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The Wireless Post

Best Film Schools in America

Great moviemakers don’t just spring up overnight. It takes superior instruction and resources to help film students reach their potential and to go on to become great directors, cinematographers and lighting specialists. Fortunately, some of the best film schools in the world are here in the good ol USA. Here are some of the top film schools in the country and some of their notable alumni.


  • USC: Since 1929 USC’s School of Cinematic Arts has been cranking out graduates like Judd Apatow, John August, Susan Downey, Kevin Feige, Doug Liman, Shonda Rhimes, Bryan Singer, George Lucas and John Wells to name just a few. The school is a well respected leader in the world of academia.


  • American Film Institute (AFI): Notable among its graduates is Darren Aronofsky, David Lynch, and Terrence Malick. Its alumni are proud winners of such prominent events as the Cannes and Venice film festivals.


  • New York University: Graduates of this well respected school include Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and M. Night Shyamalan and Ang Lee. The school is considered by many to be “the best film school east of the Hudson.”


  • UCLA: Frank Marshall, Justin Lin, Dustin Lance Black, Francis Ford Coppola are just a few of this school’s graduates. Adding to the prestige of the university is the fact that the School of Theater, Film and Television has an acceptance rate of only 2% of the applicants who apply to go there.


  • Columbia University: This school’s notable alumni include Nicole Holofcener, James Mangold, and James Ponsoldt. This school has a better acceptance rate that UCLA at 21% but it is no less respected in the industry and among academia. Its School of Arts has turned out film scholars, writers, theatre practitioners, and visual and sound artists and many other who have made great contributions to the world of film and theatre.


  • California Institute of the Arts (CalArts): This school’s alumni include John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Kirby Dick, Tim Burton, Brenda Chapman (the first woman to win an Oscar for an animated feature). Its School of Theatre includes Design and Production courses including Costume Design, Lighting Design, Producing (MFA), Stage Management, Production Management (MFA), Scene Design, Sound Design, and Video for Performance (MFA), etc.


Yes, it takes more than potential alone to become a great moviemaker. It also takes careful guidance and the right instruction and resources. Fortunately, these film schools will continue to produce some of the greatest artists in the world of film, stage and TV. Similarly, we at Ratpac Dimmers will continue to provide the hardware necessary also in creating memorable theatre and movie moments.

Ratpac Dimmers: How Our Commitment to American Made Products Helps You

There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about outsourcing and the negative impact it has on American workers and the economy. At Ratpac Dimmers one of things we are proudest of is the fact that our dimmers are American made. The other thing we are proud of is that this fact does not take away from the quality of our products or their price competitiveness. Our strand dimmers, for example, destroy the myth that company’s can only thrive by using foreign made products. We only wish that other companies understood that American made helps the economy without sacrificing the quality or bottom line of American companies. Here are some of the other advantages there are in buying our dimmers here in America using American workers.


  • Creates jobs – American jobs are created when you buy American products. In fact, according to ABC News, if each American spent as little as $3.33 extra on US made products it would generate nearly 10,000 new jobs.flag-206886_640


  • Helps the economy – Layoffs that come about as the result of outsourced jobs hurt the economy and this in turn leads to unsustainable borrowing from other countries. A healthy economy leads to less debt for America.


  • Better for the environment – Manufacturing processes in America are much cleaner and environmentally responsible than in most other countries where regulations – if they exist – are haphazardly enforced.


  • Promotes safe working conditions – Many workers in foreign countries work under inhumane conditions such as long hours, child labor, low wages, etc. Buying from foreign countries promotes labor under these situations.


  • Promotes product safety – We’ve all heard horror stories about how some products made overseas contain toxins and other hazards that endanger public safety. In America, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ensures that manufacturing processes here abide by a set of strict safety regulations. When you buy an American made product you can rest assured that your product complies with these regulations.


  • Helps reduce international conflicts – Many countries where work has been outsourced have anti-democracy governments. Buying American made products helps to make sure that access to vital goods are not supporting political conflict.


