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Passing car lights


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#1 Scott Copeland

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 11:07 PM

Sitting on a darkened porch at night. The lights from cars passing shine through the porch lattice and move quickly across the back wall. The shadows jump up, and move along the wall as the brightness of the light fades up and out.

What are some good ideas for achieving this effect? Do I need to build a rig to move the light smoothly across the front lawn onto the porch? It would be a great effect to create the sense of cars and blow light onto an actor's face at the dramatic moments. The opening of "Blood Simple" achieved a different but similar effect nicely.

Anyone? Thanks.
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#2 Ryan Thomas

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 02:46 AM

I've always just had a few lights on stands, keep the top knuckle loosened and then swing it around to simulate the car passing. After you pan it off the set, turn it off, bring it back to 1 and repeat. Simple, but it works....
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#3 David Rakoczy

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 06:02 AM

yep.. a couple Par 64s on the outside pins of a triple header.. leave the panning knuckle loose and pan for effect.
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#4 Scott Copeland

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 12:07 PM

I've always just had a few lights on stands, keep the top knuckle loosened and then swing it around to simulate the car passing. After you pan it off the set, turn it off, bring it back to 1 and repeat. Simple, but it works....


Would you need to set up a screen of net and silk so the light intensity varies from start to finish. With the highest intensity being in the middle, then fading out?
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 04:17 PM

Would you need to set up a screen of net and silk so the light intensity varies from start to finish. With the highest intensity being in the middle, then fading out?


Do headlights have a screen of silk and nets? ;)

Don't overthink it.
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#6 Ryan Thomas

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 02:56 AM

As you pan the light it will fall off in intensity.

I worked on a feature that was sort of a road movie a while ago and this is all we did. Sometimes we would have to set up two flags on either ends to prevent the light from spilling onto part of the set when we we finished the pan, but that's the most involved things got...

Edited by Ryan Thomas, 15 August 2009 - 02:57 AM.

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#7 John Brawley

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 05:40 AM

I've always just had a few lights on stands, keep the top knuckle loosened and then swing it around to simulate the car passing. After you pan it off the set, turn it off, bring it back to 1 and repeat. Simple, but it works....



Even simpler would be to have a couple of electric's do it by hand....

Have them pan the lights through. Use different lamps even. You can either walk it or pan it. That way you get it to be a bit more random, and you don't end up with the god damm annoying 100 meters of electrical cable wound up on your stand as you helicopter your lights around.

jb
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#8 Hal Smith

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 02:52 PM

If you pan the lights the shadow of the lattice won't move along the wall more than a tiny bit, they'll mainly only change intensity . To get travelling shadows you're going to have to dolly the lamps.
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#9 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 03:29 PM

If you pan the lights the shadow of the lattice won't move along the wall more than a tiny bit, they'll mainly only change intensity . To get travelling shadows you're going to have to dolly the lamps.


You're right, but I've never had a casual viewer call me on it. If one was picky, it would be easy enough to put a couple of lamps on a double offset arm and walk it around on a rolling stand.
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 08:57 PM

Put a Giant Mirror in the middle of the street and let the passing cars do the work; and roll a "C" camera as well to catch the awesome crashes-- you can sell those for stock footage :ph34r:

seriously, though, just move your lights however you can. Panning or dolly (panning as mentioned would be easier) and as mentioned a casual viewer probably won't notice it.
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#11 steve laramie

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 12:24 AM

Their was an interesting discussion on RogerDeakins.com where Rogger rigged over 10 dollies with lamps on them for that effect. Probably out of your budget so I would say panning the lamp would be the best way to do it. I would use a 650 fresnel backed far away with a half CTO.
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#12 JB_Letchinger

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 03:06 PM

I've had good results with cutting a 2x4, (6 feet or so) placing some mole pars or something similar on either end, then having a grip move this around by hand. that way, both lights are moving together - same as a car... you want to get fancy and stick the grip on a doorway dolly and some track? go for it. (be careful) - but the big pan should sell the car turning and "strafing" your set with headlights. get a strong (ish) grip.

good luck

JB
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#13 Michael Collier

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 08:53 PM

don't forget you don't have to just dolly the light. In some circumstances it might be quicker/safer if you were to put a shinny board on the dolly and reflect the light of a stationary unit. you save one crew person from having to pull cable, and lightens the actual moving weight.
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#14 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 03:02 AM

Or some small square mirrors, come to think of it.
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#15 Ryan Thomas

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 01:37 AM

Even simpler would be to have a couple of electric's do it by hand....

Have them pan the lights through. Use different lamps even. You can either walk it or pan it. That way you get it to be a bit more random, and you don't end up with the god damm annoying 100 meters of electrical cable wound up on your stand as you helicopter your lights around.

jb


I would usually turn it off and bring it back everytime, preventing that annoying buildup of cable. I do like the hand method though. Obviously cars headlights aren't perfectly even as they travel across the landscape, so the handheld would definitely make things a bit more random.

Either way though, it's always something you can do a test with. It's something that often comes up, so one good test of things would be pretty useful to you to see what you like.
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#16 Scott Copeland

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 01:01 PM

I would usually turn it off and bring it back everytime, preventing that annoying buildup of cable. I do like the hand method though. Obviously cars headlights aren't perfectly even as they travel across the landscape, so the handheld would definitely make things a bit more random.

Either way though, it's always something you can do a test with. It's something that often comes up, so one good test of things would be pretty useful to you to see what you like.



Man you guys are cool. This was a good post. Maybe I can get test footage available to see.
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#17 Alex Haspel

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 02:40 PM

a shot i did some time ago asked for the lights of a car turning around swooshing over an actor.
we achieved this by rigging 2 little pars (i felt that fresnels would be a bit too even) on a short speedrail about 1,5meters apart from each other, for that little double shadow effect, and had a grip carry it by hand...

the shot can actually be seen in my showreel.. www.alex.haspel.at ..at roughly the beginning of the last third



on another instance, where i gaffed, we put a 1,2kW hmi par on a dolly and went past a window, while panning... in order to actually have the light move over the set, instead of just coming and going like it would be when only panning of course..

havent got that clip online, sadly
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