October 22, 2014, 10:34:19 PM

Author Topic: Professional Sports Lighting  (Read 3697 times)

JustinMartin

  • SX60 HS
  • **
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Professional Sports Lighting
« on: February 10, 2013, 09:46:33 PM »
About a year ago I was at a professional sporting event and noticed that the Pro shooters were using PWII to fire the stadium strobes. Having a chance to revisit the stadium this weekend I thought that I would throw a PWII into my pocket to see if I could find the channel the Pros were using and fire the strobes from my camera roughly 15 rows up. Low and behold they were using a default channel and while being considerate I did fire off a few shots. From scanning around the stadium I could only find two shooters with PWII - all others were shooting flash free.

So my question is - legally could you get into trouble triggering these units? I know that ethicly no one should be using them with out permission.

Anyone here a stadium pro and have any experience with unauthorized use of strobes?
5DII - 17-40L - 24-105L - 135L - 430EXII - 580EXII

canon rumors FORUM

Professional Sports Lighting
« on: February 10, 2013, 09:46:33 PM »

JerryKnight

  • EOS M2
  • ****
  • Posts: 186
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2013, 10:55:28 PM »
I doubt there's anything illegal about taking over their house flash system. It could be considered breaking a rule, but I can't imagine a law you'd be breaking. The most they could do is make you leave, assuming they found out it was you. If you were legitimately shooting, you'd have to do it from your seat, because you don't have media credentials, and a spectator shooting with a PlusII is a little suspicious.

It's an interesting thought experiment though. What would facilities people do if spectators kept sabotaging their flash remote systems? Are there any commercial radio systems that have encryption or some other form of protection?

RMC33

  • Canon 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 424
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2013, 01:06:28 AM »
I shoot ski and snowboard half-pipe, park and skier/boarder cross using flash at night. I can say I would be ruffled if I missed a shot because a flash was recycling/overheated/settings changed. Legally I can't say... but I will ask tomorrow while shooting if there would be an issue (I know this isn't stadium). I would assume since the gear is not yours and it got damaged because of you AND you were found there would be an issue. All the guys I work with agree on what channel we use before hand as we are all pretty static and set our lights before hand.

joerob

  • SX60 HS
  • **
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2013, 01:08:17 AM »
I regularly shoot basketball games on strobes for college and NBA games as I'm a credentialed pro. All I can tell you is, it's TOTALLY uncool if you do such a thing. It's very costly to have dedicated, private channels installed on Pocket Wizards so a lot of photographers do use standard channels. But I can tell you that if someone poached my strobes I would be able to tell it, and I wouldn't imagine it would take very long to find the culprit. Probably no legal action could be taken, but you'd most likely be banned from attending events in said arena going forward. You have to realize, pros shooting on strobes are there for a reason and earning their living. To poach somebody's strobes is just plain wrong.

drummstikk

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 104
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2013, 01:21:27 AM »
It's an interesting thought experiment though. What would facilities people do if spectators kept sabotaging their flash remote systems? Are there any commercial radio systems that have encryption or some other form of protection?

The "commercial/encrypted" solution is the PocketWizard's granddaddy, the FlashWizard. The FlashWizard requires a PocketWizard Multi-Max to trigger it. I'm not an expert on this, but my understanding is that one not only needs to be on the correct frequency, but also be transmitting a correct 4-digit code to trigger the setup. Someone using a Plus II in a situation like that is not terribly serious about preventing their lights from getting hijacked.

One of my clients has a set of permanently mounted Elinchroms in their gym which is used for basketball and volleyball. We had some trouble with a guy a couple of years ago who thought that his purchase of a Plus II entitled him to use the lighting system. I recommended at the time that they migrate to MultiMax units, they never got around to it, and the guy crawled back under his rock and there have been no problems since.

I have two clients who have setups permanently installed in certain venues where high quality photography is needed on a regular basis. The cost of a setup like this is at a minimum about $2000.00 (think Alien Bees) and could run as high as $10000.00 or more (Speedotron Quad heads). I do arena-style lighting in smaller gyms and other venues about 10 times a year, and I know I'd be pretty ticked if someone was stealing my system when I paid for the equipment and I spent anywhere from 2-5 hours hooking it up.

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that misappropriation of a lighting setup like that would be akin to hacking into a network you are not authorized to browse. Hacking can be a prosecutable offense, but I don't know what standard would have to be met to prosecute for "stolen lighting." I've never heard of anyone being prosecuted for this.

A photographer acquaintance who has a considerably shorter fuse that mine hunted down an individual who was triggering his lights from the stands and broke the person's PW by snapping it off right out of the hot shoe. So be careful whose lights you misappropriate.
"Focused. Or focused not. There is no 'almost.'"

                                                          --Yoda (paraphrase)

bycostello

  • 1D Mark IV
  • ******
  • Posts: 910
    • View Profile
    • London Weddings
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2013, 02:08:17 AM »
i think they would be pretty upset if they caught you...  as they could miss their shot while the flash recycles...

JerryKnight

  • EOS M2
  • ****
  • Posts: 186
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2013, 02:30:06 AM »
Y'all are doing a really good job at stating the obvious. Of course, using any such system without permission is wrong. Of course, abusing it to the point of failure or damage is something you can be prosecuted for. Using it at all should get you kicked out, but if your goal is to abuse it, it would be a lot harder to find out who and where you are (a Plus2 in your pocket is hard to spot).

I think so much of the existing technology has dealt only with responsiveness, reliability, and range (alliteration! sounds like a marketing brochure) and nothing has really been done to prevent misuse. The PocketWizard frequency and code schemes seem to me to prevent accidental interference from non-PW sources. Nothing I've seen can prevent another PW (plus2 or otherwise) from using a setup, apart from obscurity, but that's not really effective against someone who is trying to use your system.

