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Faking Car Taillights


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#1 Dave Navarre

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 07:03 PM

Hi, I?m shooting a film on 7222 next week and I need a shot of a ?car? way off in a ditch. I wanted to fake it by using lights to replicate the taillights. What is the best way to go about this? Is simply putting up two parallel lights (presumably 1Ks) enough? Since I?m shooting B+W is there some sort of gel/diffusion that would give me a more realistic effect? Thanks.
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#2 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 07:24 PM

Hi, I?m shooting a film on 7222 next week and I need a shot of a ?car? way off in a ditch. I wanted to fake it by using lights to replicate the taillights. What is the best way to go about this? Is simply putting up two parallel lights (presumably 1Ks) enough? Since I?m shooting B+W is there some sort of gel/diffusion that would give me a more realistic effect? Thanks.


How far away is the "car" going to be? Unless somebody says "Hey, look at that car in
the ditch !", the two lights may not be enough to help the audience get it.

If you took a trip to your local auto junkyard you might be able to get two taillight lens asemblies
cheaply and affix them above a bumper with your lights behind the lenses. The lighted lenses
with a little spill onto the bumper and maybe a license plate might succeed in establishing the
illusion.

For a cheaper way out, make taillight assemblies by cutting out some squares or rectangles or
whatever in a piece of Foamcore and put gels on them and light them the same way.


Good luck!
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#3 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 09:29 PM

Even easier and cheaper - why don't you just park your car in the background? Am I missing something here?
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#4 Evan Phan

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 09:43 PM

Frame the "car" far enough and you could probably stick up two 25 Watts on posts and get away with it.

To get closer, I agree with Jim in making a cheap rig to frame. Fake engine smoke might also help fill up the space in the distance a little.
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#5 Frank Barrera

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 10:11 PM

ISO 200 ain't so fast so going with practical car lights may not work.

In Andrew Lazslo's Every Frame A Rembrandt he talks about using 3M Scotchlite reflective material in the distance to represent everything from windows, street signs, street lights and even car head lights. You cut a piece of the material to whatever size you need and then you put a small light as close to the camera lens as possible until you get the reflection off of the 3MM. He did it extensively in The Warriors where he had very little ability to light up the dark streets of the seedy New York neighborhoods that they were shooting in. I have yet to try this (I just read the book last week). But I will do it as soon as I can. It's a beautiful idea.
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#6 Dave Navarre

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 10:42 PM

Thanks for the help everyone. The car will be about 90ft out. The scene is a 2 car accident with one car framed in the foreground, hopefully the audience will figure out that the other two lights are a car. I'm going to do the fake rig though, seems like the best way to go about this.

Actually putting a car out there is out of the question. There is too much brush and I'm using classic cars, the risk of damage is too great.
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#7 Brian Baker

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 03:58 AM

ISO 200 ain't so fast so going with practical car lights may not work.

In Andrew Lazslo's Every Frame A Rembrandt he talks about using 3M Scotchlite reflective material in the distance to represent everything from windows, street signs, street lights and even car head lights. You cut a piece of the material to whatever size you need and then you put a small light as close to the camera lens as possible until you get the reflection off of the 3MM.



I would like to hear more about this, as I don't entirely understand how the material would be used to fake all those items based only on size.
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#8 Frank Barrera

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 04:39 PM

Well, the size is important but so is the shape. For example if you cut a rectangular window shape with maybe some black gaffer's tape across and up and down to represent the window pane. Then you place this 30 yards away from camera. If it's the right scale it would read as an apartment window with it's lights on way in the distance. Or a motel sign down the block. Again, I have yet to experiment with this but it makes sense to me. You really need to just get this book. There are many insightful stories and techniques in there. It really reminds the reader how once upon a time to be a camerman you needed to be very smart and inventive. Not so true anymore...
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