Home Equipment The Buzz About Plasma Light Tech: Hive Lighting

The Buzz About Plasma Light Tech: Hive Lighting

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC

Hive Lighting


A few weeks ago, I shot a run and gun style web series and the generous team over at Hive Lighting gave me one of their units to demo. I knew that we would not have a generator; we would have to plug into wall sockets, light quickly and have limited space. Their unit fit all of the above!

“No Heat”

Plasma light technology is pretty incredible. Imagine a light source that equals the output of a 1.2Kw HMI par light and only uses 540 watts of power. You could plug four of these units into one light socket and have four 1.2Kw HMI pars blazing. Something that is simply incredible about this light is that the bulb is the size of a grain of wheat. They described it to me as 70 suns all blasting around in that little space while pushing minimal heat forward toward the talent. All the heat is directed back into the heat sinks that cool the plasma source. This was a very attractive point to me. Many of the private homes in which we were shooting did not have AC and it was the summer in Texas. Ouch!

“Last Forever”

When you are investing in a light, the first thing that I always consider is maintenance. How many hours does the bulb last? In this case, it is good for over 10,000 hours, still keeping its color temp, which is 30 times longer than a conventional tungsten globe.

“Flicker Free”

They are flicker free, which is huge for these new digital cameras. I am always running into lights that give me bars of light that slowly move up because they are not flicker free. Unless you are going to shoot over four million frames per second, you are good to go. All of the high speed work is safe without flicker.

Hive spectrum

“Color Accurate”

They also are color accurate. You know how LED lights have that weird color temp that is neither here nor there? They just feel false. This light delivers a CRI (Color Rendering Index) of 94.

Kino Flo 4-Bank DMX Hero with True Match Lamps have a CRI of 95

Kino Flo 4-Bank DMX Hero with True Match Lamps have a CRI of 95

1x1 Lite Panel Daylight/Tungsten balanced have a CRI rating between 70-90+

1×1 Lite Panel Daylight/Tungsten balanced have a CRI rating between 70-90+

visible light spectrum

Simply put, CRI is a scale from 1-100 that shows where in the light spectrum a specific light source falls and how much of the full color spectrum the light source renders. The lower the CRI rating, the less accurately colors will be reproduced.

“What Unit I Liked”

Killer Plasma Maxi

Out of all the units that Hive Lighting displayed, the one that grabbed me the most was the one that I have been describing above — the KILLER PLASMA MAXI. This unit packs a wallop. Not only does it deliver a perfect daylight balanced color temp of 5600K, it has lenses to spread your source out. Narrow, medium, wide and super wide are provided with each unit. The lenses are made of glass but the rings are made of plastic. What did you just say? Yes, I said plastic. The light pushes minimal heat so you don’t need the clunkiness of metal or a glove. You can grab the glass directly with your bare hand and not get burned.

Another feature about this light is that you can pair Killer Plasma two light maxis together and create a four light, all only using 800 watts and creating a beautiful soft source, ready for a close up shot. Keep in mind, these units are not light, so you will need a supportive stand and some sand bags, especially when you pair them together.

Killer Plasma specifications

four lite maxi

“Loving the Hard Source”

The bulb is the size of a grain of wheat, a pin source. These types of sizes create the best shadows, the hardest shadows. I want to play around with this even more when I go to create my next horror movie or film noir style lighting.

Hive plasma bulb

Hive plasma bulb


“How This Light Fit In”

On this project, we had very limited space. The homes were incredibly small, but I wanted a big soft source. This never would have been possible without the Killer Maxi. I took the light and aimed it at the wall to create a book light source. I added a 4 x 4 sheet of bead board and some flags to control it off the wall and I was good to go.

Maxi bouncing off of bead board in living room

The light is so bright and efficient that I was able to use it to create a beautiful North light feel in the bedroom by placing the maxi outside of the window and sending it through a 4 x 4 frame of Lee 216.

light outside going thru 4 x 4 frame into bedroom

Here is the example of what the Killer Maxi looked like going through the window and into this small bedroom/sitting room.

monitor shot


“Hive Lighting’s Other Arsenal of Units”


Hornet Fresnel

Hornet Fresnel

This light has a flood beam angle of 55 degrees and a spot beam angle of 8 degrees. It draws 276W but is as bright as 575W HMI. Its CRI rating is 94.

Wasp Plasma Par

Wasp Plasma Par

Uses 50-90% less energy than most fixtures and lasts more than 10,000 hours. It also draws 276W and is the equivalent of a 400W HMI Par. Goes from Spot to Medium to Super Wide flood to suit your needs.

The Drone Kit

The Drone Kit

The Drone Kit enables any ETC Source Four® to be retrofitted with the latest Plasma technology to make a daylight “Leko.”

“The Wrap Up”

These lights are very efficient and environmentally friendly. Promoting eco-friendly tools like this is a no brainer for me because it is the right thing to do, trying to use less energy and be green.

Delivering the punch and accurate daylight color with little power consumption.



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Rodrigo Prata September 8, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Hi Shane!

Thanks for the post, I`ve been into plasma light for a while now and I`m looking forward to see what you shot with it.

However, I think you made a mistake. at hive`s own website the state that the Killer Maxi draws 540W of power and output the equivalent of a 1.2K HMI. Not the 400W- 2.5K relation you state at you post.

It is still pretty awesome though!

Shane September 9, 2013 at 4:41 PM

Thank-you Rodrigo for your comments and for the catch on the wattage. It has been corrected in the post.

Ahmed October 18, 2015 at 10:30 AM

Dear Shane
Thank you very much for this informative post . I was thinking that if you can do to us a favor by making comparisons between different light sources in the coming posts because we suffer that all lighting fixtures manufacturers give themselves very high CRI and still you get wired results

Shane November 1, 2015 at 7:45 AM

Yes I would love to do that. We are planning a whole LED lighting series where we compare and contrast all different kinds of LED lights up against tungsten and HMI sources along with accurate CRI values. Thank you so much for the great suggestion.

John Stockton December 30, 2015 at 5:45 AM

These lights are very exciting and amazing. But have you seen the price of these things. WOW. Over $3000 for one. These aren’t targeted at indi film makers. it’ll be a couple of years before they become available at a realistic price for indi film production. Will stick with my Aputure AL-H160 LED lights for now. Cheap but with a great CRI and pretty powerful for their size. Mine last all day with a NP-F970 battery attached.

Ahmed September 8, 2016 at 6:31 AM

Hi Shane
Very wonderful post , just after reading this post again , I have some questions
Is plasma light will become killer to HMI ?
Who will be more dominant LED or plasma ?
Have you used plasma in your last feature incase any new thought about it ?

Shane Hurlbut, ASC December 19, 2016 at 5:52 PM

I have not found a way to use Plasma light yet. I am open to it but really doesn’t fit in the way that I light.

Tyler January 18, 2017 at 9:00 PM


Reading this post, it sounds like these lights are a can’t miss. I can’t figure out why everyone isn’t using them, but I see in your last comment that you haven’t found a way to use Plasma light, and it doesn’t fit in to the way you light. Why is that? What are the flaws with using this light?



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