Plant & Works Engineering
Light painting without photo-trickery
Published:  16 November, 2018

Turck Banner wanted to ensure that its LED lighting promotions were made with LED lights and not using any photo-editing trickery so as not to exaggerate claims about performance of it products. Ian Manning (IM), marketing manager at Turck Banner explains some of the secrets behind its promotional campaign.

Where did the idea for the campaign originate?

IM: Like many campaigns this one started by brainstorming the messages and then thinking about locations to match them. For example: “The secret’s out” for the MI6 shot or “Built to last” for Edinburgh castle. The slogan “You know where you are” also has the double meaning of location and reliability.

How did you produce the adverts?

IM: We are asked this question many times and in fact we have produced a short video that explains the production:

First we create our message, 200 pixels high on a black background. This is then loaded into our light stick.The light stick we use has a 2 metre aluminium housing containing a circuit board with 200 full colour LEDs in a single strip. It is battery powered and the controller takes the image and displays it in one 200 pixel high vertical slice at a time. Our “know where you are message” is 200 pixels by 1500 pixels and takes about 9.5 seconds to display all 1500 slices.

The camera is then set for a 10 second exposure and the aperture is adjusted to get the background image correctly exposed. The camera and stick are triggered together and the stick is walked across in front of the camera. The person walking is wearing dark clothing and as they keep moving the camera doesn’t get enough light reflected from them to appear in the image. We have to trigger the camera remotely and anchor the tripod to try and eliminate any small vibrations which would blur the image. This means we cannot shoot from bridges and any wind can also present a problem.

How do you get the message in the exact position?

IM: How the message looks in relation to the background shot depends on how fast you walk and the starting point. How dark the background is also affects the clarity of the wording. The walk is repeated many times in order to obtain the desired look.

What problems did the team encounter while filming?

IM: Each location had to be thoroughly researched and reconnoitred for the ultimate camera angles. Lighting is also key, did you know that the creator of the Angel of the North stipulated that it should never be lit. This meant that the team had to rely on just the right level of light pollution to create a silhouette. Filming was carried out at all hours of the night, sometimes in finger-numbing cold conditions, Edinburgh Castle and again the Angel of the North sprang to mind here. Filming at the various locations also meant that the team were exposed to the vagaries of the general public and, on one occasion, in spite of having the relevant permission, a brush with the authorities, with the threat of incarceration being a good incentive to “move on”.

Why did you do it?

IM: Quite simply, because we are passionate about lighting. Our LED lighting products are the result of years of patience, dedication and honesty, a desire to bring a quality, reliable product to the market. We wanted our ad campaign to mirror those same qualities.

The photographs are stunning but why not simply generate the slogans on-screen?

IM: Fair point, one could argue that the same results could have been achieved using Photoshop trickery but this is where honesty comes in. We are dealing with a lighting product, so why not use light to promote it.

The last ten years has seen a meteoric rise in the popularity of LED lighting and the number of manufacturers. There has also been some adverse publicity regarding the performance and longevity of such products, can you comment on this?

IM: The LED bandwagon has been jumped on by many opportunists keen to cash in on the boom. Such companies lacked the history, knowledge and product development skills to produce a quality product. False performance and reliability figures often surrounded LED lighting products, either through ignorance or in a deliberate attempt to entice consumers away from conventional lighting. The poor performance and inevitable failure of these products caused a certain amount of mistrust and scepticism. This was seen mainly with domestic consumers but the knock-on effect was evident in the industrial market.

So what differentiates your company?

IM: To answer to this question we must look at our parent company, Banner Engineering, the leading producer of photo-electric sensors in the USA.

The development of our range of LED lighting is somewhat unique in that it runs contrary to the way things normally evolve in engineering. For example, television was a natural progression from radio and the first motor cars more often resembled horse drawn carriages with bicycle parts thrown in for good measure, every simple or complex advancement acknowledging what had gone before. Banner’s production of high intensity LED lighting was born out of the more complex world of photoelectric sensing.

How long is your history with LED production?

IM: It was in the early 1960’s that LED’s were first considered as a practical electronic component and by 1970 the LED was seen as a real alternative to the incandescent light bulb in the production of photoelectric sensors but whilst offering long life and robustness, the main drawback was the extremely low light intensity of about 1% of a conventional bulb.

Since that time Banner has worked on circuit development, in partnership with LED component manufacturers, to continually improve light intensity and performance whilst maintaining reliability. If a light bulb fails it’s annoying but the consequences of a sensor failure can have far greater consequences. The LED’s used in our lights are born out of our sensor technology and must be ultra-reliable.

Having gained vast experience in the development of LED’s via the demands of photoelectric sensor technology, we were perfectly placed to compete in the LED lighting market.

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