The Big Picture: GE and Mole-Richardson Celebrate 80 Years of Lighting the Entertainment Industry
Eight decades ago, Peter Mole, founder of Mole–Richardson, saw an opportunity others missed when he took the incandescent lamp he had influenced the development of while working at GE, and paired it with a new lamp fixture he created specifically for the demands of the film industry. Mole and the company's co–founder, Elmer C. Richardson, realized there was tremendous business potential in this new form of lighting. But what they may not have realized is that through this technology, they changed the face of Hollywood and the entertainment lighting world forever.
The GE incandescent lamps were much quieter than the carbon arc lamps used on film and stage prior to 1927, so they quickly became the standard for any studio filming with sound. From 1927 to 1960 GE and Mole–Richardson were "fixtures" in the entertainment industry, supplying all types of lamps used by the studios. As motion pictures gained momentum, so did lighting technology.
During the next several decades, the two companies worked to support the lighting needs of film and television, which included the emergence of quartz tungsten, discharge and fluorescent lamps. GE responded to the evolving technology with a vast assortment of lamp sizes and lamp wattages that were required to fit the unique fixtures being produced to illuminate both daylight film and indoor tungsten film.
The onset of the new millennium continued to bring changes to the industry with the use of digital media. Once again, GE and Mole–Richardson each remain steadfast in their pursuit to find new and more efficient ways for lighting technicians to illuminate the future of the entertainment world — including the future development of LED technology for film lighting.
"For 80 years, Hollywood has looked to Mole–Richardson for stage, studio, and location fixture lighting, and Mole–Richardson has looked to GE to develop state–of–the–art lighting products," says Gerry Schuh, GE's SHOWBIZ® global product manager. "Mole–Richardson takes our products and marries them with a fixture to give the studios what they need: lighting that helps bring a stage or studio to life."
On the surface, it seems the GE and Mole–Richardson relationship naturally adapts to the changing circumstances and technology of the industry — perhaps because it is part of the culture at both companies.
"My grandfather [Peter Mole] shared the same drive for innovation and results that has defined GE for years," says Mike Parker, president of Mole–Richardson Co. "The level of commitment and leadership that GE instills in its people is carried over to the companies and industries they influence. It becomes the culture. It became our culture."
Mole–Richardson has proven throughout its history that together with lamp manufacturers like GE and input from lighting technicians, it can build products for the future. "GE's leadership in innovation and research and development for lighting the entertainment industry is an integral part of Mole–Richardson's success," added Parker.
Three generations have contributed to expanding the Mole–Richardson business into new areas. With each generation, the use of GE products has remained a constant. "GE's ability to show interest in our industry and its ability to stay ahead of the curve on current and future technology is critical to our business and to the industry," Parker added. "Our goal is to always make sure we're focused on solving the problems of lighting technicians who rely on our products."
After 80 years, it is innovation that drives the success of GE's relationship with Mole–Richardson. Both companies help fuel a commitment to innovation and results that continues to define the entertainment lighting industry today.
About Mole–Richardson Co.
Since its founding by Peter Mole in Hollywood in 1927, Mole–Richardson Company has devoted all of its research and manufacturing facilities to the production of lighting and power equipment designed to satisfy the needs of the motion picture, television, video and studio photographic industries. Today, Mole–Richardson products are sold and serviced around the world.