Finally, we confidently place the quality of our products right alongside similar products made overseas. Moreover, a vibrant manufacturing sector incentivizes technological innovation. This innovation can give your company the edge it needs over its competitors. Our products reflect that innovation and this is one of the many benefits of purchasing our dimmers.

The PDB Series

The PDB12 gives end users the ability to do a hard reset of individual channels controlling their light remotely.  Modern lights are becoming computers with LEDs and like all computers/smart devices, they need a hard power reset from time to time.  Why chase down the power and reset power at the distribution box, when you can do it via Wireless DMX through our PDB12, PDB6 (220V)?  Modern Lights need a modern power and data solution; that is what you get with the PDB Series.

When it comes to technology, things change even faster because the advancement of technology is always getting adjusted to be made better.  In the film-making industry, the most important thing for producers and cinematographers to remember is that they have to make an impact.  What do they look for?  Well that’s simple, the most bang for their buck!  With that bang however; comes the factor of power.  As soon as you give something power you have to take into consideration that like every good thing, sometimes you have to give things a breather.  In technological terms, it’s called a hard reset.

Ever had a DVD skip and freeze your whole system to the point you’re forced to simply unplug the entire device or shutdown the device without the proper power off steps?  Well, it’s the ame concept.  Usually a shutdown process would include chasing down the power cord, and following the cord to a distribution box.  Wouldn’t production be made faster with the ability to do all of this chasing from the press of one button?  Well that’s what RatPac provides with the addition of the PDB12 to your set, you add the availability of doing it all through Wireless DMX.  By doing it via DMX, one button shuts it down from wherever you may be on the set.  So there is no need for someone to be a runner.  Save yourself the trouble, because the PDB Series has your back.  With the new PDB Series, you’re getting the newest technology every time, at any set.  Have the control of power all in the palm of your hand!


The Benefits of Wireless DMX

Did you know that the Wireless DMX system was originally developed for the military to encrypt radio signals?  In today’s modern world, Wireless DMX has become a source of technology that helps develop the importance of lights and cameras used during entertainment and video production.  If you are in the field of entertainment technology, than you are most likely familiar with DMX.  DMX is the communications protocol that was created by the entertainment industry in order to have a common language for lighting controllers to speak to lighting devices such as dimmers or color scrollers.


Dimmers:  Used as devices to lower the brightness of a light by changing the voltage waveform applied to the lam
p. It is made possible to lower the intensity of the light output.2016-12-19_1428

Color Scrollers:  Invented by Wybron in 1980, the idea generated from the concept that moving the mass of a gel frame took too much energy and machinery.  Moving the frames quickly meant that the frame had to be sturdier, which made it heavier.  Stage lighting is more effective when you have a
choice of colors from each light.  Color scrollers allowed more flexibility in the planning stage and less equipment on the operation stage.2016-12-19_1424

We are living in a revolutionary period in lighting, driven by the growth of LEDs.  Lights and cameras become smarter by adding functionality while the infrastructure used to power smart lights remains virtually unchanged.  All modern digital fixtures require both power and data at the fixture.  Live event power systems delivers data to modern lights but the systems are bulky and not suited for the film/TV world.  Our solution is the PDB series: power, data and wireless DMX in one box.  Wireless DMX is an interesting technology that is changing the way we light out shows and it is continuously helping us to work faster at a lower cost. There is so much more we can help you learn, contact our team here at RatPac Dimmers for more information on our Innovative Technology.


RatPac and Passengers


A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony, a part from our norm, transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in it
s sleep chambers. Two passengers are awakened 90 years early in this outrageous phenomenon. This Christmas, every moment counts. What if everything around you suddenly changed? Would you give up your life on Earth?

Crew includes: Morten Tyldum (Director), Thomas Newman (Music), Rodrigo Prieto (Cinematographer), Maryann Brandon (Editor), Luke Freeborn and John Collins (Art Directors).

RatPac products used: The gaffer onset used RatPac Cintennas to power gags on the set where wires could not be seen in the shot.


