Film Lights Quick Reference
Film Lights are an essential element of the movie making business. If you can’t see it, you can’t film it!
Beyond just illuminating a scene, lights can provide a mood, draw the eye in and make a bland setting interesting.
We categorized the lights by their technology:
- Tungsten has been around for 100 years and is still a go to light.
- HMI is used to approximate daylight.
- Fluorescent lights are light weight and can provide a soft light.
- LED is the new frontier in lighting technology with lots of variations and manufacturers.
Beside the camera, nothing has seen more rapid changes in the last 5 years than the lighting department. The introduction of LED technology has been a game changing event.
Film Light Manufacturers
There are many film light manufacturers but they tend to specialize or become associated with specific technology. This is an overview of the major manufacturers in each type of film lights.
ARRI has its finger in many technologies, and tungsten lights are no exception.
Their Fresnell fixtures are very common on set, with lights ranging in size from 150W to 2,000W.
A huge player in the tungsten arena, Mole has a large variety of fixtures, ranging from 200W to 20,000W.
They have unrivaled documentation. You can get the service manuals for most of their lights, showing exploded diagrams with nuts, bolts and parts for servicing. Replacement parts are a phone call away.
In the film light world, KinoFlo is synonymous with Fluorescent fixture.
Light weight, affordable and low power consumption are some of these fixture’s hallmark.
Fixtures come in 2′ and 4′ lengths with 1, 2 or 4 tubes.
Tubes come in 2900K, 3200K and 5600K variants.
While fluorescent fixtures are still in common use, LED lights are showing up more and more as an alternative.
ARRI is the undisputed standard when it comes to mid-size HMIs.
Their M18 (1,800W) is the go to light for use with household power. Other notables include the M40 (4,000W) and M90 (9,000W).
For smaller, portable HMI, the K5600 Joker line is unbeatable.
Available in 200, 400, 800 & 1,600W versions, it is popular on commercial sets due to its portability and small size.
The Silver Bullet is a staple in the big HMI film light. It has variants ranging from 9,000W to 24,000W.
LED Technology is the wild west of the film light world! With ever evolving technology, new fixtures and manufacturers show up every year. It is difficult to keep up!
However, there are companies & fixtures that have emerged as staples in the industry.
ARRI is a powerhouse in the RGBW LED Lights. Productions of every sizes uses the ubiquitous SkyPanels.
The S-60 is probably the most common, the they have a S-360 which it gigantic!
Astera is common in the live show world, but their Pixel Tube has made an impact in the film world, especially when you want color effects.
KinoFlo is making big moved in the LED world while keeping their familiar 2′ & 4′ form factor. From the Select to the new FreeStyle T44, they keep innovating.
LitePanels are big in the 1’x1′ form factors. They started with the Astera 1×1 Fixture, originally Daylight, then bicolor. Now, they have introduced the Gemini RGBW fixture in a 1×1 form factor.
LiteGear makes the LiteMat bicolor LEDs in a number of form factors. The fixtures are light-weight and pack a pretty nice punch.
In addition, they have a line of LED light ribbon which allows you to place lights in the smallest of spaces to provide illumination where you don’t expect.
Quasar Science has bi-color and RGB fixtures.
A notable fixture is the Crossfade which is a bicolor tube that can fit in a KinoFlo housing and can run on AC power without the need for a Ballast and can be dimmed. Many KinoFlo housing are being repurposed this way.
Another cool product is the Q-Lion light, which runs on a battery and has a magnet to is can be attached to any steel surface.