Lighting

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After a lifetime of working in audio (with time off for good behavior running a trade-news agency) I am now crossing the great divide into learning all the other aspects of the movie industry.  And I am puzzled by the wholesale use of LEDs in lighting!

In audio, we didn't dump 2" analogue tape until digital was 'there' and it sounded as good or better than tape.  In film, I don't see anybody throwing good lenses away (the cameraman's equivalent of the microphone) and we are only now moving to digital cameras for mainstream movies with the advent of 6K sensors.

But when it comes to lighting, lovely old tungsten lights are being dumped by the skip-load in favour of LEDs and I fail to see why.  

In my home and in the studio we are 100% LEDs or fluorescents because they are cheaper to buy, far cheaper to run, last longer and can be placed in tight corners where halogen presents a fire hazard.  I can understand LEDs for TV studios because TV studios are often on 24/7 and require nowadays a great deal of automation, so hitting a preset on a DMX desk makes a great deal of sense.  Add to that the noise problems of the heat-extraction fans because of all those hot lights and LEDs came on the scene like Mana from heaven!

Stage lighting has been transformed by LEDs and DMX controls.  Hit a single preset and all kinds of magic sequences and movements can be incorporated with hydraulics and flame-throwers and the reduction in power requirements has transformed the staging business completely!

But for film?  To my eyes, LEDs do not look particularly nice.  They seem to flatten out the image.  They detract from a more 'filmic' look and make things look like a video and considering the fact that we are now using digital 6K video cameras anyway, I would have thought one should try to achieve as filmic a look as possible.

It can't be power consumption because they are only on for a short while and the difference in energy costs is tiny compared to all the other costs one incurs in a film shoot.

And LED film lights are anything but cheap!  They present all kinds of nasty technical problems when it comes to things like colour and tint for a digital camera, they are hard to control and to dim properly and can present a series of 'gotchas' like pulsing, that only shows up weeks later when the image is viewed on a big projection screen.

So can some kind soul please put me out of my misery - what am I missing about LEDs that is making them so popular?

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