Rotolight denies allegations of suppressing criticism of their products
Rotolight, the UK lighting manufacturer, has come under fire for allegedly stifling customer criticism of its products. According to Den Lennie, a British film-maker, the company forced one of his videos offline when it compared a Rotolight Anova LED to two other lights and received a poor test result.
Lennie, who runs the F-Stop Academy educational site, said on his Facebook page: “I did a comparison video between Rotolight Anova, a Dedo softbox and the Kino flo Celeb… Well Rotolight have served a copyright infringement notice on Vimeo who have now removed the video. I feel that this is unjust simply because they did not like the results.”
“As a film maker and educator I feel passionately about my role in testing and comparing products. Manufacturers make all sorts of claims and yet when we independently test and find those results contradict the marketing then we should be well within our rights to publish the results. I’m sure if our video was raving about the product this would notice would not have been issued.”
Appealing to other film-makers, Lennie added: “I think it’s important that we stand together on this. We should not have our work being taken down simply because a manufacturer doesn’t like the outcome.”
In response, Rotolight has provided Lighting Rumours with the following official statement.
“Rotolight would like the opportunity to respond to the recent concerns raised that related to the circumstances surrounding, and subsequent request for the removal of a video from Vimeo. We sincerely apologise for any offence caused to Den Lennie and the F‐Stop academy, and for the resulting anxieties around freedom of speech.
“Rotolight is a small, family owned and run, UK based business, with a great team of extremely hard working and passionate people, who have worked for decades in the creative industries and care greatly about creating highly innovative products for our customers. Rotolight is not a ‘corporate bully’, far from it. We are in fact one of the ‘little guys’, and have to work extra hard to compete with larger companies, to come up with exciting and imaginative new designs that push the boundaries of LED lighting technology.
“Rotolight welcome and encourage independent reviews, editorial and feedback from customers on our products, and indeed go out of our way every week to provide products for test to numerous major industry publications, to which Rotolight has no affiliation. We also regularly provide loan products to leading cinematographers and DoP’s in the field for use on their projects, without any prior knowledge of their potential feedback on the product. As a result, our products have recently been used on James Bond Skyfall, Tom Hanks latest movie Captain Phillips, and currently by ITV’s ‘Your face sounds familiar’ as well as recently on a major BBC series and Formula 1.
“In this specific case, the video was not removed for copyright infringement reasons as has been widely reported. Rotolight received external advice with respect to this particular video that it was potentially misleading and unrepresentative. This advice resulted in the only request the company has made to have a video removed from any video sharing website in the last 3 years.
“It is important to understand the damage that can be caused not just to our business, but to its hard working employees and their families, and also to the numerous other SME’s in our UK supply chain, whom we make a conscious effort to source components from in order to support our local business community, which is why we felt we needed to act. However, we accept that we could have dealt with this better and avoided the issue through clearer communications in the first instance, and we are already reviewing our process and policy on this matter to ensure it does not happen again.
“Due to a simple human error, the light featured in this Video was found to have a minor anomaly in its manual software calibration process, which affected only this particular light. It was immediately rectified and returned to the customer, resolving the issue displayed in the Video. The issue here was not that we simply ‘didn’t like the results’ but that the original test video was posted to Vimeo 5 months after the issue had been rectified, without any reference to this. It was therefore felt the Video was potentially misleading and unrepresentative, although we fully accept that this was not the intention of the Video when it was uploaded.
“We have already posted a link to a completely independent test of a representative light alongside 20 other manufacturers lights, carried out by Wide Open Camera that can been seen here.
“The colour accuracy of the Rotolight Anova was specifically analyzed by the Canadian Society of Cinematographers in an independent test where they said “Many lights, especially LED’s, produce a spiky spectrum or have large chunks of spectrum missing, but the Rotolight Anova showed a nice smooth gradation through the whole visible light spectrum, which in turn means rich, beautiful and natural colour rendition in the subjects you are shooting" (Sarah Moffat, CSC)
“We recognize everyone’s rightful concerns about freedom of speech, which we equally share. However, this particular case was more an issue of a breakdown in communication between the key parties, which is regrettable and for which we deeply apologize to all concerned.
“As a gesture of good faith, we have offered to donate a brand new Rotolight Anova worth over £2000 to Den Lennie’s F‐Stop Academy for use by its students in their workshops, and have invited them to our Pinewood Studios Office to meet the designer and the Rotolight team.
“Indeed we always try to communicate, promote, understand and welcome our end users feedback, either positive or negative ‐ It’s what makes us work harder, move further and improve our products every day. That’s one of the reasons why in a recent survey over 92% of Rotolight customers said ‘they would recommend our products to a friend’. We encourage you to visit a store today, try one of our products and see it for yourself.
“Last week Rotolight was proud to be honoured by the Hollywood Film Making Community as the Winner of the prestigious CINEGEAR 2013 Technical Award (held at Paramount Studios LA). We have also won numerous other industry awards including the CINEC Special Award for Scientific Innovation and Technical achievement, and the British Kinematographic Sound and Television Society award 2013 for a product range that has “made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the industry".
“We’d encourage you to visit Rotolight at IBC 2013 on stand (11:D69) to see the award winning lights in action and have a one‐to‐one demonstration on the latest additions to the Anova product line being announced at the show.
“To see Rotolight’s products in action, you can view our showreel here.”