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Lightning Bolt


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#1 Andrew Koch

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 05:04 AM

I am shooting a project on super 16. It is a night ext. where we have a character being struck by a bolt of lightning on a soccer field. The camera starts above the actor's head and booms down toward him. The idea is to have the light get brighter as the camera gets closer. To add to the challenge, we are shooting it at 64-75Fps, but we need to do the move fairly quick on set for the effect we want. I want it to look like a light is coming toward the actor from above.

At first I thought about using a 10K on a dimmer and gradually dimming the light up, but I have two major concerns with this. One being the shift in color temperature. I would like the color to be the same for the whole shot. I could possibly use shutters, but this still wouldn't deal with my second concern: The inverse square law. Since the light would be stationary, there would be no change to the fall off and the shadows would not move.

My second thought would be to put a smaller unit on a boom (maybe a Par64) and lower it down. This seems way too dangerous especially if directly over an actor's head and I am not about to compromise safety. I thought of possibly having the light down low far away from the actor and shooting it into a mirror over head. Then I could boom/scissor lift,etc... the light up so the light will basically "go down" in the reflection of the mirror onto the actor.

There has got to be a better solution. What are some of your thoughts. What do you think would be a safe and effective way to achieve this "lightning POV" shot?

My other major safety concern is the booming of the camera down over an actor's head. How can I do this safely? I have only worked with a couple of jibs and it has been a while so I will have an operator. How do I guarantee that the operator does not overshoot the move and hit the actor in the face? It's not that I don't trust the operator, I just don't want to risk an injury. I was considering using a slightly longer focal length to keep the stopping distance fairly far away from the actor, but I am not sure if that is safe enough. Are there certain jibs that can be made to prevent going lower than a certain height, that simply lock when reached?

I would love to hear any suggestions on how I can do this shot safely.
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#2 Frank Barrera

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 08:51 AM

I would say that this should be in the Grip Sub-Forum because the only way to do your effect in-camera is with a light rigged near the camera as it booms down to the actor. A ring light would be good or something just over the camera.

I will let the Key Grip tell you how to do it but I have seen many incredible rigs that to the untrained eye perhaps looked unsafe. But they were as safe as can be. The key to your rig would be whether or not the Jib could hold all that weight. That could be a breaker. But I don't see this as being an undo-able set up. Talk to your grip.

good luck.


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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 02:48 PM

I would rig a light on the jib next to the camera and enhance the exposure change in post. Get a bigger jib if need be.

Sometimes you can rig a physical "safety stop" that the arm will bump into before the camera hits anything. That's really up to the grips though.
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#4 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 04:28 PM

Shoot it in reverse, starting on actor and pulling back.

You could possibly change the f/stop to over expose it as it's impacting.
Or ramp the speed to alter exposure and speed up the impact.
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#5 Darryl Richard Humber

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 09:33 PM

Dolly grips do this shot every day. Be sure anytime you have a camera etc over anyone's head that you have someone who knows what they're doing operating it. Always safety everything. Don't forget track to take the arc out of the drop.
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 09:42 PM

Michael said the right word: post. You just have to get your director and producers comfortable with doing most of the effect that way.



-- J.S.
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