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Can't afford lightning strike


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#1 Serge Teulon

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 05:05 PM

Hey There,

Production can't afford it.....I heard a long time ago about a way to achieve lightning through changing the ends on a fixture but unfortunately can't remember and not really something to delve into trials with.

Can anyone help on how to achieve such an effect?

Cheers
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#2 John Sprung

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 06:31 PM

The world's cheapest lightning effect works with Arri, Panavision, Mitchell, most any film camera that's big enough to have some mechanical inertia. All you need to do is cut power to the motor very briefly. The camera slows down signifcantly, massively over exposing a few frames. Badda Boom, you got lightning.

Give it head and tail sticks, and you can have sync sound on both sides of the lightning effect. Post will have to know about it, and pull up a few frames at the point where the flash happens.

Best of all, the cost is zero. ;-)





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#3 Serge Teulon

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 07:25 PM

Fantastic!!!

Thanks for your advice John.

Edited by Serge Teulon, 28 October 2008 - 07:25 PM.

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#4 Matthew Parnell

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 07:25 PM

You could use lightning shutters on a larger fixture. This effect really depends on the operator, but can achieve some good results. Doesn't have as good an effect at lightning strikes, but could suit your needs.
Cheers, Matt.
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#5 Serge Teulon

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 07:47 PM

Yeah I thought about those Matthew but as you say it won't really sell it. The flash is more of a meteorite hitting rather than a electrical storm.
Thanks for your 2pence.

John - With more thought into it.....when you say cut the motor, would just turning it off, at the on/off switch, briefly and then back on achieve that or is there something else that I'm missing?

Edited by Serge Teulon, 28 October 2008 - 07:51 PM.

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#6 David Rakoczy

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 09:10 PM

I could not disagree with John any more on this.. if you think cutting the motor on and off (which I have done many many times in Music Video and Commercial applications) is going to produce a 'Lightning Effect' you will be sadly mistaken!!!! A matter of fact, that effect is only workable when running at a high speed frame rate so the (cutting) of the motor (the slowing down part) is enhanced... Believe me, it will in No Way resemble Lightning...

Use Lightning Strikes.. if not then use an Arc Plunger (which I prefer) ... or.. then use Shutters... beyond that, write Lightning out of the Script.

If you use Shutters.. they work best when on multiple Lamps working in the same shot... that also applies to Lightning Strikes... have at least two units!

Edited by David Rakoczy, 28 October 2008 - 09:13 PM.

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#7 David Rakoczy

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 03:43 PM

cont'd

..not to mention you will looses sync, as well as, see any movement in frame speed up as the camera slows down...
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#8 Kiarash Sadigh

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 04:12 PM

Here is a device I used a few months ago and was quite happy with it...it rented for $60.00!! and gave me a very good rendition of lightening... hope it helps..

http://www.highend.c...flashaf1000.asp
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#9 Serge Teulon

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 08:31 PM

David - it makes sense what you are saying.
I did initially think, that I would probably have be at high speed to cut the motor and for there to be enough momentum in the movement to run a few frames through the slowed gate.
Its a bit of a pickle this one.
The flash is essential to the story and the director will definitely not write it out.
As were shooting 35mm it would be criminal to compromise it with a flash effect in post!! Very last option........and one that i desperately want to avoid!


Kiarash - That looks like a possible option. Do you have an image or footage available to view your experience with this light?



Really appreciate your help guys!
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#10 Kiarash Sadigh

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 09:41 PM

David - it makes sense what you are saying.
I did initially think, that I would probably have be at high speed to cut the motor and for there to be enough momentum in the movement to run a few frames through the slowed gate.
Its a bit of a pickle this one.
The flash is essential to the story and the director will definitely not write it out.
As were shooting 35mm it would be criminal to compromise it with a flash effect in post!! Very last option........and one that i desperately want to avoid!


Kiarash - That looks like a possible option. Do you have an image or footage available to view your experience with this light?



Really appreciate your help guys!


No I don't have any examples as we speak...but I can tell you that I was very skeptical about all the el-cheapo ways of creating lightening and this was pretty convincing for the budget...it looks better than shutters for sure...
Now, Data Flash comes with a control board that is armed with many many preset strobe effects, what you need to do is to learn which one you like the best before you hit the set because it takes time to go through them all...I did the same and spent a good 20 minutes with the unit at the rental house...you basically have control over the intensity of the light and the strobing pattern, from what I remember, I had the intensity down to %20 and used preset#11... the lower the intensity the less recycle time ...
hope it helps :-)
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#11 David Rakoczy

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 07:41 AM

Serge,

Data Flashes can be used for a tight Frame.. but they really don't have the punch you need. Shutters can work Fantastic and have for decades! You just need them on multiple Lights (3) and give the Operators a bit of time to play with them. They can look great! By far, they are the cheapest and most effective Lightning Effect available. Datas can easily look like Camera Flashes. A matter of fact, that is what I use them for.. simulating Camera Flashes... not Lightning.
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#12 Kiarash Sadigh

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 12:21 PM

Serge,

Data Flashes can be used for a tight Frame.. but they really don't have the punch you need. Shutters can work Fantastic and have for decades! You just need them on multiple Lights (3) and give the Operators a bit of time to play with them. They can look great! By far, they are the cheapest and most effective Lightning Effect available. Datas can easily look like Camera Flashes. A matter of fact, that is what I use them for.. simulating Camera Flashes... not Lightning.


You can use Data Flash to replicate camera flashes, you can also set it so the unit produces longer-lasting strobes in an uneven pattern, which is ideal for lightning effect...
A agree with David in terms of the punch, to my knowledge this unit has a maximum of 3500 watts output, which is pretty darn good for most interior shots ...it's perhaps not the ideal device if you're want to use it in a field at night etc.
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#13 Serge Teulon

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 02:30 PM

Hey guys,

Thanks for your time and advice on this.
I've put it to my gaffer and he is at the moment trying to pull some trump cards from his sleeves.

Fingers crossed!

Cheers
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#14 John Sprung

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 03:26 PM

I've had the motor cutoff trick work fine using Arri II-C and Arri-S. Of course you have to think it through in how you light the scene. If it's practicals in the shot on an interior, that'll give it away. If it's window light and fill, it works.

A camera that stops pretty much instantly like a Bolex won't work, and one that had too much inertia wouldn't slow down far enough. On those simple mechanical cameras, you can flip the switch or bobble the plug at the battery. You could also try a little finger friction on the inching knob if the camera seems not to be slowing enough. Test it, tweak it in color timing. The camera is only off speed for 2-6 frames, so motion isn't that big a problem unless the scene is blocked so they're running around when it hits. Usually story wise what you want is to cue the actors at the flash point, and they react to it. That can require some care, so they aren't unnaturally early or late. But with natural human reaction time, the effect is over before they turn to see what it was.

I've never had to do it with the event leaving an afterglow or starting a fire, but that might be another thing to consider with this meteor impact scene. More stuff to coordinate, though.....

For sound, you give it head and tail sticks, leave the picture uncut, but adjust the sound at the effect point. Of course this isn't for "A" list features, it's in the context of no money that it's worth consideration.




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