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Interactive lighting for glowing CG fx!


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#1 Matt Irwin

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 03:11 PM

I have a project coming up that is a fantasy/midieval setting which takes place mostly in a night interior tavern lit with candles/fire/oil.

There are a few scenes where characters produce a glowing "totem" (call it plasma in the form of a ram's head/ lion/ etc) from their fists that then shoots across the room and hits another character. The color of the totem varies between characters-- one is blue, one is gold, green, which may change.

I'm trying to figure out how to create a lighting effect that will interact with the actors and set that travels and looks like it's emitting from the CG element.
One idea I had was to use dimmer cues to "move" the light across the set, but I realized that would very likely eat up too much setup/rehearsal time (We won't get much of a pre-rig), and will probably look pretty hokey if not executed well.
Another idea was simply a lightbulb on a black stick operated by an electrician in a duvetyn ninja-suit...

As of right now, none of these shots are moving.
I don't have a big lighting budget, so I can't go very deluxe with the equipment.
I would like to avoid greenscreen in the interest of time and budget.
Shooting Super16, stock TBD. Finishing to D5 or HDCAM.

I haven't done much work like this, so I would love to hear some experienced advice!

Many thanks,
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#2 Chris Cooke

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 03:26 PM

I have a project coming up that is a fantasy/midieval setting which takes place mostly in a night interior tavern lit with candles/fire/oil.

There are a few scenes where characters produce a glowing "totem" (call it plasma in the form of a ram's head/ lion/ etc) from their fists that then shoots across the room and hits another character. The color of the totem varies between characters-- one is blue, one is gold, green, which may change.

I'm trying to figure out how to create a lighting effect that will interact with the actors and set that travels and looks like it's emitting from the CG element.
One idea I had was to use dimmer cues to "move" the light across the set, but I realized that would very likely eat up too much setup/rehearsal time (We won't get much of a pre-rig), and will probably look pretty hokey if not executed well.
Another idea was simply a lightbulb on a black stick operated by an electrician in a duvetyn ninja-suit...

As of right now, none of these shots are moving.
I don't have a big lighting budget, so I can't go very deluxe with the equipment.
I would like to avoid greenscreen in the interest of time and budget.
Shooting Super16, stock TBD. Finishing to D5 or HDCAM.

I haven't done much work like this, so I would love to hear some experienced advice!

Many thanks,



This product might spark some ideas... http://www.elementla...ts/versatube-hd
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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 04:01 PM

This product might spark some ideas... http://www.elementlabs.com/products/versatube-hd


I saw these tubed LED's at a Smashing Pumpkins concert earlier this year, they're really cool but they don't have any output to speak of...they're only nice if you're looking directly at them.

Matt, I would look at behind the scenes footage of films like X-Men or X2. The lighting effects are done so simply, it's sometimes just a matter of washing the background with a momentary flash of red or whatever colors you're going for. Look at scenes of Cyclops when he blasts his laser sight :)

The dangling lightbulb isn't a bad idea. To prevent flares that could give your CG guys a headache, you could probably paint some cinefoil green and leave the rear side of the bulb bare to illuminate your actors.
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#4 Matt Irwin

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 04:17 PM

I saw these tubed LED's at a Smashing Pumpkins concert earlier this year, they're really cool but they don't have any output to speak of...they're only nice if you're looking directly at them.

Matt, I would look at behind the scenes footage of films like X-Men or X2. The lighting effects are done so simply, it's sometimes just a matter of washing the background with a momentary flash of red or whatever colors you're going for. Look at scenes of Cyclops when he blasts his laser sight :)

The dangling lightbulb isn't a bad idea. To prevent flares that could give your CG guys a headache, you could probably paint some cinefoil green and leave the rear side of the bulb bare to illuminate your actors.

That sounds cool! Are you talking about the DVD special features?

I have yet to sit down with both the director and the FX supervisor together, so I should know more specifically what they need in a few days. I'm trying to come up with some "ammo" for that meeting.

You have a point... Once the glowing CG element is in, I may be able to get away with BSing the source direction a bit...
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#5 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 04:20 PM

That sounds cool! Are you talking about the DVD special features?


Yeah, or even just the film itself so you can get a good idea of what the end product was.
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Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

Metropolis Post

Tai Audio

The Slider

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Visual Products

FJS International, LLC