By | Published October 9th, 2014 | in FILMMAKING


Lighting needs within Hollywood change every decade. As cameras get more sensitive, lights have to change to make sure they don’t blow them out, and as sets get bigger lights need to be able to be hidden in places to help accentuate every scene.

Enter the LED light, an easy to use light that cinematographers love because they can be hidden all over each set and can be both primary and secondary light sources.

LED lights have been around since the late 1960s, although Electroluminescence, which is the working principle of the light, was discovered around the turn of the century. 

LED stands for Light-emitting Diode which is a two-lead semiconductor light source. 

What makes this type of light so important is the fact that in comparison to incandescent lighting, it consumes far less energy, it lasts longer, the physical size is smaller, and you can switch at high speeds. 

It is for these reasons alone that the future of cinema lighting is bound to fully embrace this technology.

So what is the future of LED lighting in Hollywood?


If we want to predict the future, we have to examine the past. 

In the past, incandescent lights have served us well on film cameras and is still preferred to use when using the medium, but when it comes to digital cameras and video equipment, there has always been room for a more appropriate light source to match the electronic nature of the cameras and their sensors since they were invented in the early 1980s. 

In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, digital cinematography was experimented with by all sorts of film-makers, but it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that a breakthrough would emerge. 

The emergence of HDCAM based recording at 1920 x 1080 via CCD technology was a game-changer and in the early 2000s, two films were released that experimented with this new technology. Those films were Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones and Once Upon a Time in Mexico

These films brought us to modern LED usage. 

Both films used LED lighting to light they’re subjects in various scenes throughout the films and the result looked better than expected.

LEDS in modern cinema

Since the early 2000s, digital cameras have come a long way and the sensor technology has only gotten closer to capturing the essence of film cameras. In the present day, most productions shoot on high-end HD cameras that record RAW at 2K, all the way to 8K. 

Along with that, we are seeing LED technology grow and expand in many exciting ways to match the ever-changing nature of digital cinematography. 

Nowadays you can rig a whole lighting set-up to a control panel or remote control and change settings, directions, and power down all at the click of a button or the turn of a dial. 

There’s also something to be said about the physical robustness of these newer LED lights with the added benefit of low-cost production and the low cost to purchase. 

LED lights are in every blockbuster movie and television show. They have become the preferred lights on commercial sets and by cinematographers in every medium. 

Look for them on every screen from now until the end of time.

About The Author:

Trenton Massey


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