The LDI Show in Las Vegas 2016

There is nothing lighting professionals enjoy more than exchanging information and sharing their knowledge with other professionals and neophytes to the industry. Indeed, this is the best way that the science and art of professional event and theatre lighting can move forward. This year’s LDI Show in Las Vegas – which ran from October 17-23 – provided an opportunity for professionals to do that and to learn about some pretty awesome current and emerging technologies. It also set the stage for designers, programmers, technicians, riggers, electricians and technical directors and opportunity to submit their proposals for teaching a new generation the craft of lighting and cinematography. (Starting on November 15th, professionals will have an opportunity to submit a session proposal for LDI2017, which takes place the week of November 13-19, 2017 in Las Vegas.)
Events of the #LDI2016 included an awards ceremony on the APEX Stage – (Booth 1581), special events such as the LDI Booth Crawl and Scavenger Hunt, LDI en Español and LDI’s spectacular Live Outside – Technology for Outdoor Events & Festivals. The outdoor events were designed for more than just showing off stunning light displays. Their aim was also to educate and spread knowledge of this industry to beginners and professionals alike. For example, these outdoor events featured talks on safety and real time learning sessions.
The other aim of this year’s #LDI2016 was to help arena riggers, theatre rigger, electricians, and portable power distribution technicians enter the field. To this end, all four examinations were given on the 22nd of October. Finally, professional from prestigious companies such as TMB, Point of Rental Software, Enttec and USITT conducted seminars on topics ranging from inventory management to the future of stage lighting technologies. Yes, training and educating the future generation of artists and technicians in the industry was the emphasis of this year’s LDI2016 with even more training and educational opportunities anticipated for next year’s event.
At Rat Pac Dimmers, we appreciate and support the efforts of professionals who engage in and sponsor such events. In the past, many professionals have not only found a way to inform others about the products they offer and display, but also to learn themselves from their colleagues by simply sharing knowledge in the industry and improving the experience of concert and theatre.


How lighting can change the entire mood of a movie scene

Many decades ago when the film industry was still in its infancy, directors and cinematographers came to an epiphany concerning the use of light in the, then new medium of movies – light, just as it does in real life, affects not just our ability to see objects but it also influences our moods. Thus, cinematographers quickly began exploiting the psychology of light and how it influences how we react to the world around us – emotionally. Hence, a cinematographer’s work is part art and part science as they bring together light and color in order to tell their story using the careful manipulation of both in order to affect how we “feel about” each scene. The directors who excel in their craft know this and use it on movie goers in subtle and not so subtle ways in order to shape each scene.

In order to begin to understand how movie makers use light to effect the mood of any given movie scene, one has to first understand the types of light that can be used. Common types of light for illuminating movie scenes include hard light, soft light, available light and combination light. Hard light is the kind of light produced by a cloudless day. It produces shadows that are angular and harsh. The great director Alfred Hitchcock used this kind of light to great effect in many of his movies. This kind of lighting is often used to create a mood of danger and eeriness. Next, there is soft light. This light is the opposite of hard light in that the shadows that it produces are not angular or hard. They are soft and gentle. Movies made in the film noir style often use this type of light. The effects created by this kind of lighting include romantic, seductive, non-threatening and comfortable moods. This kind of lighting can be used as an immediate contrast to scenes containing hard light and strong emotions. Combination light – as its name implies – lies between hard and soft light and the emotions elicited by it can vary.

Finally, available light – as its name implies – is using whatever light is accessible. Often documentary films use this kind of lighting out of necessity and in order to create a sense of reality. Speaking of authenticity, reality shows also make heavy use of available light. It is used in this context to make viewers believe in the realism of what they are viewing. In summary, lighting is used to affect our mood in a number of ways as movie goers. The use of it by cinematographers is in no way haphazard or random. Cinematographers rely on science and art in order to further manipulate us and affect our mood from scene to scene.


