Every aspiring filmmaker has been troubled about their film’s lighting at least once in their career. Since natural lighting is challenging to control and anticipate, many film producers have turned to artificial light sources.
While some use ordinary tungsten lights for lighting, other innovative filmmakers have discovered the beauty of aesthetic neon signs and used the vibrant glow of neon signages to color their movies.
Let’s discover how cool neon signs turn your entire film around with one flick of a switch.
Neon Lights: The Secret to Creating A Distinctive Mood in Film
Humans are highly sentimental and visual beings. Sitting by the windowsill while watching the sunset can make anyone feel several emotions. The sky gradually turning from shades of red and orange to blue and violet hues isn’t only a majestic event to gaze upon; it also sets a melancholic and tranquil mood.
That’s what filmmakers try to achieve when they create movies. They wish to emulate and evoke certain feelings in their audience through visual and auditory cues. Of course, the movie’s plot and characters primarily contribute to achieving this goal. However, lighting helps establish and intensify the film’s overall mood.
Lighting transforms a dull and lifeless scene into something more lively and fun. It can shift a scene’s mood from lighthearted and happy to a creepy and eerie vibe. Most importantly, it can represent a character’s innermost thoughts and feelings without being too in-your-face.
Some filmmakers use natural lighting and adjust their film’s color grading to their preferred style during editing, while others have turned to the hazy and distinct glow of neon colors.
Using a red aesthetic neon sign helps represent a character’s anger or passion in a scene. In contrast, purple and pink neon lights exude a more romantic atmosphere for the shot.
For instance, Blade Runner 2049 and Tron Legacy used neon lighting throughout both films. While Tron Legacy’s neon-lit scenes primarily symbolized the glamour of technology, Blade Runner 2049’s neon lighting reinforced the idea of a dystopian and bleak future.
Considering the film is set in a heavily polluted and gloomy Los Angeles, the use of aesthetic neon lights and signs as the primary light source of the city was perfect for Blade Runner 2049.
Because of the success of these films, many people assume that neon lights and LED signs only fit futuristic and sci-fi concepts. However, the art of cinema is continually evolving, allowing various styles and techniques to move past set boundaries.
To give you an example, let’s analyze how neon lighting helped the 1977 horror film Suspiria deliver its intended message to its audience. The film's use of bright yet erratic neon colors allowed the filmmaker to heighten the audience's sense of dread and terror.
Another horror movie called Mandy (2018) successfully used neon lighting to create and establish an eerie, hallucinatory, and surreal atmosphere throughout the film. Neon lighting enhanced and intensified the psychedelic and violent themes in the movie.
Besides setting an impeccable atmosphere for your scenes, neon lights and signs are also perfect for filmmakers on a budget. LED neon signs are inexpensive and durable light sources that you can use for hours on end without the fear of burning holes in your pockets.
LED neon lights and signs are energy-efficient, consuming less than 2000 watts while continuously running for 12 hours. You won’t have to worry about your light sources flickering between long takes with neon lighting on your side!
You can also personalize the neon signs and lights to fit each scene better. Custom neon signs are versatile in size, shape, brightness, and color, allowing filmmakers to create a range of lighting effects for their movies.
Traditional vs. LED Neon: Which is Best?
The beauty of the films mentioned above may be enough to convince you to use vibrant and dynamic neon lighting for your next big project. However, you must consider several factors before buying the necessary lights and signs for your film.
For instance, you can choose between traditional glass neon lights or LED neon signs to light your film set. Glass neon lights emit a distinct hazy glow, suitable for creating a nostalgic atmosphere. Traditional neon lights also give off a hum when switched on, which can add to mood-building or ruin the atmosphere.
However, it’s crucial to note that glass neon lights don’t typically last as long as LED signs. Additionally, these lights consume more energy than LED neon lights, so they aren’t advisable for small-budget film projects.
If you’re hoping to get an authentic neon aesthetic vibe for your scenes, it’s best to go for traditional neon lights. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a more cost-effective alternative, LED neon signs are your best bet.
Neon On Screen: Tricks for Capturing LED Neon Signs on Film
Once you’ve purchased your preferred neon lights, it’s time to learn how to shoot and film with neon lighting. The photography and cinematography experts have some tips for filmmakers who want to use neon lighting in their projects:
- Adjust your camera’s exposure settings accordingly. Higher ISO settings are typically recommended for capturing low-light shots.
- Consider the position of the neon light and the subject. If you’re aiming for a hazy effect on your neon lights, it’s best to place some distance between the light source and the camera’s subject.
- Choose contrasting lighting. If you plan to use red or pink aesthetic neon signs, ensure you have a darker contrasting backlight to match them, like dark blue or purple.
- Low white balance settings in your camera are your best bet. Using lower white balance settings for your camera can make the backlight neon sign pop out.
- Use white light to reduce shadows. Besides your neon backlight and key light, ensure you add white light to lessen the shadows in your shot.
Neonize Your Film With A Custom Neon Sign!
Contrary to what many believe, neon lights are more than just advertisement signage, wall art, and home decor. The neon sign’s iconic and captivating glow makes it versatile, lighting up your space and film sets.
Make a bold statement with your film through Neonize’s neon signs!
Neonize has a vast collection of aesthetic neon light signs for room decor, special occasions, business purposes, and more. Our signs and lights are made with durable and high-quality materials like PVC, LED neon flex, and acrylic.
Need a specific design to come to life? Send your preferred design and get aesthetic, film-worthy neon lighting today!