controls.
When working with any light, but especially with rental units, make sure to select “unlink” to disconnect the fixture from any prior session settings. The CRMX symbol on your Rainbow light will blink green when successfully paired using the LumenRadio transmitter in the Apollo Bridge or another wireless unit. Use the configuration menu to set the address and pick a profile that suits your output, set units to follow or lead other fixtures, select the Swatch option to add gel effects, and more.
OLED Display and Control Panel
The Rainbow lights’ OLED displays are easy to read, but have a couple of quirks. The OLED screen only shows one line of the menu at a time, which is probably fine once you’re familiar with the menus, but kind of limiting when you’re getting to know the controls. And it would be a plus if the backlight could remain on longer; it seems to power down just a little too quickly—but that may be fixed with a software update.
The OLED displays are positioned on different planes for the Rainbow 2 (on the end) and the Double Rainbow (on the front right)—I think it would be easier to set up arrays of both lights if the displays were both visible on the same plane.
Finally, if you’re going to watch a manufacturer’s product videos, having Muppet-like spokespeople is definitely a plus! You might get a chuckle out of the set of Quasar Science videos featuring the horn-rimmed Roger Smurple (gaffer) and the goateed Jean-Claude Lambert (DP—no stereotype there!) touting the virtues of the Rainbow 2 and the Double Rainbow, respectively.
When you need a high-quality, portable lighting solution with the ability to finesse color and effects, turn to the Quasar Science Rainbow 2 and Double Rainbow LED tube lights. Are either of these for you? Enlighten us in the Comments section, below!