Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Creating A Camp Fire Effect

This time around the scene is different. I was just wondering about the most effective way of creating a camp fire effect on the talents face sitting around it. The closer and the mid range shots are still manageable. My worry is about the wider shots. Need to know the best way to create a fire effect on a shot which has around 50 to 60 villagers sitting scattered around camp fire lit up here and there in the block, in the night.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.


Sathya P
First Asst Cam

>> best way to create a fire effect on a shot which has around 50 to 60 villagers sitting scattered >>around camp fire lit up here and there in the block, in the night.

The best way I have used to create convincing wide shots of firelight is to hide lights behind the actual fire. The flames or coals will hide your lights and the direction and relative intensity of light on people around the fires will be correct. I used photofloods as they are easy to hide and easy to flicker with flickermasters. If you have enough bulbs so you can keep the maximum voltage at a lower voltage, they can have a nice amber colour without using gels or having to dip the bulbs.

The main limitation is with camera movement - if the camera has
large moves, it can be challenging to hide the bulbs.

Bruce Douglas, DP
Sao Paulo, Brazil


One of the oldest "tricks" in the book is to get a large tray, put some broken mirrors unevenly in the bottom and cover them with water, shine a 1k into the tray at an angle (in your case with a flame colour gel) and get someone with a stick to stir the water up, this effect is usually used for river/sea etc effects, but it can work for a fire. and its reliable !

John Rossetti - London


The techie way is this one :

I don't work for MIC.

All the best !!!

Henrique Leiner
Director de Fotografia
Av Armando Lombardi 350 lote 09
Barra da Tijuca 22640-000
Rio de Janeiro Brasil


a few more details would help. Would the talent only be sitting around the camp fire and your camera is to be static all the while in the shot.

Further, how do you plan to create the effect for the MC and EC shots



Another solution would be to use a magic gadget shadowmaker flicker box. It has 3x 20 amp channels, each with their own high and low settings. In addition, there are preset effects which you can dial in to simulate anything from campfire to the flicker from a television in a dark room.

You can view the tech specs on their website at:

I used this gag recently with 2x 650 tweenies and a 1k zip on a triple offset arm, gelling each of the lights a different flame like colours and it was very effective. If renting or purchasing this unit isn't an option, you can roughly simulate the same effect with using hand dimmers.

I don't work for magic gadget, but I can't recommend their lighting fx generators enough!

Good shooting!

Aaron Lavinsky
Director of Photography & Gaffer
Los Angeles, CA

Hello Sathya,

As a manufacturer of movie-intercom´s Lighting FX Tools you might have a closer look to our multi-purpose lighting effect generator LFXHub. Thanks a lot to Enrique Leiner for your recommendations.
You are right. CML is the most efficient forum for cinematographers, because also the manufactures are involved to provide the best support for all film makers.

Our LFXhub is worldwide the only LFX generator which provides 24 fps presets. A fire preset provides a natural looking fire effect for control of many types of LED, tubes, or any size of tungsten lamps without any limit of the output power.

Our distributor in the US is

With flickering regards
wishing you many excellent movies

Olaf Michalke
General Manager
m o v i e - i n t e r c o m
L i g h t i n g FX T o o l s for professional filmmakers
Tel.: +49 (0)30 - 22 32 05 75
Fax.: +49 (0)30 - 22 32 05 71
Wegenerstr. 4
10713 Berlin, Germany

Hello Satya,

I just saw the thread. I have the Magic Gadget and the Shadow makers at my India office in Hyderabad. They are very efficient tools for these kind of stuff.

You may contact my office at Hyderabad India at 040 2360 8014 and ask for Seshagiri Rao (09848086820) or Ananad. One of them will help you.

Suresh ROHIN
Director Of Photography
Eastman Films Inc..
Tel: 1-416-898 5323 (Toronto. Canada)
91-40-2360 8014 (Hyderabad. India)

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