In Brief: The Look of LED Cityscapes in Cinema

By Norman Chan

L.A's recent switch to LED streetlights may impact its look on film.

Wonderful bit of speculation and analysis from No Film School this week on how civic projects like Los Angeles' recent retrofitting of all its street lights to LED may affect the look of the city on film. Writer Dave Kendricken dives into how non-tungsten artificial light sources affect color tones when shot with digital cameras, as nighttime L.A. was in Michael Mann's Collateral. It's an externality that city planners likely didn't consider when putting the L.A. LED plan into action, instead focusing on the electricity savings of upgrading 140,000 streetlights. And while Gizmodo's speculation that this change in citywide artificial lighting may be subject to scrutiny from historic preservation laws is reaching a bit, this is exactly the kind of fascinating design consequence that occurs at the intersection of technology and culture. And it's a good reminder that the new season of the podcast 99% Invisible--a show that explores these matters of design--just kicked off.