There are several exciting new lighting revolutions in development these days, namely LED and plasma fixtures. The first such high-output/low-footprint alternative lighting technology -- all but perfected for the performance needed in high-end film production -- came about twenty-five years ago, with the advent of Kino Flo Lighting Systems. Kino Flo isn't the only manufacturer pushing alternative lighting solutions with filmmaking in mind, but its name is still nearly synonymous with the technology it helped revolutionize. Check out an excellent interview below from Shane Hurlbut, ASC, with Kino Flo founder and president Frieder Hochheim to hear about how it all began and about how the company plans on lending its namesake to some of those new revolutions in lighting, too.
Before we get to the interview, here's a few words from Shane himself, on his experience and use of Kino Flo systems:
It's no small accomplishment to be a permanent fixture (pun intended, whoa-hoa!) in any ASC cinematographer's field kit, but graze through any American Cinematographer issue and you'll inevitably discover any number of DPs and gaffers citing Kino Flo as well (Mr. Hurlbut is far from the only DP who gets a lot of mileage out of the company's products). And, for good reason -- I can think of no other soft-lighting fixture that, for instance, has the ability to screw directly into set walls actually built into its jacket design. It's this very practical, 'form follows function' gaffer-centric mentality that drives Kino Flo designs, and considering president and founder Frieder Hochheim was himself a gaffer at the time of Kino Flo's inception (on Barfly to be exact), this shouldn't be too surprising!
Kino Flo has obviously come a long way from a pre-computer warehouse (or G&E truck), though so far their only LED fixture is the Diva-Lite-esque Celeb 200, which I have not personally worked with yet -- but which looks like it carries its branding very seriously. All told, I'm still on the fence about LED soft panels in general, but feel free to chime in with your preferences and on-set experiences. As for shooters looking to build their own (lower-cost) Kino Knock-Offs, see The Underwater Realm's excellent bank-building tutorials!
What have your experiences been with Kino Flo fixtures specifically? What about such experiences versus those with other fluorescent manufacturers? How do the LED panels you've worked with thus far compare -- what fixtures and flavors of technology do you prefer to work with, and why?