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class="style18"> Bright (Thick Wick) Candles For Film

Published : 30th October 2008

Someone told me recently about brighter, fast burning candles for film use. I have a shoot coming up with a lot of kerosene lamp and candle light, and would like to experiment with these if I can find them.

Anyone know where I could get some?

Thanks,


Stefan Kubicki
Op, Lodz


Usually you have to get the candles special-made with two or three wicks (Kubrick used three-wicked candles for "Barry Lyndon" though more films use two-wicks because the flame from a three-wick candle is a bit excessively large. "Amadeus" seemed to have used two-wicked candles.)

I have heard of theatrical supply houses with these two-wicked candles for sale but have never run across them myself. You may have to go to a local candle maker and just order some.

David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


This has been discussed before in great detail and at great length on CML, is it not in the vaults somewhere? Or is my memory playing tricks?

/Pages-DW/MidnightMassByCandlelight.htm

/Pages-DW/CandleLight.htm

Regards

Chris Maris
Director of Photography
my reel : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zusYNL969ak
www.myspace.com/thelunartics


Stefan Kubicki wrote :

class="style19">>>Someone told me recently about brighter, fast burning candles for film use...anyone know where I >>could get some?

On a feature shot in India a couple of years ago the cinematographer wanted candles made. If I remember correctly the key gaffer at the time contacted several companies, in France or Switzerland. I think he found them listed in theatre suppliers or events directory or the like. We finally ended up having them made in India because of logistical reasons, delivery time and custom clearance was becoming an issue. I'll see if I can reach him and get some addresses. In Poland surely with all the churches around you should be able to find a local manufacturer of candles. Have some prototypes made with double wick or triple wick and several diameters; that is what we ended up doing before going for the final order. We then shot tests with several candles and also with our main actors during the various lighting and make up tests.

Regards

Emmanuel, Munich

1st Asst Cameraperson - 1st Asst Kameramann - 1er Asst Opérateur
16-35-HD
BVK European based Mobil +491608036889
Cinematography Mailing List Moderator


Hi Stefan,

Did a job a few years ago about Irish prison breaks. The production designer made the candles from blocks of some kind of cooking fat with bed sheets as wicks. They were really bright. They burned very quickly though and were very smokey.

Worth a test though. I'll find out which fat exactly if you want to test.

Ruairí O'Brien,
Cameraman,
Ireland.


Stefan Kubicki wrote :

class="style19">>>as this will be indoors in a fairly closed setting it would probably be better not to have so much >>smoke...

On The Libertine http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0375920/ candlelit scenes were complimented with a device dubbed 'the birthday cake' - a horseshoe shaped board clustered with additional candles - that was wheeled in to augment the light for close-ups. Judging by the result this was pretty effective though I did hear stories about the cast and crew having to clean black soot out of their nostrils at the end of the days shooting.

The opening scene of The Draughtsman's Contract was shot entirely by candlelight and DoP Curtis Clark had the cast made up with extremely pale (pure white if memory from an ancient AC interview serves me) foundation to counter the reddening effect of the low (1800k?) colour temperature of the flames. Mind you, considering the films period setting the stylisation doesn't seem out of place.

I've seen a test where a slight green hue was added to actors make-up in an attempt to lessen the reddening of skin tone under pure candle light but it proved (perhaps unsurprisingly) a rather ugly effect.

Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.


No experience here, but couldn't you just drill small deep holes in the candle of your choice next to the existing wick and push a couple inches of new wicks into the holes?

Pat Blackard
DP/Gaffer
Austin, TX


class="style19">>> No experience here, but couldn't you just drill small deep holes in the candle of your choice next to >>the existing wick and push a couple inches of new wicks into the holes?

There's an idea - not sure how well it would work, but off-hand I would try to do it by taking a thick piece of bailing wire (binding wire, stovepipe wire, mild steel wire, whatever you call it) or a piece of wire coat hanger, heat it up with a propane torch, and push it through the candle to drill the hole...and then use another piece of thinner wire to pull the wick down the hole...

It should work, but if I were to try it now, I would probably burn myself on the first wire.

Mark H, Weingartner
LA based


The problem with all candles is smoke.
The more wicks the more smoke.
I have often used triple wicked candles on period projects but in sensitive heritage buildings the conservators may have something to say about the smoke hazard.

