Jump to content


Photo

how to film strobe lights (nightclub style) bouncing off actors


  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 Craig Greenbergs

Craig Greenbergs
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 21 posts
  • Student

Posted 04 June 2009 - 01:34 AM

hi there, I'm fairly new to film-making and I am going to be shooting my first super 8 movie this summer, I have most of the effects figured out that I would like to do except how to film my actors under strobe light conditions, the type that would be used at a nightclub or "rave" party. Basically what I am worried about is that I don't know how to meter to ensure that I can see my actors during the dark scenes but that the strobes wont be so intense as to just create a white screen when they go off (from overexposure) - will this happen? thats my main concern

Also, any trick to time the strobe so its not always going off while the shutter is closed, or should i just film it a few times at diff strobe speeds (its adjustable) and assume I'm going to get them off sync at least once? I'm not so worried about this.

Im probably going to be shooting vision 500 film for these scenes if it makes any difference, and at 18 fps for regular motion and some at 36fps for slow mo

thanks in advance :)

- Craig
  • 0

#2 Craig Greenbergs

Craig Greenbergs
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 21 posts
  • Student

Posted 04 June 2009 - 01:40 AM

sorry I just wanted to add something (the edit feature wasn't working)

the strobe lights themselves will never be filmed directly, that is to say the camera will never be pointed at them, only the reflection on the actors and scene
  • 0

#3 Craig Greenbergs

Craig Greenbergs
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 21 posts
  • Student

Posted 04 June 2009 - 02:22 AM

sorry to add yet another reply but here a video showing what I mean



it pretty much happens all throughout the first half of the vid
  • 0

#4 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 04 June 2009 - 11:54 AM

I would make sure you have the look you want when the strobes are not hitting and then let the strobes go really, really hot. That's how they look to your eyes so why not let the film record it like that? If you just let them go a stop or two over, it won't look bright. It will look like a camera problem.
  • 0

#5 Craig Greenbergs

Craig Greenbergs
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 21 posts
  • Student

Posted 04 June 2009 - 12:32 PM

I would make sure you have the look you want when the strobes are not hitting and then let the strobes go really, really hot. That's how they look to your eyes so why not let the film record it like that? If you just let them go a stop or two over, it won't look bright. It will look like a camera problem.


I think I am following you, but don't you think it would look better if the best exposure was during the strobe flash itself, gives it kinda an eerier effect because itll be like the actos appear intermittently in some frames only, I had just thought of something, do you think if I took a still 35mm camera, set it to shutter priority to 1/30 (i think thats what a 220' lens film movie camera equates to?) and plugged in a flash, then metered the scene the cam would show me the auto correct f value for what it would like to do with a flash, which would be similar to what it would be like when my strobe goes off, and i could use that as my f ?
  • 0

#6 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 04 June 2009 - 12:34 PM

I think I am following you, but don't you think it would look better if the best exposure was during the strobe flash itself, gives it kinda an eerier effect because itll be like the actos appear intermittently in some frames only, I had just thought of something, do you think if I took a still 35mm camera, set it to shutter priority to 1/30 (i think thats what a 220' lens film movie camera equates to?) and plugged in a flash, then metered the scene the cam would show me the auto correct f value for what it would like to do with a flash, which would be similar to what it would be like when my strobe goes off, and i could use that as my f ?


Is creepy your goal? I assumed it's a party scene and you want to see your talent more than once in a while.
  • 0

#7 Craig Greenbergs

Craig Greenbergs
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 21 posts
  • Student

Posted 04 June 2009 - 12:40 PM

Is creepy your goal? I assumed it's a party scene and you want to see your talent more than once in a while.


its actually an overdose / bad drug experience scene, so creepy is more the goal, sorry for the video link I guess it was a bit misleading, it was just the only thing I could think of where I remembered that effect
  • 0

#8 Chris Millar

Chris Millar
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1642 posts
  • Other

Posted 05 June 2009 - 02:39 AM

Also, any trick to time the strobe so its not always going off while the shutter is closed, or should i just film it a few times at diff strobe speeds (its adjustable) and assume I'm going to get them off sync at least once? I'm not so worried about this.
- Craig



If the strobe fires when the shutter is half over frame you'll see exactly that ... When they are running at near similar frequencies you get a kind of wagon wheel effect. Not so cool, unless it is exactly what you are after.

Many super8 cameras have a flash sync output - perfect for getting a signal that the shutter is open - you just need a flash that can take a suitably 'formatted' pulse of whatever it requires to trigger it accordingly, if it is modern enough and DMX only you're up poop creek tho as the DMX strobes I have seen only have speed control and not either phase adjustment or an accurate start time (and simple manual controls on the back wont help you much either)
  • 0

#9 Serge Teulon

Serge Teulon
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 757 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London UK

Posted 05 June 2009 - 08:34 AM

When I shot a similar scene I just established a level of fill, with a bounced light near camera and, as Chris has pointed out, let the strobe go a 1-2 stops over.
The important thing is that unless you want a black-exposed-black look, then you need to get the level of the fill right so that it is believable. You've got artistic licence up until a certain point...

Also, I didn't worry so much about getting the shutter and strobe timing, as it gave me in, varied moments, different effects.
Which in my case, added to the feel of being in a rave/club.

Edited by Serge Teulon, 05 June 2009 - 08:38 AM.

  • 0

#10 Craig Greenbergs

Craig Greenbergs
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 21 posts
  • Student

Posted 05 June 2009 - 05:34 PM

thanks guys, to combat the timing problem as best I can I was actually going to have someone adjust the speed of the strobe firing via a small knob on the back of the strobe itself, its actually just a 5$ play-thing from the 80's so it def. wont be plugging into any timing devices, guess ill just have to hope for the best

thanks for all the help :)
  • 0


Metropolis Post

Rig Wheels Passport

Opal

Wooden Camera

CineTape

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

FJS International, LLC

CineLab

Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Ritter Battery

Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

CineTape

Aerial Filmworks

FJS International, LLC

Visual Products

Metropolis Post

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Technodolly

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Wooden Camera

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Opal

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider