When the first wireless LED tubes appeared on the scene, it opened the doors to all sorts of new creative ways to light up a scene or event. -- Or just take BTS shots of grips mimicking light sabers.
But there was still something missing…
I’m talking about RGB control.
Before then, filmmakers only had the choice of using Kino Flo fluorescent lights that were tethered to wires that connected to both sides of the tube for power. They were hard to hide and were an eye sore if you wanted to see the light source in the scene.
This left a void to be filled and companies like Quasar and Astera jumped at the opportunity to develop wireless LED tube technology.
Back when Quasar only had temp adjustments from 2000˚ Kelvin Candle Light to 6000˚ Kelvin Overcast Daylight with the Crossfade Linear LED lamps, the choice was clear if you were debating between Astera’s wireless RGB tubes or Quasar’s lamps. But when Quasar caught up with Astera in the RGB game shortly after their release of the AX1. DP’s, Gaffers, and rental houses everywhere found themselves scratching their heads when trying to decide which way to go.
Let’s compare both of their latest releases and see what we come up with!
So let’s think about this…
Both Astera and Quasar use applications and backside displays for control options. Both are wireless. When fully charged, both claim to max out around 20 hours uninterrupted on low output (12 hours realistically). And both have similar housing.
But the Rainbow 2 has some options that the Asteras don’t. For instance -- The R2s have 3 size options:
2’ - 12 pixels
4’ - 24 pixels
8’ - 48 pixels
Right off the bat, they have longer tubes available with more individual pixels per length. Astera has three options available with less pixels per length:
1.8’ - 8 pixels (Helios)
3 ⅓’ - 16 pixels (AX1, Titan)
6 ½’ - 32 pixels (Hyperion)
Both have their place if you need a specific size though, hence why Astera fits in between Quasars sizes.
When it comes to rigging, Quasar raised the caliber when they created they’re new rail mounting system that rids of the need for small mounting clamps and metal clips. The R2 comes standard with a mounting rail down the back of the light, lined with 3/8-16 and 1/4-20 mounting points. This allows you to mount side by side similar to a Kino Flo 4-bank set-up. The mounting points also allow you more options to rig up individual lamps as needed.
But what does the Astera’s offer that the Quasars do not?
When it comes to mounting, Astera offers some convenient options that Quasar does not provide.
Case in point, the eye bolt which allows you to hang the tube from a wire, chain, string or rope vertically or horizontally. This is a very handy option that screws into both ends of the tube. Another way you can mount the tubes is by way of the stand which has three adjustable legs that allow the tube to stand vertically. A great accessory if you need your tubes close to the ground or up on a table/shelf. Along with their single clamps similar to Quasar’s accessories, they make a wingplate that connects two clamps a foot apart onto a crossplate with a baby-pin, allowing you to connect to a stand.
Other than mounting options, Astera has some other superior attributes. It seems their application comes with unique features that the Quasar app doesn’t have.
Anti-Theft - The lights have the ability to give visual and audible alarm as well as sending notifications to the Astera App if they are being moved during an event or production.
Flicker Free - Comes equipped with scrambled PWM technology to avoid flickering when filming.
Effects - The app allows you to quickly build programs out of colors and effects, trigger them or you can make them do things like match a beat.
Green/Magenta correction - You can adjust green/magenta during content creation to reduce post production work.
TruColor Calibration - You can individually calibrate lights that lead to 100% color consistency and exact color reproduction of color temperature and filter gels.
Talkback - With the app, you can detect all available lights, set them up, check their status and configure DMX addresses and DMX profiles.
So what’s the conclusion?
When comparing the two brand’s, Astera takes the prize for a superior application with more options available to dial in exact color and a wide range of cool effects. This definitely comes in handy for many applications and is an added incentive. But if you absolutely need 8 feet tubes, the decision is already made for you.
When it comes down to it, both Astera and Quasar offer awesome wireless LED technology and both have a place in every rental house or grip truck. I’m sure many will fall on different sides of the debate, but there’s one thing that is for sure…
Filmmaker’s wishes have been answered and the creative potential is endless!