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Signs from Mars Solves Sign-Lighting Issues for TV Project

Los Angeles signshop lends its expertise – and honesty – to Hollywood.




HOW BRIGHT IS THE sun? If you ask scientists, they might tell you the sun puts out 35.73 octillion lumens or something like that. But if you ask film gaffers, they would say “5600K LEDs.” Why? Because that measurement matches the color temperature of the sun on camera. Yup, I’m here to burst any bubble you may have: everything you see on TV is altered, exaggerated or manipulated — including illuminated and non-illuminated signs.

Working a TV/film production project from time to time is inevitable when you run a sign company in Los Angeles. That’s how I landed the opportunity to create six very cool, creative and unique-looking signs for a television series. I’m under a non-disclosure agreement, but I can still tell you how much of a learning curve the experience was for my team and me.

First, I’m really proud to say that a couple of my company’s strengths are quality and integrity. Those two strengths were put to the test with this TV-production project. (No, I’m still not revealing the name of the TV series — stop trying to guess. Wink.)

When I think of quality, I usually think of things that are well-designed and made to last a lifetime. This particular project changed my mind; you can still produce quality work using temporary materials. For example, on TV/film sets, almost everything is smoke and mirrors. If something looks like rusted metal or aged wood, chances are it is made out of foam or plastic with a really deceiving paint job. That was the case with the signs we fabricated. We used PVC painted to look like metal where we normally wouldn’t simply because the signs don’t have to last very long. It was comical having to remind the production assistants not to grab the signs from certain areas because they kept thinking those fragile PVC parts were actual metal!

Integrity is being honest and having moral principles. In other words, just keep your word and do what you said you would do, right? When I accepted the project, I was asked if all six illuminated signs could be done in four weeks. I said, “Yes,” and right after the phone call ended I asked myself, “Wait! Can we do that!?”

The challenges involved using the LEDs the production requested, which were LiteGear Chroma Series Cine-Five LED ribbons designed specifically for blending and correcting color. This series is LiteGear’s most adjustable Hybrid LiteRibbon, which allows all the control needed over lighting for camera use. I’m not sure if I have ever seen a more stunning or brighter LED before.


We were unable to master this product with such a tight deadline. These ribbons require very precise soldering of RGB daylight and tungsten wires. We soldered and wired away and bam, nothing lit up! We did something wrong — why do we have an extra wire? I sought assistance from the production’s lighting department immediately, and with their help and our honesty, we got through it. However, because time was almost up by this point, we illuminated two of the six signs with GOQ’s RGB LED modules. These needed no soldering, but the signs were only approved after we used double the amount of modules we normally would use, in order to match the brightness of LiteGear’s ribbons.

Well, I now know a little more about LEDs, temporary projects and TV tricks than before…but I still won’t tell you what show these signs were for.



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The Sign Industry Podcast is a platform for every sign person out there — from the old-timers who bent neon and hand-lettered boats to those venturing into new technologies — we want to get their stories out for everyone to hear. Come join us and listen to stories, learn tricks or techniques, and get insights of what’s to come. We are the world’s second oldest profession. The folks who started the world’s oldest profession needed a sign.

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