The Pixelstick – The Verdict

Was the Pixel Stick Worth it?

Having watched this cool light painting tool evolve for a while it was only a matter of time before I got one. That came on Black Friday 2015 when the offer price was right.

It arrived from the states a few days later, and I was raring to go – were it not for the rain!

How does it work… ?

Watch this!

Why did I get it?

I shoot cars professionally – I thought it’d be a cool addition to the toolkit for that.

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Also, I thought I could use it for client logos – adding those to scenes for some quirky viral click bait!

I also run night workshops, so it was an obvious addition to the “wire wool” and “gelled LED torches” I drag around Yorkshire each winter.

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I like gadgets, and wondered what I could do with it – what works, what doesn’t work, could I do anything others were not doing ?

How is the Pixelstick to use?

Uploading new files etc. to the Pixelstick

The file format and interface on the device is old school:-

  • you need “bitmap” BMP files which are 200 pixels high,
  • then rotate them 90 degrees to the right,
  • the file names can only be 8 characters long.

SO that’s novel

Photos with black edges work best – anything on a white background look a bit pants, to be honest – you get white tide mark.

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That’s why I ended up with lots of demonic heads to start with – they have black edges! I’m not a satanist or demon worshipper!

The interface itself is pretty good to use at night – just a simple controller and a fire button. A bit like an old Game Boy control really. Once you get used to the menus, you can change things very quickly

Some Photos

So you can see lots of examples there – I’ve certainly given it a good workout!

Using it in the field

Needs to be really dark!

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I find it best if you’re somewhere dark enough to get a 30-second exposure at around F5.6 – so we’re talking dark places! Any brighter, you have to work faster or lower the aperture to F8 or F11… then the brightness starts to fade. i.e. you can’t see the effect very well… or at all .

Timing is interesting

I’ve always shot with someone at the cameras – so I have to shout when to start the camera, no use of remote shutters.

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How do you get wings in the right place behind someone? It’s tricky – try it.

Also, you’re walking to trace out an image – often to fill a specific space – so how do you time that? It could end early so you have got a big black space, or you end up at the end of the scene with the stick still flashing!

Its fun

Yeah – it is good fun to use to be honest. You just run around looking like an idiot, or some star wars fan as it can look like a light sabre!

Has it any Commercial Value?

Limited – I think most clients think it’s badly photoshopped artwork, rather than something unique and creative. One, in a bout of truth-telling, explained in great depth how he thought posting it on Social Media had cheapened my work and damaged my brand!

I don’t think many would go that far, but it’s seen more as a novelty toy, than a real commercial tool help raise a company profile.

I’d definitely try an another car shoot – but as an addition at the end of the shoot, if we had time. I’d not be promoting it and don’t have any examples on the website.

Was it worth it?

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It’s definitely got some interest in workshops so has paid for itself in extra attendees, so yes, it’s a cool tool which has actually covered its cost.

I think its best when used to create abstract things – rather than trying to create actual photos or things which are recognisable such as logos.

If you get too close to the camera, it looks like 200 lines, rather than a nice smooth image – that was a bit limiting, you do need to be far away to get the most from it.

What Next?

It’s getting light late in the UK now, so it’ll probably be packed away till the Autumn – but I think the thing I’ve not done is city work. Adding strange images to “already interesting” night scenes in a city, with models or cars, will be the next thing.

I think I’ve only really scratched the surface with it – mainly down to a horrendously wet and windy 4 months since I bought it. No one wants to be running around outside with a camera in the rain…

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