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Creating a big shaft of light


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#1 Chris Saul

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 08:19 PM

I'm shooting a dark room and I need a strong shaft of light coming through the window. I'm using a putt putt generator and I was wondering what would be the best HMI light for the job and also what would be a good hazer to get? Also I'm following someone down a long tunnel that has skylights but I wanted some fill on the face of my actor while in the shadows. Is there a good light for this, that is battery operated? Thanks!
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 08:54 PM

How strong do you need the shaft to be? If I were doing this I would probably want a 4K HMI or better. To project a beam, just use the fixture without a lens or with the widest lens you have. That'll make the hardest beam.

I have no idea about hazer models or anything.

A 2 foot kino would do the trick for your fill. Not battery powered but that doesn't matter much, cable can be wrangled.
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#3 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 08:54 PM

You could run a 2k Xenon off of a putt-putt, that would make a good shaft through a window . . .

For hazers, DF50 is always a good choice.

For more, do a search on here because there has been lots of good info about creating shafts of light.

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#4 Chris Keth

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 09:07 PM

Kevin, what would be the difference in output between a 2K xenon and a 4K HMI for this purpose?
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 09:33 PM

Kevin, what would be the difference in output between a 2K xenon and a 4K HMI for this purpose?


Probably similar in general output but very different beam characteristics.
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 09:36 PM

Xenon would look sharper? Correct? More focused?
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 11:22 PM

Xenon would look sharper? Correct? More focused?


It produces a projected sharp beam like a Leko, Source-4, or a movie projector, very parallel rays, which is more like sunlight. However, the spread is limited by the size of the front of the xenon unit, so often the beam won't fill a window frame. Plus the edges of the beam are sharp, so sometimes you have to break-up the obvious circle-shape with one edge of the window, or some tree branches, etc.

You can spot and flood them to some degree -- generally in full flood, you get a donut-pattern with a faint dark spot in the center. Spotting fills in the dark center more and increases intensity, but you lose the limited spread that the xenon produces.

A 4K HMI PAR would have more spread, but the beam would spread outwards, and not have that sharp circular effect. The farther the lamp is from the window, the less intense it would be but the more parallel the rays would be. With a xenon, the lamp could be close to a window and still produce straight beams of light. Just watch out because if the xenon is too close to the window, or spotted too much, the heat can be quite intense. I've seen xenon beams melt the paint off of a house and shatter glass if they are placed too close.

If you are not worried about multiple shadows on the floor, another solution is to cluster some HMI Source-4's (Joker 400 or 800's) -- a couple shining through a window produces a nice beam of light and multiple beams can just look like sunlight being broken up, as long as you aim the lights in the same direction.

Here is an interior I lit with two HMI Source-4's off to one side (inside the room) simulating a beam of sunlight:


Posted Image
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 02:35 AM

Thanks David. As always incredibly informative. I wonder, if you could also try "softening" towards the sides with diffusion material? I don't think it would work; but it's 230am here and my mind wanders to odd places. One of these days I hope to be able to play with Xenons; till then looks like it's HMIs for me.
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#9 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 02:42 AM

I'm shooting a dark room and I need a strong shaft of light coming through the window. I'm using a putt putt generator and I was wondering what would be the best HMI light for the job and also what would be a good hazer to get? Also I'm following someone down a long tunnel that has skylights but I wanted some fill on the face of my actor while in the shadows. Is there a good light for this, that is battery operated? Thanks!



You could try a Lite panel for your fill in the tunnel... they work off batteries , low power consumption .and can be handheld..
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#10 Ram Shani

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 03:29 AM

you also can Shaine the H.M.I. to mirror

the mirror will give you the parallel beam you need

and some time it will be more easy to rig the mirror
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#11 Chris Saul

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 03:36 AM

It produces a projected sharp beam like a Leko, Source-4, or a movie projector, very parallel rays, which is more like sunlight. However, the spread is limited by the size of the front of the xenon unit, so often the beam won't fill a window frame. Plus the edges of the beam are sharp, so sometimes you have to break-up the obvious circle-shape with one edge of the window, or some tree branches, etc.

You can spot and flood them to some degree -- generally in full flood, you get a donut-pattern with a faint dark spot in the center. Spotting fills in the dark center more and increases intensity, but you lose the limited spread that the xenon produces.

