From Neon to LED Lighting – Old Trend, New Look?


From Neon to LED Lighting – Old Trend, New Look?

With LED Lighting “Neon style” fixtures by manufacturers like Quasar ScienceCAME-TVDigital SputnikWestcott, the offers available for affordable LED tubular lights never stop increasing.

Trends come and go. It’s no secret that filmmakers love soft lights, as they easily wrap around the talent and tend to give a more natural and beautiful looking image.

I’ve seen neons everywhere on social media – they grew really popular recently through photographers like Marilyn Mugot or Brandon Woelfel, who use neon lighting to light the subject, while the light is usually placed directly in the scene.

But we are starting to see more and more “neon style” LED lights out in the field.





A little bit of background

Invented in 1910 by the French engineer Georges Claude, neon lights didn’t catch the attention of filmmakers immediately. Fluorescent tubes were invented 25 years after neon tubes in order to expand the tubes’ capabilities.

In 1987, DOP Robby Müller used a fluorescent light with a remote ballast in the movie “Barfly”. The technique was developed by gaffer Frieder Hochheim and best boy Gary Swink, so Kino Flo was born.

For nearly 30 years, Kino Flo fixtures were used everywhere in many types of production. Typical “consumer grade” fluorescent lights are very fragile and easy to break. In case it never happened to you: when a fluorescent tube falls on the ground, it explodes into a million pieces. Kino Flo made fluorescent lighting secure by adding a safety plastic cover over the light tube, so your film set would not turn into a mess, when something wrong happened.




Kino Flo original tubes: TRUE MATCH®

Also, it’s a very versatile type of light, as you can switch the tubes directly from daylight to tungsten. What I like is that you can mix the tubes (daylight and tungsten) if needed, so you practically have the choice to explore and experiment on set, without losing too much time. They even developed some application specific tubes like green screen tubes.

The simplicity of the system, small footprint, high output and color accuracy made them very popular to illuminate about anything one can think of. Plus, they run totally cool, compared to other tungsten lights. Once done, one can simply close the barn doors, put the light in the truck, and voilà – ready to go… Follow up the article on Hands-On.



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