I have a commercial coming up where we have a scene that involves 3 kid
spys encountering and navigating an elaborate array of laser security
beams. 20-40 stationary beams in all. The art department has looked into
actual lasers but as the actors are all 10 years old (not that safety
should end at any age!), production would like to forgo using the them
and have us find a work around that will play realistically and be "safer"
to any one who happens to look into a beam. Due to the way the scene plays
out, the effect needs to be accomplished practically on location. The
scene happens at night in a giant warehouse ambient lit with "moonlight".
Obviously we will add atmosphere to show the beams. The scene will be
shot on 5218 at 32fps if that matters at all. My gaffer and I are looking
into rock and roll i-beam solutions but I was wondering if anyone here
had faced this before and solved it any a clever way that they might be
willing to pass on.
> The effect needs to be accomplished
practically on location.
Any road up, wouldn't it be easiest to use string to mimic the path of
the beams (brightly coloured/reflective string natch) on set and replace
it with red laser beams in post?
it be easiest to use string to mimic the path of the beams
Perhaps...and it's a good idea, however the director, who believe it or
not, is also a SFX Supervisor at Nickelodeon, believes that the practical
beams will enhance the drama and help the young actors. Also they are
wearing black reflective clothing and black sunglasses that will have
to show the beams reflections in a lot of tracking shots where they are
weaving themselves in and out of the many beams.
Given that I just have to believe that the effect will be more convincing
if done practically. And (perhaps most important), he has already blown
his post budget whereas I have a generous G/E budget that can afford it.
However, I could just be digging myself a big hole of trouble here...?
>the director[...]believes that
the practical beams will enhance the drama >and help the young
I'm confused then as to what the possible danger to the talent the lasers
would pose. If they're wearing black sunglasses (in moonlight!) then can't
sunglasses be jiggered to provide complete occlusion of the eye socket
and then the back of the lenses ground up a little to further diffuse
the path of a beam aimed directly at the eye?
Unless you were planning to smoke up the atmosphere with burning
rubber tyres and use VULCAN Petawatt lasers I can't see the
I've done this effect quite a lot in Lego commercials and we've always
added the beams in post.
It's faster, more cost effective and looks better!
I worked with I beams once on a magician's demo tape. Your atmosphere
has to be pretty heavy to have the beam show up well enough to look like
a laser. We were using fog machines that were part of the effect so I'm
not sure how that will play out in your script. You might consider adding
them digitally in post.
>I once mounted
a500W profile (CCT minuette) on a geared head to simulate a laser eye
scan. I suggest, rather than looking into expensive rock-'n-roll whizz
bang units that take a lot of time to set up and programme, to use straight
forward profiles (lekos) with decent optics and narrow beams. Your best
bet would probably be the ETC Source four range.
Get some gobos (metal projection slides) with circular holes from either
Rosco, Lee or DHA and some primary red gel for the light. Focus the narrow
beam as sharp as you can and shutter off the unwanted holes in the gobo.
650Watt units should be bright enough for the job.
I've just uploaded
a QT file that shows the effect of using string that is then replaced
For shots where the actors do not pass through the beams I have had success
with strands of electroluminescent wire stretched across the set. Perfect
for reflections with added bonus of interactive glow- a "live beam"
feel to for your young talent. I suppose you could still replace it in
post if needed.
Available in many "laser" colors and thicknesses, try: