Cheap Nightclub Flash Effect

Dear list,

Low budget feature coming ahead; shooting on Red One MX, we´ve got a nightclub scene were we need some strobe effects. Cheap Flash units don’t work with that camera, and there’s no budget for lighting strikes or not even curtains.

We might go with the "pan the 2,5k par through 2 solids" option but I’d like to know if u have any ideas or advices of more effective options. Thought about Soldering gun but that only works for small rooms. This room is quite big (30´x60´).

Thanks in advance!

Agustin Barrutia,
Bs As, Argentina,

I have a gag that I use occasionally.

I took a plastic snow saucer (3' round disk with a rounded bottom) that the kids use as a cheap sled, and attached about 20 scratched cd/dvd's to the convex or bottom surface.

It kind of acts as a partial mirror ball but is hand holdable and you can bounce a single source (or a couple) sources off of it. As a handheld unit, your grip can shimmy it back and forth-up and down, etc.

Jack Cummings
Buffalo DP

>> I have a gag that I use occasionally. I took a plastic snow saucer (3' round disk with a rounded bottom) that >> the kids use as a cheap sled ...

Nice innovation, I liked it Jack...

What source did you bounce, as in Agustin's case the room is quite big? Will it register effectively? or we could use some bigger or more shinny reflective material?

Ankur Raina

Almost any short strike strobe will come unstuck. The rolling shutter makes a mess even of Mac Martin Atomic 3000's.

The best *flash* bar none is a magnesium flash.

If you can lay your hands on these they're excellent. Though they're a 'low budget' option only if you use them sparingly.

Tom Townend,

Mole shutters are readily available and can create an effective strobing effect. We usually use them for lightning with success on our show which shoots red.

Lightning strikes are a problem with the red anyway, exposing only partial frames.

Good luck!

Eric Forand, Gaffer
Los Angeles, CA

Lightning Strikes will work fine with the RED or any rolling shutter camera as long as you do not use the "undulating" mode. Use the "Constant" mode with your finger tapping the "strike" on/off button and you will get a good result.

Nothing else will give you that immediate response time (one millisecond from off to on or on to off) like the Lightning Strikes.

The best *flash* bar none is a magnesium flash.

Yes, the Meggaflash does have a very high peak output, but for only a very brief moment. On a 180 degree shutter, there is a 50% chance you will miss the flash. Also that very short flash time may cause problems with a rolling shutter. A static electric charge from your clothes or hands can set off the Meggaflash when handled. But otherwise it is quite convenient to trigger them with a simple 9 Volt battery.

David Pringle
Founder and owner of Lightning Strikes

Don't overlook the possibility of flashing frames in post. It's artificial, and of course non-directional, but in combination with some practical flashing it might produce interesting results.

Dan Drasin
Marin County, CA

Thanks everyone for the advices.

I spoke with the Dop about the possibility of flashing in post. He did some tests with regular 2kw flashes and said that even with the partial frame exposure the results were acceptable. Some Post work might help accomplish the effect.

And nice gag Jack!

Agustin Barrutia,
Bs As, Argentina.


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