Sapphire Industry Watch – May 22

  • Brighter Nights Ahead With LED Streetlight Pilot Project – KDLT News: A pilot project to replace traditional high-pressure sodium streetlights with LEDs is underway in the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Due to the energy efficiency and long lifespan of LEDs, the project will pay for itself in savings in just under five years. The city received a grant from Heartland Consumers Power District to help supplement a portion of the up-front expenses for the lighting upgrade.
  • Lincoln Park Church to Serve as Giant Canvas for Light Show This Week – DNAinfo: During the week of May 18, 60 LED lighting fixtures illuminated St. Vincent de Paul Church in Chicago, Illinois with a beautiful array of color and projections. The lighting was designed by students from The Theater School at DePaul University, along with guidance from DePaul alumnus and light designer Paul Gregory.  The church’s exterior will be transformed by light and projections inspired by artists such as Vincent van Gogh.
  • Pajaro Valley berries right from the start – The Californian: A decade ago, Driscoll’s, a major producer of both organic and non-organic berries, transformed a former greenhouse in Watsonville, California into a state-of-the-art propagation facility that produces berry plants for the company’s commercial growers. Fluorescent lighting in the facility has recently been replaced with LED lighting, as red and blue LEDs have been shown to enhance the growth of the plants.
  • It’s All About the Quality of Light – Santa Barbara Independent: The last phase of Santa Barbara County’s project to install LED lights along major streets in Isla Vista and UC Santa Barbara has been completed. The project began several years ago in an effort to improve lighting in Isla Vista and create a safer environment for residents.

Sapphire Industry Watch – April 10

  • Monuments Around The Globe Are Turning Blue For Autism Awareness – BuzzFeed: In an effort to increase autism awareness, 13,000 buildings across the globe shined bright blue on the evening of April 1. An annual tradition since 2008, major world landmarks, such as the Empire State Building and its LED Lighting System, lit up blue in honor of World Autism Awareness Day.
  • Taiwan Expanding Into Indoor LED-lit, Pesticide-free Farms – Lancaster Online: A new generation of Taiwanese farmers is growing vegetables indoors under bright LED lights in climate-controlled “grow rooms”. High-tech indoor farms are now yielding more crops per area than soil and because of the intensity of lights and nutrients provided in the water, plants grown under LED lights grow twice as fast.
  • Hotels Light Up to Influence Human Behavior – Sourceable: Amongst furnishings and art, lighting is emerging as the most important factor that can evoke emotion and create ambiance for hotel guests. A case study by electrical firm Leviton, demonstrated how LED lamps are able to transform lobby areas with colors and aesthetics that couldn’t be achieved with standard incandescent lighting.
  • LA Connects, Controls its LED Street Lights – Energy Manager Today: The Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting has implemented a new management system that allows it to remotely control the city’s LED street lights, along with monitor power usage. Made up of about 7,500 centerline miles of LED street lights, LA’s entire system can be managed remotely through any web browser, eliminating on-site commissioning.

Sapphire Industry Watch – March 20

  • Railroad bridge offers rainbow of lights – The Leaf-Chronicle: The RJ Corman Bridge in Clarksville, TN has been given a much need facelift with the thick rust that once covered its exterior being replaced by coats of historic silver paint and the installation of 104 individual groups of LED lights. Each group of lights is made up of an array of red, green, blue and white LEDs and can be programmed to display almost any color.
  • Orlando entrepreneurs create night lights for runners – Orlando Sentinel:  An Orlando couple has launched a Kickstarter campaign for their invention of LED lights that mount of runner shoes, called “Night Runner Shoe Lights”. Essentially LED lights that clip onto a runner’s shoe, the devices can light a path up to 30 feet ahead of the runner, allowing them to see more clearly at night.
  • Stunning video shows people surfing at night with LED surfboards and wetsuits – Business Insider:  As part of an upcoming surf film they’re producing titled “Invasion”, French production company Band Originale filmed professional surfers Axi Munian and Jerome Sahyoun surfing on LED outfitted surfboards and wetsuits at night off the Moroccan Coast.
  • LED street lights conversion coming to more areas of San Jose – Spartan Daily: San Jose’s LED conversion program, which has already converted a total of 3,400 low-pressure sodium bulbs to LEDs, is showing savings, with the lights tested saving 40-60 percent more electricity compared to the old bulbs. Along with energy savings, the new lights are giving city engineers more control over lighting by allowing them to regulate usage and control individual lights from a central location.

