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Help! I have limited tools to create firelight


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#1 Alexander Disenhof

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 08:08 PM

I know there are threads on here that talk about creating realistic light coming from a fireplace, but my situation is pretty specific. The script that I am shooting just changed, and now a scene will be shot in a 13 by 15 foot living room at night with a fire place. The director wants a darker look, using mostly practicals (and augmenting them with small fresnel fixtures), but he also wants firelight to be coming out of the fireplace. The shoot is this weekend, and the only solution I can think of for simulating this light would be putting full CTO and maybe some sort of amber gel on a chinese lantern with a 250w bulb and have it on a dimmer. I only have dimmers that can handle 300w, so the chinese lantern seems to be my only real possibility. Does anybody think this will work and look realistic? More details - I am shooting on Kodak 7217 (200T), and the actor's will all be sitting in chairs and standing within 10 feet of the fireplace. Any suggestions at all would be appreciated!
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 08:51 PM

The shoot is this weekend, and the only solution I can think of for simulating this light would be putting full CTO and maybe some sort of amber gel on a chinese lantern with a 250w bulb and have it on a dimmer. I only have dimmers that can handle 300w, so the chinese lantern seems to be my only real possibility.


That basic approach will work fine. The way I like to do it is to use one lantern and one bare bulb or fresnel. Put both on dimmers or flickerboxes and place the fixtures right next to each other. I gel the soft one with full CTO and the harder one with full CTS. That will create a very random look to the flicker and will make the shadows move on faces, rather than just get brighter and dimmer. Using one soft source and one hard source is to mimic the look of the glow of coals mixed with the harder shadows of the flame.
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#3 Alexander Disenhof

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 08:47 AM

Thanks so much Chris, your advise is greatly appreciated!
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#4 Phil Bradshaw

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 05:47 PM

I was recently in a similar situation where I needed firelight, with limited resources. I ended up using a K5 socket with a 213 bulb, screwed to a pancake with a foamcore box built around the bulb (12"x12", black side of foamcore facing out). A 600w household dimmer sufficed, and a little 1/2 white diffusion and 1/4 CTS on the outside of the box. The DP determined the highs and lows of the light and we randomly "pulsed the dimmer". It looked great on the HDX 900!
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#5 Michael Nash

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 05:58 PM

On a zero budget, plain old "finger waving" in front of a small soft source works well. Imagine doing sign language in front of the diffuser and you get the idea. With practice you can get a very convincing effect, especially if you keep it slow and subtle.
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#6 Lindsay Mann

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Posted 10 December 2007 - 01:26 PM

We used to bang a fresnel through some 1/2 CTO into a flexible reflector of some kind. Tin foil works I guess, but it's loud. Something like the inside of a steel drum would be cool, but that might look more like a disco ball. It seemed to produce some good results. The pancake with a box sounds terrific though. I'm definitely building that.
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