Jump to content


Photo

Harryhausen and Sodium lamps


  • Please log in to reply
3 replies to this topic

#1 George Ebersole

George Ebersole
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1637 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 14 February 2018 - 06:40 PM

So, I'm listening to the commentary on various Harryhausen blurays in my library, and he and others keep mentioning that the studios in the UK used sodium (Na?) based lamps for effects work. And that this somehow gave a better composite image or reduced the matte lines or something. It wasn't really clear how the sodium lamps helped.

Does someone know? Is there something about the way light uses Na to cut a closer matte line or something?
  • 0

#2 Samuel Berger

Samuel Berger
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1022 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Seattle

Posted 14 February 2018 - 06:45 PM

Are sodium lamps cooler than the alternatives of the time? Because the one thing that comes to mind is how miniature sets would be affected by the heat of the lighting required for 1950s filmstocks....


  • 0

#3 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19957 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 14 February 2018 - 07:31 PM

They aren't referring to sodium lighting used for sets or people but for chroma key screens using the sodium matte system created by Petro Vlahos:

 

https://en.wikipedia...ki/Petro_Vlahos

 

The Wikipedia article is wrong though -- "Ben-Hur" used blue screens and the new color difference matting system, not sodium screens. See:

 

https://en.wikipedia...m_vapor_process

http://nzpetesmattes...ous-visual.html

 

The system involved using a converted 3-strip Technicolor camera to simultaneously record the beauty pass and the matte pass at the same time.  Since the color negative stock used for the foreground element was not very sensitive to sodium light, there was little problem with spill on the actors from the screen lit by sodium light.

 

There was only one camera ever made to do this process and it was almost exclusively used by Disney.  Resurrected by Harrison Ellenshaw on "Dick Tracy" for a shot in an opera house that was lit blue by Storaro, so a blue screen couldn't be used.


  • 1

#4 George Ebersole

George Ebersole
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1637 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 14 February 2018 - 07:46 PM

The system involved using a converted 3-strip Technicolor camera to simultaneously record the beauty pass and the matte pass at the same time.  Since the color negative stock used for the foreground element was not very sensitive to sodium light, there was little problem with spill on the actors from the screen lit by sodium light.


Very cool response. Growing up watching those films I was always impressed the way the images were composited together, and how they seemed to avoid matte lines and that white splatter when the composite was a bit off.

Amazing. Thanks very much for the reply, and I didn't check Wiki first because there's always some error in the articles somewhere.

Many thanks, again.
  • 0


Metropolis Post

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

FJS International, LLC

Wooden Camera

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Willys Widgets

The Slider

Technodolly

rebotnix Technologies

CineLab

Glidecam

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

Abel Cine

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

CineTape

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

FJS International, LLC

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineLab

Glidecam

Rig Wheels Passport

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

Tai Audio

Technodolly

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

The Slider

Ritter Battery

Abel Cine

Visual Products