Kino Flo LED Systems in Burbank, California, designs and manufactures LED-based lighting for cinema and television production. The company is best known for developing proprietary LEDs based on a color science technology that ensures color quality unsurpassed for lighting both close-ups and large studio spaces. In 1995 Kino Flo earned a technical achievement award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for developing cool, tube-based arrays with color-correct tungsten and daylight balanced light that "changed the way motion picture movies are made," according to the academy. The company's tradition of supplying cinematographers with advanced lighting tools to shape their images continues with an expanding line of LED luminaires, from small hand-held panels to large interconnecting arrays, that includes camera look-up profiles (LUTs) for harmonizing Kino Flos with cinema cameras and a suite of upgradable color space controls.
Soft light use is popular in cinematography and film. Various Hollywood production companies along with independent film makers are known for their use of soft lights.
The first Kino Flo unit was created in 1987, during the filming of the movie Barfly. Director of photography Robby Müller was filming in a cramped interior, and couldn't fit traditional lights into the location. In order to work around the problem, the film's gaffer Frieder Hochheim and best boy Gary Swink designed a high-output fluorescent light that had a remote ballast, allowing the lamp unit to become small and lightweight enough to be taped to the wall. Hochheim and Swink subsequently created a company, Kino Flo Incorporated, to manufacture and market their innovation to the film industry. The new lights were quickly embraced by cinematographers, and now are considered a staple of a standard motion picture lighting package.
The two major innovations of the unit were the high-frequency ballast, which gave the lights greater intensity and eliminated flicker commonly found in off-the-shelf fluorescent tubes, and the Kino Flo tubes, which contained a number of special phosphors designed to eliminate the characteristic tints in the magenta-green spectrum which are present in most domestic fluorescent lights. Since the type of tube determines the color temperature, any Kino Flo lamphead can be quickly converted between daylight and tungsten balances by simply changing out the tubes. Mid-range color temperature can also be created by mixing tubes of both color temperatures. Kino Flo have also expanded their tube line in recent years, creating visual effects tubes optimized for bluescreen and greenscreen spectra, as well as a variety of other shades for general color effects.
- Brown, Blain. Cinematography: Theory and Practice, p. 151. Focal Press, 2002.
- Salt, Barry. Film Style and Technology: History and Analysis, 2nd edition, p. 287. Starword, 1992.
- Salt, Barry. Moving Into Pictures, "Film Style and Technology in the Nineties", p. 303. Starword, 2006.
- Kino Flo lamps