Cinematic Lighting: From Past to Present

Grace Kelly and James Stewart in Rear Window

Grace Kelly and James Stewart in Rear Window

Have you ever wondered why actors have a stunning appearance in movies? Yes, they get airbrush make-up and the concept of photoshop does exist in the world, but the reality is; it is all about the lighting! Since the earliest movies, lighting has always been an essential part in film making with advances in lighting technology making all the difference.

In the Beginning: They Stayed Outside

In the late 1800s, film makers had not acknowledged the use of artificial lighting in film. The standard was to shoot during the day in a set that had either, an open roof or a glass ceiling. While natural light is the best light source, this methodology put a hindrance on filming anything at night or indoors; therefore, by the early 1900s, artificial light sources came into play.

In the 20th Century: Grace Kelly was Glowing

The main source of artificial lighting in film at that time was arc bulbs, the predecessor to HID bulbs. Used with a reflector, the bulbs created a bright light and allowed for directional lighting, enhancing parts of the set that needed to be highlighted. These lights also made for good spotlights, casting a brighter light on one side of the actor’s face (key light), and a softer light on the opposite side (fill light), to eliminate unflattering shadows. A third back light would be used to create the effect of a halo around the actor’s head. In the 1920s, incandescent bulbs started to become a growing sensation in studio lighting, as they produced a better color temperature, required less electrical and man power, and did not emit the humming sound the HID bulbs did.

In the Present Day: Lighting Comes in Various Forms

Today, there are so many new lighting technologies, all of which get used on film sets today. We’ve already covered HID and incandescent, but many of the other forms include halogen and xenon lamps, fluorescents, LEDs, and HMI bulbs, a technology coined by OSRAM SYLVANIA. Generally used with ballasts, the film-specific HMI bulbs are very popular bulbs used in the film industry, winning OSRAM an Oscar in 1987 and a Primetime Emmy Engineering Award in 2007.

Fun Fact: On movie sets, mashed potatoes replaced ice cream in sundaes as the ice cream would melt quickly, due to the lighting.

DIY Lighting Kit for Home Movies

Make your own film light kit! You need these items:

  • Broom Stick or Mic Stand (the mic stand does have support at the bottom)
  • Reflector
  • LED or Incandescent Bulb
  • Wax Paper (optional)
  • White or Light Poster Board (optional)

Insert the bulb into the reflector and attach the reflector to your stand of choice. It’s that simple! Use the wax paper to diffuse (soften) the light if needed. For added reflection, place the poster board where it is needed.

Be sure to check out the lighting techniques the next time you are at the movies! If you have any questions or comments, be sure to write us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus!

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Light Post Lighting News: New Fluorescent Technology, Rockefeller Tree, and More

Dec 10, 12 Light Post Lighting News: New Fluorescent Technology, Rockefeller Tree, and More

Here at 1000Bulbs.com, not only do we sell thousands of lighting products, lighting accessories,  and (my favorite) Christmas decorations to satisfy even the most seasoned lighting veteran, we also have our ears to the ground, scouring the Internet for news-worthy…news. Introducing Light Post, a bi-weekly gathering of lighting innovations and of course, news. So make sure you swing by every other week for your dose of Light Post.

Wake Forest Introduces Revolutionary Fluorescent Bulb

Physics professor David Carroll and his team of researchers at Wake Forest University have created a fluorescent bulb set to replace LEDs and standard fluorescents. These new bulbs, based on field-induced polymer electroluminescent (try saying that fives times in a row) technology, or FIPEL, are shatterproof, flicker-free, and won’t burn out. No more of the mosquito-in-your-ear humming noise many office workers complain about now. Besides no more humming, these lights give off a soft, white light and are extremely efficient, at least twice as efficient as compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). Better yet, these lights are long-lasting: Carroll has one that has worked for about a decade. These lights should be available to consumers as early as next year.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting not Hampered by Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy definitely left a dark spot over New York City, flooding pretty much everything, costing millions of dollars, and leaving lots of people without power. However, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting erased any dark spot cast by the superstorm. The massive 80-foot Norway spruce, complete with 30,000 lights and topped with a Swarovski star, came to life November 28. The 10-ton tree resided at the Mount Olive, N.J. home of Joe Balku and was a mere 22-feet tall in 1973 when Balku bought the house. Today, the tree measures about 50 feet in diameter. The iconic tree will remain in the public eye until January 7.
After that, it will be turned into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.

Streetlights in Central London to be Controlled by iPads

If this isn’t evidence of technology becoming more and more important in our everyday lives, I don’t know what is. Westminster City Council announced it will be replacing about 14,000 central London street lights with new, iPad controlled smart lights. The iPad application will be able to monitor street lighting levels and reliability, monitor which lights are not working properly, and can even predict when a light will fail. Installation of the new lights will cost about $3 million, but it will save taxpayers hundreds of thousands a year.

