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#1 JA Tadena

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 01:34 PM

Hi guys. Ive shot a few car ads and Im just recently wondering how you guys boost down the car's headlights. I usually put ND gels on top of it (cut exactly the shape of the headlights) but the problem is when the car needs to turn off the headlights then you can obviously see the nd gels on top of it.
I guess the only way is to boost down the voltage of the electricity or wattage of the bulb unless your not allowed to touch the car like that. Anyway, maybe any of you have suggestions or tricks on this. Thanks.

Edited by jatadena, 27 August 2006 - 01:37 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 07:37 PM

If you need to see the headlights close, after they turn off, there isn't much choice but to raise the light level overall so you can stop down the lens. Or use the Zeiss Master Primes, which are near impossible to flare.

Otherwise, you could try ND hard gel, which may look neat enough to be acceptable when the headlamps go off.

If the headlamps don't go off, you can also use scrim material like Rosco scrim, or Black Streaks-N-Tips.

It is possible to dim a headlamp in theory, although the color would get warmer.
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#3 Wilkin Chau

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 11:06 PM

If you need to see the headlights close, after they turn off, there isn't much choice but to raise the light level overall so you can stop down the lens. Or use the Zeiss Master Primes, which are near impossible to flare.

Otherwise, you could try ND hard gel, which may look neat enough to be acceptable when the headlamps go off.

If the headlamps don't go off, you can also use scrim material like Rosco scrim, or Black Streaks-N-Tips.

It is possible to dim a headlamp in theory, although the color would get warmer.


I've been told a bit of dulling spray and/or even hairspray can help bring down the light level of a car headlight.
don't know if that actually works or not.
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#4 Tim J Durham

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Posted 28 August 2006 - 09:33 AM

Hi guys. Ive shot a few car ads and Im just recently wondering how you guys boost down the car's headlights. I usually put ND gels on top of it (cut exactly the shape of the headlights) but the problem is when the car needs to turn off the headlights then you can obviously see the nd gels on top of it.
I guess the only way is to boost down the voltage of the electricity or wattage of the bulb unless your not allowed to touch the car like that. Anyway, maybe any of you have suggestions or tricks on this. Thanks.


Most cars nowadays have lens housings which the bulb fits into. You can romove the entire lens housing, take the bulb out and pour some grey water-based wood stain in the lens housing, swish it around carefully so that it coats the entire front of the lens from the inside, then let it dry and put it back the way it was. You can't leave the headlights on for long as it will start smoking at some point. Test.

Then when you are done, repeat the same process with water to get the stain out and replace. Or if you have to (it's a brand new car), replace the lenses with new ones. They're about $250 each, atleast for a Toyota they are.
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#5 Tony Brown

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 05:41 PM

Dulling sprays generally dont work as they are wax based and they just melt. Scrim works well and produces a much nicer light for car 2 car stuff than ND but you'll lose shafts of light if using atmos.. I always request dimmers be fitted if they are halogen, xenon bulbs will need to be replaced but then you have colour issues. This should always be cleared with the client. Xmas spray snow works well too and would be pretty invisible when the lights are killed unless you are really close as the headlights tend to photograph fairly white when off .........
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#6 Dan Goulder

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 06:15 PM

Assuming the car is stationary at the point the headlights are switched off, I might try a post dissolve timed to coincide with the period the lamps take to go dark. (dissolving to a locked off shot with the NDs removed, and the headlights off)
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