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Cop Car Light Gag


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#1 Kevin Curtin

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 11:58 PM

I'm working on developing a lighting gag simulating cop car lights, you know the red and blue flashing lights. I've been toying around with some ideas, but would love to hear if anyone has done this successfully and how they did it. Preferably something cheap that I can put together myself. Thanks!

The situation is that the main character is sitting on her bed when the lights flash through her window, causing her to get up and run out of her room.

Edited by Kevin Curtin, 03 February 2009 - 11:59 PM.

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#2 Mike Williamson

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 12:29 AM

I worked with a key grip who had made up a special device for this purpose, came in very handy and should be cheap to make. You need to buy or construct a light weight cube, doesn't matter what it's made out of as long as it's reasonably light. The one we had was roughly one foot across on each side.

On one side, you attach a pigeon plate (the one with a junior pin), that side is the bottom. The junior pin then sits in a combo stand allowing you to spin the cube. On each side, apply that shiny silver material they use on the hard side of a reflector board. On top of this, on one side you will apply a heavy red gel. On the side opposite that, you'll put a heavy blue gel. You have now constructed the cube.

Take a hard light and shine it at the cube. Spin the cube. You now have a moving light that alternates from white to blue, back to white, and then to red.
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#3 Craig Knowles

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 12:34 AM

Actual colored revolving lights aren't that expensive either.

A quick Google search (for "revolving police lights") brought up the following for $37 bucks:

http://www.coolsafet...652/page/575806
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#4 Jeff Clegg

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 12:44 AM

I did something like this once, though with just red for an ambulance driving by. We had a light with a red gel on it aimed into a large mirror, then had 2 or three people wave flags up and down in front of the light. The trick was to get the flags movement timed with each other to give an erratic flashing I see more from emergency lights these days rather than an evenly timed on/off look of the older strobe lights . We looked absolutely ridiculous doing this, but it came out fairly well. The mirror really helped in being able to easily move the light across the actor as if the ambulance were driving by.
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#5 Mike Williamson

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 02:52 AM

Actual colored revolving lights aren't that expensive either.

A quick Google search (for "revolving police lights") brought up the following for $37 bucks:

http://www.coolsafet...652/page/575806


Good link, Craig. These would be great for practicals but you'd want to test them if they're meant to play off camera providing illumination for the scene, it's tough to say how strong they would be.
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#6 Walter Graff

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 07:52 AM

How about three lights and two bounce cards? White source for face glow. Red light aimed into small foam core that bounces at face, that is either turned on and off or up and down on dimmer with blue light and foam core doing same thing. Often one doesn't have to have flashing and the like ot make a nice police effect as you describe. Add a $20 strobe to that and you can have al three effects for a mixture. Really it's about the audio for me in such a scene anyway. Good sounds of car door, police radio, non descript voice etc.
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#7 timHealy

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 10:15 AM

in addition to a light that actually revolves some are making use of LED light bars programmed to flash red white and blue or whatever color you want. In fact newer cops cars are using LED light bars themselves. An advantage of led is that they can flash very quickly in a way incadescent cannot.

Best

Tim

Edited by timHealy, 05 February 2009 - 10:17 AM.

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#8 J. Lamar King

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 08:53 PM

I worked with a key grip who had made up a special device for this purpose, came in very handy and should be cheap to make. You need to buy or construct a light weight cube, doesn't matter what it's made out of as long as it's reasonably light. The one we had was roughly one foot across on each side.

On one side, you attach a pigeon plate (the one with a junior pin), that side is the bottom. The junior pin then sits in a combo stand allowing you to spin the cube. On each side, apply that shiny silver material they use on the hard side of a reflector board. On top of this, on one side you will apply a heavy red gel. On the side opposite that, you'll put a heavy blue gel. You have now constructed the cube.

Take a hard light and shine it at the cube. Spin the cube. You now have a moving light that alternates from white to blue, back to white, and then to red.


Hi Mike, that's what Slim, our Key Grip has on our crew. I usually use two and hit 'em with a Leko and it works great.
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#9 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 12:51 AM

I was on a shoot last week where all we needed was a CU shot of some keys dangling upside down, as if the car was turned over. And to get a coplight effect, the DP just gave his gaffer a flashlight and some old school blue/red 3D glasses and had him alternate between colors rapidly. It worked and looked great!
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#10 Jim Hyslop

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 07:08 PM

I was on a shoot last week where all we needed was a CU shot of some keys dangling upside down, as if the car was turned over. And to get a coplight effect, the DP just gave his gaffer a flashlight and some old school blue/red 3D glasses and had him alternate between colors rapidly. It worked and looked great!


Love it! With all the technology available to us, we sometimes forget that sometimes the simplest and most effective solution is the most low-tech possible.
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Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Visual Products

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Technodolly

Opal