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Lightning effect with strobes


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#1 Kirk Sade

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 06:44 PM

Hi,
I'm shooting this low-budget doc on HD...there is a scene of this man working in his office at night while there is lightening happening outside...we're shooting on location and there are no windows in the shot ...I've been thinking about low-budget ways of doing this...i.e. hiring a welder (which I'm not sure about the effects) and or using a shutter on an HMI (which I really don't like) etc. Today I had an idea that I thought I share with you and get some expert advice...the idea is to have a few still cameras and have them to flash quickly within a few seconds...I'm thinking of positioning the cameras so that they're standing to camera's side (lets say left side) and have them to have their backs to the axis of the camera, pointing their flash at a 8by4 piece of styrofoam...this is because I want to make the source look bigger as if it's comming from a big window out of the frame...so once again let's say if the camera is at 6 o'clock, the subject is at 12 o'clock..the still cameras are at 9 O'clock with their back to the centre of the clock....(hope it's clear )
has anyone done this before? what is your opinion on this technique? I can probably test this with one camera, it'll be only for the shooting night that I'd be able to afford three or more flashes, so my testing abilities are limited...any advice would be really appreciated...thanks.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 07:24 PM

Generally, I don't think camera flashes are used for lightning. Generally it's shutters, or a lightning strike lite. I think the biggest issue with flashes is that they look like a flash, and lightning is more like a few quick flashes of varied intensity. . . at least that's how my mind pictures is.
Look at Young Frankenstein, there's some nice lightning flashes in there I think. They were done with shutters if memory serves.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 07:34 PM

Electronic camera flashes are too short in duration to mimic lightening well. Shutters on HMIs are going to be a much more controllable and malleable solution.

What may work is using flash bulbs. That would be a pain in the ass, IMO, and expensive though.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 07:41 PM

I always liked the flash bulbs for gunshots personally because of the slightly longer flash duration. but as mentioned, expensive.
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#5 Kirk Sade

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 08:08 PM

Generally, I don't think camera flashes are used for lightning. Generally it's shutters, or a lightning strike lite. I think the biggest issue with flashes is that they look like a flash, and lightning is more like a few quick flashes of varied intensity. . . at least that's how my mind pictures is.
Look at Young Frankenstein, there's some nice lightning flashes in there I think. They were done with shutters if memory serves.


Thanks, although I understand the problem with flashes having such short and quick snap of light, and that's why I'm planning to have a few cameras flashing all at the same time, so the overlap of the flashes compensates for the lack of enough timing...this is my dilemma, weather I'm being on the right track about having multiple flashes overlapping.....any ideas?
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 08:13 PM

I would worry about being able to trigger them all at the right moment. I know you can use RF flashes for that and have them all go off at the same time. I'm just not sure what this would really look like or if it would be worth the bugger. As mentioned, shutters are probably much cheaper, and you can do it any number of ways for speeds etc.
Granted, though, I never used flash in my still photography time so I am in no way authoritative on it, but my basic philosophy is that as you increase the equipment on a set you increase the complexity and time required for a set up. And generally I know more ADs I work with always keep time right on my mind.
If you do opt the flash route, I think we'd all be damned interested to know how it goes.
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#7 Kirk Sade

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Posted 06 September 2008 - 08:32 PM

Thanks Adrian, I'll definitely let you know if I do it this way...
Anybody else? any suggestions?
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