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 thatÂ related to the circumstances surrounding, and subsequent request for the removal of aÂ video from Vimeo. We sincerely apologise for any offence caused to Den Lennie and theÂ Fâ€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 ofÂ extremely hard working and passionate people, who have worked for decades in theÂ creative industries and care greatly about creating highly innovative products for ourÂ customers. Rotolight is not a â€˜corporate bullyâ€™, far from it. We are in fact one of the â€˜littleÂ guysâ€™, and have to work extra hard to compete with larger companies, to come up withÂ exciting and imaginative new designs that push the boundaries of LED lightingÂ technology.
“Rotolight welcome and encourage independent reviews, editorial and feedback fromÂ customers on our products, and indeed go out of our way every week to provideÂ products for test to numerous major industry publications, to which Rotolight has noÂ affiliation. We also regularly provide loan products to leading cinematographers andÂ DoPâ€™s in the field for use on their projects, without any prior knowledge of theirÂ potential feedback on the product. As a result, our products have recently been used onÂ James Bond Skyfall, Tom Hanks latest movie Captain Phillips, and currently by ITVâ€™s â€˜Your face sounds familiarâ€™ as well asÂ recently on a major BBC series and Formula 1.
“In this specific case, the video was not removed for copyright infringement reasons asÂ has been widely reported. Rotolight received external advice with respect to thisÂ particular video that it was potentially misleading and unrepresentative. This adviceÂ resulted in the only request the company has made to have a video removed from anyÂ video sharing website in the last 3 years.
“It is important to understand the damage that can be caused not just to our business, butÂ to its hard working employees and their families, and also to the numerous other SMEâ€™sÂ in our UK supply chain, whom we make a conscious effort to source components from inÂ order to support our local business community, which is why we felt we needed to act.Â However, we accept that we could have dealt with this better and avoided the issueÂ through clearer communications in the first instance, and we are already reviewing ourÂ 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 minorÂ anomaly in its manual software calibration process, which affected only this particularÂ light. It was immediately rectified and returned to the customer, resolving the issueÂ displayed in the Video. The issue here was not that we simply â€˜didnâ€™t like the resultsâ€™ butÂ that the original test video was posted to Vimeo 5 months after the issue had beenÂ rectified, without any reference to this. It was therefore felt the Video was potentiallyÂ misleading and unrepresentative, although we fully accept that this was not theÂ intention of the Video when it was uploaded.
“We have already posted a link to a completely independent test of a representative lightÂ alongside 20 other manufacturers lights, carried out by Wide Open Camera that canÂ been seen here.
“The colour accuracy of the Rotolight Anova was specifically analyzed by the CanadianÂ Society of Cinematographers in an independent test where they said â€œMany lights,Â especially LEDâ€™s, produce a spiky spectrum or have large chunks of spectrum missing, butÂ the Rotolight Anova showed a nice smooth gradation through the whole visible lightÂ spectrum, which in turn means rich, beautiful and natural colour rendition in the subjectsÂ you are shootingâ€ (Sarah Moffat, CSC)
“We recognize everyoneâ€™s rightful concerns about freedom of speech, which we equallyÂ share. However, this particular case was more an issue of a breakdown inÂ communication between the key parties, which is regrettable and for which we deeplyÂ apologize to all concerned.
“As a gesture of good faith, we have offered to donate a brand new Rotolight Anova worthÂ over Â£2000 to Den Lennieâ€™s Fâ€Stop Academy for use by its students in their workshops,Â and have invited them to our Pinewood Studios Office to meet the designer and theÂ Rotolight team.
“Indeed we always try to communicate, promote, understand and welcome our end usersÂ feedback, either positive or negative â€ It’s what makes us work harder, move further andÂ improve our products every day. Thatâ€™s one of the reasons why in a recent survey overÂ 92% of Rotolight customers said â€˜they would recommend our products to a friendâ€™. WeÂ 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 MakingÂ Community as the Winner of the prestigious CINEGEAR 2013 Technical Award (held atÂ Paramount Studios LA). We have also won numerous other industry awards includingÂ the CINEC Special Award for Scientific Innovation and Technical achievement, and theÂ British Kinematographic Sound and Television Society award 2013 for a product rangeÂ that has â€œmade an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the industryâ€.
“Weâ€™d encourage you to visit Rotolight at IBC 2013 on stand (11:D69) to see the awardÂ winning lights in action and have a oneâ€toâ€one demonstration on the latest additions toÂ the Anova product line being announced at the show.
“To see Rotolightâ€™s products in action, you can view our showreel here.”
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