The Disco Biscuits - City Bisco - 10/5/12 - The Mann Center for the Performing Arts - Philadelphia, PA - Photo © Dave Vann 2012

Looking back at the Cinec trade fair in Munich 2016 and Ahead to 2018

Every two years professionals from the cinematic and film equipment industry, and experts who support the technology behind these businesses, gather together at a trade fair in Munich. They swap ideas on the subjects of film technique, post-production, event technology and related services. This is the Cinec Munich and it is a massive event that this year lived up to all expectations. The Fair, which this year took place from September 17 – September 19, 2016, was held in a complex of conference rooms and halls and housed many professionals who exchanged ideas about lighting and light products, distribution, sound and sound equipment, cameras and camera support and many other topics of interests to those in the film and cinema.

The exhibition of equipment and technologies were and are the largest part of this trade show. Another part of it is the “CineCongress” which is a series of workshops and lectures that cover some of the more esoteric ideas related to where cinema is heading in terms of content, etc. Topics discussed and technologies displayed this year were:

  • Camera trends,
  • New LED-technologies,
  • Implementation of VR and AR,
  • IP-Production,
  • Cloud-solutions,
  • Innovative display and projection technologies,
  • New audio-formats,
  • Film heritage and archives,
  • Data security,
  • Business and utilization models,
  • Visual perception and physiological aspects, etc.

The most anticipated part of the event this year was the Cinec Awards which recognizes outstanding achievements and developments in the field of cinema. This year the Munich-based Arri Group won two awards in the categories of Lighting Engineering and Camera Technology/New Digital Capturing Tools. For lighting technologies they won for their SkyPanel family of LED soft lights and in the Camera Technologies category then won for their ALEXA Mini and TRINITY camera stabilizer system.

We at Ratpac Dimmer congratulate the winners and thank all the participants. These kinds of shows help elevate the craft of motion picture making as well as the technology that makes it all possible. Our contribution is our line of wireless dimmers for rent that are used by professionals in the area of cinema, theatre and music. We look forward to the next Fair which will take place in 2018. We are excited about the advancements that will be available to all professionals in these industries and will stay atop all new technologies.rat-pac-blog-10-03-16

How Lighting Techniques Have Changed throughout the History of Cinematography

Lights! Camera! Action! Since the very beginning of moving pictures lighting has played a pivotal part of the cinematic experience. In the beginning – starting with the 1890’s – the main concern with lighting was just that “moving pictures” could properly be seen. Eventually, directors began to realize the impact that lighting makes on creating a scene, telling a story and setting a mood as well. Just as this view of lighting impacts the cinematic experience, so too does the technology used to capture and convey those messages. For example, the early silent movies of the 1920s were shot in studios under glass roofs with muslin cloth draped across the camera in order to create the soft lighting effect. Early cinematographers like Charles Rosher created lighting effects by mixing hard carbon arc lamps with soft Cooper-Hewitt lamps. (These were mercury-vapor lamps created in the early 1900s.) By the 1940s this lighting source was replaced by tungsten lamps.
By the beginning of the 20th century directors and cinematographers were beginning to understand that lighting had more of a use than allowing the public to see what was happening on the screen. They began to seek ways to manipulate the emotions of the viewing public by seeking out and exploiting the available technology. Director D.W. Griffith, for example, actively sought out the latest innovations in lighting in order to tell a story. One can easily contrast movies from other directors of the time by viewing works such as Pippa Passes (1909), The Thread of Destiny (1910), and Enoch Arden (1911). The effects he creates are achieved by using reflectors to deflect strong backlight onto the actor’s faces. Another innovator in the use of lighting is the great Alfred Hitchcock who relied heavily on lighting to affect the mood of audiences. Hitchcock used shadows to add emotional tension to certain scenes.
By the 1960s and 70s technology began to evolve even further beyond the use of those early Cooper-Hewitt and Tungsten lamps as a light source, to the use of HMI (hydrargyum medium arc-length iodide) lights. So effective was HMI as a lighting source that it continues to be used to this day. Modern cinematographers have a treasure trove of technologies at their disposal. They know more about the psychology of light and color on mood and how this impacts story telling. They also can easily see how filmmakers from around the world approach their art by using light and shadow. At Ratpac Dimmers we sell the latest technology in the control and display of lights that can help professionals in the theatre, concert and special events field."RatPac Dimmers"