A 4K HMI PAR would have more spread, but the beam would spread outwards, and not have that sharp circular effect. The farther the lamp is from the window, the less intense it would be but the more parallel the rays would be. With a xenon, the lamp could be close to a window and still produce straight beams of light. Just watch out because if the xenon is too close to the window, or spotted too much, the heat can be quite intense. I've seen xenon beams melt the paint off of a house and shatter glass if they are placed too close.

If you are not worried about multiple shadows on the floor, another solution is to cluster some HMI Source-4's (Joker 400 or 800's) -- a couple shining through a window produces a nice beam of light and multiple beams can just look like sunlight being broken up, as long as you aim the lights in the same direction.

Here is an interior I lit with two HMI Source-4's off to one side (inside the room) simulating a beam of sunlight:


Posted Image


Thanks David. It's so great of you to take the time to share your wisdom. Also you came to my Cinematography class at Cal State Northridge last year which was great as well. Thanks.
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#12 Joe Riggs

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 01:50 AM

We are looking to create a shaft of light for an interior similar to what David did in that beautiful image. The beam would be coming from the slit in the door
door_slit2.JPG

Then we would like a shaft of light highlighting a character who will be speaking on the stage, akin to the picture on right but only one beam, and not as strong, just enough to make an impact.
stage2.JPG citizen_m.jpg

The caveat is we have no access to an HMI or Xenon that can create that beam. What we have are 2k's, 650 fresnel's and 1k broads. Those lights were not able to produce the "beam" on their own so we did some tests with a fog machine and powered dust.


The door slit:
The fog worked ok with the 650, but with the 2k it was a little ridiculous, it looked like someone just hot boxed the room. The dust was too quick to dissipate.

The stage:
There are some houselights that l;it the stage, we used those to test. This time the fog was too much and hard to control. The dust worked better to produce a sharper beam.

We also have access D50 hazer, what does that do? Is it better than a fog machine or dust?

This was my first attempt creating shafts of light and any advice/tips you may offer at creating it with the tools at our disposal is greatly appreciated.

Edited by Joe Riggs, 18 March 2009 - 01:53 AM.

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#13 JD Hartman

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 07:40 PM

You can create the "beam" with either of the fresnels, but you won't have a visible shaft of light unless there is something, dust, smoke, etc. to illuminate and reflect some of the light. A leko with an iris would also work well for this application.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 08:17 PM

Yes, you always need something suspended in the air to see a beam of light. Heavy dust is not really controllable nor safe to breathe.

There isn't much difference between a fog machine or a hazemaker other than, either way, you have to completely fill a sealed space (no drafts), floor to ceiling, wall to wall, and let the smoke spread evenly. Hazemakers do this a little easier since the smoke comes out as more of a misty haze, whereas the clouds of smoke from a fogger have to be wafted, waved and broken up. But once you do that, the effect is similar.

Often you have to over-fog the room at first, let it spread and even out.

A sharp, crisp bright light works best to create a shaft. A 2K fresnel may work OK, but you'd have to back it away to be sharper, and thus it gets dimmer. Something like a Source-4 with a narrower lens would work better for a slit window in a door like that. Or a Leko.
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#15 JD Hartman

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 12:12 PM

The door slit:
The fog worked ok with the 650, but with the 2k it was a little ridiculous, it looked like someone just hot boxed the room. The dust was too quick to dissipate.


Based on the equipment available, the Fresnels are the best choice. If the 2K seemed to powerful for the door slit, did you try dropping in a double scrim or using some N.D.? Does the stage your shooting on have any lighting equipment at all? A leko with it's multiple lens train would give the sharpest image in this instance.
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#16 John Sprung

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 04:54 PM

What we have are 2k's, 650 fresnel's and 1k broads.


Given that to choose from, a 2K would be the best, provided that you can back it way far away. A mirror to increase the distance is another good idea. The problem is that the sun is so far away that the shadows it casts look pretty much parallel to us. It's a dead giveaway if the shadows from, say, venetian blinds all fan out from an obviously nearby point.

When you have a light working from far away, especially if you're going for maximum distance, be really careful that it isn't too close to something that might scorch or catch fire.





-- J.S.
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#17 Joe Riggs

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 09:57 PM

Unfortunately, behind that door is only about 6 feet of room. The stage does have house lights, I get a reading of f2 on them. I picked up the hazer so hopefully, we will have better luck with that.
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