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RGB Lighting Basics for Creative Setups

RGB Lighting Basics for Creative Setups

RGB Lighting Introduction


RGB LEDs are the newest technology to use in today’s photo, video and film industry and represent the best addition for anyone to be taking advantage of.

RGB comes from Red, Green and Blue which are the primary colors of the additive color system. RGB lighting enables the user to create millions of different colors based on these primary colors.

The basic color mixing chart gives you an idea of what combinations to make in order to produce different colors. These are ilustrated as following:

Red + Green = Yellow
Green + Blue = Cyan
Blue + Red = Magenta
Red + Green + Blue = White

Classic RGB or RGBWW?


RGB lighting can be used to create a wide range of colors, from warm orange to cool blue. This technology is often used in the RGB LED strips which can be the following types:

Classic RGB LED strips: triple diodes (red, green and blue all in one diode). If used simultaneously, the white light is obtained but may contain traces of other colors (the CRI/TLCI is generally lower) and will not have the same brightness as the true white LED.

RGB+W LED strips: triple diodes (red, green and blue all in one diode) and a separate white diode. Because two diodes of the same color are placed at distance, the light may not be evenly distributed; applying a diffusion filter can easily overcome this.

RGBW LED strips: quadruple 4-in-1 diodes (red, green, blue and white all in one diode) deliver an evenly distributed lighting in any color

RGBWW LED strips: quintuple 5-in-1 diodes (red, green, blue plus warm white and cool white all in one diode) offer the advantage of high CRI/TLCI in all CCT range. Our CineFLEX line uses the RGBWW strips to produce a wider range of colors.

Main RGB Video Lighting Features

Why do people use RGB lights on set? It’s because of the ability to control color on set quickly, easily, without resorting to adding gels or having extra expensive items to bring on set. This can still work, but having the ability to change the hue and saturation of the lights with just a flip of a button is a great advantage.

Being in a continuous expansion, the RGB lighting industry is now more and more accessible even to entry level photographers and videographers. Budget alternatives are now available, with many useful features, and should be considered by anyone building a lighting kit.

First of all, these lights are portable, battery powered and many of them come with included transport bag, very suitable for travelling. The wide range of controls such as hue, color temperature, saturation and brightness adjustments give endless possibilities to create unique lighting setups.

The high CRI/TLCI RGB lights with extended color temperature range like our CineLED SkyHUE series are essential for this industry where the color accuracy is a key demand.

The pre-programmed special effects with adjustable parameters are a must for creating impressive dynamic scenes, like thunderstorms, police car chase, fireworks and vivid party scenes. 

5 different ways of how to use RGB lights practical, cinematic setups

Background lighting


The first thing to do when creating a colored background is to light the subject and keep it off background as much as possible. Otherwise, colors will lose saturation if mixed with other white light sources. To do that, use a flag to block any light spill. Experiment with different sizes and outputs in order to create de desired color, but make sure to dim the light so the image doesn’t get overexposed.

Green Screen


Use a white background and 2 RGB light sources set on same green color from both sides. Position the subject away from the background so it doesn’t get any green spill and use on it the desired key and rim light. This is the simplest and easiest way to create a green screen on any white wall which doesn’t involve the use of green cloth. 

Subject lighting


The best way to create a unique look is to light the subject using different colors. There is no right or wrong way to do this, just experiment with the colors and see if the end result matches your expectations. Strong, intense colors can be used for a more dramatic effect or just subtle color tones can be added for a simple pop of color.

Cinematic Color Scene


RGB lights can be also used to create a dramatic scene by “painting” the shooting environment with different colors. Separation and depth can be added to an image by having contrasting colors on background and foreground. Again, it’s all about experimenting with colors and see what was missing from the old lighting setups.

Party Scene


This is the most intuitive approach when it comes to RGB lighting as literally any color can be used to light a scene. Our Cinelight RGB lights all come with built-in lighting effects, one of them being the party mode which is basically a repetitive dial of colors. One single light source can fill the room and create that party mood from the flip of a button. 




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