Texas Towns and Parks Scale Back Lighting to See Stars

Having recently moved from a small, Texas town to the big city, I can certainly attest for the lack of star-gazing ability here in the Metroplex. That’s why many Texas towns and state parks are fighting light pollution. In recent years, Texas’ state parks have seen a decline in visitors and to lure them back, the parks are promoting chances for night-sky viewing, away from the city lights by advocating cities and towns to use down-facing light fixtures, so as not to pollute neighboring areas with unnecessary light.

LED Lights May Boost Milk Production in Cows

There may be a link between higher milk production and LED lights. An initial experiment done in 2010 at Oklahoma State University found a 6% increase in milk production in cows when traditional lights were replaced with LEDs, which consume at least 75% less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs, in areas where cows were housed. While the research is still underway, and if the results can be replicated in other institutions, not only will cows produce more milk, but the savings over the long run will be tremendous for farmers.

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How to Choose Under Cabinet Lights

Sep 28, 12 How to Choose Under Cabinet Lights

Halogen, Xenon, Fluorescent, or LED: What is the best type of under cabinet lighting? If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, you were asking the wrong question. There is no “good, better, best” with under cabinet lights. Choosing the right light is a matter of personal preference, and it depends on how much you value dimming, heat reduction, color accuracy, and energy savings.

Xenon Light Bulb

Xenon Light Bulb

Xenon under cabinet lights are an update of older Halogen lights. Halogen under cabinet lights, especially the light “pucks” you see in hardware stores, are cheap and provide perfect color accuracy (color rendering index), but they use tons of energy and waste most of it as heat. Xenon keeps the benefits of Halogen, but burns brighter and cooler. Their color rendering makes granite countertops or trinkets in display cabinets look their absolute best, and because they are brighter than Halogens, Xenon bulbs save energy by using fewer watts than a Halogen bulb.

Fluorescent under cabinet lights are a great choice for bright, energy-efficient lighting that burns cool. They’re a popular choice in kitchen cabinets and pantries because they don’t add extra heat to their surroundings, which can increase the likelihood of food spoilage. Unfortunately, there are a number of trade-offs. Fluorescent lights have relatively poor color rendering — 80 CRI to Xenon’s 100 CRI — so they distort colors and make granite and marble countertops and backsplashes appear washed out. Furthermore, while they use much less energy than Halogen or even Xenon, they are not dimmable and some models are slow to reach full brightness.

LED Under Cabinet Light Bar

LED Under Cabinet Light

LED is the newest, most energy saving option for under cabinet lighting. To many, LED under cabinet lights are the perfect option. Unlike fluorescent, they are instant on and many models are dimmable. Unlike Halogen and Xenon, they also create very little heat. However, they do have two drawbacks: Color rendering and cost. Like fluorescent lights, their CRI is in the 80-90 range, so they aren’t the best choice when color accuracy is highly valued. They also have the highest up-front cost of any under cabinet choice. On the other hand, they will save the most in the long-term. LEDs use only a fraction of the energy consumed by other types of under cabinet lights. Even better, they last 20,000 to 60,000 hours,  so you’ll never have to replace them and will save on bulb replacement costs.

Again, your choice of under cabinet lights will depend on your specific needs. In general, however, if you prize color accuracy and don’t mind the heat, choose Xenon, but if you prefer energy savings and cool operation, go with fluorescent or LED. Of course, that’s only what we think. Let us know which under cabinet lighting option you prefer in the comments, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.

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4 Steps to Clean Up a Broken CFL

Sep 07, 12 4 Steps to Clean Up a Broken CFL

If you read last week’s article, you learned about the mercury content in compact fluorescents and just how much of a threat it can be to your health. However, you were probably left with this question: If a CFL in your home breaks, what do you do? You don’t need to call a hazmat team, but you will need to follow these 4 tips for your safety:

1. Don’t Panic

First, don’t panic. As noted in the previous article, your exposure to mercury from a broken CFL is less than that in a tuna sandwich. Though the danger of mercury exposure is minimal, use common sense: Get everyone out of the room and make sure they don’t step on the glass.

2. Close Off the Room

Next, close off the room and open the windows to let any mercury vapors ventilate. It’s also a good idea to turn off your HVAC system to avoid circulating the vapors throughout your home. The room should be safe to re-enter after about 10 minutes*.

3. Collect the Debris

Upon returning to the room, collect the debris, including broken glass, powder, and plastic from the broken lamp. Do this by scooping up the broken pieces with a stiff piece of paper. Use the sticky side of a piece of duct tape to pick up any smaller pieces remaining on the floor or stuck in carpet fibers. However, do not use a vacuum cleaner, which could excite the mercury on the floor and release it into the air.