Sapphire Industry Watch – February 6

  • S.F. replacing old streetlights with cheaper, better LED bulbs – SF Gate: As part of an $11 million upgrade program, San Francisco is beginning to replace 18,500 old high-pressure sodium street lights with new LED lights. The LEDs will not only improve lighting and reduce maintenance costs, but also move “the innovation capital of the world” into a “smart” electrical grid.
  • Canada dims the light on the incandescent light bulb – The Globe and Mail: As of January 1, 2015, 60- and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured or imported into Canada. The decision was made by the federal government in an effort to cut energy consumption and encourage Canadians to switch to LEDs. The ban is an extension of the ban on 75- and 100-watt bulbs that came into effect in 2014.
  • Rubicon Technology Appoints Hap Hewes as Senior Vice President, Optical – Yahoo! Finance: Rubicon Technology announced the appointment of Hap Hewes as Senior Vice President, Optical. He will lead marketing and business development activity for sapphire products in the aerospace, optical, consumer electronics and industrial markets. After departing from Rubicon in 2009, Hewes has returned to the company to bring this wide range of exciting new products to market and to lead the company’s traditional optical components business.
  • LED system will set the mood inside new Vikings stadium – Star Tribune: The new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Minneapolis will be the first football stadium in the United States to install LED lighting during initial construction. The new lights are projected to consume 75 percent less energy than traditional lighting and Vikings officials say they have kept an environmentally friendly focus during the project’s planning and construction phases.

Hollywood Streets Get LED Makeover

The recent project to replace Los Angeles street lights with LEDs has come with some unintended consequences. Making movies at night on the streets of LA may never be the same.  In the past, directors liked the look that LA’s high-pressure sodium street lights gave to their movies.  The old street-lighting would lend a gritty, dark, film-noir feel to movies filmed on the streets of LA.

Here’s an image of an LA street before LEDs and after:

Hollywood Street Lights, Before and After LEDs (Source, Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting)

Hollywood Street Lights, Before and After LEDs (Source, Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting)

According to Dave Kendricken in No Film School, filmmakers like Michael Mann specifically chose Los Angeles as the location for the movie Collateral (2004, starring Tom Cruise) because of the antique aura the street lights brought the film.  Collateral’s plot took place completely at night, so the feeling that the lighting gave the film was a prime concern for the director.

The project is important to the city for saving money and energy.  LA’s 140,000 new street lights, a combination of Cree, Hadco and Leotek lights, are projected to save LA about $7 million in electricity savings.  According to a press release, LA funded the project through a $40 million loan from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and a combination of rebate funds also from the LADWP a Street Lighting Maintenance Assessment Fund.

The city said the loan paid back through savings in energy and maintenance costs by over the next seven years. After the loan is repaid, LA will begin to save $10 million/year. The project in LA isn’t complete yet. And you can see a map of the project’s progress here.

But, what can filmmakers do to mimic the look of the old street lights in LA?  They can choose a new city, select a different part of LA that hasn’t been converted yet, or use digital techniques and/or lighting filters to change the look. LED street lights present a challenge for filmmakers, but they’re worthwhile for the planet.

For Further Reading

No Film School, Why Hollywood Will Never Look the Same Again on Film: LEDs Hit the Streets of LA & NY,

Daily Mail, Say goodbye to moody Collateral-style movie shots: How LED street lights mean films set at night in LA and across the world will now be bathed in gray,

Gizmodo, How LED Streetlights Will Change Cinema (And Make Cities Look Awesome),