Interestingly the smokiest moment is when a candle is extinguished ( essential for shot continuity and crew lungs). The best extinguisher seems to be tongs with two damp leather pads on their tips. These kill the flame and cool the wick down immediately (I got this tip from the film coordinator at Hampton Court Palace in London)

Mike Southon bsc


There are some candles I've seen in the past that give off quite a bit of light, but they only come in red so you may have to paint over them to make them a more reasonable colour. Also, they only last about 30 seconds, so you have to shoot really quick.

The wicks burn really fast, and they give off a lot of light, but not over time: it's all at once or nothing.

I seem to remember they're delivered by some kind of non-flying bird that travels exclusively by freeway, and they give off the most light in the hands of a coyote.

Ever get that feeling you're confusing reality with something else...?

Art Adams
Director of Photography
Film | Hidef | Video

San Jose, CA, USA
www.artadams.net
415.760.5167
Skype: ArtAtoms


class="style19">>>I seem to remember they're delivered by some kind of non-flying bird that travels exclusively by >>freeway, and they give off the most light in the hands of a coyote.

Some come with wings attached.

Hal (Lickety Splat) Smith
Engineer and Somewhat DP
Edmond, OK


This question triggered some distant childhood memories that may be of use to you. Depending on how the candles you need are supposed to look like you can easily make some yourself. I recall as a kid in school having made candles out of bee wax sheets that are commercially available. All you need to do is cut them to size and roll the wick/s into the sheet. Also at one point I watched a friend of mine make “real” candles. She melted wax in a water bath and just poured it into containers with wicks hanging in them. Pretty much any container works, depending on the shape you want. I’ve never tried this myself, but it looked pretty easy.
Hope this helped.

Best

Joerg Schodl, Cinematographer, Los Angeles


Thanks for all the replies. I did see the previous CML threads on candle light but they seemed to be more about simulating candle effects than my particular candle conundrum.

I will look around to see if I can find some candle maker to do a custom job here in Poland, if not we might end up "rolling our own". Using cooking fat as fuel sounds interesting but as this will be indoors in a fairly closed setting it would probably be better not to have so much smoke...

Stefan Kubicki
Op, Lodz


Talking about lighting with candles, Tom Townend wrote:

class="style19">>>I did hear stories about the cast and crew having to clean black soot out of their nostrils at the end >>of the days shooting.

I have worked on a number of period pieces, where candles would play a prominent part of the set design. It's not so easy working with large numbers of candles- they all give off smoke, and although lots of candles on a set look beautiful the smoke given off by hundreds of burning candles can _really_ knock down the lighting levels.

Try to work on a set that has a good (and controllable) ventilation system. And, yes- be prepared to be shocked at the amount of soot that accumulates in your nasal passages and hair and clothes. It's nasty work.

Toby Birney
DP / Camera Operator
based in Lithuania


Hi Stefan,

Did a job a few years ago about Irish prison breaks. The production designer made the candles from blocks of some kind of cooking fat with bed sheets as wicks. They were really bright. They burned very quickly though and were very smokey.

Worth a test though. I'll find out which fat exactly if you want to test.

Ruairí O'Brien,
Cameraman,
Ireland.


Oops - I should have said Props Master in that former post. His name
is Dirk Buchmann and he was great to work with.

Thanks,

Patrick Cady
DP LA 600


INFORMATION UPDATE :

I'm new, so I didn't know about this discussion before the archive was published.

I do know something about candles, as my family and I kept bees and made dipped and molded beeswax candles for years. Different fuels (parafin, beeswax, animal fat) burn differently. Churches (especially historic) often insist on beeswax candles only, as they produce the smallest amount of soot, almost none if they are made correctly. Wick size is very important to correct clean burning, wicks come in various sizes depending on the candle diameter and fuel. There is an approximate chart here: http://www.yaley.com/candles/wicking.html, a triple wick would clearly burn much faster and brighter.

The rolled candles made of beeswax sheets will work in a pinch (the sheets and wick are available at most craft stores), but they are not dense enough to be very useful-- they burn too fast. The extinguishing of the wick mades soot, and the damp leather suggestion is excellent (wet cloth works too).

Making your own beeswax candles is very easy. Film use would call for a molded candle as you'ld probably want 1" to 2" diameter. There are many crafty types that custom make beeswax candles, a good way to find one would be to contact your local bee supply store (in Los Angeles that would be L.A. Honey Company), as that's where they would likely purchase their wax. "Capping wax" is the most pure and burns the cleanest.

Hope this helps someone,

Bruce Taylor
www.Indi35.com Camera Rentals
Los Angeles




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