4. Recycle or Dispose

Finally, place all materials in a sealable container such as a jar or pack it within two zipper bags. Dispose of the CFL and its container according to laws in your area. Though most areas allow CFLs to be disposed of in the garbage, the best way to dispose of a CFL, broken or intact, is by recycling. The process is simple, inexpensive, and in some areas, it’s even free. To find a recycling location near you, go to Earth911.com. For added convenience, you may prefer a postage-paid CFL recycling kit from Veolia.

Have you ever had to clean up a broken CFL? Let us know and share your thoughts in the comments below, or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus!

*As recommended by the US EPA. Smaller or poorly ventilated rooms should be left unoccupied for a longer period of time.

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Mercury in CFL Bulbs: Is It Dangerous?

Aug 31, 12 Mercury in CFL Bulbs: Is It Dangerous?

Lighting topics don’t get much more exciting than the debate over the mercury content of compact fluorescents (CFLs). Those against the use of CFLs claim that the potential harm of toxic mercury contained within the energy-saving bulbs far outweighs any environmental benefits. On the other side, groups feel such rhetoric is overblown. But what are the facts?

 

Why Use Mercury in CFLs?

Mercury (Hg) is a naturally occurring element used in applications as varied as thermometers, dental fillings, and fluorescent lighting. The cathodes within a fluorescent tube produce electric current that passes through argon gas and mercury vapor. In turn, the mercury vapor emits ultraviolet light that excites the phosphor coating within the fluorescent tube, producing visible light [1]. The technology is the same for both linear fluorescent tubes (like those seen in office buildings) and self-ballasted compact fluorescents (the “spiral” bulbs used in homes). In short, without mercury, fluorescent lights will not work.

 

How Much Mercury is in a CFL?

The amount of mercury contained within a CFL varies, and in general, has decreased since their introduction nearly two decades ago. As of November 2010, the US EPA’s Energy Star program concluded that the average amount of mercury within a screw-in CFL was 4 milligrams, comparable to the size of a ballpoint pen tip [2]. This pales in comparison to older thermometers, which contain as much as 500 mg [3] and even amalgam dental fillings, which contain about 100 mg of mercury [4].

Mercury Content

Mercury Content in Popular Items

Keep in mind, however, that the mercury contained in a CFL, thermometer, or dental filling can be present in these sources in two forms: A liquid, which is what we typically think of when we think of mercury, and a vapor that quickly dissipates. In the case of a broken CFL, the most likely form of exposure comes from inhaled mercury vapor. A paper in the August 2009 issue of the lighting journal LD+A found that the median amount of mercury vapor to which a person is exposed through a broken CFL is a tiny fraction of the total mercury contained within the bulb: Approximately 0.07 micrograms (0.0007 mg). On the other hand, a tuna fish sandwich, which contains the more hazardous methylmercury, is estimated to expose the consumer to more than 48 times that amount due to the more efficient method of consumption (literally eating the mercury) [5].

 

Who Regulates Mercury in CFLs?

Despite its relatively low concentration in CFLs, mercury is still a toxic substance. For this reason, the EPA requires that CFLs contain no more than 5 mg of mercury for consideration in their Energy Star program. The European Union and the State of California adopted even tougher regulations, requiring CFLs to contain no more than 2.5 mg of mercury by 2013 [6]. Manufacturers, however, have made the biggest strides. A 60-watt equal, warm white Neolite CFL by Litetronics, for example, uses only 1 mg of mercury, 80% less than Energy Star requirements [7]. Along with other major manufacturers, Sylvania voluntarily capped CFL mercury content at 4 mg, with the 13-watt DULUX EL 29409 containing only 1.5 mg [8].

 

The Answer?

So the question remains: Is the mercury in CFLs dangerous? It’s not an easy question to answer. Mercury is a toxic substance, yet it is unlikely that fluorescent lighting would ever expose a person to an amount of the neurotoxin sufficient to cause physiological harm. Want proof of that? Despite putting themselves in a worst-case scenario fluorescent lighting mishap, to the best of our knowledge, these two guys are still alive and well:

 

References:

1. Van Dussen, Matthew. ‘The Mercury Myth: How Much Mercury Do CFLs Actually Contain?’ TXNOLOGIST. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

2. ‘Frequently Asked Questions: Information on Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury’. Energy Star. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

3. ‘Indoor Liquid Mercury Spills: Frequently Asked Questions’. State of Michigan. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

4. ‘IMERC Fact Sheet: Mercury Use in Dental Amalgam’. NEWMOA. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

5. Clear, Robert et al. ‘Dangerous Mercury in CFLs? One Big Fish Story’. LD+A. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

6. (2)

7. Litetronics Neolite Sell Sheet. 1000Bulbs.com. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

8. ‘Mercury Quantity in Lamps for General Lighting Applications’. Sylvania. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

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