I wonder what it would take to make a flash system where each transmitter had some kind of secure code scheme. But any such system would definitely add some kind of lag to the flash activation, and it could only get delayed so much before it's not usable as a reliable flash system. Maybe a compromise would be a serial number on each transmitter that gets transmitted along with the sync signal. This wouldn't be 100% secure, and it would be a pain to train the receiver to accept new transmitters, but it would make misuse a lot harder to accomplish.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2013, 02:30:06 AM »

brad goda

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 129
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2013, 05:06:38 AM »
Although not used for sports arenas ... the Canon 600EX-RT and its Transmitter can be set to one of many channels and with a custom 4digit code.  no transmission lag as the units can communicate ETTL at HS up to 1/8000 sec shutter...
PW TT5s supposedly can operate faster than PWII but I could not make my TT5s operate correctly.
YES the PW MultiMax units are the way to go for more security... it wasnt too long ago the sports lighting systems were hooked only wire PC

JustinMartin

  • SX60 HS
  • **
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2013, 09:41:53 AM »
There was never any thought of abuse on the lighting setup, more so I wanted to find out if they were using any type of secured channel was the reason that I originally brought the PW. I did end up firing off about 10-15 shots during the evening. That being said, I was there as a sports fan and not a photographer.

One guy a few seats away from me must have known that I had the ability to fire the strobes as with the PW attached it looked a little out of the norm.
5DII - 17-40L - 24-105L - 135L - 430EXII - 580EXII

JerryKnight

  • EOS M2
  • ****
  • Posts: 186
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2013, 02:23:51 PM »
There was never any thought of abuse on the lighting setup, more so I wanted to find out if they were using any type of secured channel was the reason that I originally brought the PW. I did end up firing off about 10-15 shots during the evening. That being said, I was there as a sports fan and not a photographer.

One guy a few seats away from me must have known that I had the ability to fire the strobes as with the PW attached it looked a little out of the norm.

I wasn't implying that you had any thought of abuse. I was still playing the hypothetical thought experiment game. Even the "secure" channels can't be 100% effective, because with the right setup, a 4-digit code isn't hard to break.

To play the other side a bit, if you wanted to be less conspicuous, you could just put the "pocket" in PocketWizard - run a sync cable from your camera to the PW in your pocket. It would be a lot harder to notice a fan who has a small cable coming out of their camera than a big Plus2.

The other thing is that they usually run a bunch of strobes at lower power, and their flash is so fast and from such a high angle, most people don't even notice when they fire. You'd have to go nuts on the trigger button to get anyone to notice, and I doubt the media photographers would ever have a problem with recycle times or overheating.

Still... It's wrong. Don't do it.

JustinMartin

  • SX60 HS
  • **
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2013, 03:47:44 PM »
Never thought to take a sync cable, again I was mainly going for the game and not planning on shooting a ton anyways.

Im in no rush to do it again, I also didnt list the event venue so not to advertise and open the doors to potential problems with others.
5DII - 17-40L - 24-105L - 135L - 430EXII - 580EXII

drummstikk

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 104
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2013, 07:08:31 PM »
I wonder if there would be a way to "pair" all of your transceivers with each other in such a way as to prevent triggers from devices that the receiving unit does not "know?" Something similar to the way a bluetooth headset pairs with a smartphone?

Aside from the one guy I mentioned in my earlier post who seemed to think that the University's gym light system was roughly the photographers's equivalent to free wi-fi, I have had pretty much zero trouble with anyone trying to take over my lights. As with so many things, there is a bad egg from time to time, but the vast majority of folks just want to stay out of your way, and at the most maybe just pick up a few pointers.

I've thought about this quite a bit since this post first appeared, and it seems to me this problem has the potential to get a lot worse. In the past there has been a measure of protection in using PocketWizard MultiMax units. The reasons for this are that the higher cost of these would limit the number of people who would buy them and be tempted to use them for mischief and because of their 28 additional channels above the four that exist on a Plus or Plus II (or the 10 or 16 channels on a PocketWizard Classic). Now, it seems to me that PocketWizard, even as their products make possible sophistication in photography that could hardly even be imagined before, is allowing the problem to grow worse by making the 32-channel Plus III available even cheaper than than the Plus II was.

Since I shoot swimming a fair amount, this concerns me quite a bit because there are specific restrictions on flash lighting at these types of events. If I didn't think I could maintain total control over my system, it would be irresponsible for me to not just pull the plug. There could be hazards to the integrity of the competition and even the safety of the athletes if a jerk were able to discharge the lights at times not of my choosing.

Obviously, I don't think it would be desirable or even that helpful to arbitrarily jack up the price of Plus III's in an attempt to prevent mischief, but I hope PocketWizard has some kind of security/encryption on the drawing board for their units.
"Focused. Or focused not. There is no 'almost.'"

                                                          --Yoda (paraphrase)

brad goda

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 129
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2013, 04:16:21 AM »
id call this \\\\HIJACKING//// not cool

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2013, 04:16:21 AM »

RMC33

  • Canon 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 424
    • View Profile
Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2013, 11:04:19 AM »
Slightly off topic, Dave Black made a series of videos a couple of years ago now promoting the benefits of hotshoe flash stadium lighting, it is an interesting series and now the 600EX-RT is here much much cheaper than he was using and they have the four digit coded channel protection.

The advantages he gives for small strobes over big flashes is pretty interesting too, but the real benefits are when you move outside.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpyLIakjVnM

These are all very good points. After the lighting discussion in a previous thread I have started to learn flash for the same reasons. Outdoor ski/snowboard can be difficult to nail in bright mid-day light or on a cloudy day. Flash helps a ton!

+1 for sure!

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Professional Sports Lighting
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2013, 11:04:19 AM »