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    Lighting Up the Big Screen: The LED Magic Behind the Magic


    How do you bring an iconic childhood character to life on screen? With light, of course.

    In Disney’s most recent hit movie Cinderella, actress Helena Bonham Carter’s character, the fairy godmother, is bedecked in a gown that undulates with the shimmering beauty of 400 LED lights. In order to best effect the magical transformation from beggar to fairy godmother, costume designer Sandy Powell created an ephemeral gown by integrating individual programmable Philips LED lights into the design of the dress.

    Some lights were sprinkled randomly across her wide collar while textile LED ribbons were sewn into the bodice and skirt. Coupled with hundreds of Swarovski crystals, the dress sparkles on screen and ensures that the fairy godmother glows magically in the dark.

    A dress that lights up is not necessarily new, but the magical effects achieved here are truly unique. Each spell is marked by a new color – adding additional magic to the character.

    The lights are controlled remotely, so each movement, each feeling, can be accentuated by light. The fairy godmother’s character in this way plays with the emotions of the viewer, achieving an almost animated effect in a real human being.


    With this combination of traditional craft and modern technology Philips and Disney are not only pushing the boundaries of costume design, we think they are creating new possibilities for artistic expression and are looking forward to seeing more of these effects in the future.


    Have you noticed any other great examples of this type of technology?

    To learn more about Disney’s Cinderella click here: