When it is all said and done, there are two main components to creating cinematic life; The Camera and The Light. The camera is needed to record the subject and the subject needs to be lit to be recorded. Capturing objects with light has been the foundation of cinema since the creation of Camera Obscura.
However, the industry standard in the Hollywood lighting department for almost a century have been the tried and true tungsten incandescent bulbs. You know the ones in your home that you turn off and still stay molten lava hot for a solid ten minutes. Incandescent bulbs simply produce light by super heating a tungsten wire filament within the bulb. The more light needed, the bigger the bulb, the hotter it gets. So you can imagine to properly and evenly light an entire scene you could be using some big, bulky, unwieldy and violently hot mess.
In 1987, Robby Muller was faced with filming in the cramped spaces of the dimly lit bars in order to capture the incoherent poetry of Charles Bukowski's inebriated alter ego Henry Chinaski portrayed by the greasy, grimy sweatiness of Mickey Rourke in BARFLY. Unable to fit the industry standard lights into the claustrophobic bars Robby teamed up with gaffer Frieder Hochheim and his best boy Gary Swink to create the solution that would revolutionize the game.
Florescent tubes have been around since the early 1900's. These elongated white tubes emit light by activating the fluorescence of the mercury vapor trapped inside... yadda, yadda, yadda,.. it's magic. But it wasn't until Robby and his team were able to create a collection of fluorescent tubes with a separate high-frequency ballast that provided them with the compact, lightweight, and efficient light source to fit their needs.
The Kino Flo could be taped to walls, ceilings, and hidden in unassuming places. This unheard of and revolutionary device is now an essential component to every lighting kit. The Kino Flo is not the only 'box of fluorescent lamps' that you could use on set... and you may not even be using an official "Kino Flo". But Hochheim and Swink would move on with their device and subsequently create Kino Flo Incorporated. This would inadvertently supplant the Kino Flo name as the 'Kleenex' or 'Xerox' of the fluorescent tube world.
Just like the digital camera has revolutionized the creative market, Kino Flo has made it possible for filmmakers to create their passion project in a quick, easy, and professional manner. All lights, even the big unwieldy Tungsten lights have their purpose. You use the light that is right for your project whether it's incandescent bulbs, HMI units, LEDs or the Kino Flo. But this was the light that made everything a bit more accessible, practical and affordable to do the simplest thing; Light your subject.