Wednesday, October 14, 2015

LED Ribbon Light Kit

My custom LED ribbon light kit is coming along.  I used it gaffing on a Steven David Productions show in September, "American Speed", a mini-series about NASCAR.

Some components of my LED kit

I love LED ribbon.  It is easy to quickly add a light in a tight places.

My kit has been a work in progress.  I started over a year ago.  My motivation was a couple jobs using LED ribbon that did not go a quickly or trouble-free as I would like.  The biggest problems I found are time-consuming-to-use connectors, and sometime bad connections, that light ribbon comes with.

Anything that is not quick or reliable makes me look bad.

My kit is 24 volt bi-color ribbon.  It has an excellent CRI of 95 in tungsten and daylight.  I use simple electric connectors; the water-proof LED type, which just push together.  (These come with fastening nuts, which I don't use and discard.)  I put together my own flicker-free dimmers; 2-channel PWM.  I also put together a couple 12 to 24 VDC transformers for car use, which plug into a lighter outlet.

 This scene is almost completely lit with LED ribbon:

iPhone picture of a monitor


  1. What company do you buy your light ribbon from? I was going to buy some through lite gear. but im sure theres more affordable ones out there.

  2. Hi Brad. Sorry it has taken so long to respond. I was super busy for a couple of months. I was gaffer on the movie, Extremely Wicked, shooting in Northern Kentucky.

    The first LED ribbon I purchased for my own kit came from some on-line store. It was cheap. It also had a terrible green cast. It came with a dimmer. It flickered so badly on-camera that is was unusable. Lesson learned. I threw this stuff away.

    Most of my kit is LED ribbon I purchased several years ago from Super Bright LEDs. (I don’t remember how I found this high-quality ribbon.) It is interesting ribbon. Each emitter is half tungsten and half daylight. This is the equivalent ribbon that they have now:

    I assume the CRI is as good or better.

    All my LED ribbon is bi-color 24 volts. I don’t recall why I went with 24 volts. It has work fine for me. I also made a couple voltage converters, 12 volts to 24 volts, for using my ribbon in a car or with a gold mount battery.

    I went with the Super Bright LED ribbon at the time because their ribbon was as good or better CRI-wise as Lite Gears at less than half the cost.

    I check my Super Bright LED ribbon with my Sekonic C-700; daylight mode reads an excellent 94.8 RA and tungsten mode reads 95.

    Interesting that the readings are very similar. There is often a few points differences from daylight to tungsten with bi-color LEDs. I would expect these values decrease some with dimming.

    Last year I tried a roll of Yuji LED ribbon:

    The color quality is excellent. I got a daylight reading of 97.5, and a tungsten reading of 95.8.

    Yuji also makes a 500 watt (!) LED chip that I would love to play with.

    I recently ordered, but haven’t gotten yet, a couple rolls of Kora LED ribbon and one of their LED controllers:

    I’m looking forward to seeing if their stuff is as good as all the hype. This could make a good post.

    If I’m working on a show and we order LED ribbon, I’ve always gone with Lite Gear’s ribbon. It’s what rental house stock. Lite Gear’s ribbon has improved over the years and I consider it excellent.

    Hope this is helpful,



    PS: On the movie I got to work with Lite Gear’s newer LiteMat Plus. I just love these lights. Everything about them was awesome. I especially like that these lights do not use the phoenix connectors which have always been a nuisance. Instead, the cables have regular locking connectors. Big improvement.

    The one thing, if I was to order them again, the power cable from the power supply to the head could be longer. I would look into getting a head cable extensions next time.